To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Easy Steps to Success: Create a Massage Practice that Stands Out,” , in the April 2011 issue. Article summary: Among a sea of competitors, standing out can be the key to success. Small steps can take your practice to the next level To rise above the rest, get creative and consistent with your marketing and outreach efforts, know your way around online and in-person networking, and never forget to provide the best possible client experience.

by Vivian Madison-Mahoney

Here are 11 key ways I made our practice stand out from 1984 to 1999, while providing hourlong sessions to 490 clients a month:

  1. Have people answer your phones—even if you have to hire a live answering service or transfer calls to a family member or friend. In every case, we asked new clients what made a different in choosing our practice. In every case, they said “because a live person answered your phone.”
  2. Friendliness by all staff members to every client, theirs or not, makes clients feel at home, looking forward to being there next time.
  3. Set the client’s next appointment before she leaves your office. She’ll feel wanted and committed.
  4. Thanking clients for coming as they leave is as important as hello and welcome when they arrive.
  5. Look for ways to do what your competition is not doing, to be outside the box. For example, be willing to accept physician referrals and insurance for payment, or throw a yearly holiday party for clients, employees and those who refer business and other major contacts to you.
  6. Provide excellent massage services at fair and reasonable prices to the client and insurance companies. Services include time, atmosphere, cleanliness and convenience. Listen to and hear what clients say, as many clues lie hidden here. Listen and grow your business.
  7. Have set, reliable hours, but be flexible and willing to work when clients need you, not always when you want to.
  8. Generate different ways to bring in money, such as accepting insurance and bartering when possible.
  9. If you have steady clients, think about the reason why. Example, if it’s your fees, don’t change them; if it is your office atmosphere, don’t change it. In other words, never change what works. We had surveys to find out why our clients kept returning year after year. Learning and continuing to do what they want, like and need is what keeps them returning to you.
  10. Always ask clients how they heard of you. If referred by someone, send a thank-you card or a gift of appreciation. Document sources of clients—ad, flyer, Yellow Pages, radio, Facebook, word-of-mouth. Keep doing what works and end what doesn’t.
  11. Remember; as you give, you receive—if you don’t expect it back from the source you gave it to. I found that telling a client, no charge today when least expected meant more than any form of discount.

Vivian Madison-Mahoney has 24 years’ experience in insurance billing procedures, laws and rules ( She is licensed as a massage therapist in Florida and Tennessee, and is an approved continuing education provider. She is a practicing therapist and has received referrals from more than 175 physicians.