Massage therapy is a profession where the benefits of retail are often overlooked. Retail products can be a great tool in both accentuating your work for the client at home, but also as a source for clients to take accountability and control of their wellness, in addition to being a source of revenue.
Another way to effectively incorporate retail into your practice is to have self-care tools available for the client. A massage therapist has different recommendations than a physical therapist and still different from acupuncturists, chiropractors and so on. Each profession can suggest and sell materials that are related to their field of expertise, but are still for their clients’ general wellness. There are so many options to bring into your practice, from foam rollers and self-care trigger point “hooks” to pillows and magnetic garments, that shopping for such items can be overwhelming. Trade shows and conferences are great ways to get introduced to such products (for both information and price); trial and error is sometimes the best way to find what materials your clientele responds best to.
Ultimately, any such self-care tools should be safe enough for them to use on their own. Even when given written instructions, clients can very easily overwork themselves. However, tools that you, the professionally trained body worker, use should not be sold to your clients. Not only can they overwork themselves, but some tools can cause harm when not fully and properly informed on how it works. (Sometimes less work truly is more, but non-professional body workers can feel that more is better.) Moreover, why would you give someone a tool that you were extensively trained in how to use? While it may seem easy to use just a little, there is a reason why training is crucial with some such tools. My greatest personal example is the use of cups in my practice versus just selling them to my clients for home care. Too much suction, inappropriate applications and thorough knowledge of drainage pathways are all relevant to using such a powerful tool. Why would I give this to a client who may not only overwork themselves, but could use on someone else and cause harm? The potential negligence and legal liabilities could come back to you, the professional, who gave them such materials. Such body work should be left to the professionals accordingly and this simple explanation can be most effective in dissuading the clients who “wouldn’t overwork themselves, promise!” (It happens to all of us; just stand your ground and have faith in both yourself and your professional ethics.)
Allowing clients the opportunity to get involved in their own wellness is one of the greatest tools we have available to us in this industry. Having products available to sell them will naturally increase your income, but we can appreciate the work they do and the results that come from their involvement at home as we both work to create a better state of overall wellness for our clients.