Category Archives: Wellspring Trading
Let me start by saying I am not an expert financial wizard, nor is my business raking in billions of dollars that I can toss on my bed and swim in. I am, however, co-owner of a women-owned small business that began with very humble start-up money, at the worst time economically to START a business, that has consistently grown each year. So how is it that we have done so well?
1. Initially, focus your products or services.
Too often I have heard of businesses faltering, or worse, going under completely because they stretched themselves too thin trying to cast a wider net. When we began Wellspring Trading, we knew it would focus on massage therapy products because that was our main background. We offered both one-time purchases (reselling massage tables and chairs) as well as consumables (100% natural massage oils). But we started getting feedback from our customers…
2. Listen to your customers.
The feedback and inquiries we got indicated that not only were massage therapists coming to us, but non-therapists who wanted natural products. We found that many customers absolutely loved our golden jojoba oil for a hair shine, and our fractionated coconut oil for very dry skin. Once we realized the potential to introduce people looking for high-quality, all-natural, non-chemical alternatives to use, we expanded our customer base. Additionally, we’ve now expanded the products we sell to meet the needs of customers who had trouble finding those products elsewhere.
3. Excellent customer service is ESSENTIAL.
Set yourself apart from the MegaCorporations with teams of operators who know little about the products or services they offer. From the beginning, we promised ourselves that the highest quality customer service would be one of the most important aspects of our business, and we’ve kept that promise. In speaking with a customer about a massage table, I refuse to sell them the most expensive just for the sake of making the sale. I listen to their wants and needs, and offer the best suggestions I can. My goal is to make the customer completely satisfied with their purchase, which means less hassle for everyone later on. It’s also my personal goal to ship products that come from our warehouse within 24 hours, and our customers go out of their way to let us know how much they appreciate that. Lastly, always try to talk to a customer with a smile on your face – they can hear it through the phone!
4. Know your strengths AND weaknesses.
If you know you won’t be able to handle an aspect of your new business, don’t just try to ignore it – find a partner or hire an individual to handle it for you. I am great with customer service and shipping, but anything to do with finances or micro-details makes my eyes glaze over. My business partner, Marcia, on the other hand, has a background in accounting and is extremely detail-oriented, so we make a perfect team.
5. Look for ways to save money everywhere you can.
Setting up a business presence on sites like Facebook is free and easy for your friends and family to help spread the word. We do our business online only, which saves the overhead costs of leasing a brick-and-mortar storefront. We offer the convenience of a low flat rate shipping, and go with the least expensive shipping methods we can. Before adding a new product in to our line, we research it thoroughly. We also re-visit our suppliers’ prices regularly to make sure we are getting the highest quality products for the money.
Hopefully this give you potential small business owners something to think about as you consider your new venture. The last piece of advice I can give is to truly believe it what you offer – customers will get excited when you speak from genuine knowledge and happiness. It makes all the difference!
I just created a quick video for anyone interested in learning how to create a custom bath salt – perfect for personal use or make it as a gift!
Let me know if you have any questions, I’d bee happy to help!
Purchasing a massage table can be a very daunting experience for people, regardless if they are professional therapists looking to replace one or non-professionals who want something to work on their friends and family. There are SO many brands, models and options out there, it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed.
As a distributor as well as a trained massage therapist, I feel it’s my duty to help people find the table they will love – that fits their practice AND budget. I am more than happy to answer questions, and if I don’t know the answers, I’m even happier to research the answers for them. There is nothing like getting that call from someone I helped telling me how much they absolutely LOVE their table package!
If you’re in the market for a massage table, there are several questions you’ll want to ask yourself before making your final decision.
Am I an in-home user or a professional user?
There are many tables on the market, but often they are built for different usage. Are you planning on having 2 or 3 people a week get on and off your table? Then a low-cost, in-home table will work well for you. Are you planning on working on 20-30 people a week? Then a professional table is highly recommended.
One thing to remember: it’s best to avoid the super-cheap massage tables from warehouse stores. Time and time again I would hear of massage students who have limited budgets opting for these only to realize their mistake within months. Most of those tables are made overseas, so there is no company in the US to handle problems, and the quality tends to be very low so not only will the table feel wobbly (or will after a short amount of time), but it may also end up squeaking. The LAST thing you want if for your clients, whether they are paying for a professional massage or it’s your significant other, to feel unsafe, uncomfortable or irritated no matter what kind of deal you got.
If you decide you are an in-home user looking for a good quality table and a lower price, there are several available. Many people find the Oakworks One and the Inner Strength Element packages good table packages to consider. Both companies have corporate offices in the US and their products are backed by warranties.
