Episode 319

Oct 16, 2020

Do you wonder if referral discounts devalue your practice? Allissa and Michael weigh in and give tips to discount well.

Listen to "E319: Will Discounts Devalue My Practice?" on Spreaker.
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Weekly Roundup

Discussion Topic

Quick answers to quick questions

  • Will referral discounts devalue my practice? (Spoiler: not if done well.)

Quick Tips



Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by The Original Jojoba Company. I firmly believe that massage therapists should only be using the highest quality products because our clients deserve it and our own bodies deserve it. I have been using jojoba for years and here's why: Jojoba is nonallergenic; I can use it on any client and every client without fear of an allergic reaction. It is also noncomedogenic, so it won't clog pores. So if you've got clients prone to acne breakouts, jojoba is a good choice for them. It does not go rancid. There's no triglycerides, so it can sit on your shelf for a year-plus and not be a problem. And that's what also makes jojoba a wonderful carrier for your essential oils as well. It won't stain your 100% cotton sheets, so your linens are going to last longer. The Original Jojoba Company is the only company in the world that carries 100% pure, first-pressed quality jojoba. And we are delighted to be their partner. You, my friends, can get 20% off the price of the product when you shop through our link massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.

Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. And welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money, and improve your quality of life. I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines I'm Allissa Haines.

MR And we're your hosts. Glad you've joined us today. Welcome. Welcome. Allissa, good morning. Good -- I guess "good morning" for us, but a good morning or afternoon or evening for anyone else that may be listening at different times.

AH Good day.

MR Good day. We'll just say "good day" or "good night."

AH Good day, everyone.

MR Or good night.

AH We're having some transition stuff. We've changed our regular podcast recording days, so we're both a little bit wackadoodle and off. You're just going to have to roll with that. What're you reading, Michael?

MR What am I reading? All right. I am reading this mega article. I'm about 10% into it, but I can already tell I'm going to love it, and I think you will too. It's called "How Google Drive Can Make Every Corner of Your Life Easier." It's a really, really long article, but it is -- it looks amazing. It basically is kind of a walkthrough of all the different ways you can use Google Drive just to organize your life. And one of the first things I read was talking about how to create a home manual -- like a manual for your home -- all the stuff you need to know about how to configure things and electronics and stuff like that, and appliances. And I was like, wow, that's brilliant, a home manual that you're creating as you update things in your home. So that's kind of the first thing I came across, which was really cool.

And there's a whole different -- a whole bunch of sections about organizing -- just organizing different stuff in your life and chores and errands and caregivers and stuff like that, and even legacy stuff. So I was really excited to find this, and it's in the show notes. And I'm going to get through it probably later this week completely, and there's probably a lot of good stuff in there that I may report on later. But so far, I think it's really interesting stuff. So that is what I am reading.

AH Okay. I'm -- one, I'm totally going to read this because it does -- I'm just glancing at it now, and it looks great. But you know how, on Medium, they always tell you at the beginning of the article roughly how long it's going to take you to read it?

MR Um-hum.

AH This one says 92 minutes. [Laughing]

MR Yeah.

AH So I am actually going to skim this and probably more deeply read the points that are relevant to me, but I feel like this is probably one of those things -- just reading the manual or watching the darn video tutorial will help me use it better. I definitely need this. We're trying to get everything organized in my house, even end-of-life stuff and giving each other power of attorney and all that stuff because we're not legally married or anything, so I have to do the paperwork on this. And we're trying to create common files and -- of everything I would need to run the household if he dropped off the planet for a couple of days or forever and vice versa. And this looks like really good timing. Thank you, Michael.

MR Yeah. I like -- Part 4 even says "Strengthen Your Relationships," and it has subsections like "Prioritize Your People," "Mourn," "Improving Your Dating Life," "Spice Up Your Sex Life," "Try New Activities," "Make Hosting Effortless" -- all sorts of interesting stuff, so yeah.

