A listener asks, “How should a new therapist set prices?” We discuss the ins and outs of pricing when you’re just starting out.
Submit your questions at: https://www.massagebusinessblueprint.com/talk
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone, welcome to a Q&A episode of the Massage Business Blueprint podcast. I’m Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines And I’m Allissa Haines.
MR And we are your hosts. Welcome, welcome to another Q&A episode. We have got a great question for you today, so let’s get to it.
Listener question Hey, you guys. It’s Annie. How to set prices and why you should not price yourself low right when you’re out of school. Like, you know, you get out of school and you say, I’m going to do $50-an-hour massages. That’s just — ugh — and it hurts the whole profession, so. That’s a pet peeve of mine.
MR All right. Pricing. Awesome topic. [Laughing].
AH It really is. I’m excited to answer this. But first — what happens first?
MR But first, let’s grab our sponsor.
MR What do we got?
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AH All right. So Michael, what do you think about new therapist pricing?
MR Yeah. This has been talked about so much, and it will be talked about in the future indefinitely because it is a really important topic.
So my first thought — and I don’t know if I’m way off base here, but my first thought is I don’t think many people choose a massage therapist based on price. I mean, some do, but maybe I’m just in a little bubble here where it doesn’t seem like price is the primary factor for choosing a massage therapist.
Am I wrong? What do you think?
AH I think that you’re correct. I think it’s not the primary factor. I think that style, branding, how the therapist presents themself — I think it’s probably location, presentation of the therapist — if they have good material and they seem legit — a referral from others. I think price is probably like fourth or fifth on the list. And I think that if price is someone’s first thought — first factor in deciding who they’re going to see, they’re probably not the best client — you don’t want them anyway, so.
MR Yeah. You’re not going to ever make them happy because they’re going to just price shop and look for the lowest price or coupon all the time.
AH Yeah. So I think that it’s really tempting to compete on price, especially when you’re a new therapist. Like, you know nothing about business. It’s scary. You’re touching people, that part’s scary. You’re trying to maybe start your own business, and that’s scary. And the notion of being worthy of the money that people are giving you for an hour of this time is really scary. The whole becoming a new therapist, especially if you go right into your own business ownership, it’s really weird. But it’s super important to remember that we’re not competing with each other. Like, there are no other massage therapists that are exactly like you. So the goal is to attract clients that are a good match for you, not to be the discount therapist that’s going to woo people in on low prices.
That’s also a great way to burn out within a year or two and also to just hate going into your job every day.
AH To feel like you’re underpaid and stuff.
AH So it’s a short-term strategy that very rarely —
MR I’ve been there.
AH — gives long-term success. Like, we have all been there.
So how should a new therapist figure out their pricing? Here are my suggestions, and then I’ll throw it back to you, Michael. I think you do need to look at your marketplace just to see what’s going on because a massage where I am in New England is going to be a different price than where someone is in rural Idaho versus someone who is in the San Francisco Bay Area. Like, very different stuff. So you do need to look at your local marketplace and see the averages. What are people offering? What are independent practitioners offering? What are franchises offering? And you got to remember, too, if people take tips, you got to kind of figure that in and decide if you’re going to take tips or if you’re not, if you’re going to price your services so you don’t need tips. How you get to work that is your own deal. But see what indies are doing. See what franchises are doing. See what spas are doing that offer more benefits than you, more accoutrement than you, fancy stuff. What about other practitioners who offer less than what you do? And kind of factor that in.
You do need to look at your expenses and make sure that you can cover your expenses in the ideal number of massages you want to do every week. So — but I think when you’re a new therapist and you’re super tempted to be the discount therapist, keep in mind that there are plenty of other new therapists out there starting off at spas or franchises, and their rates aren’t discounted. And there’s lots of benefits to being a new therapist, too, as far — from the client base, you usually get better scheduling options and more attention, and it’s great. So don’t underprice yourself just because you’re new. You are just as valuable as a new independent practitioner as a new practitioner who’s starting at a franchise or a spa. So don’t underprice yourself just because you’re new. Look at your marketplace. Think about what you do, what you offer that other people don’t. Maybe that’s extra knowledge in headache or traumatic brain injury, I don’t know, and price accordingly for that, but don’t jump to being the discount practitioner.
AH What do you think, Michael?
MR No, I agree. I think starting at the market is great because you can always raise your prices later. And we encourage people to do that as you gain experience, as you niche yourself, as you brand yourself better. I think starting with the market price is perfectly fine.
And honestly, I think convenience is more important to most people. I keep thinking back to every time I’ve booked a massage, and honestly, convenience is the biggest frustration factor for me. Like, when you’re paying a certain rate — like what — when you hit between $50 and $100, for most people, you’re paying a premium for a service anyway. Like, $10 is not going to be that much of a difference. It’s more important, to me anyway, for convenience. If I am trying to find a massage therapist in a certain area — and I’ve been there before where I’ve been looking for a massage therapist and I don’t even look at the prices, really. I look at — I mean, I do look at the prices. Don’t get me wrong. That’s dumb for me to say that. But I don’t really — that’s — I’m not fixated on the prices. I’m fixated on can I — do they have online scheduling, are they in a location convenient to me, and do they have availability? Like, that’s the thing. If they don’t have online scheduling, I’m done, for example. So that’s one easy thing a lot of us can maybe do is implement that level of convenience.
So instead of thinking of pricing — and by the way, Annie, thank you for the question. It’s a — I’m glad we’re still talking about it because we have to keep talking about it. But to me, looking for ways to make yourself more convenient to your clientele I think is more important than the price you set.
MR That’s my two cents.
MR Yay. Well, thank you, Annie. Awesome question. Awesome thoughts to bring up, so. And thank you, Allissa, so. Cool.
AH You bet.
MR Well, we’ll wrap it up there. Reminder, the location to send your questions our way is massagebusinessblueprint.com/talk. It’s pretty easy. You have to just click a little button. You may have to allow microphone access for your browser if you’re on the web or on your phone, but just click that button. Again, if you feel up for it, give us your first name and your question. Keep it very specific if possible. We’d love to have really unique, specific questions to your business and your practice, so send those. You can talk into the — your microphone or your speaker, and it will send it to us, and we will play it on the air and answer it. And we’ll try to get to as many as we can. Again, massagebusinessblueprint.com/talk. Thanks for joining us today. We’ll see you next time.