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Massage Today
June, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 06

The Heart of Business: Client Relations

By Jenn Sommermann, LCMT

Business does not have to be about accounting and long-winded business plans. Even though that is a valid aspect of professional development, many massage therapists hire accountants and some never write business plans.

If you enjoy those pieces of the business side of massage therapy, good for you. However, I feel the most important aspects of business revolve around client relations. Getting the clients scheduled in the first place, performing excellent customer service beyond the "hands-on" work and retaining clients is paramount to success. A successful massage career is much more than a good massage just as a five-star hotel is much more than a comfortable bed.

When you first hear the term client relations, what do you think about? Of course, it means different things to different people but I want to try to put together a list of some of the top things that client relations mean to me. For the purpose of organizing this information, I am going to break it into three categories: before the massage, during the massage and after the massage.

The first time you speak to someone on the phone or meet them in person is critical to the success of the long-term relationship. You have about five seconds to "impress" someone and the average client sizes you up in a short time. How you handle this interaction is very important.

You must be professional, clear, and establish your value in a short amount of time. There is no un-doing the first meeting. You never get a second chance. This is the first step in establishing a good relationship.

Heart in sand - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The ease with which a client schedules and your promptness in returning phone calls is the next thing to pay attention to. If a client cannot get through to you or if it takes too much effort to book an appointment, they won't be a client for long. Convenience and impeccable phone etiquette is key to client relations.

Once you get the client in the door, excellent service and paying attention to their needs tops the list. If a client likes an abdominal bolster, make sure it is set up before the client comes in for an appointment. Don't make the client ask or worse, have them go without. Client preferences must be noted on their chart and should be adhered to each time.

And speaking of charts, keeping accurate records is a must. You are the keeper of people's lives and there is no excuse for not doing an intake and tracking progress with good notes. Use whatever format you like, although SOAP notes are widely accepted. The point is to understand your notes, be able to defend them if necessary and have a clear picture of what your treatments consist of.

Once the client has left the office, follow-up is imperative. Marketing studies show that the best bang for your buck is follow-up. It costs less money and takes less time to keep an existing client than to bring in a new one. A little time spent keeping your current clients happy will go a long way towards ultimate success. Check in and see how they feel after their first appointment. Whatever they tell you, write it in their chart so that you "remember" it for their next visit. If you read an article that would be good for a certain client, take the initiative and send it to them. Clients love that.

Because you've taken such good treatment notes, the next time they come in for an appointment, you will be able to ask them about their current condition. "Remembering" the details is easy if you write it down and clients will feel cared for. In a world where health care is challenged and medical professionals don't have time to converse, let alone remember details, you will stand out amongst the stars if you do.

Good client relations isn't hard to accomplish, but it takes time, thought and effort. With some practice, these techniques can become second nature and be part of your standard of care. Clients will appreciate it and as a result, will come back. I truly believe if more massage therapists focused on client relations, there would be more success in our industry.

Stay focused.

Click here for previous articles by Jenn Sommermann, LCMT.


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