LaTonya Dykes is what you’d call a city concrete kid. She grew up playing in the streets of New York City, and bumps, bruises and sprains were just part of everyday life running around the block. Whenever she needed to ease the pain, her mother—a Jamaican immigrant—always turned to healing through the laying of hands first. It was through this natural transfer of energy that LaTonya discovered what a remarkable impact human touch has on the body, but to her, it was simply what her family did out of tradition. It never crossed her mind that it was something you could do to make a living.

Years later, in her pursuit to see all that life has to offer, LaTonya eventually landed in Las Vegas, Nevada on the advice of a friend. She always valued and respected massage because of her upbringing, but it wasn’t until her arrival there that she decided to brave the leap into it professionally. After completing her training at Nevada School of Massage Therapy, she cut her teeth working with and learning from lifelong industry pros at hotels and spas in the area.

But the many competitive years on the Strip eventually took its toll, so LaTonya decided it was time to move on. She packed up her experience, opened a map, and trekked to Ogden, Utah for a complete change of scenery. Uncertainty sank in at first, but this self-proclaimed gypsy now feels right at home serving a diverse, loyal clientele at her own private practice—The Lotus Dawn.

We spoke with LaTonya one afternoon to learn more about why she loves being an independent massage therapist, how awesome life as a business owner has been, and how she’s effectively using a membership program to continually grow her practice.

You too can get to know LaTonya. She’s sharp, strong-willed, and passionate about enriching the lives of each and every client she has the pleasure to serve.

MassageBook: Hi LaTonya! Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us today.

You spent the first part of your career as a massage therapist working at large spas and corporate chains. What did you learn during your time at those places, and what’s life like as an independent massage therapist now that you’re out on your own?

LaTonya Dykes: Las Vegas was a great place to start because I wanted to learn from therapists who had been in the industry for over 20 years. So I threw myself into it, and I got to work with a lot of talented people along the way. It was extremely competitive but a very valuable experience.

I swore I would never do it, but when I first got to Ogden, I started working at Massage Envy. The money was low, but the work was consistent. It was enough to keep a roof over my head, but working for others at a place like that taught me that there’s a fine line between therapeutic massage and running a business. A lot of times, it’s easy to lose that connection with clients, and they can sense that too. It just feels very commercial.

Now that I’ve opened my own practice, I love being able to customize what I’m doing for each person. I don’t have to compromise, and I’m able to keep that one-on-one hometown bond with each client.

MB: That’s great! We’re so happy to hear that you’ve been able to go out on your own. MassageBook is here to support folks just like you.

The Lotus Dawn has been open for about a year now. How’s life being your own boss?

LD: This is absolutely what I was meant to do! It’s made all of the adventures up until this point totally worth it. And I’m not brown-nosing, but MassageBook has helped alleviate so much administrative work. I’m in complete control of how I operate the business. My approach is to always educate and spark the interests of my clients. I want them to be excited about taking the journey of massage. I don’t even consider it work. It’s all fun for me! I wake up every morning and am thinking about creative ways to market and grow my business.

MB: Speaking of creative ways to grow, tell us about the membership program you started.

LD: To me, if you have a heartbeat, you can be my client. My goal is to make massage affordable for everyone, so I started selling membership plans about 8 months ago that allow for a lower priced service if you become a monthly member. I wanted to offer something that was competitive with Massage Envy too, but I wanted to take away all of the commercial annoyances that I had discovered there. From a business standpoint, it’s very important to create smart ideas that keep clients happy and coming back.

MB: How did you decide how you’ve structured your membership plans?

LD: My normal prices are a dollar a minute. I charge $60 for 60 minutes and $90 for 90 minutes. But for the membership, I made it $45 for 60 minutes and $75 for 90 minutes. Plus, they get to choose hot stones or aromatherapy at their appointment, and they also receive 20% off additional services throughout the month. It’s all month to month, and their credits roll over if they’re unused. The enhancements are all things that don’t cost me too much either. I know it sounds like a big value, but I learned that it’s called give to get. And when you’re willing to give, your clients keep coming back because they can see what they’re gaining from it. Prices are much higher in Vegas, so when I moved here, I had to start thinking more about what I’m giving my clients as opposed to just what I’m worth as a therapist. I think I’ve found a good balance for me at this point.

MB: What’s the biggest benefit of having a membership program?

LD: I know where my money is coming from each month. It’s much more reliable than hoping and waiting for customers to walk through the door. My clients get to save money, and they’ve always got a reason to book. I tell them that all upfront, and they totally get it because they’re people too. There’s no commitment, so they feel like they’re in the driver’s seat. The value has shown itself in the repeat clientele, and they’re recommending me to friends and family too. I’m getting income in volumes instead of per client charge. That’s been really important for my growth.

MB: What’s the #1 way you market your membership program?

LD: I tell every single new person that walks through the door about it. First, I explain what today’s appointment includes, and I let them know that while they’ll see results after one session, the many benefits of massage are gained through consistent therapy. Then I follow up with the details about the membership. If they enjoy the first session and they plan on coming back, trying the membership is totally worthwhile since there’s no commitment. It’s been very successful! I have 35 members so far, and I hope to double that in the next 6 months.

MB: That’s awesome! Congrats!

You’ve been beta testing MassageBook’s new Memberships feature. How’s that going, and how has it helped streamline your membership program?

LD: Oh my goodness! Your team is so on it with the vision and flow. It’s right in alignment with those of us out here on the front lines. I’ve found the transition from my old setup to be extremely smooth. You’ve created a beautiful, easy-to-use product. I’ve created two plans in my Service Menu, and all of my members are now automatically being charged for service credits each month right in MassageBook. Managing everything has been so easy. You’ve done an amazing job!

MB: LaTonya, we’re blushing! We’ve got a few sweet additions coming, but it’s almost ready to go live for all MassageBookers. Be on the lookout real soon.

Leave us with some advice for those who are considering starting a membership program.

LD: I’m an advocate for it all the way! But be sure you’re ready to commit to your business. When you provide a membership, you need to be available. Be prepared to support your members, but go for it if you think you’re ready. MassageBook’s Memberships feature will definitely help make it much easier too. It’s been nothing but positive for me!

Thanks for your insight and assistance, LaTonya.

May it help the next round of MassageBookers build their own pro-level membership programs just like yours!

As of August 12th, 2019, Memberships is available to all MassageBook Professional Accounts.

To create your first Membership plan:

  1. Sign in to your Professional Account.

  2. Go to Setup in your MassageBook Business Profile.

  3. Open your Service Menu.

  4. Select the Memberships tab.

  5. Select Create a Membership to fill in the details about your plan.

Need help getting started?

Here’s the easiest way to create your first Membership plan.