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Massage Today
November, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 11

Service is Not an Antiquated Word

By Angie Patrick

Let's face it, we have seen far better economic times. We have seen recessions come and go, and we have seen boom times. We have watched the stock markets skyrocket, and then looked on in horror as they crashed just as quickly.

There is no way around it, no sugar coating it and no way to make it something it isn't. Our economy is tough, period. But for some, using the economy as justification to under-deliver your goods or services to your clients can make an already tough situation even tougher.

Have you walked into big-box retail stores equipped with 35 check out lines only to have two registers open because of personnel cutbacks to save costs. Who does this ultimately hurt? Well, first the customer, because they feel their time is not as important as the store's. Also, this hurts the store, because I can tell you I would actively avoid making purchases in that store because I know the wait times are ridiculous and I can go right down the street and get the services and products I need and not spend my hard-to-find free time in queue. The store has lost my business, so being penny wise and pound foolish is not a smart move for anyone in business.

To help you get through this interesting economic landscape, there are some basic things you need to remember about your clients. Below are some of the things you should consider before you begin to slice service levels to compensate for slower cash flow.

They EXPECT excellence. It really is not a negotiable expectation. Regardless of whether they have purchased a discount through Groupon or another service, they expect the very best you have to give, each and every time. Keep in mind, they too are short on funds, and times are just as hard in their household if not more so. That being said, the money they spend to visit you is money they must now work harder to justify spending. Providing them an excuse to cut you from their budget by providing reduced or less than stellar service is a sure way to send your clients on an expedition to find someone who will meet their expectations.

They EXPECT you to be on time, every time. Even when they are not. This is not a two way street. The customer will not wait long before they begin to wonder if this is time well spent. Conversely, the customer should also understand should THEY run late, you have allotted a certain time frame and they will have to give up massage time to compensate. Having this conversation when the customer is late for the first time, however, is not the time to enforce this rule. Be sure you have a mutual agreement to respect one another's time and have a conversation with them about your policy on late appointments BEFORE you begin to work with them is far more effective than springing a short massage on them because they are late. Doing this will likely result in a certainty that you will lose a client. A CLEAR AND DEFINED policy for both parties should be made clear before hand to avoid any controversy.

Follow up with your clients and go the extra mile to call them a day before to confirm your appointment. Doing this can allow you time to reschedule another client in the event your first client has been called away or cannot make it. Having a back-up plan is great because you will not lose revenue and your client sees this as being proactive in their care. This costs nothing but time, and is a great way to budget your time and income by allowing yourself a bit of recovery time in the event of a cancellation. The time to try to book another client is not 30 minutes before the appointment time. Having just a little heads up can do wonders for you and for the client's loyalty.

Do not take short cuts for your supplies. Remember, your clients are expecting excellence, and if you change something they have become accustomed to, they will most assuredly recognize that. Even though the economic temptation is strong to find lesser quality products or worse yet, buy from mainstream retail, the client will notice a change. If you are using a product they can buy anywhere, you are making it more difficult for them to see you as a health care professional. They might instead see you as a lesser therapist.

Providing service also includes seeing to their needs for home care as well. This means retailing goods you in which you have confidence in and personal experience with and that can be used easily at home for clients to manage pain, do a home exfoliation, an aromatherapy bath, or any other item you believe in and feel good about retailing. This can actually ADD to your bottom line, which is not a bad think when money is tight.

Service is not antiquated, just not as prevalent as it once was. It is just as appreciated now as it was when our parents were growing up. Imagine how we would feel in this day and time pulling into a service station and four employees were to run out, shine our windows and mirrors, check the oil, check the tires, and fill your tank. We would be over the moon! Your clients will be also if you work diligently to provide consistently great treatment, service and homecare. You will be assisting them in more ways than you know and you can fill many of their needs in one place. While I know your practice is not a gas station, the same basic principles apply for meeting customer/client expectations: Exceed them, and you have a customer for life.

Click here for previous articles by Angie Patrick.


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