Your main task is to build and maintain an active massage client base that will keep your appointment book full. You must first attract people who want your massage therapist services, then keep as many clients coming back as possible. As a rule, it takes more time, effort and money to attract new business than it does to keep it. Realize, too, that it may take several years to build a thriving massage practice. Knowing this from the beginning can help you to allow adequate time and not get discouraged.
Take stock of your location.
If you plan on developing some regular massage clients, you must have access to people who can afford regular massage. Are you offering your services in an affluent area? Is your office in a desirable part of town? What can you offer that sets you apart from other massage therapists in your area?
There are ways to promote your massage services very inexpensively (like handing out business cards or massage newsletters and any other massage marketing material you might have), while other methods will be more costly (like a Yellow Pages ad). Taking time to plan your initial marketing campaign is well worth the effort. You don’t want to commit money toward promotional activities that aren’t attracting enough business to make them worthwhile.
Getting new clients. You may focus more time on getting new clients when you first launch your massage practice, but you’ll always need to attract new ones too. Here are some ideas:
Network with other alternative-health providers
Give sample massages to eligible referrers (doctors, etc.)
Create a referral program for clients
Promote gift certificate sales
Volunteer at community events
Join business leads exchange groups
Speak to groups (take handouts!)
Operate a booth at health fairs, etc. (handouts!)
Join the local Chamber of Commerce
Increase your exposure
Try to hand out at least 5 business cards each day
Distribute educational massage newsletters in your community
Get a website and include it on business cards, newsletters, etc.
Link your website to other sites
Offer discounts on links to businesses
Make adding new clients a game. Ask yourself: “How can I attract more business?” and make a list of all the ideas you come up with. Your goal should be to get enough clients to keep your schedule full. Keep adding until it’s easy to fill your appointment book each week.
Keep them wanting more. Getting massage clients to keep coming back is vital to a successful massage practice, and there are some helpful secrets that virtually all seasoned bodyworkers know:
Make a connection. The secret to repeat business is a sincere, heartfelt concern for your massage clients. Get to know each one for the special person he or she is and let them know you are there to help. When you are truly interested, your client will feel it and keep coming back.
Be committed to delivering excellent service. You’ve probably had a massage from someone who wasn’t really “there” for you that day. It’s all too easy to fall into a rut and operate on automatic. People can feel the difference, so be sure to put 100% into each massage you deliver.
Get feedback from clients to make sure they are getting what they need and want from you. We’re all taught to be polite, so it’s your responsibility to make sure clients are telling you if they are really satisfied with your services. Let them know it’s okay to share their feelings — and make it safe for them to do so.
Be responsive. Return calls and set appointments promptly; always be on time, and stay in good communication with your massage clients. Show them how important they are to you.
Spoil your clients! Little things can make a big difference. An example from my own experience is when my therapist added a heated neck pillow to my sessions. For me, it made a noticeable difference and each session became more enjoyable.
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