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

October 09, 2016 4 min read

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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!  


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