Offer clients a full-body feel-good service with message therapy and see their spirits rise and your appointment book fill up fast.
This movement, raking of the spinal muscles, causes a relaxing, wave-like feeling for the client, says massage therapist Greg Lambert.
Massage therapy is one service that truly makes you feel good from head to toe. The physical benefits of massage include relieving aches and pains, such as sore muscles in the neck, shoulders, and back, as well as refreshing tired muscles. Psychologically, massage reduces tension and anxiety, calms the nervous system, relieves fatigue, and induces relaxation. Overall, massage therapy is a positive practice for the mind, body, and soul.
“My whole shop is focused around massage,” says Stevie Ehmer, owner of Stevie Euro Spa in Kissimmee, Fla. ‘We incorporate massage into our manicures and pedicures, and we even do a head massage when the client is getting shampooed. I offer massage because I think if you don’t diversify, you won’t survive because people want different things. We live in such a stressful environment — massage therapy offers a momentary escape from all the tension.” A large majority of the salon’s nail and hair care clients get massages, says Ehmer.
Before becoming clients at Reflections Day Spa Inc. in Zephyrhills, Fla., many people would drive miles away to Tampa since professional skin care and massage were not well known in the area, says salon owner and licensed esthetician Joy Linville. The salon, which opened in October 1994, offers nail care, hair care, skin care, massage, waxing, and tanning. Says Linville, “More of our clients are learning about skin care and massage, and it’s beginning to grow.”
Palma Hernandez, owner of The Nail Makers Studio in Dallas, Texas, had her salon for 3 ½ years before she decided to hire a massage therapist a year ago. ‘The massage therapist I hired was a woman I had been going to, so I knew she was good. Since I have an affluent clientele, I knew they would utilize her services and I also had the extra space. The service has been very profitable because I think more and more people are getting body services these days. It’s great for your body, and it’s also affordable,” says Hernandez. About half of her nail clients now get massages.
Realizing the benefits of massage as well as its profits, Rosemary Alkofer, co-owner of A Classic Touch Salon in Savannah, Ga., also does massage therapy. “I think massage is a natural extension of doing nails since it is incorporated in manicures and pedicures. A body massage keeps the muscles supple, moisturizes skin, and gives it a healthy glow,” she says. Before opening the salon, Alkofer worked at a salon that believed in promoting new services, and many of the salon’s clients were requesting massage. “I started out doing a lot of free massages to get people hooked as well as to practice my techniques,” says Alkofer. “I also talked about it as much as possible with my nail clients, who are very supportive because they had experienced my hand massage techniques.”‘ They were so supportive, in fact, that many of her clients followed her to A Classic Touch.
Choosing the Room, Equipment, Supplies and Therapists
Everyone we spoke to emphasized the importance of a separate area for massage. Says Hernandez, “I think it’s very important to have a private space — a quiet area that is completely closed off. Privacy is something a salon owner has to be very aware of.”
At Reflections Day Spa, a private room is set up for skin care and massage therapy, and the facial bed doubles as a massage table. One client is serviced at a time, and massage clients are soothed by relaxing meditative music. Aromatherapy fragrance is diffused throughout the salon.
The minimum size for a massage room should be about 10 feet by 12 feet long to allow enough space for equipment as well as enough room for the massage therapist to move around the table. Basic equipment includes the massage table, supply cabinet, and stool (optional). Supplies include sheets, towels, pillows, pillow cases, hangers (for clothing), wraps or robes, and massage creams and oils. Music and soft lighting are also necessities.
“Your most expensive item is a massage table, which costs around $300-$400 for a new one,” says Greg Lambert, a massage therapist at Kurl Up ‘N’ Dye in Buna, Texas. After purchasing everything you need for massage therapy, Lambert says all you need to replace regularly are the oils. He offers this advice: “Always ask clients what type of oil they prefer because some people may be sensitive to certain odors.” For this reason, Lambert stocks un- scented as well as scented oils.
Since Lambert works as an independent contractor, the salon provides him with a private room that has air-conditioning and heat, while he provides everything else.
Stevie’s Euro Spa has a separate massage room with male and female staff because Ehmer believes in choices. “We call our massage room the ‘I’ve Died and Gone to Heaven’ room because we have floating angels painted on the walls, and when the lights are off, there are glow-in- the-dark stars on the walls,” she says.