Will I be traveling to clients or staying in one place most of the time?
The next question to ask yourself is how often you believe you will be moving your table. Will you be packing it up after each client and going to the next one or will it be positioned in a massage room and moved infrequently? The weight of a portable massage table can greatly affect a therapist, and hauling it from one place to another can take its toll. For mobile therapists, it’s best to consider lightweight tables, such at the Oakworks Wellspring, Earthlite Spirit LT or even the super-light Pisces New Wave II Lite. Lightweight tables are often a little more expensive than other tables, because the engineering that goes into them is a testament to the materials that maintain strength and durability.
For a more stationary table, therapists have a broader range to choose from. Table options also come into play more.
How do I choose what options are best for me?
Many tables start with the table itself and allow you to add packages or individual upgrades to truly customize it to your liking. Here are some of the main options you will be considering…
HEADREST: Most companies offer standard headrests and adjustable headrests, often with cushion upgrade options. I find that our customers overwhelmingly prefer adjustable headrests for the simple fact that tilting the headrests down slightly makes it much easier to access the back of the head, the neck and the shoulders. Cushion upgrades are usually a memory foam (similar to the popular memory mattresses), and Oakworks offers a very comfortable Boiance upgrade (I purchased it with my massage chair and I love it!).
PADDING: The padding options on tables can range from firm to extra plush. Will you be working on athletes? Then lean towards more firm padding, so your clients do not sink in when you are working on them. Are you inclined to give more luxurious, relaxing massages? Then consider upgrading to more plush padding – there is nothing like the pampering feeling of settling into a plushly padded table. Not sure where your career is headed just yet? Then compromise with a padding somewhere in the middle.
TABLE WIDTH: Most standard tables are 29″-31″, though there are a few that are much more narrow or much wider. I have had customers agonize over the choice of 29″ or 31″, so what I tell them to consider is their own height. If the therapist is more petite, and especially if they plan to take the table to clients, it’s best to go with a more narrow table. However, if the therapist is taller, or if the table will likely remain stationary, clients will usually feel more comfortable on the 31″.
UPHOLSTERY COLOR: This is also where I see many customer get stuck. Some want their table to match the room decor, some want one they will believe to be less likely to show stains, and others just want the color they are most drawn to. The good news is that a lot of times it never matters what color the table is, because it will be covered by sheets and a face rest cover by the time your clients see it! I always tell people to get whatever color they like most.
BOLSTERS: One optional accessory I ALWAYS recommend is a bolster. Bolsters are most often used under the knees when the client is laying on their back, or under the ankles when the client is laying on their stomach and they really make a huge difference. Most bolsters have a semi-firm padding inside that offers support and comfort but will not lose shape over time. If nothing else, a 6″ round bolster is perfect to start with.
How quickly can I have my new table in my hands?
Tables are often made to order, and crafting them takes time. Some customers believe that even the biggest manufacturers MUST have a warehouse that has tables ready to ship immediately, but most of the time that simply isn’t possible. Having just gone over the options above, there could be 3 styles of headrests, 5 different paddings, 3 different widths, and 25 upholstery colors – 3x5x3x25 = 1,125 tables! And that’s just ONE table… manufacturers can offer 5-10 different models. Typically, tables from Oakworks or Earthlite can be built and shipped within 1-2 weeks, depending on their production schedule. Don’t worry, the wait it worth it!
Why do massage tables cost so much?
Sometimes even professional therapists can be surprised by the final cost once they decide on options and upgrades. But keep in mind that by performing only 5 massages a week for a year, purchasing a $390.00 table will cost you only $1.50 per massage. A hair stylist doesn’t use cheap scissors to cut hair, and a chef doesn’t use cheap knives to prepare dishes. This will be your tool, so don’t be afraid to get exactly what you need. A high quality table is often very easy to maintain and can last a LIFETIME.
I hope this has been informative and helpful! As always, please let me know if you have any questions! ENJOY!
Massage therapy can be… magical. Some people know this very early on, others learn it by accident, and some are still very unsure about it. I am writing this directly for those who haven’t yet discovered massage.
Massage is a very natural thing. When you bump your elbow, the first instinct is to rub it, and moments later it’s forgotten. But in today’s society, touching another person has become quite taboo. The simple act of reaching out and gently putting a hand on an arm or shoulder is often disconcerting.
But we need touch. We are, for the most part, very tactile creatures. And touching another person helps us connect with them.
Massage therapy is an incredible tool, but for many people it can be downright frightening. So I thought I would talk about some of the myths or misconceptions.
1. “Massage Therapists are really prostitutes.”
