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!