What is a Recession?

A recession is defined as a period of time during which the economy not only stops growing but actually shrinks for at least two consecutive quarters. As you can see from the definition, a recession is only really defined after it has already happened! You have probably noticed that even discussion of a recession sends people and the stock market into a panic. But you don’t have to panic. Keeping your focus and proper preparation can keep you ahead of difficult economic times.

Needs versus Wants

In uncertain economic times many people cut back on spending. They focus on things they perceive that they “need.” The following is a “needs hierarchy” by psychologist Abraham Maslow. By figuring out how massage therapy can fit into the client’s needs, you can present your services in a way that will make sense to the client and cents for you!

1) Survival – food, water, clothing and shelter. How does massage therapy fit in here?
2) Comfort and Security – Here massage practitioners can focus on how massage therapy keeps clients healthy and allows them to live happier more productive lives.
3) Community, Love and Friends – Do you give classes and workshops? Do you offer gift certificates? These are ways to connect with this needs level.
4) Self-respect, Reputation and Status – Massage therapy makes people feel good about themselves. On-site massage boosts morale in office settings.
5) Self-actualization, Inner Meaning and Self-fulfillment – Massage therapy helps people relax, release stress and heals physical pain. It can be a tool for anyone who wants to achieve more with their lives.

Small massage businesses have an advantage over large corporate businesses when it comes to changing advertising focus or changing messages because they can refocus more quickly. Massage businesses can also focus on individual results such as the decreased pain felt after treatments or relaxation and other health benefits.

When business is slow you will want to focus on low cost ways to attract new customers such as low cost or free chair massage where you pass out business cards or networking with healthcare
practitioners in your area. It is said that customers need to see your name at least seven times before they are likely to call you! Getting your name and face in front of your potential clients is what it is all about.

Here is a list of some ways of securing your business during an economic down-turn:
1) Diversify – the more services you can offer, the more clients you will be able to find. If you offer massage therapy, stone massage, reflexology, classes and chair massage, you will find more clients than massage therapy alone.

2) Contact past clients and leads – go through your files and contact your past clients and leads from sources such as classes, workshops, mailing lists, etc. Let these customers know about new products and services you have added. Tell them about your classes, workshops, website. Keeping clients informed is a good way of keeping them coming to your practice.

3) Offer a variety of services at a variety of prices – Instead of lowering your rates can you offer a variety of treatments to accommodate a variety of prices?

4) Offer a sliding scale where clients can choose their own rates.

5) Give clients a discount for prepaying for services, i.e. your regular rate is $60 per hour, if the client purchases a 5 treatment package for $250, the hourly rate is $50. This way you know they will be coming back in regularly.

6) Offer your clients a product or service for free for scheduling regular treatments.

7) Start a referral program to reward client referrals.

8) Keep customers happy – find out what your clients really like about your practice and give them more of it!

9) How is your business unique? Make sure potential clients know. Use this in all of your advertising.

10) Visit other therapists and find out what they do. What do you like or dislike about the “competition.” Can you adapt things you like to your practice?

11) Read trade publications like Massage Today or Massage Magazine for ideas.

12) Build a cash reserve or “business slowdown” fund for your business.

13) Look closely as your finances and where the money is going. Reduce or cut down on unnecessary expenses.

14) Renegotiate your lease, move to a less expensive building or share space with other therapists to reduce expenses.

15) Reward your loyal customers with discounts, programs, freebies, handwritten thank-you notes, etc.

16) Build value in your practice - persuading clients to purchase premium services at premium prices can be difficult – especially during challenging economic times. Building value means offering clients a selection of high quality services and products, educating the clients and offering free or discounted “extras.” For example: If you are selling a $90 per hour massage, you may have a problem. If you are offering the client a lifestyle which will lead to increased health and decreased stress, better mental clarity, etc. you are selling something that everyone wants!

Stay focused on your goals and don’t give up! Recessions eventually end and your practice will be ready to take off.

Stone massage is a great way to add value to your practice. Visit www.riverrockmassage.com for stone massage equipment and information.
Contact Kristine Shultis riverrockmassage@fmtcs.com

Author's Bio: 

Kristine Shultis has over 12 years experience as a State Licensed and Nationally Certified (NCBTMB), Massage Therapist. She is also a Certified Tradional Naturopath and a Reiki Master. Kristine holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.