Updated August 4th, 2022

At MassageBook, our primary mission is to solve the everyday problems of running a small business that independent massage therapists face. One of these persistent and nagging issues is that of competition. We hear it all the time: “Big-box massage franchises like Massage Envy have national ad budgets, marketing teams, and franchise security. So how does a one-person practice compete?” And the answer is simple: you don’t.

Before you pump your fist at your screen, we don’t mean that you can’t compete, but rather, you should alleviate any pressure you have put on yourself to need to compete with Big Box Massage. Sure, there may be a location nearby, and they may be taking market share on TV or billboards, but the fact is that you will never have the budget or time they do. So instead, you should focus on providing the services you can and want to. There is no other massage therapist like you because there’s no other person like you. That, right there, is your marketable trait.

So now that you have breathed a sigh of relief let’s talk about making the most of what is available to you. First of all, especially in a one-person or small practice, efficiency is key. Your time is best spent working on clients, not finding them.

Automating how you get clients to keep coming back to your business is essential to growth. The number one way you can do this is by creating a massage membership program.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Wait! Don’t those silly big-box franchises you just told me not to compete with have membership programs?”

And you’d be right. They do. But just because you’re not competing with them does not mean you can’t learn from them.

Why membership programs work

Membership and subscription services are effective tools for growth because they provide repeat business and reliable income. This business model is everywhere—from streaming to pet toys to clothing and personal hygiene goods—and makes life easier for consumers who regularly use these services and products.

How membership models affect the massage industry as a whole

For better or worse, the massage industry attracts a specific type of entrepreneur: someone who is a self-starter and does not want to be tied to a traditional 9 to 5. That said, it can scare off others who crave a little more stability. Similarly, skilled professionals who might otherwise like to go into business for themselves, or join a small but effective independent practice, crave the stability a franchise provides. But, ultimately, equally-yoked competition makes us all better at our jobs.

In addition to attracting more people to the profession for the right reasons, memberships could also have a ripple effect on the reputation of massage as healthcare. For years, massage therapy has been consistently overlooked as a part of a holistic healthcare plan and as a meaningful alternative to drug therapy. This is despite the overwhelming majority (70%) of massage clientele expressing that it should be considered a form of healthcare.

The benefits of a massage membership program go well beyond generating a more stabilized, predictable income. Let’s discuss:

1. Stay top-of-mind with your clients

For most massage therapists, relationship building is the cornerstone of success. Your clients need to trust you in order to continue regular visits and to refer family and friends. However, we all have clients that tend to fall off the radar. Life happens! Maybe they got a new job or had a baby. Suddenly, their appointments are scheduled farther and farther apart. By creating a massage membership program, your client has an automatic reminder to carve out time for a monthly visit.

2. Create better habits for your clients

It’s easier for clients to create better habits when they’re coming back to see you much more frequently. Dedicated time for a massage each month allows them to relieve stress and anxiety, manage injury prevention, emphasize self-care, and focus on healthy choices for their bodies.

According to AMTA, 46% of people who got a massage in 2018 were over the age of 44. Good health and wellness habits can set this demographic up for more longevity and mobility in later years.

3. Build better engagement with your clients

Clients want to feel that we, as massage therapists, care and are interested in their well-being. They want to feel that we have a vision for their holistic healthcare. These feelings are not only tied to our skills as service providers but also to our ability to build relationships. For example, you might give an excellent deep tissue massage, but if your client feels that you don’t care about them, they’re not as likely to return.

To that end, a massage membership takes the pressure off trying to convince a client to return because their membership is their incentive. Instead, you can focus on deepening your understanding of their needs and provide the best recommendations for products and services moving forward.

4. Craft comprehensive wellness plans for your clients

Similarly, building better engagement with your clients means you can craft comprehensive, long-term plans for their massage therapy. You won’t have to constantly adjust their treatment like you would if they come in on a loose schedule or if they only come in when they have a new acute issue.

5. Add long-term stability to your practice

Successful massage practices are built on a healthy number of committed clients who come back at least once a month. A membership program gives your practice a dependable way to encourage more frequent visits from your clients, which ultimately adds strength and durability to your foundation.

6. And yes, increase your predictable monthly income

The regularly scheduled membership payments you receive each month help you grow your consistent and predictable income. This is typically the first benefit of massage memberships people think of, but there’s a reason we placed it last. Building engagement with your clients and having their best interests at the forefront of your business model will ultimately separate you from Big Box Massage. It is your greatest asset and superpower. That said, you’ll love how building your predictable income through a membership program gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing when and how much you’re getting paid each month.

Suppose you now want to start a membership program for your massage therapy practice. In that case, you may want to consider investing in software that will automate the management of it for you.

MassageBook’s all-in-one membership management software has completely streamlined the day-to-day tasks needed to effectively create and manage a monthly membership program. This incredibly simple yet powerful tool was developed to give independent massage therapists all they need to meet the growing challenges of operating a small business.

Need an extra hand running yours? Get to know our massage membership management software now.