Contrary to what many massage schools would have you believe, chair massage is not simply “table massage lite.” Any successful chair massage entrepreneur will tell you that it is a specialty. So the first step is to become a specialist. You can read books, take classes, and research chair massage on the Internet but there is no substitute for hands-on experience.
The best way to get started in workplace chair massage is by doing chair massage. National and regional chair massage companies are always looking to expand their referral lists of practitioners. Get on their lists and let them know about your enthusiasm for chair massage. When you are ready to strike out on your own you will be familiar with the mechanics of providing chair massage services in the workplace as well as a sense of the local market that you can only get by being on the front lines.
Don’t be intimidated by the large chair massage companies. Emphasize the advantages of being local. You have far more control over the quality and consistency of the chair massage including hygiene and screening protocols as well as the massage itself. If a problem crops up, like someone getting sick, a local business can often resolve the issue far more efficiently then someone in a different time zone.
An article about marketing chair massage would not be complete without a few words from Eric Brown. After creating his own successful chair massage service and training he also helped thousands of other practitioners figure out how to market their services. Besides emphasizing the primary importance of a strong Internet presence, Eric highlighted a couple of common mistakes that practitioners make when trying to build a chair massage business.
- Don’t ask companies to marry you before you have even had the first date. Companies only make long-term commitments with vendors that they trust. Start with one-time events, trial periods or short-term contracts during heavy workload periods so they can begin to understand the value of adding chair massage to their workplace.
- Target one niche at a time and hit it from all angles. Become an expert in that niche so that you know what typical problems exist in that market segment that chair massage could address. Network within that niche and educate them until you become known as the go-to expert on chair massage. A niche can be based on geography, age, profession, industry or any other demographic. Attend their meetings, join their associations, and write an article for their newspapers or trade magazines.
Jo Anderson is a case study in this approach. She had her web presence (lightworkschairmassage.com) but started by targeting Human Resource Directors in Birmingham, AL, whose names she culled from the local Business Journal’s Book of Lists (available in 59 cities). Then, when tax time came around, she used the same resource to mail out a flyer with a picture and cover letter to all of the CPA firms in Birmingham and eventually included all of the law firms. Even though the initial responses were few, they were enough to kick start her business and create word-of-mouth interest.
From the start Jo was not shy about giving away free chair massage at business and networking events held by groups such as Women in Business. She now has six practitioners working with her and just hired a PR firm to rebrand her business and upgrade all of her marketing materials.
When you are starting out and the search engines have not yet found you, don’t underestimate the power of your existing personal networks.
Caroleen Monnseratt used a personal connection and volunteered her services at a hospital in Anchorage, AK, to fulfill a practice requirement for a specialized training in chair massage. When she was ready to charge employees for her services, the hospital had no problem providing her with space on an ongoing basis and she has worked there one day a week since 2001.
Sally Nibblink’s primary chair massage customer is her husband’s small manufacturing company in Colorado. Don’t be afraid of a little nepotism.
Workplace chair massage services are poised for another growth spurt. They come in all shapes and sizes. You can devote your entire career to this sector or use it to supplement a table practice. Shape your practice to fit your needs.