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Posted by: Louise Douse, 19 Mar 2013 4:11PM
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Pricing - clients and "mates rates"

Hello, I am a newly qualified Swedish Massage therapist and I am hoping to provide a mobile massage service around Hertfordshire (Bishop's Stortford, Ware, Letchworth) and Bedford. I am uncertain however how to price my services as being newly qualified I do not want to price above my abilities yet I also do not want to undersell my services. I am also concerned about what prices to set for friends and family as I am cure that to begin with my clients will mainly be friends and family! These were my thoughts on prices: 1 hour full body: £30 (£20 mates rates) 30 min back or head neck and sholders: £20 (£15 mates rates) I am concerned however that the mates rates might be too low but I don't think it would look as attractive otherwise. Please reply with any suggestions, I would really appreciate them. Many thanks, Louise


Kathryn Kemp
19 Mar 2013 4:21PM

Hi Louise Always a good one! A few suggestions for you: FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS: 10% or 15% off rather than a fixed amount - the amount they pay then goes up with your prices. If you allow them a fixed payment of £20 what will you do when you want to increase your prices? FOR ALL £5 off when they 'recommend a friend' is generally a good one to use for everyone as it helps to spread the word and bring new customers. Google around your area and find out what others are charging. Don't forget to include your petrol ie no extra charge within 5 miles, £5 extra for 5-10 miles, £10 outside 10 miles for example. Depends how far you want to travel. Hope this helps Kathy
Nicki Lee
19 Mar 2013 4:30PM

Hi Louise, Congratulations on starting your business! Pricing is one of the most difficult aspects, especially starting out, so here are some of my thoughts on various aspects of the subject: First, be careful about pricing too low. You can always drop prices for special offers (more on that later) but it's very hard to raise them. It's natural for you to not want to charge too much as you are inexperienced, however you are fully qualified and should charge the market rate. I suggest checking around your area and see what the prices are (spas and hotels are usually a lot higher, so you can ignore those). You can choose the lower end of the scale, but beware, if your prices are very low you will get the bargain chasers, who usually prove not to be loyal clients and will leave when someone is cheaper or when your prices go up. You are offering a good service (I think mobile should charge MORE for the travel and time spent setting up, not to mention lugging a heavy couch around!) and you should believe you are worth the price. I don't know your area but £30 per hour doesn't sound very high and I don't see why it can't be a standard price. Having said that, also be very careful about offering low special offer deals - if you become known for doing that, people will never book at the full price but only when you have an offer on. One way around might be an introductory offer - so for the first month (2months, 3 months?) you are offering an introductory price for all treatments, with it clearly stated this is temporary. You can do this for the full time period, or only for the first treatment for each individual. Please be VERY careful about offering mates rates! This can be a real problem, especially as you get busier as hopefully you will. I know people still giving ridiculously low rates to friends (and people who frankly are really friends) just because that's what they did 10 years ago when they started and they feel they can't change. I would say start as you mean to go on. I don't offer mates rates at all. I can't afford to. Massage is very hard work, and I can only do a certain number of treatments per day, so any discounted treatment is money out of my pocket which I need to pay my own bills. I know it's hard, but please do consider the ramifications of offering low prices. If you want to swap with friends for treatments or services that's another story and can work out well for both parties, but offering discounts to friends is a slippery slope. I would just offer one price. You could always give 'extra value' to friends while making it clear it's not a guarantee to happen every time in the future. This is another way to offer extra to clients without cutting your price, offering some extra service or product as a treat sometimes and not charged for. Sorry, didn't mean to write a book about it, but I was given some excellent advice on pricing when I started so thought I would pass it on along with my own experience. Very best of luck with your new business!! Nicki
Amanda Clegg
19 Mar 2013 4:48PM

I charge £10 to £12 extra for travelling out, depending on the distance and don't go more than a 10 mile radius. Your time is valuable, and fuel is soooooo expensive! I do mates-rates: 10% off (rounded off to a sensible number) - you haven't had to advertise for them, and 10% of your turnover is not out of the ordinary for advertising and promotion costs. Your current idea of £30 for Joe public and £20 for mates is a whopping 30% discount! The other thing I do is give the mates a bit longer notice of price rises. Everyone gets a month, and they get an extra treatment at the old rate, in effect. I also give them a nice gift (which you can, of course, buy wholesale and put against expenses when a friend or recommendation books a second or third treatment (ie becomes a regular). This way you can often get special offers for multi-buys from suppliers and it doesn't cost you as much as the time for your treatment. Plus if it's a range you can also retail - eg a good skincare brand, you are promoting your retail, which is a really good way of making some additional profit. I do this with a brand I love and use myself, so I know the products well, which also goes down well with clients - a proper personal recommendation. (Also means I can buy product for me at wholesale (shh!))
Louise Douse
19 Mar 2013 5:01PM

Hi all, Thank you very much for your replies, I did think that £20 mates rates was a tad cheap, and I didn't consider setting a percentage discount, what a good idea. I think knowing which "mates" to offer discount to is a problem and so I can see the benefit in not having this kind of an offer, however, I think I will still offer this, but perhaps at a 10% discount rate. I also agree regarding exchanges. I had not really considered the cost of travel or setting the cost by distance and this is also a good idea. Thank you again for your advice and I appreciate any further advice anyone else has to offer! Many thanks, Louise
Sandra Mary Smith
19 Mar 2013 6:28PM

Amanda, I have been wondering about selling products to clients, is there anything , legally to consider doing this along side your treatments , or is it a seperate business. Also can you recommend a brand, hope this makes sense, Sandra
Helen Rae Coleman
19 Mar 2013 8:12PM

Hi Sandra, I am a massage therapist in Leighton Buzzard and I work with a brand of products called EllaPure. I would highly recommend EllaPure as it really compliments my business. I offer pamper parties using the products and this is a great way of advertising my massage treatments as I offer taster treatments at the parties. The products are all natural, organic skincare and aromatherapy products, there are lovely massage oils and all the products are chemical free. EllaPure has a low start up cost, great commission structure and no targets or anything. I would be happy to give you some more information and advice, have a look at my website and contact me if you're interested, www.bodysoulmassage.co.uk
Amanda Clegg
20 Mar 2013 1:01AM

Ellapure sounds lovely. I looked at retailing my own blends, but the set up cost for testing is hugely expensive, so I just do aromatherapy 'prescriptions' for my clients using base creams from EOD. Doesn't make a huge profit but its a nice add on. I also retail AHAVA which is a very expensive spa/skincare range which compares pricewise with clarins and decleor, but is far better. Again, don't sell much - have a few clients who buy reasonably regularly, and their dermud range is brilliant for problem skin - but there's a reasonabel profit margin on it, no minimum order, and the company are really nice to deal with.
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