8 Ways to Provide an Exceptional Client Experience

LISTEN TO BLOGCAST

Getting and keeping clients is by far the greatest challenge massage therapists express about their practices. Seeing clients only once will not create a thriving, sustainable business. We have to bring them back often to make our livelihood stable and truly make a difference in their lives. I’ve written several posts about how to provide an exceptional client experience, but you deserve more than my perception alone. So I reached out to other massage therapists, educators and bloggers to get their take on it. Once again, their insights are spectacular!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Elefteria Mantzorou, Flow Wellness & Training

There are two key words for providing exceptional services to clients: intention and experience. Once you have the intention to truly offer quality services, you are halfway there. Many therapists merely want to finish their work quickly and get paid. If you love being a therapist, this will be reflected in your touch and your manipulations.

Of course, experience is always important. As you gain more experience, you know how to make clients feel that they receive something really special. Also, your touch becomes more refined and you know how deeply you should press and how slowly you should move. Clients (especially those who have received many massages) understand this at once. Start from intention, and build it with experience!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Cindy Iwlew, LMT, Co-founder Bodywork Buddy

I think it’s really important to follow the client’s lead as far as talking during their session. If they ask questions, keep your answers short. If they are silent, respect that and stay quiet. Let the client sink into their relaxation without any expectations that they need to chat through their session.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Savanna Bell, LMT, My Massage World

The key to providing an amazing experience is to think about what your clients want. It may seem simple and obvious, but it’s often not taken as seriously as it needs to be. You need to design the entire experience into something that will wow them at every step. From the way you speak to them on the phone, to what extra amenities you offer, and the ways you say thank you – each stage of their experience with you needs to make them stop and think, “WOW, that’s amazing!”

The way to do that is to give them 100% of your attention in every moment and do everything you can to make them feel like the center of the universe. It’s not about what’s the easiest and cheapest for you. When you design a client experience strategy around what will make your client say, “WOW!”, they’re guaranteed to become a loyal client.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Felicia Brown, Spalutions

One of my core philosophies to provide amazing client experiences is to target your ideal clients in all your promotions and marketing efforts. This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen many professionals struggle to succeed when they did not apply this mindset.

Start by writing a list or description of the type of client you most enjoy working with, who you best serve, and who will fit your hours, location, pricing, and so on. Once you have a clear picture of your ideal client, reach out to those who fit the description in your current client list and ask for referrals of more clients like them, often their friends and family. If one of their key qualities somehow relates to work or personal activities, ask for their help in finding places where you can meet others with those qualities. For example, if your ideal client is a runner, ask them if they belong to running clubs or groups, work with a running coach, or participate in any specific running events or races where you can make similar connections.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Jamie Johnston, The Massage Therapist Development Center

I honestly just think it’s all about building relationships, but as far as an exceptional experience…just try to make them feel better than when they came in. Make it so when people think of you or your clinic, it’s an emotional reaction that makes them want to be there.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Tim Cooper, Wellness Business Breakthrough

Sometimes how to create an exceptional client experience isn’t obvious. When it comes to spa based services, the experience is generally centered on a welcoming, warm environment, peaceful music and soothing strokes.

I come from a remedial massage background where the setting is usually cold and clinical, and the treatments often have an element of discomfort. For many years I believed the client experience was dependent on a good outcome: Relieving people’s pain and helping them cope with injuries.

In the later part of my time in private practice, I came to realize that results only played a small part. We are in fact in the “relationship” business. Welcoming people, making them feel important, being empathetic and demonstrating that you truly understand what the client is going through has in my experience, created a wonderful client experience in my field of practice. After all, everyone wants to be understood and made to feel important.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Rajam Roose, Grow Your Massage Business

Providing an exceptional client experience can help us stand out from our competitors and keep clients wanting to come back. One of the most powerful ways I found that helped me really stand out was focusing each session completely on the client. It’s harder work than you might think!

No matter what my day was like or how I was feeling, I put that aside to give the client my undivided attention. During our intake, I repeated their words back to them to make sure I understood what they were saying. In the massage session, I kept my attention focused on the client’s breathing, how their body was responding to my touch, how their tissues felt, and so on. It was almost meditative in a sense but enabled me to give each client an individual experience.