AH We might be having some unrealistic expectations of Google Drive.

MR Hey, a guy can dream. [Laughing]

AH But you know, if that's where we're going to store our, whatever, offline porn, great. Okay. Whatever. I don't know.

MR Google Drive can do everything. [Laughing]

AH [Laughing] I don't know how we got here, but Michael, take us away.

MR All right. Do you have anything you want to share on your reading list this week?

AH I don't because I have been completely overwhelmed and have not been able to finish reading anything.

MR All right. Wonderful. Let's move on to our first sponsor. And let's show some love to our friends at Acuity.

AH Yay, Acuity. Thank you for being our sponsor. Also, I'm sorry for the previous segment.

Sponsor message Acuity is the scheduling assistant that makes it easy for traditional businesses to become virtual businesses if you decide to do so. It's the business suite that takes hours of work off your plate, gives you the freedom to focus on all the other stuff that you actually love about running your business. From the moment a client books with you, Acuity is there to automatically send booking confirmations with your own brand and messaging, can deliver text messages, let clients reschedule on their own.

AH This isn't in my talking points, but I do want to point out that they have a level that provides HIPAA compliance if that's important to you.

Sponsor message We can process payments, and everything just runs smoothly -- smoother, I don't know. Ask Acuity. Get a special 45-day free offer when you sign up today. And you can check that out at massagebusinessblueprint.com/acuity.

MR Yay. All right. What are we talking about today?

AH So -- sorry, I had to mute myself to sniffle because we are deeply in allergy season here. We are talking about discounts, and specifically referral discounts, and specifically because I saw a very short and clear question that was something to the effect of "Will referral discounts devalue my practice?" And this person had a deal where if a client referred three new clients to them, after those three new clients came in, the original referring client would get a free massage. And there's always a variety of answers to these questions, and none of them are particularly right, and none of them are particularly wrong because as always, it depends. Context is everything. We're going to discuss a little bit of that. But on its surface, maybe. Referral discounts could devalue your practice, but not if you do it well.

So let's go backwards a little bit and think about how we choose our pricing and how we charge clients. We want people to be paying full price for our services. Period. It is simpler to do bookkeeping; it is simpler to market your practice; it is fair. It is definitely more fair across the board if all of your clients are, more often than not, paying full price for your services. It is less likely to breed resentment among clients who hear that one person got a discount when the other person didn't.

And also, having a set price but then offering 95 different discounts to it in different situations, it -- that does devalue us. That makes us look cheap and unorganized. It makes us look like -- you know those furniture stores where the couch might be $1,000 but there's -- you always got to find some kind of coupon, or you're afraid to buy the couch because you know that the next week some email's going to come, or there's going to be a President's Day special, or you know the furniture sale's guy's going to come on a commercial and tell you, you just mention so-and-so's name to get $100 off your couch. It just makes you look inconsistent and unorganized and like someone who treats massage like -- I don't want to say like a luxury, but like an irregular thing versus someone who provides massage that is part of someone's regular wellness care. There. That kind of says that. So that's why I think we need to have a price and charge that full price like 98% of the time.

I also want to note that sometimes when people offer discounts, and sometimes very deep discounts, they're offering them to the wrong people. That is, they're offering those discounts to people who already value and purchase our services and clearly can pay full price. So things like overly generous package pricing, like "buy five massages get one free," or overly generous birthday discounts that give cash off, money off the price, or a free massage after three referrals. Now, I kind of thought about this: If you do the math on that, that essentially means that for every one of those new massages, new clients that came in, you've lost 33% of your income from that. That's a huge discount to give. You don't need to offer lots of money off or lots of deals to people who are already coming regularly and paying full price, like your regular clients who might refer their friends and family. We're going to get to gifting in a second, but just pause with that there.

