That Extra Touch

Add Value and Keep Clients

By Rebecca Jones
[Ten for Today]

1. Provide heated wraps

This is a wonderful indulgence that can start the minute clients walk in the door. While they’re filling out the intake paperwork, you can hand them a cup of tea and put a heated wrap around their shoulders. It will help them start to relax even before they climb on the table.

Hotshotz ( sells some nifty reusable heat packs, including one specifically designed for the neck and shoulders, which heat up instantly when you click the activator button and stay warm for up to three hours. “Most massage therapists use it before the start of the massage to loosen and relax the neck muscles, then you can move it to another area while you work on that spot,” says Hotshotz owner Jesse Schexnayder.

You can also try a neck roll filled with buckwheat, available from most massage retail suppliers for $8–$15. Briefly heat it in the microwave before giving it to the client. The heated buckwheat smells wonderful, and clients may just want to buy one to take home with them. They’ll think about you every time they use it. 

2. Invest in a table warmer

This is especially important for massage therapists in cooler climates or in air-conditioned salons. Electric table warmers not only provide extra warmth for clients, they also provide an extra layer of padding. “I love table warmers,” says Angie Patrick, spokesperson for Massage Warehouse
( “It’s a relaxation thing.
You drop your clothes and you’re a little chilly anyway.
Having something warm for someone to climb into is very nurturing.”

3. Try themed sheets

There’s nothing wrong with clean, white sheets. But for those who want a more memorable look, colors or patterns can send a subtle message. Massage Naturals ( has 22 different colors of fashion bedding, including matching or contrasting coverlets, runners,
and bolsters. Desert Morning, in shades
of camel brown and neutral beige, is popular, especially in the southwest. Country Meadow, with its white, chocolate, and sage palette, is another bestseller. “It helps give a high-end hotel type of look,” says Jeff Duke, product manager. “It’s something that really seems to help with the initial impression. It won’t change the actual treatment, of course, but it’s about the presentation when someone enters the room.”

4. Create customized oil mixtures

What client wouldn’t feel pampered knowing her therapist prepared massage oils specifically with her in mind? Create a customized blend for an individual client using essential oils that address specific needs, such as stress or headaches. At the end of the session, send your client home with a vial of that oil.

“I tell therapists to go to a local office supply store and get little return-address-sized labels imprinted with their contact information, and put them on a vial you give your client,” says Dianna Dapkins, president and owner of Pure Pro Massage Products (, a good source for essential oils. “It’s better than a business card. It’s not gimmicky—it’s simply extending your treatment.”

5. Provide a hand treatment

Paraffin therapy is an effective way to apply deep heat to relieve pain and stiffness, and it can also moisturize the skin. Simply dip a client’s hand into a paraffin bath. Kathy Lindberg, education and training director for Universal Companies (, also recommends Eco-Fin Paraffin Alternative, which is made of only natural ingredients and contains no petrochemicals. Rather than dipping your client’s hand into a bath, you melt the Eco-Fin cube, then rub it onto the hands and cover them with mitts. “Unlike old-fashioned paraffin, which you have to roll off, the Eco-Fin can be left on the skin and becomes the massage medium,” Lindberg says.

6. Provide a foot treatment

Lindberg suggests Pedigenix, which is a new product line from the makers of Biofreeze. It’s designed for massage therapists to use on clients’ feet. “If clients struggle with foot odor or sweating, they may not know what to do or whom to ask about it,” Lindberg says. “This is one of the things you can discreetly add to your intake form. These products have herbs that help prevent excess perspiration and help hydrate the feet.” It’s also a good retail product to make available to clients after the massage.

7. Remember birthdays

This is one of those little extras that will make clients feel especially cared for. Send them birthday wishes, or better still, send them a coupon on their birthday good for a free or discounted service. If you don’t know when your clients’ birthdays are—or don’t feel organized enough to remember to send out birthday greetings—LocBox ( can help. “We upload your customer database and will automatically track birthdays,” says Saumil Mehta, founder of the company. “On the week of their birthday, we’ll automatically send a little gift to clients, whatever you want to send them. And if you don’t know their birthdays, we’ll do a birthday collection for you.”

8. Offer a back scrub

You can buy premixed body scrubs, or you can create your own. Mix in locally grown herbs and botanicals, or make it seasonal so it smells of pine in winter or lilac in spring. A spa “cookbook” will have lots of good recipes for such scrubs, which are typically sugar- or salt-based. “This is a special touch,” Lindberg says. “You give clients a nice back scrub with sugar or salt and remove it with steaming compresses. This will really set you apart.”

9. Send clients home with a water bottle

You can order inexpensive customized water bottles for as little as $5, if you order in bulk. These water bottles not only help your clients to stay hydrated after the massage, they also carry your name and contact information so your clients may remember to call next time they reach for a drink. Check out what Café Press ( offers.

10. Stones make good keepsakes

Remember the power of earth elements. Place a small, smooth stone in your client’s hand during the massage and let the client’s body heat naturally warm the stone. “The heat of it is warming and centering,” Dapkins says. “It’s a very simple thing you can do for people and the warmth will help them become grounded.” Let them take the stone with them if they wish. It’s another good reminder of how much a massage can help when life gets crazy.