What you are about to read is a true story. After four sessions with my Massage Therapist, Sophia, I still didn’t know what her massage prices were!
I have a new Massage Therapist. Sophia is her name and at the time this article was published, I’ve had four sessions with her. She’s really good. For me, her strengths are how she facilitates client relaxation and letting go. She also does great neck work! I call her my “Scalenes Whisperer”.
Sophia is a young Massage Therapist. She has been in practice for a little over a year. She has a powerful story about why she got into Massage Therapy but her marketing could use some help.
I remember asking her what her massage prices were after the first session. Her response utterly confused me. She said $110 for our 90 minute session but since I came from a referral it was $90. Before I said okay, she chimed back in again and said she wants clients to get regular bodywork so if I schedule two sessions in a month, my massage that day would cost $75.
If you don’t find that confusing, think of it this way- your client is about to pay you $110 for a good 90 minute session but then after a few minutes and some conversation you’re now asking the client to pay $75. Your client has no idea why to price keeps going down.
I looked at Sophia and said, “Hey, you have to take care of yourself. How can you afford to eat when you have such low massage prices?” She looked at me, smiled in an uncomfortable way, and then deflected the conversation to something about me drinking more water.
That was the moment that I knew I needed to help her.
A 60 Minute Meeting That Helped Sophia Set Her Massage Prices
It took about 6 weeks but after my 3rd session with Sophia, I asked her how her practice was going. Since she knew me a little more and had an understanding of the work I did, she told me she needed some help. She was specifically referring to her promotional efforts. I offered to meet with her and talk more. We scheduled a date and time to meet at a nearby coffee shop.
When we had our meeting, I started it by asking her where she needed the most help. She told me 4 things and then asked me where I thought she could use the most help. (Sophia is good at taking the attention off of herself.) I told her that often times, the first thing that is spoken of is the thing that could use the most attention. She understood my point and so we began talking about her massage prices.
I told her that, as a client, I still don’t know what her massage prices are. I also knew that she practiced in more than one location so I asked her to break down a typical work week. Her response was something like this:
“I work in two different locations. At the first location, I have set hours on the weekend and do spa massage for the clients at that location. Location 2 I am on call and have 1 client a week there. It’s kind of loud at location 2 so I don’t massage there much. During the week, I can rent the room at location 1 for my own clients, as long as the room is available.”
I thought about it for minute and then said, “so you’re pretty much always on call?” She said “yes”.
Once that was cleared up, we proceeded to talk about her massage prices. Here’s the breakdown.
Location 1- she gets paid $33-48/hour for the spa clients she massages on the weekends. Location 1 books the sessions.
Location 2- she gets paid $50/hr for the one client she sees twice a week (where it’s loud).
Location 1 (but for her own clients)- she rents the room at $30/hr and charges her personal rates.
And when I asked what her massage prices were for her own clients, she didn’t have an exact answer. It depended on who was on the table.
Standardizing Massage Prices
I jumped right in and told her she needed to standardize her massage prices. She told me she was scared because she thought some clients wouldn’t be able to afford to pay more than what they currently pay.
That’s understandable but she has to prioritize her needs first. She was doing hard work and getting little compensation for it and likely stretching herself too thin.
After some discussion about taking care of herself first, I asked her, “What would you pay for a Massage?”
That’s what got her. (I could literally see the insight set in.) Sophia said she would pay $100/hour for a good session of massage & bodywork.
That helped her understand the value of good work. She thought about how expensive the cost of living in our town was, how much time and effort the work was, what other practitioners are charging, but more importantly, how good practitioners show up for their clients- with presence and intention.
All these thoughts helped her see what kind of practitioner she was and how she was undermining the value she brought to her clients.
I asked her “Are you worth $100/hr?” Energetically, she was hesitant but she shook her head yes.
I told her to set her massage prices at $100/hr and $125/90 min. Since she wanted to help make sessions affordable for clients, I recommended a package of 3 at a discount. Her massage prices for package rates are now $250 for 3 one hour sessions and $315 for 3 ninety minute sessions.
In sixty minutes of talking with me about how she valued massage & bodywork, plus, how she accepted that she was undermining the good work she does, Sophia was able to double her massage prices and feel great about the new rates.
After a week went by, I followed up with Sophia and asked if she had the opportunity to communicate her massage prices to new clients. She said yes and she was feeling great about how things were going.
How to Set Your Massage Prices
I’m super happy for Sophia. Setting massage prices to rates that you feel good about (and pay you well) is a very important step to being a successful practitioner.
I hope this story inspires you and helps you think about your current massage prices and how you’re communicating your value. If you need some help figuring out what your massage prices should be, please feel free to contact me. We can discuss where your practice is at and if my consulting services would be helpful to you.
Thanks for reading this and keep doing tremendous work. We both know how a good session of bodywork can make an incredible difference.