You want a discount to be a gentle nudge to encourage someone into taking action, and that action is typically booking an appointment or buying a gift certificate. A gentle nudge to someone who is not quite sold on booking an appointment maybe because they have financial concerns. Usually it's because they've had bad massage and just don't want to waste their time and money, so sometimes that small discount, that gentle nudge, can be enough to get someone over that hump of like, uh, okay, I guess I'll try another massage therapist. So that, along with a real qualified referral from a friend or family member who sees you, who they trust, can be enough to get someone over the hump to schedule, just like sometimes someone hurting their leg or getting sciatica or injuring their knee running can be the thing that gets someone over the hump and into massage. That's it. Discounts should be a gentle nudge. They are not a thank you. They are not a regular occurrence. They are an occasional and well-structured gentle nudge.

So if you really want to thank your clients for referring to you, which is a wonderful thing to do, instead of offering free massage or a heavy discount, give them something else. Give them a gift, not a discount. Give them a gift. That gift might be extra time in their next massage or whatever massage they choose. It could be an add-on service that you don't just give to everyone. It could be hot stones or hot pillows or warm bamboo or cool stones or an aroma-therapy upgrade or a foot scrub or -- any kind of add-on service that you provide, that could be the thank you when a client refers someone and that someone actually comes in. It could be an actual product, an actual gift, something that you retail that is relevant. So if you retail Biofreeze or Thera Canes or hot packs or what have you, that would be an excellent gift for someone to thank them for referring to you.

Even if you don't retail items, look around. You might -- you probably have people in your community making lovely local products, whatever. Maybe it's a beeswax or shea butter soap, or maybe it's something, anything. It could be gift cards to your favorite local, independently-owned coffee shop or bookstore, whatever. See what you can do; see what kind of deal you can make with that small business owner, or just buy things straight out and provide a small gift. I'm thinking $15 or less to that client who is referring new clients to you when you want to thank them. These are things that are not mega money, but they are really more meaningful. Clients love small thoughtful gifts. They don't have to be expensive.

So I would encourage you -- let's go back to the original question, which is "Will referral discounts devalue my practice?" Probably not, unless you're doing it kind of in a haphazard or overly generous way. So in my world, my favorite referral program and referral gift and discounting is to take a couple of business cards and either have printed or have a sticker or just write in your handwriting on the back "referred by --" and then you fill in a client's name. So let's say Michael's a really good client and I'm going say, "Referred by Michael. This entitles you to $10 off your first massage." And that new client -- Michael's going to hand that card and say, listen, you look like your neck hurts; you should call Allissa, and hand that friend that business card. And that business card's going to call and be like, hey, Michael told me to come in, and I got this card that says 10 bucks off my first massage. And I'm going to be like, great, book your appointment. Or they just book online, and I -- they come walk in and say, hey, I got this card from Michael. And so I give them their massage and I give them $10 off because that was a small nudge, a gentle nudge. And then I drop a note to Michael and say, thank you so -- if the client has given me permission, I say, thank you so much for that referral. I'll have something for you at your next appointment. Or, may I add 15 minutes onto your next appointment? Or, may I add an aromatherapy upgrade to your next appointment? There you go. That's it. It's a gentle nudge; it doesn't cost you a $100 or whatever you're charging for an hour massage. Everybody's happy. You haven't lost a bunch of income. And that is how I feel about discounts.

Michael, do you have anything to add?

MR I agree 100%. Discounting is so complicated. I don't like it at all. So I like the way you described everything.

AH Yeah. It's just -- it's just too much. It just gets so complicated, and it's a great way to end up feeling resentful about giving a free massage or offering too much off and then realizing that your income is dramatically impacted by that, so.

MR Yeah. Just keep it simple.

AH That's what I think.

MR Yeah. All right. Thank you for that.

AH Who's our next sponsor, Michael?

MR Our friends at ABMP.

AH Yay.

Sponsor message ABMP is proud to sponsor the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, and we appreciate that. They've got CE courses that you love and are available for purchase or included free with membership in the ABMP education center at abmp.com/ce.

