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Prepare for a rant on a pet peeve of mine.  This is not just for new massage therapists but also for any therapist who cut their prices so low that they actually hamper other therapists' business...and even their own.  It happened to me today.  I called on a corporate client to work their health fair as I have done the last 2 years.  I might add here that my rates are in the mid-high range.  But I've been doing this work for 10 years and my prices reflect my experience and expertise of my craft.  Anyway, I was told by the human resources person that they opted for a friend of an employee who had just graduated and was working part time plus doing massage part time.  And she was cheaper....a lot cheaper.  I thanked him (even though I wanted to say good luck...I've experienced this before and the job performed was never up to the standards the company was hoping for) and hung up.

Fellow therapists.  Put some value on your work.  Whether you are a new graduate or an experienced veteran, your work is VALUABLE!  Do not cheapen that which you have worked for so hard.  Yes, you may get more business with bargain basement rates, BUT....you will have to work harder, your career might not last as long due to overwork, you might not make enough to live on and, you hurt other therapists who might (temporarily) lose business because they find therapists that charge so much less.  I do this work full time.  If I lose a client to lower rates...fine.  I don't really need clients that base where they go on price.  I am not Massage Envy.  But, for every client lost, I have to make up that slot.  It costs me money.  I don't have another job to fall back on.

That's it.  It's happened before and I always make it up.  Just keep this in mind when you think about slashing rates to become the cheapest therapist.   It will cost you in the long run.

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Thanks Marla....I do a lot of what you do in when I do table. You'd be surprised what you can do with the chair. Extra minutes, nice music, different tools, education....all has worked for me in my chair practice. I've even plugged in a heated blanket and draped it over my chair inbetween clients when I worked in a room once...in the middle of winter...that, because of it's size, was a little drafty. There is no circumstance that we can't add a little extra.............
Hi Choice, a few observations. I agree that for newer therapists it's tempting to want to go low to build your clientele, and this may work, short term. I did go a little low, for a year, and with every session my confidence was growing. Finally it dawned on me that the clients with disposable income that I wanted to attract as regulars were more than willing to pay higher prices. I got it that only when I valued my own abilities would others value me at the same level. You obviouisly know and claim your place in your market, and in this profession, and I congratulate you. As for the Massage Envy's of the world, it's not that I don't want to see the wonders of MT made possible for the masses, etc. But I'm not hearing very much good news about the longevity of franchise locations, for a host of reasons. I empathize with newer and/or younger therpists with less business experience, because I was were they are with entry-level concerns.

I once lost a business client (software training and sales) to another consultant who'd "undercut" my prices. My long-standing client's cost-cutting had priority over what I thought had been a happy association. I too decided, after much emotion, that I'd prefer clients who valued our association, period. The lessons were many. Money did speak, but short term only. While my competitor did win lots of recognition nationally as a big seller, she was being sanctioned behind the scenes by our manufacturer for violating several of their conract requirements! The client that "dumped" me wound up having software problems for a year, once they bought a "cheaper" product recommended by my colleague! Yowee.

For sure, because I had 25+ years as a business consultant first, I can see this from many angles. I do support placing value on our work, knowing what your worth is, as well as not undercutting my fellow therapists, which I think devalues the profession as a whole. As for every client "lost" as you mentioned, I believe strongly that doors closed always mean other doors are opening. The Universe doesn't recognize a void, so an apparent loss is an illusion. That corporatae client wasn't meant to stay with you, OR they will return once they get what they thought they wanted! With your heart open and your sterling, caring service, your needs as well as those of your clients will always be exceeded~
Excellent observation Ellen....well said
Very valid point. That is true of any business professional.
Ok, I'm responding to this even though I am not a newbie by any means - I graduated from massage school in 1995 - I live in a rural area where there is no massage envy. I incorporated my business last year as Aches Away Massage Therapy Inc. . My clientele base is from an area that as sufferred major layoffs, and still continues to. My clientele is also people in chronic pain usually from illness and injury. My original plan was to focus on caregivers of hospice patients, but found that I couldn't draw from just there. I have 4 offices and make house calls (the 4 offices are spread through the county, but I only pay per use - couldn't afford that much rent) I am one of the most sought after therapists in my area (where a massage school as existed for about 8 years) I charge $50 /hr , and will work with folks who have financial difficulties - I'll put it simply - an empty table makes no money! The people that come to me are in pain, and I help them to be able to come back more often in order to make progress. Maybe I'll be the next massage envy, who knows. My point is that sometimes it comes down to survival.

Choice Kinchen said:
Kris, great points. I do much of the same thing. The water bottle is something I will have to look into.