There is no mistake as to why I made this point number one – it’s the biggest misconception! If I had a nickle for every time one of my own friends or family members (not even mere acquaintances) made a crack about my then-new profession, I’d be in Turks and Caicos right now. While there ARE people out there who advertise massage but really perform sexual acts for money, true massage therapists do not. We are professionally trained, can watch CSI/House/NCIS/etc and understand the medical terminology, and work very hard to maintain our reputations.
2. “They’ll make me get undressed.”
There are many different kinds of massage out there, and a lot can be performed while fully clothed (just take a look in any airport – chair massage is VERY popular there). However, you actually miss out on some amazing work by not disrobing. A therapist is best able to work your muscles by being able to actually touch them. You only need to take off as much clothes as you are comfortable with, but keep in mind that your therapist has:
-seen every kind of body type, from anorexic to morbidly obese
-seen every kind of tattoo, including the really offensive ones
-seen hair before, whether it was a man’s back or a woman’s legs
-seen blemishes of all kinds before
3. “What if I get…aroused?”
Sometimes it happens, to both men and women. Again, this is not new to a massage therapist, and the table sheets can easily be loosely bunched up to aid the modesty of a man, and sheets are always laundered after each client so women need not be concerned either.
4. “I’m still nervous, and how will they know if it’s too light/too deep?”
COMMUNICATE! Massage therapists are there to help you, and we are not mind readers. Many therapists will try and gently “check in” with their clients (i.e. “how is this pressure?” or “is this comfortable?”), but you should never feel bashful about telling your therapist what you want. If you’re nervous, let them know so you can both discuss what will happen throughout the session and make adjustments for your comfort. Do you find the room too cool? Ask for an additional towel or blanket to cover you. Is the therapist’s touch too light? Feel free to say “you can do deeper work there.” or if it’s too deep “ooh, I am a little sensitive there, can you ease up a bit?” Alternately, don’t be shy about telling your therapist that something he or she is doing feels fantastic – we LOVE to know we are on the right track.
5. “I don’t think I could be massaged by a (specific gender)”
If you’re not sure you’re comfortable with a male or female specific therapist, you certainly do not have to choose one. If you contact a spa or salon where you are not sure what gender the therapist you will get is, there is absolutely nothing wrong with telling the receptionist you feel more comfortable with one in particular.
Those are some of the biggest concerns new clients face, so if you have any questions I didn’t answer, I’d be happy to help! Aside from that, here are some tips to help make your massage the best part of your day…
- Be on time or even a few minutes early for your appointments (particularly your first, where you are likely to be asked to fill out a short medical form for your client file). By rushing in late, your adrenaline is pumping and your energy is sparking, which means it will take longer for you to settle in and relax. Additionally, your therapist wants to give you a full session, but appointments are often scheduled tightly to accommodate other clients so you may lose some very precious relaxation time.
- Don’t come directly from the gym. Muscles are often still stressed from getting a workout, and I find it’s best to allow at least a couple of hours rest so I can manipulate the muscles more effectively.
- Allow your therapist to move your body. Many clients want to “help” by picking up their arms, or moving their head, but don’t worry, we can do that for you!
- Drink plenty of water after your massage.
Be well, and enjoy!
In the early years of eBay, it was pretty exciting! People could sell off the stuff laying around their abode that they didn’t need anymore, and often, someone out there would buy it. Heck, I remember selling off a decorative olive oil dispenser that I thought was pretty hideous looking for $10. Selling something personally that had been gently used (or was never used) was pretty easy – you took a few pictures, admitted any dents or nicks, and you could do okay for yourself.
As a business owner, however, I have come to learn just how much I love eBay and just how much I hate it.
Here’s why I love it:
1. Customers! We reach a variety of customers who would not have otherwise found our direct website. There are a lot of people who absolutely love buying on eBay, and wouldn’t necessarily try to find the product they are looking for outside it. We are certainly grateful to be able to reach a whole new audience that way.
2. Search results! Listing products for sale on eBay gets crawled by Google-bots fairly quickly, which helps people who are searching for those products find us faster. This is great, because it used to be that it would take weeks to MONTHS for the little spiders and bots to crawl around and discover something they didn’t have before. “Oh hey look! Wellspring Trading has a new essential oil for sale! Let me add that to Google search results now…” As a smaller business, it’s key to be able to let customers know we have what they’re looking for as quickly as possible.
