Supercharge Your Chair-Massage Business

Equipment and mobile technologies make a difference

By Rebecca Jones
[Ten for Today]

1. Make Your Chair Work for You

Chair massage usually focuses on easily accessible areas like the head, neck, shoulders, back, arms, and hands. But, if you want to work on a client’s low back, look for a chair that allows for horizontal positioning. The Dolphin II, made by Pisces Productions, is capable of going from vertical to a horizontal position that’s similar to a table. 

2. Watch the Weight Limit

Make sure you have the right equipment. “The chair has got to be strong enough to handle whatever client comes along,” says Jeff Riach, founder and CEO of Oakworks. “You don’t want to say ‘yes’ to one person but ‘no’ to someone else who is too big. A person up to 300 pounds needs to be able to safely get on your chair.”

3. Respect the Rest of a Client’s Day

Little things like the face cover matter, too. “People coming during lunch don’t want to return to the office with a big stripe across the forehead,” says Steve Gern, owner of Sew & Sew, which manufactures massage accessories. “After a lot of experimentation, we made face covers that don’t leave a crease on the forehead.” Another option: draping inexpensive paper covers atop more comfortable covers serves both comfort and hygiene needs. 

4. Study for Specialization

Improving your chair massage techniques through continuing education can really set you apart from the competition and help protect your body. “Gliding and kneading techniques you learn in school don’t work when you have to massage over clothing,” says Eric Brown of “You need to learn a new massage vocabulary and adopt a new approach to work effectively and in a way that is easy on your body.”

Also check out; the site is hosted by the father of chair massage, David Palmer, and has a variety of resources.

5. Book and Follow Up 

Full Slate online-scheduling software lets therapists control the duration of appointments. If you’re providing chair massage at a corporate site, for example, employees can see exactly what 15- or 30-minute appointments are open and reserve one.

“You can also send a reminder in advance or follow up with a link to schedule a 60-minute massage at your salon for 10 percent off,” says Bill Lange, cofounder of Full Slate. 

6. Track Records 

Software programs can also help you keep accurate records of chair massage, even with quick turnaround time between appointments. The web-based service Bodywork Buddy includes online scheduling, and also SOAP notes, gift certificate and package tracking, income and expense reports, text and email reminders, and automatic testimonial collection. “It can help keep your massage practice organized all in one place,” says Cindy Iwlew, cofounder of Bodywork Buddy. 

7. Accept Cards at Your Chair

Even if you’re operating out of a makeshift booth, you can attach a card reader to your smartphone, swipe a transaction, capture your client’s signature, and email a receipt, all in a matter of seconds. 

“Some people say they don’t want to take credit or debit cards because of the transaction fee,” says Dave Garboski, president of the mobile card-processing company CellCharge. “If you get one extra customer a day because you take credit cards, it offsets that fee.”

8. Go Mobile

Your mobile device can also hold important resources. For example, the AnatomyMapp app has musculoskeletal anatomy and palpation images from the book Trail Guide to the Body. Linda Lee, marketing director of the app’s producer, Books of Discovery, views it as ideal for chair-massage therapists. “You may be working on the area around the scapula, and you can show the client an image of the muscles,” Lee says. “And, if a client comes along with something you haven’t seen in a while, it’s a great refresher.” 

9. Create a Loyalty Program

Employing tactile marketing tools can turn chair massage clients into repeat customers. “Loyalty cards are a great way to keep clients coming back,” says Kaitlin Ambrogio, associate public relations manager for Vistaprint. Consider investing in promotional products, too. “By switching out your normal bag for a branded tote, you’ve immediately become a walking advertisement,” Ambrogio says.

10. Take Advantage of ABMP Membership

Don’t forget that has resources to help members grow their chair-massage businesses. “We have wonderful, customizable marketing materials you can brand with your name and contact information,” says Jenny Good, ABMP director of member development. Among them: a newsletter generator; a brochure called “About Seated Massage” that can be distributed at chair-massage events; and downloadable chair-massage guidelines and release forms. Members can also enjoy discounts for companies like Full Slate, Oakworks, and Vistaprint. “ABMP’s Everybody Deserves a Massage Week [July 14–20] is a great time to set up a chair-massage event,” Good says. 

 Rebecca Jones is a tenured Massage & Bodywork freelance writer. She lives and writes in Denver, Colorado. Contact her at

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