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Massage Today
February, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 02

Re-Framing the Idea of Referring New Clients to Other LMT's

By Cary Bayer

Recently, I called a licensed massage therapist to find out about the possibility of getting a session. If I liked her work, I told her, I'd be interested in working with her as my regular LMT.

The first thing she said was that she wasn't doing massage now. I was disappointed. Then she said was she could refer me to a working therapist. I was less disappointed, because she said this therapist was terrific. Then, as I was about to hang up and call the therapist, to whom she referred me, she said something else. If I gave you a hundred guesses what this non-working LMT then told me, you couldn't possibly guess what it was. That's when she said ... drum roll please ... that she'd be working again in three weeks time. WHAT????

You heard me right. So, why didn't she answer my original questions about her work and book me in three weeks? I never told her I needed a massage in the next three weeks; she just assumed I did. As the business coach for massage therapists, I've seen some really weird attitudes, speech and actions from ungrounded LMTs, but this one took the proverbial cake. Talk about ruining an opportunity! I hope you can see the craziness in "assuming" your prospective client's needs without first checking with them. Promise never to repeat such behavior.

But there's an even more subtle massage marketing tip contained in that phone call. As a business coach for massage therapists, I've seen far too many booked LMTs refer prospective clients to other therapist friends. That's incredibly thoughtful. That's incredibly generous. And that's incredibly dumb. Let me explain

woman getting massage - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Suppose that your limit is 20 sessions per week - four sessions daily, five days per week. Suppose when you do number 21, your wrist begins to ache and you've promised yourself that you won't do more than 20. Let's further suppose that it's Monday, and you're already completely booked for the week. But you get a call from a new person who wants to work with you. Since you've read the first few paragraphs of this article, you won't assume this person wants their session this week or they will work with someone else. So you try to book them for next week. But suppose they really need to see you this week, what do you do?

You can be incredibly generous, like most therapists, and give them the name of a friend of yours whose work is excellent. The caller is happy, your friend is happy, and you don't have to hurt your wrists. But you might be hurting your bank account a great deal more. Let me explain.

Because the therapist you're referring is great, there's a strong chance this therapist will become their therapist. Good for them but not good for you. Why do I say that? Let's do the math. Suppose that they becomes a regular client, seeing the therapist twice a month for $75 per session. That means they will spend $150 per month with someone else for massage. If you multiply that by 12, you get their annual expenditure on massage: $1,800. That doesn't take into account gift certificates they might purchase, or clients they refer to your friend.

Then, suppose that the client and your friend develop a working relationship that lasts six years. That means they will have paid $10,800 over the course of their work together. That's good for them and, again, not good for you because that $10,800 could have been yours. But it wasn't yours because you were too busy to take them on as a new client. I'm not suggesting you should have taken them on if your schedule is full. You have to protect your body for the long run, and avoid injuries that prevent you from doing any sessions the following week. So what am I suggesting?

It's very simple: bring in a second therapist to work for you to handle your overflow and design a compensation program with them. My recommendation is to pay between 50 and 60 percent of the sessions they do for your clients. But make sure that you're paid first, and then give them the commission on a periodic basis (like weekly) if they do a lot of treatments, or monthly, if they do fewer. It's important that you're paid first — otherwise, there can be some resentment on their part if they have to surrender the full amount of the treatment to you and then get their cut.

If, on the other hand, you're like so many of the massage therapists I've encountered and don't want to have another therapist working for you — for whatever reason that might be — then develop a compensation program with an outside therapist who doesn't work for you, but pays you a commission for clients you refer. How that compensation is structured is clearly between the two of you, but here's a guideline: have them pay you between 30 and 40 percent of each session they give the client you referred to them.

They need to keep good records and could easily send you a monthly check based on how much revenue they gained from the client or clients you sent their way. If you get 40 percent of those treatment fees, and we refer back to the $1,800 that the new client pays them each year, you're looking at $720 in passive income that year for making a single phone call. Multiply that by the six years of their association and you have $4,320 in passive income from a single phone call.

Now that's prosperity consciousness. And that's quite different from just giving that new client your friend's phone number and all you wind up with is a thank you. Thank you's don't pay $4,320 in bills. In this economy, four thousand dollars is nothing to sneeze at.

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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