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 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!
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