Additionally, I was consistent in how I greeted my clients and how I talked about the whole process: getting ready for the massage, moving around on the table, getting dressed, and checkout. People knew exactly what to expect which contributes to feeling safe. People can feel when you are paying attention and even more so during a massage session. Again, it is not as easy as it sounds but helped me keep a 90% re-booking rate with new clients.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Cath Cox, cathcox.com

Do what clients ask you to. It’s disappointing to spend time and money on a massage that doesn’t address their primary concerns, and leaves them feeling confused, unheard and hopeless. Ask if their priority is a full body massage or more specific work, and then honor their response. Set realistic expectations and explain why you may not reach the desired outcome in just one session. Check in with open-ended questions to verify their needs are being met. As service providers, we are obligated to create an experience that our clients want, not what we think is best.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Building a practice you love can only be accomplished with satisfied clients who not only choose to visit regularly, but refer others. When we strive to give nothing less than an exceptional client experience from the beginning to the end of each visit, this dynamic is inevitable. Thank you to the dedicated contributors to this post for describing so many different ways to do that!

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG

How do you give your clients an exceptional experience? If you don’t see a comment box below, please click the Leave a comment/comments link to share. Thank you!

Posted in Client Experience, Collaborations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Second Year Success Stories

LISTEN TO BLOGCAST

In this past year of writing the blog, my practice has risen to new levels. The cash flow and tax payment inconsistencies that have plagued me from the beginning are over! Most of my triumphs came from going against traditional wisdom and standard massage therapy business advice. What I’ve discovered is that when my intention is clear, the answers show up (usually from within). I’m sharing the stories that best represent how I’ve gotten past these obstacles so that my experience can ease the growing pains in your business.

Flexibility is the Best Policy

It had become obvious I needed to update my cancellation policy. I was conflicted about making it too rigid, not because I don’t value my time but because life happens and I wanted to accommodate that without being taken advantage of. The solution I came up with has virtually eliminated lost income from short-notice cancellations and strengthened my client relationships.

Getting Clients to Come Back Sooner

I had offered discounted packages as an incentive to visit frequently since January 2014. Most of my regular clients purchased them. Sadly, I just couldn’t get a handle on my cash flow using that system, and I was doubting my ability to make my practice work for me while meeting clients where they are. Switching to a pay-as-you-go membership has made me more money and eliminated my cash flow problems without sacrificing client satisfaction. Sweet!

Where Are Your Clients Coming From?

Knowing what marketing activities are actually bringing in clients is what makes a marketing plan effective. This simple process keeps me from wasting time and money on things that aren’t working. Since writing about it, I’ve added a template to streamline the process even further. This post is also the debut of the blogcast (for those who would rather listen than read). It’s a little passion project that I anticipate will be sweeping the blogging community any day now. 🙂

Achieving Estimated Tax Payment Mastery

So many truths about my business were reflected in my tax management (or lack thereof). This has been my greatest challenge by far since 2015 when my income from my practice really took off. Now, I have a system in place that will keep me caught up and worry-free going forward. There’s a tax prep checklist and email sequence bonus at the end to take your taxes from to-do to done!

How To Get and Keep More Clients

On the email sign up forms to subscribe to the blog and get the various resources offered within it, I ask what your biggest marketing/business challenge is. The overwhelmingly most popular answer is getting and keeping clients. No matter how much marketing we do outside of our treatment rooms, it’s what happens while clients are with us that builds our businesses.  In addition to the five strategies included here, you can get a free guide to turn more new clients into regulars that’s full of no-cost ideas to provide an exceptional client experience.

The road to get where I am has been a wonderful adventure. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m grateful that you’re sharing the journey with me and truly humbled by your support as I continue to grow a practice that I love!

Which post(s) from the last year have inspired you or brought you success? If you don’t see a comment box below, please click the Leave a comment/comments link to share. Thank you!

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG

I’m unveiling a whole new Booked and Busy in 90 Days™ program to better serve different kinds of business owners who want fill their practices faster!

