Friend Needs Hands on Experience
June 11, 2011 12:04 PM   Subscribe

How can I advise a friend who has just completed massage therapy training and is looking for clients? I've suggested posting to Craigslist and offered to make a snazzy business card/logo/masthead but I don't know what else to try.
posted by tangram1 to Work & Money (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you know people who play sports? Who cycle to work? Who have small kids? Who have stressful jobs? Does she have a FB page for her business/service? Perfect gift for Father's Day, and so on. Word of mouth recommendations from people trusted by others are the best way to advertise--word of mouth includes social media.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:12 PM on June 11, 2011

Website with the domain and an emphasis on the locations served would be one approach to take.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:17 PM on June 11, 2011

Host a spa party. Hire a manicurist for the night to do manicures and your friend could do chair massages, hand massages, bring in her table, whatever suits her. Leave a tip jar for the manicurist so your friends can throw in a couple bucks. At the end of the party hand out business cards for both people and coupons for 10% off first massage.
posted by Fairchild at 12:22 PM on June 11, 2011

Ask hotels in the area if they could use the services of an on-call masseuse.
posted by phunniemee at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2011

Every time I go to the dentist, I wish that there were a massage therapist on staff as well as a dental hygienist (there's often a temporarily empty exam room--there could easily be a portable massage chair for a 15-minute neck, back, and shoulder massage). A holistic dentist in an affluent area who offers before-and-after back massage could be a very successful arrangement, I think.

Same thing when I need to have an MRI, or any medical procedure that might be nervous-making, or require remaining still in an awkward position for a while. Look for medical buildings with labs, MRI, xray, outpatient surgery, etc. Don't they need a massage therapist, too? I think they do. Or, look for places where people have jobs that keep them on their feet all day, or lifting, or doing repetitive movements, and offer foot or hand massages. Not necessarily full-cost, hour long, lie-down-under-a-towel massages, but short, cheap, targeted relief for specific common tensions.
posted by Corvid at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by Wordwoman at 12:26 PM on June 11, 2011

These are great! Please keep them coming!
posted by Mertonian at 12:28 PM on June 11, 2011

Perhaps looking to see if any massage therapy clinics have vacancies. That's how a friend built up her practice once she graduated.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:36 PM on June 11, 2011

your friend should always have business cards to hand out at every social opportunity.
your friend may want to be generous with freebie 5 minute backrubs at parties/hangouts etc. this is how I found my masseur, since I got a chance to experience his skills
nthing the spa party idea, or if someone you know is throwing a big party, or a shower etc suggest they hire a massage therapist for the guests! your friend can work for tips, enjoy the party and get lots of exposure!!
posted by supermedusa at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2011

Most salons are generally looking for additional therapists. This may or may not pan out into a source of reliable, regular clients, bit it can easily turn into enough business to pay the bills.
posted by valkyryn at 12:38 PM on June 11, 2011

Partner with hip or up-and-coming companies to offer on-site massages one day a week.

Cozy up to nail and/or tanning salons; customers there go crazy for massages!

Chiropractors are also often open to office-sharing arrangements so they can incorporate massage into their patient care.

I've seen several gyms that offer massage therapy.

A real key, I think, is to offer some brief samples so people can experience what it will be like as well as get comfortable with your friend. (Most people, myself included, wouldn't book a massage with someone they never even met.)
posted by DrGail at 12:43 PM on June 11, 2011

Wordwoman: Groupon

I would not do Groupon. You get less than 50% of the already discounted deal and the repeat customers are something like 1% for a lot of businesses. Google will give you loads about this if you're interested.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:43 PM on June 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

I recently played in weekend tennis tournament and there were two people (with business cards) performing free massages. They had a HUGE waiting list.
posted by duckus at 12:46 PM on June 11, 2011

Cancer survivors often receive special massages to prevent and cope with lymphedema caused by their treatment.

