There are certain things that simply go well together. Cookies and milk, peanut butter and jelly, wine and cheese (Are you getting hungry yet?), and chiropractic and massage. Now we all know that chiropractors and massage therapists have been dancing together in a roundabout way for a long time.That being said, there is a problem, plain and simple. The problem is that most chiropractors have failed to recognize the potential of this most natural relationship; a relationship born out of both need and want by the massage client/patient.
The reason for this oversight is most offices have difficulty promoting/marketing massage-based services properly (not that they haven't tried). Is it a coincidence that there has been a major push over the past few years for massage services generated by a few national franchised groups? Business franchise models seem to be infiltrating markets that clearly have fair amounts of both chiropractors and massage therapists. Yet the market for user-friendly, simplified, feel-good, professional massage continues to grow and grow.
Well, if "success leaves clues," then it is incumbent upon today's successful practitioner to start taking notes. As chiropractors and entrepreneurs, we have the opportunity to not just jump on board "the massage train," but actually move to the front and start wearing the conductor's hat.
In 1997, we did exactly that in my own clinics. Ten-plus years later, it has a proven track record of success and is being applied in massage centers and clinics throughout the country. We made a conscious decision to start testing a number of response-based tools relating to marketing massage services as a separate division of our clinic. The response rate was quite different than anything we ever expected and was markedly better than anything we had utilized before.
At that point, we decided to research, delve, investigate, examine and learn how to make it better - better for our patients, better for our therapists, better for the community and yes, better for our business. We compiled a list of rules by which to live. Granted, some of you reading this may raise an eyebrow. Remember though, when you raise two eyebrows it means you have created a heightened state of awareness and thus are in a position to apply what you've learned: the Golden Rules of Massage Marketing.
Golden Rule #1: Massage should be marketed as a separate and distinct business under your chiropractic umbrella of services.
Golden Rule #2: Massage services should also be taught, processed, communicated, billed and managed as separate and distinct from your chiropractic business.
Golden Rule #3: Massage services should have a branch attached to your office that is promoted and processed in a spa-like fashion rather than strictly a medical fashion. At the same time, the distinction between feel-good massage and medically necessary massage must be determined and taught properly to each massage client if future care is requested.
Golden Rule #4: Massage services should be marketed 90 percent externally and 10 percent internally. There is a larger market outside your office that is ready, willing and able to meet your massage therapists and you.
Golden Rule #5: Massage services should be branded separately and distinctly, consistent with what a stand-alone massage business should be named. In other words, as opposed to "ABC Chiropractic and Massage," try naming it in a singular sense after your region. Note: We named ours "Palm Beach Massage" after the county in which we practiced.
Golden Rule #6: Massage services should never be compromised as an entry point to your office. For example, reduced-time massages, piggybacked services and even free massages are not recommended. Why, you may ask? Simply because licensed massage therapists, as a general rule, don't give away their time for free or make you jump through hoops to receive a massage. Massage clients want pure, stress-free, professional, reduced-fee massages as an entry point, without further cost or obligation. Remember, if it's a quality experience, wouldn't you want to come back again?
Golden Rule # 7: Massage services can be cost-shifted. By collecting money on the first reduced-fee, promo initial massage, you are getting a higher-quality massage client. There is a greater likelihood they will return, which means you will have ample funds to pay your massage therapists better. It must always be "win-win" across the board: a win for your massage clients, patients, therapists and for you.
Golden Rule #8: Massage services and other services have a greater acceptance rate when presented after the initial session in a menu-like format and with a no-sales presentation style. By using the proper forms (i.e., intake forms and clinic health passes), the massage client has the best chance to share and volunteer any health-related concerns. Thus, they have the opportunity to return and/or partake in the other available menu services (i.e., chiropractic, physical therapy, rehab, decompression, nutrition).
Golden Rule #9: Massage services should allow the therapists to grow with the center. Each therapist should have the opportunity to become an independent promoter for the center. This will allow them to be attached to your adjunct (in-house) clinic in a multitude of professional massage-marketing actions (i.e., business cards, massage displays, personalized massage therapist promo ads, flyers).Golden Rule #10: Massage services should complement, support, enhance, build and develop the chiropractic clinic to allow the comfort zone of each clinic to stretch, as well as maximize its growth potential.
The best time to start is now. Follow the Golden Rules of Massage Marketing and start enjoying your newfound practice energy, case acceptance and perpetual success. Remember, there are certain things that simply go well together!
Dr. Perry Bard, a 1986 graduate of Life Chiropractic College, has treated members of the Professional Golfers Association, U.S. Tennis Association, Major League Baseball and U.S. Powerlifting Association. He is president of Health-1st New Patient Systems Marketing and Palm Beach Massage Centers, Inc. For questions or comments regarding this article, contact Dr. Bard at