With Christmas around the corner, massage gift certificates will soon be flying off the shelves. Why? Massage therapy is a great gift for people of all ages, genders, and stress levels! For new or seasoned massage therapists, massage gift certificates can be a great marketing tool and income generator. They were a great way for me to get my business started. However, they can also create massage ethics problems and headaches. For busy massage practitioners it can be difficult to fit in those new extra clients without upsetting regular clients. I stopped selling gift certificates a few years when I was expecting my daughter. I did not know how much I was going to be able to work and did not want to take money and have all of these unused gift certificates floating around waiting to be used. Honestly, it was a relief and maybe something I should have done sooner. Although it was a upsetting for some people in the community, my regular clients understood. They appreciated that I was able to keep their appointment times open during the post-gift certificate rush.
As far as ethical concerns and business tips, there are a few things massage therapists should consider before putting out their “gift certificates available” sign.
Expiration Dates, Expiration Dates, Expiration Dates:
Most laws favor the consumer when it comes to gift card/certificate laws, as they should. What does your state say about gift certificates? Most all states have laws concerning gift certificates and gift cards and there are new federal laws are also. New federal legislation passed in August, which supersedes all state laws, prohibits expiration dates of less than five years. States may prohibit expiration dates, require visible expiration dates and an explanation of fees, or required abandoned gift certificate monies be submitted to the state. Check here for information about your state’s gift certificate laws and legislation. When someone buys a gift certificate they are buying it good faith. They are giving you money and in return want you to provide a service. I find gift certificate expiration dates to be. in most cases, bad business manners? What is the incentive behind them? I know there are some practitioners who hope no one uses it and you keep the money. If you use expiration dates encourage people to use them I will give you tips on how to bring those gift certificates in quickly.
Get Names and Numbers
Keep and names and phone numbers of those who bought the certificate and those who it is purchased. You may have to track these people down if you want to remind them about their gift certificate. Massage therapists are notorious for having short careers, and unfulfilled gift certificates will be easier to refund with and address and name.
Have a separate account or keep a gift certificate log.
Keep the funds until the gift certificate is used. That way if you leave your business or are unable to fulfill your end of the deal, you can easily refund the unused certificates easily. This also when having names and phone numbers comes in handy.
Respect person’s right not to get a massage.
Remember that massage therapy is not everyone’s cup of tea. Crazy, I know. You may have current clients ask “Did Sheila ever use that gift certificate I bought her?” Or hear, “Louann said that she loved her massage” – when you know that Louann never came in for that massage. I know some massage therapists who call and let the buyer use the gift certificate when it is not redeemed. This is a good practice in theory but sometimes it can create privacy problems, especially when someone says they have used the gift certificate. What do you do in this situation?
Other Tips for Massage Gift Certificates
Bring in those floating gift certificates in quickly before they get lost and buried.
If there are no expiration dates, how do you get people to use certificates in a timely manner? If you have a trouble getting massage certificates used in a timely fashion, consider using incentives to get gift certificates used:
Call to schedule before February 1 and get an additional 15 minutes added to your session!
Merry Christmas – Receive a FREE 10 minute ashiatsu demo if you call to schedule appointment before January 15th!
Happy Valentines Day! Call by March 1st to receive a free chocolate scrub.
Deal with No Shows. Ugh.
I have had a couple gift certificates no-shows over the years. Often they were non-regular clients and failed to care about their appointment because they did not pay for the service. When someone fails to keep up their end of the deal, you may consider the gift certificate used and redeemed. They did use your time.
Answer Massage Therapy and Gift Certificate FAQ before they call you.
Answer FAQ on your gift certificates, or hand out a sheet with your gift certificates to answer FAQ new clients may have about their new gift. This can save you time and keep your answering machine free from an influx of questions. Here are some things you may want to explain:
A word about scheduling…
I have had this message on my machine more times than I care to remember:
“Hi, this is Jack and I got a gift certificate and I would like to get a massage tomorrow after work. “
For those of you who are busy let these new clients know:
“Scheduling a massage is a delicate art. Massage sessions can fill up months or weeks in advance. It is best to call early to schedule your ideal time.”
Put their mind at ease.
Those who have never had a massage, they often because they may think they have to get naked in front of you or lay on the table with minimal draping. Let them know,
“Your modesty will be respected at all times and you may undress to the level of your comfort. A sheet will cover your entire bod,y except the area being addressed and massaged.”
Give people the opportunity to upgrade!
“It is an extra $20 to extend a 30 minute massage to an hour.”
“If you split an hour into two half hours, there is an additional $20 due at the second appointment.”
“Enhance your massage with aromatherapy for and extra $5.”
State the consequences.
“If you fail to show up for your scheduled appointment, the gift certificate will be considered redeemed and no longer valid.”
Give them other choices.
Do you offer refunds? If not list your other services, or allow gift certificates to be transferred. Can massage gift certificates be transferred to a friend or family member? Are there other services besides massage that this can be used towards (Reflexology, Yoga, Aromatherapy, or products in your office)?
Your website can answer all of the above questions including common questions about massage therapy and your unique business. This often relieves a lot of common fears and concerns massage newbies have
Gift certificates are great for business in most cases.
They do require research and careful planning to use these marketing money machines ethically, lawfully, and successfully. Do you print gift certificates yourself, use Vistaprint.com, or other printing sources? Have you tried giftcardcafe.com? Both Vistaprint, and Gift Card Café have massage friendly designs and set ups. Do you have any gift certificate tips, questions, stories, or comments?
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About Ivy Hultquist
Thank you for reading this post! In addition to writing here at Massage and Bloggywork, I write specifically about barefoot massage at Ashiatsu.net, as well as teach massage continuing education at Advanced Massage Techniques.