Here’s why I hate it:
1. Mind- numbing set up! In order to sell something on eBay, you obviously need to list it. Going through the steps to list one item can be incredibly time-consuming and aggravating. Making sure you have checked the right boxes, put in the best description, given all the shipping details can be a slow, bulky process. Then imagine doing that for 100+ products. *sigh*
2. Fees! Sure, they have a right to make money, but their fee schedule is CRAZY. EBay charges a fee just to list something, whether it sells or not. If it does sell, they take a percentage – pretty high percentage, too – of the final price. Then, because eBay also owns PayPal, they get a percentage of the processing fee (and the percentage they take is higher than our other credit card processing company).
Oh, and get this – eBay encourages sellers to list items for “FREE SHIPPING”, saying it’s because buyers prefer to purchase when told free shipping. While that may be partly true, it’s really because eBay does NOT get a percentage off the shipping cost. Here’s an example… Say you sell a DooDad that costs $10, and it fits in a Small Flat Rate box from USPS for $4.95. EBay takes a percentage off the $10. Now say you sell the same DooDad for $14.95 and “free shipping” – eBay takes a percentage off the entire amount. SO, in order to cover costs, sellers have to INCREASE the price of the DooDad. How do they encourage sellers to list items for free shipping…?
3. Listing Visibility! Another part of their fee structure revolves around getting your product to show up higher on the list. EBay either makes you PAY for better visibility, or you will get it IF you offer ridiculous terms such as 24 hour turnaround on shipping PLUS free shipping. While it seems pretty simple to receive an order, pack it up and slap a label on it, there are times when illness or emergencies arise, or a product is a custom order job that cannot possibly be processed in that amount of time. We work so hard to get our customer orders out within 24 hours as it is, but stuff happens sometimes that prevent that from getting done. Which leads me to…
4. Customer expectations! Let me say that there are a great deal of WONDERFUL eBay customers – level-headed, reasonable, and just a joy to deal with. Then there are those special folks who do not read descriptions, or do not communicate with the sellers, or who are ridiculously unreasonable. EBay has made to so that sellers will get the short end of the stick a majority of the time. And these special folks like to take out their frustrations by way of…
5. The Feedback! Feedback is truly the most ridiculous thing about eBay. Sellers cannot leave anything but POSITIVE feedback for buyers, or leave none at all, but then you risk angering a buyer who is eager to see his feedback number go up (yes there are buyers like that). Buyers, on the other hand, can leave whatever feedback they want. Plus, there are detailed ratings they can give, on a scale of 1 to 5… here are the questions:
- How accurate was the item description?
- How satisfied were you with the seller’s communication?
- How quickly did the seller ship the item?
- How reasonable were the shipping and handling charges?
Except for asking about how accurate an item description was, the rest are DUMB.
Communication is now hindered by the eBay site. You can no longer email a customer directly through the site once a customer has made a purchase. You CAN copy and paste their email address, and email them through our own channels, but eBay doesn’t make the process simple anymore. Plus, if I’ve received their order and shipped the item in a timely manner without needing to contact the buyer about anything, communication is not applicable.
As far as how fast a seller ships should really be a pass/fail, and this is easily determined by eBay’s own system. Sellers are required to give a shipping estimate, and for most items it is within 3 business days. Most of the time products ship well before the 3 day timeframe is up. Ebay’s system updates with a tracking number as soon as I print a label. But then there are custom made products, such as massage tables, that take time to build, and we make sure the listing discusses the shipping timeframe for custom products. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a manufacturer to receive an order, build a table to spec from scratch, and ship it within 24 hours. Yet we’ve had customers mark us down for just that.
How reasonable were the shipping and handling charges is a stupid question to ask. Obviously the buyer thought they were reasonable enough at the time of purchase because they CHOSE TO BUY THE ITEM. We don’t make up shipping after the fact, shipping charges are included in the listing (or the customer can enter their zip code to get an estimate before final purchase). We also do not inflate shipping charges to try and make some extra cash – shipping can be very expensive, but we do everything in our power to have the customer charged actual shipping costs. There have been numerous times where a customer overpaid for shipping and we have happily refunded the difference. But for some reason, some customers feel we charged too much and mark us down. This also goes back to how eBay pushes the free shipping – customers believe we didn’t charge them anything and give us high marks, eBay makes more money, and we are left with less of a profit margin.
All of these detailed ratings affect what fees we pay eBay – consistently high marks in all the detailed ratings will rank us higher as a seller, and the criteria for meeting those ranks are incredibly difficult to achieve. Just a handful of customers who didn’t like that their gallon of fractionated coconut oil actually cost $18.75 to ship from New Jersey to California can cost us in the long run.
I can only hope that over time, eBay realizes the value their smaller sellers are to the eBay community. Just a few minor changes would make selling there so much more enjoyable and less aggravating.