Alison Gibbs balances the pros and cons of the different fields of trading as a therapist
From my years of experience as a therapist, my ethos in all areas has been ‘client care’ – with the aim of leaving a client feeling better about themselves in accordance with their treatment or environment. This allows a personal approach and ultimately a relationship to build over time.
Working in a hotel spa, I found I could introduce indigenous treatments and give a taster of what other countries offer, which gave more of a ‘wow’ factor. Some of which were hard to produce in a salon environment, such as outdoor experiences. Often clients would have more time, so rituals of 2-4 hours could easily be sold. I find spas and hotels are very transient, so if you like the turnover of new faces this is the perfect environment for you. If you prefer building relationships then it is better to look for places that offer a stable clientele and membership opportunity.
In a spa environment you can keep your relationship very professional and specific to an appointment time. Clients may still be reserved with the information they share and consultations may be on a tight time scale. I therefore find the therapy approach is limited and the whole holistic approach may have to be tailored. Sales after a treatment are easily taken when you have a display and stock to hand, so retailing is much easier in a fixed location and, of course, if you have a shop front then the location is key for generating new trade and interest. The marketing of a fixed venue is much easier and rewarding as your image can easily be seen and portrayed. The downside is committing to a fixed venue with all the overheads. It’s therefore important to have a guaranteed target market and location and you must seriously consider your demographics and look at values like house prices and shops in your area, which will give you a good indication of the disposable income. Some locations have a high premium but it is quite often a better guarantee of a captive audience.
The rewards of mobile therapy are great, but you must be disciplined with your time and location. Planning is key when you are on the road so you can link clients together. I ran my own business mobile for seven years and I was really successful. Running a mobile therapy business takes a lot of hard work and unsociable hours, as many clients prefer evening appointments. You will be booked in advance for these slots, which limits your social life. An advantage though is the personal approach I could provide from being in their home. I managed to gain a deeper holistic approach to my therapy with much longer consultation times and tailored treatments for better results, as clients seemed open to talking on a more personal level.
The challenge was the travel time, so allow this in your daily planning. I kept a professional image at all times; I wore a uniform and had everything portable so as to maintain this, allowing me also to keep the price point high. There is this illusion that mobile treatments are cheaper but you are giving them the convenience of the home treatment out of most office hours, so there should naturally be a premium on this. If you deliver professionally they will not question the price point. The equipment is a challenge to carry around and can potentially cause problems with securing stock in the back of your car i.e. wax points need to be secure as it gets very messy if they tip over.
Sales can be more challenging but if the trust is there, the sales became easier, and you have to be very disciplined to remember to add a sale on.
Promoting yourself is difficult and you will need to be proactive with demonstrations to groups, organisations and targeting networking groups for link sales and advice. Keep linked in to other therapists and training, as this can easily be forgotten and it’s important to have the interaction with other professionals so you stay up-to-date with latest trends. Lava Shells was set up with mobile therapists as the main capture because it is ideal for transporting around and offers a lovely portable heat therapy, with seconds to prep and seconds to clean.
I will always remember my days and the challenges I faced both working in hotels and as a mobile therapist but most importantly what stays with me more than anything are the amazing clients I got to know.