Karen Houshultz has grown her business over the past 17 years, starting as a behind-the-chair cosmetologist with a three-operator salon to now running the 8,000-square-foot Apple Day Spa & Salon Inc. that has more than 26 employees. Karen also mentors other business owners with innovative marketing strategies and has spoken to numerous business groups about her aggressive approach on business growth and marketing. She can be reached at karen@appledayspa.com.

How many times do you hear your clients say, “I don’t take time to pamper myself,” or, “I can’t afford to get a massage”?

Well, it’s your job to tell them why they can’t afford not to get a massage. You need to let all your clients know the benefits of massage. Tell them how massage can improve their quality of life.

Here are some of the benefits of massage:

· Increased circulation
· Relaxes tired, achy muscles
· Great for arthritis
· Improved mobility and flexibility
· Stress reduction
· Helps with insomnia
· Improves neck and joint pain
· Helps chronic headaches
· Great for sinus relief
· Decreases fibromyalgia symptoms

It’s your job to tell your clients the benefits and to offer different types of “non-fluffy” massages so that they can maximize these benefits. It’s also your responsibility to tell your clients that to get the maximum benefits of their massage, they need to come in on a regular basis. Here are four tips on how to do that:

1. Write a prescription for them. You’re the professional, so let your clients know when they should be getting their next massage. Every week would be great, but no less than once a month is necessary. Write this down for your clients, and get them to book their next appointment right away. On your prescription pad, you should have a diagram of the human body, and mark the areas that need work. Tell your clients how you intend to work these areas and how it will benefit them. You also need your prescription pad to list the items you retail that are recommended for your clients to use at home between massages. Some ideas includes hot packs, Bio Freeze, China Gel (or some other cryogenic cream), massage lotions or creams, essential oils, body lotions and soaps. (To get a copy of our prescription pad to help you get started, e-mail me at Karen@AppleDaySpa.com.)

2. Offer more than the fluffy massage. Make sure the services you offer at your fitness center are beneficial to your clientele. Offer medical massage, which targets areas that are troubling your client. Offer services that work on stretching and mobility. Offer deep tissue massage and stone massage. Offer a sinus soothing facial massage. All these are beneficial to athletic clients, but they won’t go for them if you don’t get them to understand the benefits. So tell them.

3. Post signs and e-mail newsletters to your clients. Education is power, and if you don’t inform your clients, they will just keep on believing massage is fluffy and just pampering. Post attractive signs in your facility telling your clients the benefits of massage. Send a monthly e-mail newsletter, and target a different benefit of massage each month. Remember to make them need a massage, not just want one. Have a paper copy of your newsletter available to all your health club members, too because not everyone has e-mail.

4. Make an offer they can’t refuse. Anytime you send an e-mail or paper newsletter, make sure you have an offer for your clients. This could be anything from a first time offer, a series offer or a referral offer. Also, make sure you make it tempting and don’t forget to have an expiration date on it. This is a call to action and should expire in less than a month. Don’t forget to track your specials to see what works for you.

The bottom line is, you know and understand the benefits of massage, but your clients do not. Educate your clients and give them a taste of the benefits. Make an offer they can’t refuse, and then educate them on how continuing massage will make their life better. Always work towards a goal with your clients, just like they work towards a goal in the gym. Massage and physical activity go hand and hand.