LEARN MORE

Posted in Boundaries, Business Practices, Client Experience, Marketing, Money, Pricing, Taxes | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Get and Keep More Clients

LISTEN TO BLOGCAST

Getting and keeping clients isn’t rocket science. It’s really more of a social science because it’s like hosting a party (or several short parties per day). So what makes a party so exceptional that people will remember it, tell others about it, and want to attend again and again?

There are many elements that go into a memorable party. Since we (most likely) won’t provide food, cocktails, clowns or piñatas, I’ve chosen these five because no matter the occasion, they hit the mark. Integrating them into your practice routine will keep clients coming back and asking for your business card to pass along.

A personal invitation is your marketing message. It should speak to those clients you prefer working with and help most. This is your guest list. By being more specific on your website, within your professional network and at the events you attend to showcase your practice, you’re setting yourself up to retain more new clients. When we try appealing to everyone, we make it harder for those who are looking for us to find us (who would invite anyone and everyone to a party?). Describing the results they’ll get from your work tells them how you can solve their problem and improve their life.

Make them feel welcome and at ease with a smile and a handshake. Once they arrive, give them your full attention and offer them something to drink (just like you would if they came to your home). Clarify their expectations by giving them options and sharing your treatment plan. Ask if they have any questions before leaving the room while they get on the table.

Atmosphere matters. Keeping your massage environment clean and tidy gives a good impression (you’d clean your house before a party, right?). Your decor, lighting, music, room temperature and table comfort also influence your client’s perception. This doesn’t require spending tons of money. The best way to experience what your clients do is to ask a friend to trade in your space. Ask for their feedback about these items and notice them yourself while you receive. Then ask each client about them to accommodate individual preferences.

Stand out from the ordinary with thoughtful details (a great host makes sure everyone has a good time). Use their name when you check in about pressure or time spent on problem areas. Refer back to what they told you during the intake to give them a customized treatment that shows you listened and care about their input. Unless they request total silence, most people want to have a say in what they’re paying for. If the massage is going to run longer than the scheduled end time, let them know ten minutes before then so you can make adjustments should they need to be done on time.

Have you EVER been to a party where the host wanted you to leave (if so, I bet it’s a crazy story)? Not being rushed after their massage gives clients permission to savor the effects of our time together and shows our appreciation for them choosing us. If you find yourself getting anxious to finish up with one client so you can prepare for the next, or you’re consistently running behind, experiment with having more time in between (some or all) of your appointments. It’s much easier to rebook happy clients or give clear self-care instructions when you have plenty of time.

A friend of mine called the clients where we worked together “guests” (from her background in Las Vegas spas). When we treat our clients as a guest who we want to enjoy themselves, they feel special. Combine that with a tempting incentive to return (such as a discounted package or other loyalty program) and they’ll gladly become a regular client. Striving to create the best experience I can for every client, every time they visit keeps me celebrating the growth of the practice that I love!

What other elements do you use so clients feel special? What have you experienced during a massage that made you feel special? If you don’t see a comment box below, please click the Leave a comment link to share. Thank you!

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG

Want more ideas to turn new clients into regulars? Click here for this FREE guide!

 

Posted in Business Practices, Client Experience, Marketing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

3 Things to Say That Get More Rebookings

LISTEN TO BLOGCAST

One of the most challenging parts about having my own practice has been learning how to talk to clients. Specifically, I’ve struggled with what to say to encourage rebooking and continuing visits. I never wanted to be pushy or sound like a massage salesperson, and I was afraid I would say the wrong thing and sound like an idiot. After all these years in practice, I’ve discovered it’s not what I’m saying. It’s who I’m saying it to.

If your massage training was like mine, you didn’t get any formal education about sales. This is sad, because without knowing what to do or say to get clients to come back, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to build a sustainable business. But guess what? Overcoming our fear of being judged or disliked is harder than mastering this skill.

I’ve found that asking a question and giving two options creates a phrasing that works for me. That way, the client is simply making a choice instead of accepting or rejecting me. After all, it’s not our responsibility to decide what our clients want, need or value. Our only responsibility here is to be consistent so those who are interested can say yes.

