The first session with a new client has gone well! They’ve opened the door so now it’s time to assess their satisfaction, accept payment and find out how they’d like to proceed. Always offer water since clients often get thirsty from breathing through their mouth when they’re face down (gravity may pull mucous from the sinuses into the nose and stuff them up). If they decline, explaining that proper hydration improves muscle health may encourage them to drink some, but don’t insist on it (by the way, water DOES NOT flush out toxins).
Ask if their needs were met and how the session could have been improved. This may seem awkward, but I’ve found some clients appreciate the option to share this information. Generally, they will be pleased with the massage (since they were able to direct the work as it was happening), but this gives them the opportunity to express anything they would have preferred. When asked how the session could have been better, the most common answers I’ve gotten were about temperature and music volume (maybe I forgot to ask before we got started or they changed their mind while we were working). The best answer is that it could have been longer (this happens more than you might think) because it gives us the opportunity to discuss longer appointments (which fill your schedule and increase sales).
In my training, I learned to instruct clients to drink lots of water
after their massage and recommend a hot Epsom salt bath, topical analgesic and stretching to minimize post-massage soreness. Rather than merely suggest these things, I give every new client a home care kit with a water bottle (I recently replaced the water bottle with a lacrosse ball for self-massage), bath salts and a Sombra packet (similar to Icy Hot, Biofreeze, etc.). Giving clients something to take with them sets you apart and provides more value. It can be an informative article or stretching guide. When recommending specific stretching that the client asks about or you feel will help, demonstrate it while they do it with you so they know how to do it on their own (again, more value). If nothing else, be sure they have your brochure and business card.
I used to feel pushy asking for payment (so silly), but not anymore. Simply ask, “How would you like to pay?” The next question is, “Just the single session today?” This gives us the opportunity to talk about frequency incentives, packages, etc. I accept credit cards and ALWAYS have fifty dollars in change on hand for cash-paying clients. Having tip envelopes out or signs posted stating that gratuities are appreciated feels cheesy to me, but I gladly accept cash tips if offered (and ask if they’d like change).
If they’ve chosen to pay for a single session, ask them if they’d like to rebook while they are there or if they need to check their schedule. If they’ve purchased a package, ask if they’d like to book the rest of those sessions while they’re there. As they leave, thank them for coming. It’s important to let clients know how much we appreciate them giving us the opportunity to serve them when they have so many options.
This concludes my series of posts outlining a typical new client’s session. Meeting the needs of everyone who visits is unrealistic, but by listening to them, giving them control over their experience, offering a variety of payment options, soft selling another appointment and expressing our gratitude for their business (in addition to giving them the BEST massage you know how to), you’ll convert many first-time clients into repeats and regulars. Seeing the same clients repeatedly not only improves their outcomes; it lets us get to know one another and care about each other. It’s these relationships that are the essence of a bodywork practice that I love!
How do you take care of the business details of your sessions? Please share what works for you in the comments. Thank you!