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Necessary but Nerve-Wracking: Reasons and Tactics for Raising Your Prices

by Lisa Rose October 09, 2016

Necessary but Nerve-Wracking: Reasons and Tactics for Raising Your Prices

Putting up prices for your massage treatments is often tempting, or totally necessary, but it can be daunting. Nevertheless, in reality raising your rates once every few years or so is good practice.  It is likely to be a necessity if you are running a long-term business, what with costs going up more often than they go down – it’s the same for your competitors so they will surely be putting up their prices too – and the time and money that you invest in things like training and marketing needs to be recouped somehow. The most obvious factor in procrastinating over a price increase is the potential loss of clients.  This could be unavoidable, to a certain extent, and of course as a massage therapist you don’t want to upset or you’re your regular customers, but it would be wise to weigh up the financial risks.


For instance, it wouldn’t make sense to do this during a quiet period where you find yourself needing to do more marketing or offer incentives. If you do it when you’re at your busiest, you can afford to take a little hit, and the extra that you receive from those that stick around will balance the books initially anyway.  If you are really offering value to your customers, they won’t mind paying a little bit more for your fabulous massages. You will know that the customers who came back truly value the treatments and services you are offering. Those that don’t want to pay your rates (assuming they aren’t unreasonable) are simply making way for those who will – and they are likely to come from word of mouth from those customers who valued your massage therapies enough to fork out a little extra for them. It stands to reason that if you are not making enough money yourself, you will have stress and material issues to contend with – and an unhappy massage therapist is probably going to lose more clients than he or she gains in the long run. 

Busy isn’t always best

Pay attention to your schedule. What is it saying about your services? Being busy is often seen as a positive thing, on the surface, but why are you so busy? Are your prices just significantly lower than your competitor down the road? Make sure that you do regular price comparisons; you can afford to vary your prices to a certain extent but it is very sensible to make sure that you are not the cheapest massage therapist on the block – you will get in a few more clients for sure, but they’ll mainly be your town’s bargain hunters. It isn’t worth feeling rushed off your feet and exhausted when you could be making the same money – or more – for less effort. Quality (as in customers who will pay for value) over quantity is a wise aim to have. If your time is more precious to you than your bank balance, then you can give yourself the freedom to take fewer bookings instead. It certainly won’t hurt your reputation as a therapist to be telling customers you’re fully booked this week – in spite of your higher prices! Besides, you are likely to have an established rapport with those customers who value your massages; they will no doubt be understanding and supportive rather than put off or offended.

How should you present your new price list?

It would be sensible to give your customers some advance warning, rather than spring it on them when they call for a booking. A few weeks notice should be sufficient, as a lot of your customers probably don’t come more than once a month anyway. Make it public – a well placed notice in your treatment room and on your website will get customers used to the idea, so that by the time they are craving one of your wonderful massages again, they’ll have had plenty of time to come to terms with the extra few pounds they’ll need to come up with. You could turn it into an opportunity for some marketing too, by announcing the increase alongside a special offer. For example, ‘buy one get one half price’, an introductory discount for new customers, a loyalty scheme or a ‘recommend a friend’ scheme. Whatever you do, resist the urge to justify the increase to clients, unless of course they ask you outright why you’ve increased your prices – and even then you are well within your rights to avoid that conversation. It’s not really anyone’s business but yours, and most customers probably won’t really give it much thought anyway. Of course there will be the odd customer who doesn’t mind challenging you, complaining about it or refusing to rebook - but again, they are simply making space for someone else. The chances are they’ll be the kind of person who complains their way through life in general anyway! If you think about it, the massage industry shouldn’t be any different to any other industry in that it is not required to justify price changes.

If it should happen that a customer you really don’t want to lose becomes disgruntled by your new prices, you can always get creative to try to keep them on board. If they see that you are willing to incentivize them in some way, they will probably feel valued and decide to come back. It may be best not to make the decision based on rapport alone, for example, instead choosing to base it on whether or not they regularly tell friends about you, how often they come to you for a massage and what kind of therapies they book in for. If you tailor a package designed just for the rare few that you want to hold on to, they’ll feel special and probably remain loyal in the long run.

We would like to know about your strategies for increasing prices – and just how you feel about it in general. Have your experiences been positive or negative on the whole? What have you learned from past mistakes? Thanks for sharing!  

Lisa Rose
Lisa Rose


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Massage Table Size Guide

Massage tables comes in many different shapes and size. It can be confusing for you, the customer, to choose the right one but we are here to help!

A lot of customers call us up after they have bought the wrong size massage table elsewhere and we would like to help you avoid this mistake. It normally goes something like this; they like the look of a picture of a massage table on a website, they like the low price and then they check the carrying weight is ok. If the carrying weight fits their needs they click add to cart and the new massage table turns up at their doorstep in a few days. They unfortunately assume all massage tables are pretty much the same width and size.

The standard size of a massage table is 28 inches wide (71cms) and 73 inches (185cms) long. One of the reasons many "lightweight" budget massage tables are so cheap is because

  1.  They are smaller in size (normally around 61cms wide) and as such have less materials
  2. They are sold by specialist retailers who also sell anything else they can import and turn a profit on. As such they just buy the cheapest massage tables they can find in China. They go for smaller sizes as they are cheaper.

