There is an inclination among massage therapists, both experienced and inexperienced, to purchase inexpensive equipment. The reflex to save money on the spot is a natural one, but can actually cost you dearly. Too often, with cheap tables, you get what you pay for. To avoid the hidden costs of tables, here are some issues to discuss and discover when choosing a table to ensure that you get the right table for maximizing your practice’s success. After all, aside from her hands and training, the table is the single most important tool upon which the practitioner’s whole livelihood is hanging.
Massage Table Use
The first question to ask is, “What purpose is the massage table serving?” Will the table be used only for massages? If so, what type? Or will you be using the equipment to offer other services, as well? If so, you’ll want to consider a table with features that support that modality and functionality, such as the right padding, height adjustability, even a back rest. Choosing a less expensive table, that is not as accommodating, can actually cause you to incur greater costs due to the simple fact you can’t force the unequipped table to perform all functions you will need. The wrong table will create a poor experience for your client and put undue strain on your key business investment, your body. If your table can’t accommodate your usage needs, you’ll have to purchase a second table – adding an additional unplanned expense to your practice.
For the practitioner, a good table can mean the difference between a healthy career and a painfully stunted one. In this case a “good table” means one that reflects your physical attributes, ergonomically supporting your body mechanics including: height, weight, strength and modality. In other words, you want a table that reflects your physical reality and allows you to actually service a thriving client list without physical burn-out. A well-designed table can turn your day-to-day practice into a lifelong career!
If you are not a sole practitioner, poor table choices can cost you one of your most valued assets – your employees. Tables that are not ergonomically-friendly can take a toll on your practitioners, creating wear and tear on their bodies, making the work place unbearable, not to mention shortening their careers and increasing your turnover rate! Tables that function badly can also lead to on-going frustration for a massage therapist trying to do their routine work. Poorly designed or malfunctioning tables send your employees the message that you don’t care about their comfort or longevity and contributes to costly staff turnover. Don’t forget, word of mouth is an important marketing tool for a massage business. Employees – past and present – talk.
One good massage experience is often enough to keep clients coming back, generating greater and on-going revenues for you. One bad appointment and you will probably never see that customer again. Well-made, comfortable tables will enhance the massage experience for the client, helping to take it to a whole new level. Ironically, the seamless ability for a great table to “disappear” and go unnoticed helps keep the attention on the treatment – where it belongs. Foam quality, table width, ability to easily get on and off the table, and massage table bolsters contribute significantly to creating client comfort. In short, a great massage table is the foundation upon which a great massage is built.
High-quality tables also positively influence efficacy. In terms of table features and accessories, the right tool for the job can make the difference between helping and hindering the clients’ health and well-being. A good table, designed with both you and the client in mind, will enhance your therapy, helping the client achieve greater wellness.
Massage Table Safety
Less expensive tables often cost less because they have less invested in them: less testing, less design and development, lower-grade materials and lower safety standards. They’re often manufactured in underdeveloped nations for low wages in sub-standard conditions. Massage therapists that are willing to gamble on safety and table quality are opening themselves up to costly liability, potentially years of litigation and a ruined reputation. Safety is not the place to cut costs for you or your clients! Check with your sales representative about the table company’s commitment to safety standards, testing and weight acceptance ratios. Another thing to keep in mind is, don’t underestimate the reputation, customer service and stability of the manufacturer. Who’s going to honor a warranty if the table company has gone belly-up? You want a table from a company that will answer your questions and be responsive to your needs. A massage table is a big investment for anyone and a good one can last you a lifetime. The reputable table company should be there, too, ready to back up any claims they make.
The Life of the Massage Equipment
Better equipment lasts longer. Investing in top-quality massage equipment designed to last for years will go a long way toward creating goodwill among staff and clients and generate additional cost savings over the life of the products. While it may be easier to buy less expensive equipment in the short run, in the long run the high-quality tables cost less and actually pay you back in increased return business. Less expensive massage tables often have shorter life spans, so a $250 table might cost you per year over its two years (that’s $.12 per client), but a higher quality table $1200 will cost you significantly less over 10 years (that’s $.01 per client) for the life of the table. Further, higher quality tables often come with lifetime guarantees, so you don’t have to buy a table twice if you do experience any type of defect-related table failure.
So when considering purchasing a massage table, in essence finding the right foundation upon which to build your business, consider all the real and hidden costs. Remember that investing in a massage table that supports its purpose, your employees and your clients will give you a great return over the life of the table. With that in mind, it is a good idea to try to resist the urge to save money now, rather than invest in the health of your business over the long term.
Jeff Riach, CEO, Oakworks, Inc.