I wouldn't recommend treading on the toes of the Physical Therapists who ordinarily provide this treatment, but home massage is often part of the regimen, and I don't see why your friend couldn't provide that for a fee.
posted by jamjam at 12:52 PM on June 11, 2011

NO..... not Groupon! Your friend will lose $. I could go on and on about why - but for an independent service business it is NOT a good fit. Tell your friend: Look for a networking group/meeting in your area. Introduce yourself to medical professionals. Consider offering your time as a presenter for community meetings or groups if you don't mind public speaking. I'm not a fan of Craigslist anymore for massage, you'll have to weed out a lot of calls from people looking for sexual services. Getting a basic website together and getting listed on the many sites that list therapists by city or region is a good idea. Finding people who will refer to you is one of your best ways to get clients and it's free or almost free. Try hair salons, personal trainers, yoga instructors... If you have more time than money, offer them a free half hour massage so they can try you out. Offer to let them upgrade to an hour and pay the difference if they want. Give everyone you meet, anywhere and everywhere 3 of your business cards. Ask them to give the other two to friends they think might enjoy your service. If you want you can write or print on the back of the card some kind of "first time" special.... $20 off, 50% off.. Whenever you have an appointment, ask them if they'd like to book their next massage then and there, while they are nice and relaxed and happy.

I've been an LMT for 20 years :-) and have always worked for myself except for my first couple of years when I worked for the YMCA. It can be hard to get started in this economy, but it is the best job in the world. Don't sell yourself short by working for a franchise that thinks your service is only worth paying you $15/hr. You are worth much more than that.

Good luck!
posted by pinkbungalow at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

One method a friend used to get her photography business started is to give some work away for free and say I won't charge you since I'm just starting out, but if you like my work, tell all your friends about me and tell them I charged you [$appropriate amount]. In addition to other marketing methods, she got work from the word of mouth.
posted by getmetoSF at 1:14 PM on June 11, 2011

My LMT provides her services in a yoga studio. Check around to some of the larger ones and see if they've got a space. Built-in clientele!
posted by That's Numberwang! at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2011

My LMT is contracted with this company and although I have no idea how it works, I get a big (almost 50%) discount through my insurance. She's so busy now that it usually takes weeks to get an appointment.

Before the insurance thing, she would periodically run specials where if you pre-paid for three massages the fourth was free.
posted by dogmom at 3:43 PM on June 11, 2011

I don't know anything about massage, but I have a friend who's been through a course in how to build your "doing something that's good for someone" business.

Advertise to a niche -- or more than one. Example: massage for mother and infant; massage for people who type a lot; massage for people with hypertension. Don't be afraid to get quite specific.

Offer an introductory massage at a very attractive price, and once you're with the client, offer a package. Maybe four weekly massages, and the fifth is free.
posted by wryly at 6:11 PM on June 11, 2011

Be very careful with Craig's List. If your friend posts, try the Beauty section instead of the Therapeutic.

Another site that I use, and several people I am friends with advertise on, is

Find a local chiropractor and ask if you can post a flyer and leave some business cards.

See if any of the local gyms have an arrangement with a therapist or if they have a space for rent.
posted by johnn at 6:22 PM on June 11, 2011

When you're an independent contractor starting your own business, it can be helpful at first to work at an established company at least part-time. Your friend might consider getting a gig at a spa or salon - even if that's not his/her ideal setup, it's a way to build a reputation.

My LMT friend has gotten a lot of work by doing chair massages. There is a local company that has a chair massage setup at Whole Foods, and she picks up shifts there, which is decent money, then also gives out her cards and gets clients that way. She also does chair massages at the casino in the high-stakes poker room and makes tons.
posted by radioamy at 10:32 PM on June 11, 2011

Response by poster: These are all fantastic. Thank you so much!
posted by tangram1 at 4:45 AM on June 12, 2011

I do a massage day at my house every month or so. I invite friends over for half hour massages (they all pay), lunch and wine. We get to have a good day together and my masseuse gets to be introduced to new clients.
posted by Vaike at 4:35 PM on June 12, 2011

I think radioamy has a good idea- See what is cost to set up shop in the mall for a month or two, get some clients and look at it as an investment.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:01 PM on June 12, 2011

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