After every session with a new client or a client who doesn’t have a standing appointment, I ask:

Would you like to book another appointment while you’re here or do you need to check your schedule?

This tells them I want them to return without being manipulative. It also gives them an easy out if they have no intention of returning or are unsure of their ability to commit. They may need to discuss it with someone else or have a variable schedule. Regardless, they aren’t saying no.

The key is to come up with something that feels good to you, and then say it to EVERY client. Try on a few different phrases (or use mine if it suits you), then practice it. My favorite rehearsal venues are in the shower, in the car and while I’m waiting for the client to get dressed after a session. It may take a while to find just the right wording, but don’t let the fear of saying the wrong thing keep you from doing it. Just start asking. You’ll get more comfortable with this process once you do it consistently (I promise).

It’s impossible to please everyone, especially in a profession that is so personal. Sometimes we don’t give the kind of massage someone prefers or our office isn’t convenient. We can only be who we are and do what we do. That’s not to say we shouldn’t honor reasonable client requests, but let’s be real. There’s a limit to how far outside of our unique skill set we can go without feeling resentful or unqualified.

I always follow up with new clients to see how they’ve been feeling since their massage. I choose not to use this as an opportunity to ask if they’d like to rebook (if they haven’t already), but you may want to. I know there are massage therapists who use this strategy very successfully (I may decide to incorporate it at some point). Again, practice first, then do it consistently until it’s second nature.

If a client has been in a few times but we don’t have a standing appointment, I ask:

Are you interested in a standing appointment or is your schedule too unpredictable?

I love standing appointments because they make my schedule easier to manage and my income more predictable. Often, clients are unaware that this option is available. It may take a few weeks to get into the groove, but once established ensures they can get in on a regular basis. Then they can schedule their life around their massages (talk about having your priorities straight). If they prefer to wing it, that’s their choice.

Some people honestly don’t know the benefit of receiving massage frequently. To explain it, I say:

Massage is like exercise. The more often you get it, the more you build on what you’ve already gained rather than starting over from scratch.

Everyone gets this analogy. It’s easy to understand and doesn’t use any complicated scientific jargon. The more we meet clients where they are, the more we gain their trust.

Saying the right thing becomes easy when we say it to every client, every day. This doesn’t make us lazy or generic. It makes us confident communicators who know that using the same effective methods repeatedly is a recipe for success. Getting clear on this has been one of my most rewarding insights while building the practice that I love!

What do you say to clients to rebook them? Are there other professional situations that you encounter often when you don’t know what to say? If you don’t see a comment box below, please click the Leave a comment link to share. Thank you!

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG

Posted in Business Practices, Communication, Marketing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Bucking the Email Marketing Trend

LISTEN TO BLOGCAST
Although I rock at following up with new clients, I choose not to pursue those who fall off the schedule. I know, we’re supposed to stay in touch with email marketing or a monthly newsletter. This keeps us top-of-mind for those clients who get busy and forget to book. I’m sure there are statistics that show this strategy is effective, but I don’t use it for several reasons.

First of all, self-care has to come from self-motivation. Anyone who’s ever tried to stick with a fitness program or meditation schedule can vouch for this. Commitment doesn’t come from emails; it comes from a desire to change or valuing the benefit of a consistent behavior. Those friendly reminders can backfire and cause feelings of guilt or unworthiness, definitely not the vibe I want associated with my practice.

Also, we make time for and spend money on the things that are important to us. Period. Every client who has told me they can’t afford massage is spending that money on something else. I’ve been on a tight budget for many years but when I really want or need something, I find a way to get it. If there truly is financial hardship, I certainly don’t want to be pressuring people to spend their gas and grocery money on a massage.

When we find someone we really like that gives us the experience we want, we remember it. We don’t need to be reminded who gives us the best haircut or makes the best pizza. We may choose to settle for something else because our favorite is inconvenient or costs more. Those choices don’t necessarily reflect our preferences, just what we’re able to do with the other demands we’re juggling.