AH I will note Michael and I just added a new webinar to the education center, a new CE course about minding your money. It brings together all of our columns for the Mind Your Money 2020 series that we did, and the magazine brings all of that information together. So in, I don't know, 75 minutes or something, 80 minutes, you can learn how to manage your business money beautifully. Okay. Back on track.

MR Yeah. And it's just not 1 CE, it's one 1.5 CEs.

AH What-what?

MR Yeah. Talk about giving extra.

AH You, my friends --

MR Like how I tied that in to giving a little extra?

AH I do. I'm going to go back to the script, though, before ABMP fires us.

MR Okay. Sorry.

Sponsor message Explore hands-on techniques, complete ethics requirements, and discover trending courses like "A Detailed Approach to Low Back Pain" from Allison Denney, who I adore. All ABMP memberships include 200-plus video-based, on-demand CE classes. And if you are not a member, we forgive you. You can still purchase access to a single course or CE packages at abmp.com/ce. I do not remember the prices, but I do remember looking at them and going, that is reasonable. Want more from ABMP? You can get more. Check out the ABMP podcast, available at abmp.com/podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

MR Woot woot.

AH I have no quick tips, but I am going to pile onto Michael's when he's done. So Michael, what's your quick tip this week?

MR Sure. My quick tip is use G Suite. I'm bringing this up because, as you may know, as a listener, we provide website services to our Community members. So if you're a Community member and you're struggling to find a company or a person to build your new massage practice website, we do that as well. It's very reasonably priced. And in doing that, we set up, I think, six or seven websites so far, all gone really well. They look great, if I do say so myself. And that process always kind of uncovers email stuff.

And so a lot of times, I've encountered people who have their email hosted with Go Daddy or some other web host or some weird surface or some guy in a basement with his server or -- and it's just some weird situation sometimes with email, and it's always just terrible. And so I really encourage everyone who is running a massage practice with your domain name to set up Google's business email service, which is called G Suite. It is -- I believe it's still like $6 a month. It's not very expensive for one mailbox. It's super cheap. And it gives you a ton of storage; it gives you a branded email account, like yourname@yourdomain.com, very professional. It gives you Google Drive; it gives you Calendar; it's a whole thing. So before you do anything else, before you redesign your website, get your email in order by signing up for G Suite. And you will thank me later.

AH And I will also note it's $6.38 a month, well worth it. And when you do that, when you create that G Suite business account, that allows you to sign the BAA, which I can't remember what that stands for right now, but that is the thing you have to click on and agree to, and then your whole Google Drive becomes HIPAA compliant. So if that's something that's important to you, this $6.38 a month setting up G Suite with your branded business email -- mine is allissa@hainesmassage.com, and it's so great because I can log into that one Google Drive, and I have created my client intake forms with that, and it aggregates to a master contact list spreadsheet of my clients, and I use that information to create individual charts, and it is all HIPAA compliant. So if that's a thing that's important to you, know that.

And I see this question come up a million times -- okay, exaggeration, but at least once a week, I see people online asking what people are using for their intake forms. And there's a lot of wonderful third-party, private company services that can do online intake forms and charting. I chose to go the Google Drive route, the G Suite route, because I was already paying that $6.38 a month for the email address, and I just wanted to lower all of my expenses. And I love it. It's great. It's easy. And I am just piggybacking on that, and now I'm done.

MR Cool. All right. That's what I got.

AH All right. We're done. Bye, everybody.

MR Oh, hey, we're done. Hey, look at that. [Laughing] All right. See ya. Okay. Thanks, everyone. We appreciate you joining us today. As always, you can find us on the web at massagebusinessblueprint.com. If you are not a member of our private community yet, we'd love to have you consider it. It's 30 days free. You can sign up on the Community page and check it out and get to know people for a month or so and see if you like it. And we'd love to see you there. So with that, send us any questions or comments to podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. Thanks for joining us today. Have a great day. We'll see you next time.

AH Bye. 

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