I recently had an encounter with a client that left me shaking! He has two standing appointments a week and was asking me to alter my package expiration policy because he’s going on a six week vacation. He usually purchases a 6-pack (which has a sixty day expiration) and didn’t want to buy a 3-pack instead (which has a ninety day expiration) because he didn’t want to pay more.
After I declined changing my policy for the 6-pack, he started questioning why I have that policy. I explained that my cash flow suffers when I sell too many sessions ahead of time. He simply didn’t understand how that could be and continued to press the issue. He told me that if he couldn’t buy a 6-pack, then he wouldn’t be coming in again until he returned in February, which disappointed me because we were finally making some real progress and I felt a few more sessions before he left would be beneficial.
When I asked him why he would only purchase the 6-pack he said, “It’s a really good deal.” Then I told him both options are the same price per massage and the conversation immediately deescalated (buying six sessions at a time is simply a convenience I offer clients who have frequent standing appointments who prefer to pay less often). He purchased a 3-pack at his next visit.
I learned two valuable lessons:
- If I would have started the conversation asking why he didn’t want to buy a 3-pack, the whole incident would have been avoided.
- I don’t want my schedule filled with clients who don’t value my work or trust my business practices.
The easiest thing to do would have been to comply with his request. I chose not to do that because making this exception would have set a precedent for future transactions with him and other clients. Keeping clients happy is important for the success of my business, but if they’re only staying because they’re getting special treatment, my integrity suffers. I’ll begin to resent them, which will be reflected in the massage they receive and my attitude toward my practice as a whole.
Only time will tell how long this business relationship will continue. I provide a consistently skilled, mindful and caring service every client visit. As grateful as I am to serve him twice per week (when he’s in town), I’m prepared for him to move on if he decides to. A thriving practice isn’t dependent on just one customer, regardless of how much money they spend. Clinging to clients based on fear and making exceptions for them to retain their business will definitely not create a practice that I love.
Have you had a similar interaction with a client? Please share how you handled it and the outcome in the comments. Thank you!