All I can say Lisa.....and you know I like you....is that, at least for me, charging "affordable" came back to bite me in the a$$. People that want affordable massage can go to places like Massage Envy. I found out early (when I charged less) that my clients then had no problem bolting if they found someone who was cheaper. There are plenty of clients out there who will come in once every 2 weeks even if your rates are higher than what you think you can charge.....if they value your work. I know you work on mountain bike cyclists. I am a cyclist. I have no problem turning my money over to a bike store to get the latest gadget for my bike. I think that you cyclist clients would still come to you if your rates were upped a little. It's easy to come down on rates, but is much more difficult to raise rates.

I am in the position....because of my lupus and scleroderma.....that I can't work forever. I charge what I do to get the most bang for my work. I am of a limited resource, time and energy. I choose to go after the higher end clients (table or chair) so that I might stretch my career out as long as possible.

If this thread has run before, so be it. It's running again. I think ideas like what Kris offered can never be looked at enough. Too many therapists today, imo, don't get enough business training or don't make the effort to learn more about the biz side of massage.
This is a good place to address this question.
Having recently graduated from an equine massage program, which had some pretty high standards. The problem I am running into, is the horsepeople who supported me in earning my certification can not afford the rates that I will need to be charging in the area. Their support was immensely helpful and without it couldnt be in business.
The horsepeople who can afford it, expect high rates or think you must not be well qualified, if you don't charge enough.
Another issue is, I am not really sure what existing equine massage therapists are actually charging. What I'm getting in feedback, (anecdotal information) the well to do barns are charging in the neighborhood of $125, yet the average price in the region is $75.
Having never been in business before, I'm having difficulty figuring out what would be appropriate and fair to everyone.
Basically, I expect to set a basic massage price for individual horses. Then as appears to be "common practice" in the area, is to offer a discount to barns, based on number of clients and frequency of visits to each barn. However, this complicates things because the various barns also have different expectations, different riding disciplines, and the like.
When comparing other types of services provided to various barns, this disparity in pricing seems to be an issue as well.
Any advice in working out a price schedule, or discovering what other therapists are actually charging for the service, would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Daniel. I have 2 suggestions for your post.

1...you may want to create a separate thread for this and label Equine Massage Costs so as to draw the attention of those more qualified to have an opinion. I think your question will get lost in a thread that is somewhat cooling off and also not directly related to the information you're looking for.

2...i would also suggest in reference to the clients that can't afford the going rate but helped you during your schooling, why not offer a special price for them that IS affordable. i can't think off the top of my head but find some special rate "name" for it and only offer it to those clients that you want to give back to.

Daniel Stroup said:
This is a good place to address this question.
Having recently graduated from an equine massage program, which had some pretty high standards. The problem I am running into, is the horsepeople who supported me in earning my certification can not afford the rates that I will need to be charging in the area. Their support was immensely helpful and without it couldnt be in business.
The horsepeople who can afford it, expect high rates or think you must not be well qualified, if you don't charge enough.
Another issue is, I am not really sure what existing equine massage therapists are actually charging. What I'm getting in feedback, (anecdotal information) the well to do barns are charging in the neighborhood of $125, yet the average price in the region is $75.
Having never been in business before, I'm having difficulty figuring out what would be appropriate and fair to everyone.
Basically, I expect to set a basic massage price for individual horses. Then as appears to be "common practice" in the area, is to offer a discount to barns, based on number of clients and frequency of visits to each barn. However, this complicates things because the various barns also have different expectations, different riding disciplines, and the like.
When comparing other types of services provided to various barns, this disparity in pricing seems to be an issue as well.
Any advice in working out a price schedule, or discovering what other therapists are actually charging for the service, would be greatly appreciated.
Emma, it comes down to how well you understand your market, and you are consequently thriving, rather than surviving. Well chosen!

Emma F. Clites said:
Ok, I'm responding to this even though I am not a newbie by any means - I graduated from massage school in 1995 - I live in a rural area where there is no massage envy. I incorporated my business last year as Aches Away Massage Therapy Inc. . My clientele base is from an area that as sufferred major layoffs, and still continues to. My clientele is also people in chronic pain usually from illness and injury. My original plan was to focus on caregivers of hospice patients, but found that I couldn't draw from just there. I have 4 offices and make house calls (the 4 offices are spread through the county, but I only pay per use - couldn't afford that much rent) I am one of the most sought after therapists in my area (where a massage school as existed for about 8 years) I charge $50 /hr , and will work with folks who have financial difficulties - I'll put it simply - an empty table makes no money! The people that come to me are in pain, and I help them to be able to come back more often in order to make progress. Maybe I'll be the next massage envy, who knows. My point is that sometimes it comes down to survival.

Choice Kinchen said:
Kris, great points. I do much of the same thing. The water bottle is something I will have to look into.

