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Massage Today
November, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 11

How Do You Retain Your Clients?

By Jenn Sommermann, LCMT

In my last column, I wrote about how to reactivate clients. You know, the ones who go missing for one reason or another. I hope it was helpful and your practice is experiencing the fruits of that labor.

Now that those clients are back, how do you keep them? After all, the winner of the game is the therapist who has the greatest ability to attract and retain clients. Imagine if you didn't retain your clients, but wanted a thriving practice? It would be like trying to fill up a bucket with a big hole in it. No matter how much water you put in the bucket with a hole, it will never fill. Well, if you are not retaining clients, that is what will happen with your practice - it will never be full.

The bottom line to client retention is keeping them happy. Of course, that means different things to different people. However, in today's economy and stressful times, people are looking for something special and unique. People are looking to be treated in a certain way and consumers want an experience. Gone are the days of just being satisfied with an hour massage. Consumers are smarter and the number of therapists is growing exponentially. So, how do you set yourself apart from the myriad of others? What makes you special and how will you provide an experience for your clients?

A laptop computer. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark I strongly believe the experience starts with the first interaction. Whether it's in person or over the phone, the clock starts ticking and the value of the massage is being tallied. Do you take the time to conduct a proper interview? Do you ask questions that show you care? Are you rushing to book the appointment? The answers to these questions tell the client what kind of therapist you are and what they can expect from future interactions with you. Similar phone protocol is imperative for on going clients as well. Do you return calls promptly? People will leave voice messages if they know you return calls in a timely fashion. If you are receiving hang-ups, chances are your time- management and phone skills need a makeover. If you are professional, caring, prompt and unrushed, your long-term therapeutic relationship is well underway.

The next phase of the experience happens during the treatment time, but before hands-on. How do you greet your client? Do you remember (or write down) the things discussed during the interview or do they have to repeat everything? Do you remember what you did with them during their last visit? Do you have the table prepared the way they like it (abdominal pillow, face cradle, etc.)? Do you listen to them? What extras do you provide at the office? Do you offer water after the session or teach them exercises to do at home? All of these little things add up to a richer, fuller hour of care.

The massage itself is up to you. Your work is your own and it must be nothing short of awesome to keep people coming back. However, my area of expertise is business so I won't go into how to give a good massage. That's your job.

Follow-up is another key to client retention. Whether you do a 24-hour follow-up call for a new client or send a monthly newsletter to an existing one, the continuity is imperative to long-term success. It's so easy for you to slip from people's minds; you must stay at the forefront at all times. Birthday cards, newsletters, follow-up calls, reminder calls and holiday greetings are examples of ways to keep in contact. If you don't believe how effective this can be, allow me to provide a real-life example. Every month, I send out an e-mail newsletter. As I recently started another new practice, this has only been happening for about six months. The last two newsletters got amazing results! Three clients e-mailed me back within minutes of receiving my newsletter to book appointments, for two months in a row. They commented that they loved being reminded of me, couldn't believe it had been a month since their last massage and appreciated how easy it was to hit "reply" and book an appointment. Whatever method you choose to stay in touch, the premise is that you still are thinking about your clients long after the hour massage is over. The dollar value of the treatment is being extended beyond the 60 minutes, and the experience is still continuing.

Retaining clients is the key to the ultimate success of your business. It costs far less money to keep your existing clients happy compared to drumming up new business. It takes less emotional energy to work with an existing clientele, and it's just plain easier. Business peace of mind comes when the clients are happy with your work, pay you a fair amount of money and reschedule for many, many years.

Click here for previous articles by Jenn Sommermann, LCMT.


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