And then, there are those clients who have left because they were dissatisfied. I can always tell by the pat on the back I get as we hug or their vagueness as we discuss rescheduling that I’ll never see them again. If I’m not a good fit for them, they shouldn’t come back. Trying to convince them otherwise reminds me of chasing my ninth grade boyfriend down the street after he broke up with me (even though I knew I shouldn’t).

There are times when I have important information to share with clients via email. If the only other emails they receive are appointment confirmations and reminders, they are more likely to notice, open and read emails about policy updates or price increases. Not doing regular email marketing prevents these messages from being overlooked.

I do reach out occasionally to those clients I felt a bond with that haven’t been in for a while to let them know I miss them and hope they’re doing well. This is not an automated, impersonal communication. It’s an authentic connection that I wish to maintain regardless of the amount of money it may or may not bring in.

As I said in the first paragraph, I’m sure email marketing has the statistics to prove it generates sales. If it feels good to you and you’re getting positive feedback from your clients, by all means use it. As a consumer, it simply doesn’t resonate with me unless it provides outstanding value. As a business owner, it feels imposing and repetitive. Being true to myself in my marketing activities is a cornerstone in building and maintaining a practice that I love!

What email marketing do you do and what have your results been? If you don’t use it, why not? If you don’t see a comment box below, please click the Leave a comment link to share. Thank you!

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG 

Posted in Marketing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Best Facebook Features for Your Practice

LISTEN TO BLOGCAST

By the time you read this, it may be obsolete. That’s because I’m writing about Facebook. Just when you think you have it figured out, they change something. Regardless, the expectation to have a Facebook presence for your business creates a dilemma: Are business/fan pages or groups best? The answer depends on what you want to accomplish.

To me, there are three features we want from a Facebook account for our practice: visibility, marketing and building community. What you hope to achieve depends on where you are now in your practice and where you’re going. Knowing what results you want is the first step to any marketing venture.

Business/fan pages are the same thing (it depends on what you’re reading or who you’re talking to). Since their inception, major changes have been made that make getting your page content seen on the timelines of your followers more challenging. Post photos and videos for more visibility (Facebook’s algorithm prefers them), especially if your post contains a link.

As of now, a business page is the only option with the ability to boost posts or promote your page. I’ve been told boosting doesn’t work and yet that has not been my experience (sounds like another blog post or maybe a webinar). The more targeted your boost or promotion is, the better.

Business pages also have an Insights tab (at the top) that keeps data on when your audience is on Facebook. Along with the capability to schedule posts ahead of time, you can strategically post at times when the most followers are likely to see your content. You can also learn what kinds of posts get the most engagement to make your efforts more effective.

The most powerful marketing features a business page has that a group doesn’t are specific places for reviews, hours, pricing, contact information and a description of your practice. This information helps those who are just checking you out decide if you are a good fit for their needs. The power of reviews cannot be overstated and I find new clients are eager to leave them.

Due to the algorithm, building community can be tough if your posts aren’t being seen by your followers. You can build a bigger following by inviting your Facebook friends to like your page (there’s a link in the Community box on the right) and asking your followers to invite their friends. More likes gives the impression of an exceptional practice that prospects will want to be a part of.

Facebook groups are another way to connect with your audience. As long as group members have their notifications set to “All Posts, they’ll receive a notification every time a post is added to your group. It’s a good idea to include that stipulation in a follow up message thanking them for joining.

One marketing feature a group has over a business page is Facebook Live video. This may be an advantage depending on what type of content you provide and how much your audience on on Facebook. Since there aren’t dedicated areas on the group page for your business information, having a link to your website in a pinned post (a post that stays at the top) is essential.

Building community in a group is a little different than on a business page. Instead of an Invite to Like, you Add Members (also on the right). To make your group visible to those who aren’t members, have the privacy settings on public (anyone can see the group, its members and their posts). You’ll also have to decide if you want all members to be able to post (these could be reviews) or if you’ll be the only one posting.

I see pros and cons to both types of Facebook pages. Personally, having a business page to reach new and current clients makes the most sense because of the business information features and review options. I have both a business page and a group. The group is to let members know about same-day, discounted openings. It’s been the best way to communicate those that I’ve used so far.

