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Massage Today
April, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 04

Make Your Client's Experience Memorable

By Jenn Sommermann, LCMT

A plethora of competition, coupled with a struggling economy makes for tough business times. There is no doubt that our massage industry has experienced a population explosion since the turn of the century and rivalry abounds. There are probably very few, if any, massage therapists who are the "only ones" in their town. Now we see competing spas and franchises opening up in record numbers at every cross street and massage schools turning out graduates in record numbers. Added to these quantitative challenges is a tough fiscal period. Most of us have been affected in one way or another. The weekly client may now only come every two weeks, or the monthly client may now only schedule for every five weeks. Some clients may have dropped out altogether, in order to pay for their higher priority items. It will get better but it's challenging now, to say the least.

What's a therapist to do? I know I paint a bleak picture and you may be wondering what can be done, if anything. In my opinion, it all comes down to the client experience and what your clients will remember about you. There's a saying that 'no one will remember your words or your actions, but they will remember how you made them feel.' Think back over your life and I am sure you will agree. The specifics about people, places and events may be fuzzy but the feelings linger. The feelings are what created the memorable experience. The same goes for a massage session. It must be memorable and lasting, in order for your clients to want to return. After all, isn't that what we want? Client retention is the key to business success. Turn your massage session into a memorable experience and your clients will return more frequently.

At this point it is necessary to objectively look at the services you provide, including the business side of your practice. The experience starts long before a client walks into your treatment room and unfortunately, this area is often overlooked. Instead, I see therapists flock to hands-on continuing education, adding modalities to their bag of tricks, in hopes of becoming more successful. While a varied arsenal of techniques is imperative, it rarely brings clients in your doors or gets them to reschedule. It is the "little things" that clients rave about, tell their friends and come back for. Below are some things to consider when assessing the experience you provide for your clients.

Assessing Their Experience

Woman receiving massage. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Is it easy to reach you on the phone? Do you actually answer your phone or at least, return a call within a few hours? This tiny detail is so critical to a client's happiness, especially in today's fast-paced world. It is easy for a client to just try another number or book with a therapist who calls back first. I recommend routinely checking voice mail and returning calls every two hours. Clients will leave messages if they know you return calls promptly.

Is it easy to find you? And are there clear directions for what they should do once they get there? Not all of us can afford an assistant to greet our clients when they walk through the door. Most of us have clients enter an empty room and wait. That's OK, but what is the atmosphere when they arrive? Is there something to read or clear instructions regarding paperwork? Do you have a sign directing them to the lavatory or to refreshments (water/tea or fruit)? This is precious marketing time and a great opportunity for your clients to read about other modalities you offer, products you sell or the benefits of consistent massage therapy.

I won't address the actual massage, as I feel this is so individual and personal. I am also not a technique coach and don't feel this falls into my area of expertise. That said, you must consider a few things regarding the treatment. Did you provide a place for your client to put their things? A hanger for their jacket? So simple but overlooked and often replaced by just a hook. I don't know about you but I don't like to hang my nice leather jacket on a hook. Is the room warm or cool enough. Nothing turns me off faster than being cold. With inexpensive table warmers, there is no excuse for a client being chilled.

Did you offer a music choice or a lubricant choice? Clients like some choices and control, especially on their dime. This is a joint venture. Include them in the process. You are not "doing a massage" to them; you are entering into a healing session with them. How much are you talking? Rule of thumb: answer a question but don't ask another one. Engage only as much as they want and don't initiate conversation. Silence is really golden and very healing.

What is the last thing that happens when you end a session? Do you ask for feedback? Rather than just ask, "how was your massage?" (which is likely to illicit a vague response), be specific. "Is there anything you liked about your session or anything you would like added next time?" Planting a seed about a "next time" is a powerful message. To that end, do you ask a client to reschedule? Do you offer water/tea or fruit? Do you offer the client any exercises or take-away information? I like to walk my clients out the door, instead of just saying goodbye and having them exit on their own. Somehow the image of me waving goodbye from the front door seems more hospitable and welcoming for their return. Again, simple but many of my clients have commented on it.

An experience means different things to different people. In a sea of massage therapists and with clients becoming more savvy and conscious of where they spend their money, it is imperative to create lasting memories. Look beyond the treatment to what else you offer; and if it is average, work to improve it. Simplicity goes a long way. Still at a loss of what to do? Go get a massage from someplace new. Be a detective and look at all the details of their practice. Does something stand out? If so, replicate it. If not, you at least got a massage and can be the role model for your clients.

Stay focused.


Click here for more information about Jenn Sommermann, LCMT.

 

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