At all three Mitchell’s Salon and Day Spa locations in Ohio, massage therapists are hired as employees. Says nail director Sherry Williams, “Our massage therapists have a ready-base clientele but it’s up to them to retain them.”Carla Manning, a massage therapist who has worked at Mitchell’s ever since she has been licensed, says one of the benefits of being an employee is receiving health insurance, and it’s also easier for tax purposes. She also doesn’t have to pay for her space, which is one less worry if she’s having a slow week. “I work on straight commission plus tips, and if I have a slow day, I’m not losing anything,” adds Manning. In addition, she is provided with equipment, supplies, and laundry service. Her appointments, are booked by the salon.
Though the majority of salon owners we spoke to hired massage therapists as independent contractors rather than employees, the job status of massage therapists should be based on what’s best for your salon as well as your clients.
Getting the Facts About Licensing and Insurance
When hiring a massage therapist, make sure he or she has the appropriate documents needed to practice massage in your area. According to the book, Milady’s Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage by Mark F. Beck, “In the United States, laws and regulations for massage may fall under the auspices of the state, the county, the municipality, or may not exist at all. Where massage laws are in effect, massage practitioners must register with the proper authorities and satisfy certain requirements to obtain a license to practice. These requirements may vary depending on the licensing agency and the original motives for instituting the legislation.
“Laws and regulations vary greatly from state to state and city to city. Being licensed in one state does not guarantee that the same license will be valid or recognized in another state. If your license is from a city, you can be guaranteed that the only place that license is valid is in the city where the license was issued.”
“Right now, in California, licensing falls under the auspices of the city or county, and there are different requirements depending on the area,” says Jeffrey McLellan, a nail technician at Teddy D s in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., and an independent massage therapist. “This gets costly and confusing. For example, San Pedro, a part of the city of Los Angeles, requires 150 hours of school, while nearby Long Beach requires 500 hours.” There are also inconsistencies with massage practices. Says McLellan, “In Beverly Hills, male massage therapists can’t have female clients, and in West Hollywood, male massage therapists can’t give massages after 11:00 p.m. I think getting state licensing is of the utmost importance because we need a set of guidelines that applies to everyone.”
According to Alkofer, a license is not required yet in the state of Georgia. To learn massage, Alkofer apprenticed under a professional massage therapist and says, “I take as many courses as possible and read everything I can.”
Another must is insurance. According to Florida law, if a salon employs a massage therapist, then it must have a separate liability insurance policy for massage, says Ehmer. If a salon hires a massage therapist as an independent contractor, then it is up to the therapist to provide his or her own liability insurance Warns Hernandez, “Though my massage therapist has her own liability insurance, she still advertises under my salon name so I might be held responsible if anything happens.”
To safeguard yourself, your salon, and your clients, be sure to look into what insurance is necessary to offer massage.
Offering Different Services and Techniques
There are numerous types of massage ranging from the Swedish massage system, which employs traditional manipulative techniques, to polarity therapy, which uses massage manipulations derived from both Eastern and Western practices.
“My basic massage is a Swedish massage because many of my clients have stiff and sore muscles,” says Lambert. “The Swedish massage includes stroking, kneading, petrissage [a kneading movement], and joint manipulation. I also do polarity therapy, which is a type of massage that involves the direction of the energy flow in the body. You direct the energy to certain points by laying the palms of your hands on the area, which creates a warm sensation, like that of a heating pad. I mainly use it on people who have a lot of built-up tension.”
Lambert offers a 30-minute Swedish massage for $20, and a 60- minute Swedish massage and polarity therapy for $30.
At her salon, Alkofer offers a 15- minute massage for $15. “It’s a localized massage,” she says. “For example, if the client is having pain in the left shoulder, I focus on that area.” Alkofer also offers a 30- minute massage for $25, which includes trouble areas in the legs, back, neck, and shoulder, and a 60- minute full-body massage for $40. Her specialty, though, is deep-tissue therapy (neuromuscular work) in which she works on different trigger points in the body.
At Mitchell’s Salon and Day Spa, Manning says she has an eclectic technique. “It’s Swedish-based, but I also do trigger-point work,” she says. “I have a basic routine, but I alter it depending on the needs of my client,” she adds.
The salon offers a variety of massage services ranging from a localized 30-minute massage for $37 to a full body therapeutic massage with paraffin bath for $137.
Stevie’s Euro Spa offers a one- hour full-body massage that starts at $65, a 30-minute neck and shoulder massage that starts at $25, and a 15-minute stress release massage that starts at $15. The salons massage therapy choices range from lighter bodywork such as a Swedish massage to deeper work like neuromuscular therapy. ‘We advise our clients to please consult the therapist to determine the best therapy for their personalized needs and a healthier body,” says Ehmer.