All I can say Lisa.....and you know I like you....is that, at least for me, charging "affordable" came back to bite me in the a$$. People that want affordable massage can go to places like Massage Envy. I found out early (when I charged less) that my clients then had no problem bolting if they found someone who was cheaper. There are plenty of clients out there who will come in once every 2 weeks even if your rates are higher than what you think you can charge.....if they value your work. I know you work on mountain bike cyclists. I am a cyclist. I have no problem turning my money over to a bike store to get the latest gadget for my bike. I think that you cyclist clients would still come to you if your rates were upped a little. It's easy to come down on rates, but is much more difficult to raise rates.

I am in the position....because of my lupus and scleroderma.....that I can't work forever. I charge what I do to get the most bang for my work. I am of a limited resource, time and energy. I choose to go after the higher end clients (table or chair) so that I might stretch my career out as long as possible.

If this thread has run before, so be it. It's running again. I think ideas like what Kris offered can never be looked at enough. Too many therapists today, imo, don't get enough business training or don't make the effort to learn more about the biz side of massage.
I agree with you. When I was in school, we were told what the going rate was for outcalls, and to not hurt our colleagues out there by charging less. It's a matter of respect for colleagues and for the profession. I wouldn't imagine a new dentist, chiropractor, physical therapist, etc etc charging rock-bottom rates just because they are new and want business. The profession (whatever profession) has it's standard rates for that locale.

A couple of years ago a woman opened a spa in my town charging only $45/massage! (The going rate around here is $80-$100 for outcalls and over $100 for spas). I couldn't believe the nerve and wondered A) where she went to school, B) what her classmates must think of her, C) how little she must be paying her LMTs, D) how on earth any self-respecting LMT would find her low pay acceptable!!
I'm sorry Julia, but i find this mindset to be rather insulting (not you insulting me personally but the mindset behind this)

It is NOT a matter of respect at all. it's a matter of survival FIRST. then it's a matter of knowing your clientele. and then it's a matter of making your practice work within your individual life scenario.

I haven't opened a spa, I'm a self employed LMT. I charge $45 for an hour and a half when the going rate is probably about $60 for an hour.

A) I went to school in a very high rated accredited school with 720 hours.

B) My classmates think highly of me

C) I'm self employed so this point is moot

D) I feel very good about my price right now. it fits MY life scenario. I have no overhead because I work out of my home. I also do it part time since I currently work a full time job while I'm building up my clientele. I get incredible joy out of knowing that I am able to offer an incredible massage at an AFFORDABLE rate. period.

i really wish people would stop feeling like there is some malintent behind a therapist who charges less then those around him/her and that it must be a direct result of his/her poor education. i'm sure there are some that are looking to just take all the business away from others. but i bet it's more likely that they are just trying to survive, offer a service to those that can't afford more or start up a practice.

Julia Morrow said:
I agree with you. When I was in school, we were told what the going rate was for outcalls, and to not hurt our colleagues out there by charging less. It's a matter of respect for colleagues and for the profession. I wouldn't imagine a new dentist, chiropractor, physical therapist, etc etc charging rock-bottom rates just because they are new and want business. The profession (whatever profession) has it's standard rates for that locale.
A couple of years ago a woman opened a spa in my town charging only $45/massage! (The going rate around here is $80-$100 for outcalls and over $100 for spas). I couldn't believe the nerve and wondered A) where she went to school, B) what her classmates must think of her, C) how little she must be paying her LMTs, D) how on earth any self-respecting LMT would find her low pay acceptable!!
Hi! Thanks for commenting. I am surprised that you say your class mates think highly of you undercutting their prices. You say you are trying to survive. Well, isn't everyone? I still say it's disrespectful of your colleagues and the profession as a whole to undercut colleagues. It confuses the public, as they will think that low price is all that therapy is worth.

I think you misunderstood what I said about massage schools. I meant that I wonder what schools are encouraging their students to undercut each other after they graduate. I wasn't saying anything about the quality of schools.

Maybe we'll have to just agree to disagree on a few things!

:)
Julia

Lisa said:
I'm sorry Julia, but i find this mindset to be rather insulting (not you insulting me personally but the mindset behind this)

It is NOT a matter of respect at all. it's a matter of survival FIRST. then it's a matter of knowing your clientele. and then it's a matter of making your practice work within your individual life scenario.

I agree with Chris, it's much better to offer what will be perceived as a better value than price. Make it difficult to be compared apples to apples by offering more service. Follow up is extremely important, I always send clients a quick email after my sessions just to check in, or maybe share a resource we may have discussed. All natural products are in huge demand, so maybe educate them about parabens and product preservatives and why you choose to use 100% coconut oil, and maybe give them a sample to take with them! (www.CoconutOil-Online.com is my favorite brand, and they sell small sample sizes that my clients LOVE). I also send a monthly newsletter with quick tips, advice, resources, etc. Be sure to stay visible and utilize social media networking sites as well.

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