The cool part of all of this (and anything else in your business) is that you can experiment and see what works best for you. Finding new ways to connect with clients is part of the treasure hunt of marketing the practice that I love!

How do you use a Facebook business page or group for your practice? If you don’t see a comment box below, please click the Leave a comment link to share. Thank you!

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG

Posted in Marketing, Social Media | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why Clients Don’t Come Back (and How to Change That)

LISTEN TO BLOGCAST

There are lots of reasons new clients don’t come back. Sometimes, our personalities simply don’t mesh. There’s not much we can do about that. However, there are many things we can do that increase the chances that more new clients will return.

In the past twenty-plus years, I’ve had lots of massages. I’ve learned something from every one of them. Not only have I decided what I prefer in a massage therapist; I’ve noticed there are numerous small details that go into the client experience that either add up to satisfaction or disappointment. I invite you to consider a few and think about how they play out in your practice.

Inconvenience: Convenience isn’t just about  location (although that is important). If we aren’t easy to get to or book with, clients will go elsewhere. When choosing your practice space, think about how easy getting there will be for the greatest number of people, especially any existing clients you have. Being near businesses we network with will also makes us more convenient. Be sure the parking is adequate and accessible.

Our business hours also determine how convenient receiving our services is and should match when our ideal clients are available. Having online scheduling reduces phone, email and text tag.

Unrealistic expectations: The closer a client’s experience is to their expectations, the more likely it is they’ll be back. Targeted marketing messages will result in more ideal first visits because we’ll be attracting clients looking for what we do best. If there’s something different about what you’re providing than is typical, be sure to disclose that so clients will be prepared.

Once the intake process is complete, we should state a clear treatment plan based on what the client tells us and get their agreement before we start (I like to offer two options and let them choose). Educate clients on what’s realistic to accomplish in the amount of time you have together and why more than one visit may be required.

Uncomfortable treatment space: The noise from an adjoining room or outside may be out of our control but the way we deal with it isn’t. Besides playing music, having a small fan going that doesn’t blow on the client can create a white noise buffer to minimize distractions. The room temperature needs to be what the client prefers instead of what we do. Spending some time on our massage table (ideally getting a massage) lets us know how it feels so we can make adjustments if needed.

Dissatisfaction with service: We can’t please everyone, especially when we offer services we aren’t truly proficient in. Just because we learned it in school or took a workshop doesn’t mean we’ve mastered a modality. Only do what you’re good at and get results with even if that means your service menu is short. Really listen and deliver what the client is asking for rather than what we think is best. If you have an approach that you believe will serve them better, explain why and get permission before applying any techniques that are not requested. Ask for feedback during the session as well as afterward, and assure the client you will make notes about their preferences (and do it).

Lack of guidance: Often clients don’t know how to proceed after their massage has ended. Be sure to give them instructions about what to do between the time we leave the room and the time we reconnect once they are dressed and ready. Have water they can take with them handy. Give them any self-care suggestions you have and demonstrate stretches and self massage with them so they know how to do it properly. And of course, ask if they’d like to rebook before they leave!

Lack of (or inappropriate) follow up: Checking in a few days after a client’s first appointment not only shows them we care. It provides us with valuable feedback about how our work affects them so we can make modifications the next time if necessary. Sending hand-written thank you notes can be a nice touch as long as they are personalized, kind and sincere.

Perhaps I’m just too picky. But guess what: so are a lot of clients, especially those who are familiar with massage and know what they want. These can be the easiest people to convert into loyal regulars if we treat them with the respect and integrity they deserve. Putting my ego aside and focusing on being of service has been a game changer in the practice that I love!

What details or procedures have you enjoyed while getting a massage? Is there anything that turns you off? If you don’t see a comment box, click the Leave a comment link to share. Thank you!

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG

Get this FREE GUIDE “5 Steps to Turn New Clients into Regulars” for more ideas to make your new clients’ experience exceptional!

 

Posted in Business Practices, Client Experience, Start Up | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment