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You’ve made the decision to sell products in your business. What is the next step? Becoming a retail business in addition to a bodyworker generally means you have to make some changes. As a massage therapist you need to make sure you have a license or certificate proving you have the qualifications to practice. Depending on local planning laws you may be able to work out of your home, do outcalls or have an office in town. Selling products, though, adds another dimension. There is more paperwork, more responsibility and hopefully more clients.
The first thing you have to do is make sure that the location of your office is zoned for retail business as well as a massage office. If you work out of your house, it may not be legal to also sell products. If you find a lovely place in town for retail, it may not be zoned for massage therapy. If you are renting a space, they usually need to see that you have a business license, something a bank would need to see as well if you are opening a business account for the first time or requesting a loan to expand.
Then there is the need for a retail tax identification. The same one is usually used for paying both state and federal taxes as well as sales tax. You can always check with your local Chamber of Commerce or online with the Small Business Administration for details. Once you have all the legal issues out of the way, you can proceed to setting up.
You need to have a little bit of an idea of what you want to sell before making a final decision in what kind of space you need. Before making the “what” decision, though, a few preliminary “where” and “how’s” have to be in place.
Perhaps the most important is you do not want to sell products in the same room where you work on your massage clients. What you can do, with discretion, is put some free samples out for them to try, such as packets of lotions or creams, small samples of essential oil scents, which can usually be provided by the product’s distributors.
At the very least you need to have two rooms, one for bodywork and one for a reception area where you can also set up some sort of display. It can be as simple as a table top, a book case or some kind of a wall display. Above all you want the space for your products to look professional, clean and honestly represent who you are. You don’t want it to look like you just set up haphazardly like a garage sale display.
You are probably already set up with a system for taking payments from clients. When selling products you will need to get a bit more detailed. While you don’t necessarily need a cash register, you do need a system for inventory, sales and sales tax. There are several relatively inexpensive software programs out there specifically for massage therapists that include those features and more.
What Can You Sell?
What you sell depends a lot on what type of massage therapist you are. If you are primarily a therapist doing relaxation massage, energy work or Asian modalities the most appropriate items might include candles (scented with essential oils or unscented), essential oils, relaxing music or eye pillows.
If you focus primarily on sports or medical massage, your inventory might include analgesic rubs, stretching bands, exercise balls, hot/cold packs or even yoga equipment.
Any type of practice could offer books on holistic healing, the use of essential oils, meditation, exercise or items such as bath salts and meditation CDs.
An important aspect of selling, especially as a massage therapist, is to carry items that you know about and believe in. Your clients trust you and look up to you as a knowledgeable and caring healthcare professional. You don’t want to betray that relationship.
Become a Regional Representative
Big companies can’t be everywhere. And, not everyone likes to buy from seeing photographs in magazines or catalogs. Customers like to see, touch and smell products before spending their money. One of the ways you can add to your bottom line, even without a storefront, is to become a local sales representative for manufacturers of products. You don’t have to carry an inventory, only some samples of the products. Potential customers, usually other massage therapists, order them through you. You generally wouldn’t do this for small items like essential oils or candles, but instead for selling goods (to other massage therapists, Reiki practitioners and reflexologists for example) like massage tables, linens or equipment like stones and heaters.
Always make sure you deal with a reputable, well-established company and be very careful about tying up your own funds (personal or business) when it comes to ordering items. Companies often require 50 percent of the purchase price up front and this should be paid by the customer at the time he or she places the order.
Remember – more products do not necessarily translate into higher profits. What you want are quality items that are beneficial to your clients and will keep them coming back for more!
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