Is this a familiar story? Let’s say you have a new client schedule an appointment with you. They arrive for their appointment, and you feel that the massage treatment went well. As the client is exiting and paying for the session you ask if they would like to reschedule. They reply, “Not at the moment; I need to look at my schedule—I’ll call you.”
If you have ever heard these words, you already know that client is most likely not coming back.
Even when you feel you performed your best massage work, when this response occurs it leaves you frustrated and confused. It makes you wonder if you could have done something different to change the outcome and if so, what could you have done differently?
While I don’t have a technical answer for you, I can tell you that the power to successfully reschedule a client happens before the massage, not during it.
Having a crystal-clear understanding of why the client is coming to see you before the massage occurs is essential. You cannot develop that understanding somewhere during the massage session. The result of starting a massage without enough information will end up as a less-than-hoped-for experience for the client.
As far as rescheduling and expectations go, if the client enjoyed the quality service you provided and appreciated your approach to customer service, they will most likely reschedule when asked if they would like another appointment.
If you correctly meet a client’s expectations, and perhaps exceed them, the client will most likely request to reschedule with you without being prompted. This is what you are striving to achieve with each client.
In previous articles, I mention client expectations frequently. I wanted to break down expectations in relationship to how this topic assists with rebooking clients.
The number one reason a client does not rebook with you is that something about the massage did not meet their expectations.
To review: An expectation is a strong hope or desire that a specific thing or outcome will happen. Every client who comes across your table has a strong hope or desire for massage to create a certain feeling, solve a problem, or help their body in some way.
When the therapist understands what this is and then meets that strong hope or desire during the professional touch experience, then that client will organically request to come back to you.
You will not know what the client’s expectations are if you do not ask what they are or take the time to really listen to what the client is saying.
It is easy to meet clear expectations but much harder to meet unclear or confused expectations. When confronted with unclear expectations, this is when you need to take the time to understand and potentially correct the client’s expectations to be in line with what you can realistically offer them.
Reactive Pressure Perceptions
This is such a common issue, and it directly ties into rescheduling. I would like to address this here to help you understand what your client is thinking and change the outcome of the client potentially not rescheduling with you—before you touch them.
An example of this is unmet pressure experiences. You have clients request certain kinds of pressure needs. Some clients want more pressure and some less. When it is what the client is proactively requesting, and you meet it, they are fulfilled.
When the client’s pressure perceptions are reactive instead of proactive, that means they are trying to control your pressure from a previously unmet expectation. They will request less or more pressure trying to get what they didn’t get with their last massage and end up still not getting the massage they wanted, even though you did what they asked. This is the most common reason for unmet expectations.
One of the more important facets of rebooking clients involves potentially resetting clients’ expectations to be in line with what you can realistically offer with massage therapy—or the way you apply or approach massage.
If a client has an unrealistic expectation of what massage can do for them, it does not matter what you do. You will not be able to meet them.
Session Etiquette & Closing Statements
There is also the educating of the client on the benefits of massage and frequency. I prefer to use a combination of suggestion and client awareness. Empower your clients to make healthy choices for their own bodies and bring awareness to how the massage benefited them, and their body and that frequency sustains that movement toward health.
Sometimes, the rescheduling etiquette is something to teach the client and opening the door to setting up another appointment is needed to give permission to the client. Something such as that you really enjoyed getting to know them and their body and you would be happy to work with them again as encouragement to rescheduling.
We all have a way of ending the session time with the client that allows for a smooth exit for both you and your client.
Practice a planned statement to say to each client about the rebooking segment of the session. My favorite is, “When would like to come back to my table?” It’s an invitation that says I would like to see that client again, and it puts clients at ease.
Massage Packages = Guaranteed Appointments
Another solution that also helps with budgeting time and money is to sell packages.
From a financial perspective, this does not necessarily mean you are required to discount all packages; rather it is a convenience for the client in that they only have to pay once for multiple appointments.
A client is more likely to schedule more frequent visits because there is the feeling of having those sessions paid for and available. It is important that you manage the number of packages you sell and be able to accommodate those clients in a timely fashion. And it is ultimately your responsibility and is a great show of customer service to be proactive in advance scheduling and taking care of your clients’ trust in you for pre-purchase of your time.
Also include information about getting clients on board with a series of massage sessions rather than one-time bookings.
Simply Ask if They Would Like to Reschedule
This is a common pain point for massage therapists: feeling uncomfortable or unsure if a client appreciated the service you provided. Waiting for clues as to if they want to reschedule. Waiting for the client to ask you to reschedule and not offering the option. You don’t know how the massage was received and are waiting for clues to know if the client rescheduled. You are unsure of how to approach asking.
Clients are not always sure of the protocol to rescheduling with you, especially if massage is something new to them. This is a lost opportunity. The client might believe that because you did not suggest it, maybe you don’t want them to return.
You will never know if the client wants to reschedule if you don’t ask.
Rescheduling should have a natural flow to it, just like your massage flow. Once you build the relationship with your client by defining and meeting their expectations at the table, the client very naturally wants to repeat the experience and rescheduling become simpler.
We have to work hard for each new client who walks in our door and keep that work going to get that client to return.
About the Author
Amy Bradley Radford, LMT, BCTMB, has been a massage therapist and educator for more than 25 years. She is the owner of Massage Business Methods and the developer of PPS (Pain Patterns and Solutions) Seminars CE courses and an NCBTMB Approved CE Provider.