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Newbie Confusion: Knowing Your Worth And Other Considerations

February 29, 2016 5 min read

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Newbie Confusion: Knowing Your Worth And Other Considerations
There are so many questions that a new therapist faces when starting out, that it can be migraine-inducing even figuring out where to start. It wouldn’t be possible to address all of these in one blog, so we’ve offered a few main points to consider for those who are not oozing confidence in kicking off their new career. Perhaps the most obvious question of all is:

How much should I charge?

Assuming that you’ve decided to go it alone, one of the most pressing questions for any therapist at the beginning of their career is always "How much should I charge?”

At face value, this might seem like a simple equation, but there is more to consider than just going onto Google and finding out the going rate. There are so many variables; how much experience do you have, what is on your menu, what area of the UK are you in? What honest feedback have you had about your ability? Are you going to be mobile, and if you have a treatment room, is it the kind of environment that people would pay good money to relax in? How expensive are your products and what about when people want packages, extra time etc.? There is a great deal to consider, and nobody wants to be selling themselves short. So how to get around it?

Firstly, and especially if you’re a total newbie, it would pay to get some honest feedback. You could do this by offering services to friends for an honest review – making them promise to drop the bias! You’ll of course have to make sure your face doesn’t drop too, if they deliver a bit of (hopefully constructive) criticism. This may sound daunting, but it’s worth the effort – after all, your value is mainly in your technique. Also, if you’re new and only qualified to do Swedish Massage, you might not be at the top of your customer’s speed dial list. To get your foot in the door, you could consider offering new customer discounts, loyalty schemes (think five visits, one free) or just charging a little less than some of the more established therapists in your area. Don’t price yourself too low though – people won’t trust you if you’re perceived as cheap. People generally believe what you believe about yourself, and they’ll be suspicious as to why you’re so much cheaper than others. Remember that massage is still considered a luxury, and people expect to pay for a good experience.

Vouchers and offers make people feel that they are getting a bargain, whereas dirt-cheap prices make them question the quality. You want to come across as ‘value for money’ and not ‘bargain basement’ though, so do your homework when it comes to pricing and don’t forget that your perceived value can diminish if you don’t get some of the other factors right. As with everything in life, balance is key, and your responses to the below questions will all have some level of impact on your worth as a therapist, from the customers’ points of view.

What premises should I use, and what equipment should I invest in?

If you’re going to go mobile-only, this takes out a chunk of set-up costs, but I’ll cover that later. If you’re going to have a treatment room, any rent this entails will have to be incorporated into your pricing. People expect to pay more in a proper therapy room, so if you’re going down that road, make sure that you make realistic projections about potential earnings – do some market research to see what local customers are looking for, and see if you can find out how busy your local competitors are – and of course what they are doing right in terms of environment and marketing. Don’t forget to try and negotiate on rent costs if that’s an option. You could even offer the landlord and his or her family regular treatments for a rental discount! Be creative and remember that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

If you’re going to go with the cheaper, more convenient option of a home therapy room, with a bit of creative flair you might be able to bump your prices up a little. Check out images on line of your ideal treatment room, and then – especially if you’re on a budget – get dreaming about creative ways to mimic something luxury. The chances are your clients aren’t going to be examining the place in detail, so as long as you can create ambiance and provide physical comfort, you can duck into Ikea to see what budget décor options they have, and have fun getting creative. If you can put a unique spin on your therapy room, all the better. Make it your own, and it might just encourage some repeat business.

The equipment and products you choose are of course incredibly important. Getting the environment and your techniques right, but performing treatments on an unstable, uncomfortable budget massage table will send your clients packing. Imagine: If your customer is fidgeting their way through your massage because the you haven’t used bolsters and are pressing their leg down onto a too-firm massage couch, they will be willing the treatment to end. Word of mouth is everything, so you need to make sure you aren’t cutting corners and are choosing quality products, even if it means it takes longer to get set up properly. Likewise, cheap lotions and oils, or highly scented products can really turn customers off, or worse – they could react badly to them. It’s not worth the damage to your new business, so factor quality product costs into your pricing so that you’re not left out of pocket.

Should I go mobile?

If you’re going to find it easy to get around, and you are going to be working in generally safe, suburban areas, then why not? You are more vulnerable as a new therapist though, and you may not have thought of some of the pitfalls that mobile therapists face. Obviously it’s time consuming and more physically draining, which will be reflected in your pricing. Make sure you include transport costs and the time on average it takes you to move from place to place. Make sure your table is lightweight – the last thing you need is a back injury putting you out of business before you’ve started. And of course, safety is paramount – vet your customers carefully and make sure that someone knows your timetable and whereabouts, and is checking on your wellbeing at the end of your treatments.

A couple of other things worth considering…

Confidence is key. When not feeling confident, you’ll find it even harder to know your value and price your treatments properly. Asking for money seems to be a big challenge for quite a lot of people – it’s funny how we don’t feel comfortable doing it! But we need to get over that. Your presentation is also important - if you’re flustered and haven’t got your routine down, it will show. As they say, fake it until you make it. Ensure you’ve carefully noted your clients’ requirements and focus on giving your best shot every time – they’ll be watching you if it’s their first treatment with you but at the same time, worrying that you’ll make a mistake will only bring it about. Make sure you’ve practiced enough outside of the course, be smiley and polite, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Soon enough your confidence will be real. Word of mouth is hands down the best way to get more business, so offer introductory discounts to clients who give you good feedback, and don’t throw money and time away on putting masses of leaflets through doors – it rarely brings much return and a few strategically placed, simple ads would suffice.

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