Marketing the Message Service
What good is a fully operational massage room if you have no clients? Since many of your nail clients may not be familiar with the massage service, you’ve got to spread the word.
To introduce clients to massage, Lambert offers a free 15-minute demonstration, which he says is ideal for someone who has pain in a certain area. If the client doesn’t have a problem area, Lambert does a back and neck massage.
Aside from this, Lambert, who started out working on friends, gets many of his massage clients through word of mouth. ‘Since the salon is located in a rural area, it’s a constant battle to get people educated about the importance of massage,” he says. As for advertising, Lambert says he gets only about five percent of his clients through advertisements. Says salon owner Nadine Ellis, ‘We’ve attracted several regular massage clients who simply passed by and saw our massage sign.”
At Alkofer s previous salon, they had great marketing tools, such as direct mail, she says. Word of mouth also brought in a lot of business. When A Classic Touch first opened in February 1995, Alkofer ran a 15-week newspaper ad that brought in a lot of new business, and she also sent out mailers.
Before opening her own salon, Molly Clack, owner of I Love Beauty in Torrance, Calif., did massage full- time for one year in clients’ homes. To generate business, she placed an ad in the yellow pages of the local phone book and received many calls. But she missed doing nails, so she opened her own salon. Though she retained many of her massage clients, about half of her nail clients now get an occasional massage.
“I think the best way to promote your services is through word of mouth,” says Chara Anderson, a licensed massage therapist at Burke Williams Massage Center and Day Spa in Santa Monica, Calif. “Be patient; it takes time. The more stressful the lifestyle of the client is, the more willing she is to get a massage,” she says.
Ehmer, who opened her salon in May 1995, has also relied on word of mouth to generate massage clients. And since her salon is located between a grocery store and a video store, it is very visible.
Massage therapy is a relatively inexpensive service to add, and according to Alkofer, it pays for itself immediately. Massage leaves clients feeling ultimately relaxed and restored. Says McClellan, ‘The human touch not only has healing properties, but makes clients feel more at ease.” You have the power to offer clients a chance to momentarily escape from it all and come out ready to seize the day.
Glossary of Massage Terms
The following glossary of massage terms is excerpted with permission from Milady’s Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage by Mark F. Beck. The book costs $43.95, plus shipping and handling. To order, call (800) 549-4631 and give the order number 1-56253-120-4.
ANTRIPSIS - the art of rubbing upward
CHIRURGY - healing with the hands
CONNECTIVE TISSUE MASSAGE - a massage directed toward the subcutaneous connective tissue for the treatment of circulatory or visceral disease.
DEEP TRANSVERSE MASSAGE - breaks down unwanted fibrous adhesions to restore mobility to the muscles.
FRICTION - refers to a number of massage strokes designed to manipulate soft tissue in such a way that one layer of tissue is moved over or against another.
FEATHER STROKING - feather-stroking movements use very light pressure of the fingertips or hands with long flowing strokes.
EFFLEURAGE (or gliding)-a succession of strokes applied by gliding the hand over a somewhat extended portion of the body; there are two varieties of effleurage: superficial and deep.
KNEADING (or petrissage) - lifts, squeezes, and presses the tissue.
MUSCLE ENERGY TECHNIQUE-utilizes neurophysiological muscle reflexes to improve functional mobility of joints.
NEUROMUSCULAR THERAPY-identifies soft tissue abnormalities and manipulates the soft tissue to normalize its function PERCUSSION-a rapid striking motion of the practitioner’s hands against the surface of the client’s body, using varying amounts of force and hand positions.
POLARITY THERAPY-uses massage, exercises, and thinking practices to balance the body physically and energetically.
ROLLING - a rapid back-and- forth movement with the hands in which the flesh is shaken and rolled around the axis or the imaginary centerline of the body part.
ROLFING - aligns the major body segments through manipulation of the connective tissue.
SHIATSU - the Japanese finger pressure method of massage used to improve circulation, stimulate nerves, and improve metabolism.
SPORTS MASSAGE - used to prepare athletes for upcoming events and to aid in bodily restoration following competitions.
TOUCHING - touch, in the context of the classification of massage techniques, refers to the stationery contact of the practitioner’s hand and the client’s body; the pressure exerted may vary from very light to very deep, depending on the intention.
TRAGER METHOD - uses movement exercises and gentle shaking of the body to eliminate and prevent tension VIBRATION - a continuous trembling or shaking movement delivered by either the practitioner’s hand or an electrical apparatus.