This article first appeared in the June 2015 of MASSAGE Magazine.
Chair massage often turns out to be just the right introduction people need to experience the joys and benefits of all varieties of structured touch. While not all chair massage clients will turn into table clients, often conversion success is simply a matter of not missing the opportunities presented by clients during the course of a chair massage encounter.
Here are three ways you can take advantage of such opportunities—and possibly win new table massage clients because of it.
Give massage away
Massage therapist Russ Borner can trace 80 percent of the $9,000 per month he typically grosses doing table massage to one specific chair massage he gave 30 years ago—for free—at a charity golf event in Westchester County, New York. His team had set up on the ninth hole to give each foursome of players a massage as they reached the halfway mark of the course.
After working a full day, they gathered in the lobby with all the players, who were getting ready for cocktails and dinner. Russ noticed a group of seven dedicated but very tired volunteers across the room, who looked like they also might appreciate a chair massage, so the team decided to offer their services.
One particular woman Russ worked on, Betsy, turned around in the chair after the massage was over and asked, “Do you make house calls?” She lived 40 miles away and was not wealthy enough to cover his travel expenses but, with a little negotiation, Russ agreed that if she could get two or three other friends to commit to a massage, he would be happy to make the trip. By the time Russ got home that night his answering machine was filled with requests from people saying, “Betsy told me you will be in our area next week. Can I book a massage with you?”
Betsy and her friends, and eventually their friends’ friends, kept making one positive word-of-mouth referral after another, until Russ had as much table massage work as he could handle. He and his wife Candice now run three spas, along with his thriving outcall practice of loyal table clients who pay $150 to $175 per massage. And, yes, Russ still gives Betsy her weekly massage—at half-price, with every fourth massage free in appreciation of her amazing networking skills.
Explain how you can help
Another typical scenario is people seeking a chair massage complaining of pain in their head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands or back. That is a perfect opportunity to educate clients about at least two levels of massage: systemic massage and focused work. Here is a sample script for moving those clients to your table:
“Chair massage is a systemic massage designed to help your body heal itself. So, although I won’t be addressing your specific problem, whether or not your complaint disappears by the end of this 10-minute session, I can guarantee you will feel better. If you prefer that I focus on your specific issue, I can make an appointment for you in my table practice, where we will have the time to thoroughly evaluate your issue and find the most effective solution.”
Make chair massage an appetizer
At one-time chair massage events, where you never expect to see the client again, you can often position chair massage as a sample of your regular table work. In these situations, at the end of each massage, Russ Borner will ask clients if they have ever had a table massage before. If not, he hands them a business card and invites them to experience one. People are much more likely to book their second massage with the practitioner who gave them their first massage, as long as the first experience was positive.
If his chair massage clients have previously had table massage, Russ makes this offer: “If you are willing to try a table massage from me and it is not one of the top three massages you have ever had in your life, then you don’t have to pay me.” In this case, clients have just had a sample of how good he can make them feel, and the guarantee makes the table massage virtually risk-free.
Massage marketing is ultimately about education, and the best way to educate someone about the value of your massage is to give them a sample. Chair massage is the perfect appetizer.