How to Get Clients to Re-book
One of our biggest hurdles to overcome as a massage business owner is to learn how we can get our clients to re-book, or to reschedule another appointment. We often get caught up in the cycle of looking outward to get new clients. As massage practitioners, we are often thinking about how we can get new clients or how can we increase our booking rates. We are thinking so much about how to get new business that we completely forget the clients we already have. And, to be honest, sometimes we can take them for granted.
It is far more expensive to get new clients in the door than it is to hold onto existing ones. Most business owners don’t really do the math and take a hard look at the numbers to determine true retention rate.
What is Your Retention Rate?
Here’s a little exercise to help learn what your real retention rate is: go to your filing cabinet and pull out all the intake forms of clients who haven’t been in to see you at your office in 6 months. How big is the pile? Is it bigger than you expected?
A thick stack of intake forms means people aren’t returning for a 2nd appointment. However, this can actually be a good sign because they represent the clients who you can bring back into the fold of your business! They have already come in to see you and you have their contact info, this makes it easy for you to reach back out to them. You can send them an email, a handwritten card, or even a small gift to let them know you are thinking of them.
In my massage practice, I had an 90% retention rate. This means that 90% of all new massage clients scheduled their 2nd appointment within 1 month or less after their first one. I don’t believe this was because I was the “best” massage therapist in town. I think clients came back because I created a space where we could develop a relationship.
When clients choose a massage therapist, they have a lot of businesses from which to pick. The deciding factor may be our location, our prices, or our reviews. However, once the client has had their first massage, if we don’t do anything to WOW their experience, they are unlikely to return.
Giving that extra WOW factor helps them feel accepted and that we appreciate their business. And it’s not difficult! There are things you can do during the different parts of a client’s visit to help add that WOW factor.
As the late Ms. Maya Angelou has said, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” This is even more true with our clients. Our clients to return to us because we are the best massage therapists. Our clients return to us because we helped them feel cared for and special.
When a New Client Schedules
It may be surprising to us, but going into a new business location can be stressful for some people. If they can see what to expect, it can lessen any anxiety about visiting a new space. Make a little video or a photo story of the front of your office building and your office space. Then, when someone schedules the first appointment, email them the video/images so they can familiarize themselves with your space.
Or have an autoresponder set up to provide new clients with a image of your office along with a welcome message.
Greeting Your Client
Friendly greeting with an open smile and a handshake. Sounds stuffy right? Handshakes are a welcoming gesture that helps to put people at ease. In fact, every single appointment should start that way- Handshake and a “good afternoon/morning/evening”.
Try to avoid being busy when you know your client will be walking in the door. That way you can greet them right away in a welcoming manner. Even though you don’t think they will care if you’re on your computer, phone, dressing the table, etc., the point is to take that extra step to give them a WOW experience.
What do you think helps client experience, to be attentive the moment they walk in the door, or to be rushing around the room talking to them without looking at the client.
During the Intake Process
Listen to what they are saying and not saying. An example of listening to what they are not saying would be if they wrote on their intake form that they scheduled the appointment because they are experiencing hip pain. But during the intake process, you notice they keep rubbing their neck. Here’s an opportunity to ask them if their neck is bothering them and if they may want extra attention there during the session.
Are you giving them the same cookie cutter massage that you give all your clients? If a client has come in once before and reschedules, are you giving them the exact same massage? Or are you listening to what they would like for today’s session?
Are you giving them the kind of massage that YOU would want? If that’s the case, stop! Give the client the kind of massage that THEY want. This requires listening to what they are communicating, both verbally and non-verbally. Ask them what their goals are for this session and for massage in general.
When it’s time to start the massage, do you give them clear instructions? Just before leaving the room to let the client get ready, I would say something like: “Please remove your jewelry, which you can place in that bowl over there” (gesture to bowl) “Also remove your clothing but you are welcome to leave your underwear on if that feels more comfortable” (gesture to hook on wall), “There are some hangars where you can hang your clothes.”
Standing by the massage table, “When you lay on the table, please lay face down with your face here” (gesture to head rest) (lifting top sheet a little) “And lay down underneath the top sheet and blanket” (walk towards door) “I am going to wash my hands and will knock to make sure you are ready before entering the room. Do you have any questions before we get started?”
This is a much better way to speak with a new client about the starting process of a massage than to say, “Undress to your comfort level and lay between the sheets, I’ll be right back”, which is what many do say!
During the Massage
Incorporating heat packs and warm towels are a great way to help the client experience. Place a heat back on the back after you finished working there. Wipe each foot with a warm towel after working. And even a warm towel underneath the neck when the client is supine is a really nice touch.
Checking in and making sure they are comfortable with the temperature, music, pressure. In particular if it feels like they aren’t relaxing into the session. On the flip side, if they seem relaxed already, we can easily annoy them by asking about pressure and/or comfort to often.
After the Massage
After the session, ask them if they enjoyed the session and if they have any suggestions of what you could do better or add in more of for their next appointment. Then talk about what you may have noticed while you were working and incorporate that into what their treatment goals are.
For example, if they said they wanted to feel looser in their shoulders, you could say something like, “When you come in for your next appointment, I would like to spend more time around your shoulder blade because that area seemed to need more work.”
Use the information they gave you about their long term massage goals to talk about a treatment plan to include future sessions and what that might look like. Mention that it can take a few regular appointments to feel the benefits of the massage work.
Then pull out your appointment book and say, “When would you like to schedule your next appointment?”
Nurture the Client Relationship
Are your clients appreciated? What do you do to make them feel like you are concerned about their health?
Keep a “tickler” file on each client. Write down any little thing they talk about themselves- what their kids are doing, their recent vacation, their dog’s name- and then when they return for the next appointment, ask them or comment to let them know that you remember them and they stand out to you. This can be written on their intake form after they have left.
Send a handwritten thank you note. My notes were basic folded card stock that I had printed my business logo on the front cover. Inside, I included 2 business cards and wrote: “Dear _________, Just a short note to let you know that I appreciate your new business. I enjoyed meeting you and look forward to seeing you again.”
Call them the next day or on the 2nd day after their appointment to ask how they are doing. Many years ago when I was a newbie massage therapist, I got a massage and the next day the therapist called me to ask how I was feeling. Although it may sound corny, that phone call made me feel special and important. Ever since then, I’ve called all first-time appointments after their session.
Two weeks or a month after their first session, you can send them a little gift in the mail. Don’t send something with your logo on it because that’s not a real gift. For example, if they really enjoyed the lubricant/essential oils/music you used- you can send them a little sample. Include a note that says something like: “Here’s a small gift to enjoy!”
Other ideas include a coffee mug or travel cup with an inspirational quote, a reusable tote bag, an inexpensive book you think they may enjoy, etc. Just remember- do NOT have your logo on the item because then that makes the gift about YOU, not them!
On birthdays send one of your massage gift certificates giving them a complimentary 30 min massage/foot scrub/Reflexology treatment. Offering a small service is more personable than just 10% off. Don’t forget to add an expiration date! If you are in a state that doesn’t allow expiration dates, create some nice looking birthday cards and call it a “Birthday Coupon” rather than a “Gift Certificate”.
Getting Your Clients to Re-book
Remember, it’s about how you make them feel. Focus on making the session about the client and looking for ways that you can nurture a relationship with them on an individual basis. It does take a bit more work. But it’s well worth the work to build a successful massage business. If you have been having trouble getting clients to re-book, take a look at some of the habits mentioned above and see if you can add them into your practice.
Originally published at www.growmassagebusiness.com.