Make sure the massage table is the right size for you and your clients as the narrow massage tables at 61cms can be very uncomfortable for anyone who isn't petite and many clients cannot relax with their shoulders and arms unsupported.


The Width of the Massage Table:

Almost all therapists choose the standard 28 inch wide massage table. All our massage tables are the same length so it is only the width and shape our customers need to decide on.

Your massage table should be wide enough to cater for the wide variety of shapes and sizes of your clients. It needs to be wide enough to comfortably accommodate your treatment style, while being narrow enough to ensure you don’t have to strain your own back during treatments.

Each therapist's postural training and ability is different, so only you will know what massage table width you can handle. We have spoken to therapists who are five feet tall and get the wider 30 inch massage tables, and we speak to six foot therapists who have back problems and go for a 25 inch wide massage table. Everyone is different.

Generally speaking, if you are of smaller stature, you may do better with one of the narrower 25-inch massage tables. If you're quite tall, or are particularly keen to offer your clients a very spacious experience, a 30-inch massage table might be more suitable.

If you are in doubt, see if you can go into your local training college and see whether the massage tables there suit you. However, there is another way to get a feel for what will work of you don’t have access to a couch when you are deciding:

Cut out a piece of cardboard to the dimensions of both sizes you are deciding between. Put it on top of the kitchen table and lean over it. Visualise a client lying there, and see which width will suit you and your client best.

measuring the width of a massage table

Make sure you can get close enough to the table that you can pivot at the waist and have your shoulders squared to the clients hips, with your hands parallel to the clients' spine. Working in this position will ensure an injury-free career, so it's an important factor in your decision.

The most popular massage table widths are 28 and 30 inches. We sell 25-inch massage tables but you should really only choose this width if you are shorter in height and having a wider massage table might put your own back at risk over the course of your career.

You can also choose the 25-inch if you want to have the lightest massage table possible. By reducing the width of the massage table, the weight is also reduced. Now, this can mean a trade-off of some client comfort, but this trade is often worthwhile if you are a fully mobile therapist and use public transport frequently, where saving a kilogram or two will make a difference to you over time.


The Height Of the Massage Table

Nowadays, almost all portable massage tables come with height adjustable legs. Whichever massage table you choose should come with a large height range to accommodate you, and to cater for a broad range of therapies.

A common height range of massage tables is between 60 to 80cm, and this height range should cater for everyone. To check which height you need your massage table to be at follow this rule of thumb:

1. Stand up straight with your hands by your sides. Clench your fists.
2. Measure the distance between the floor and your knuckles
3. This distance should equal the height of your massage table.
4. Add a few inches in height to allow for the body of the patient on the massage table.

The height of a massage table is usually only adjusted when different therapists are using the same massage table, or if you have a client that is outside the average size you normally treat. So for example, if someone with a lot of body depth comes for a treatment after an average size person, you may need to adjust the height a notch or two.

You should be able to adjust the height of a massage table in just 2-3 minutes. Even though you mightn't adjust the height very often, the faster the better when you do have to!

There are 2 types of height adjustment mechanisms found on modern massage tables.

1) Twisting knobs (found only on wooden massage tables):

If you are working with a wooden massage table, it is better to have two knobs on each of the four legs for greater strength and reliability. When buying online, make sure to check how many knobs are on the legs. Cheap massage tables often only have one knob, and when you raise the legs to the highest heights they are less stable and have been known to snap.

2) Telescopic push-buttons (found only on aluminium massage tables):

The mechanism to adjust the height of an aluminium massage table is much the same as the push-button method on aluminium crutches. It only takes a few seconds to adjust each leg, and the mechanism is very reliable. Check out the video to see how it’s done.


Massage Table Shape:

The following are the different shapes of massage tables on the market.

1. Rectangle shaped with square corners 

This is the traditional shape of a massage table and the one you are probably familiar with seeing. Our Combi-lite 3 in 1 and Affinity Portaflex are shaped like this.

2. Rectangle shaped with rounded corners

Same as no 1 above in every way except the corners are rounded. Does not affect function in any way, just a different design/look.


3. Hour glass shaped with gradual gradient 

A fabulous massage table innovation in recent years, which solves a lot of the problems around choosing the correct width is the hourglass shaped massage table.

This style of massage table is wider at the ends, and tapers somewhat at the middle. This provide a spacious and comfortable experience for your client (as the shoulder and feet area are 30 inches wide) without compromising your own posture and health, as the middle of the couch where you lean over is a much narrower 26 inches wide.Having recently upgraded to one of these hourglass massage tables myself, I can vouch that my working days are much more comfortable, and many of my clients have commented on the extra comfort from the wider shoulder area.


4. Hour glass shaped with sharp gradient
Same as point above but instead of the it gradually going from wide to narrow, the massage table changes quickly from normal width to narrow width so people of very short stature can get in close.
5. Oval Shaped

 The name says it all! There are no corners on the massage table. Therapists normally choose this for one of two reasons. They simply like the look of this massage table and it is aesthetically more pleasing in their treatment room and/or they find it easier to move around the massage table during the treatment without having to side step the corners. This is particularly handy when space is limited in your treatment room.

oval massage table


Have any questions or comments about anything above? Please let us know in the comments below!