To complement “Expert Advice: How can I use advertising to build my massage practice?” in the July 2016 print edition of MASSAGE Magazine.

say thank you to clientsMany industries that are successful have become successful in part by learning methods and techniques that have been successful in other industries. Bookstores, restaurants and other retailers have benefitted, for example, from the airline industry frequent-flyer programs.

Many successful chiropractors, for example, have become successful because they have recognized their success is due, in part, to the referrals of existing clients.

Many of these chiropractors have also dedicated a day to client appreciation. Often, this involves a free adjustment for their clients. It usually also offers a free examination for non-clients, most of whom are brought by clients, and some of whom turn into clients as a result.

The massage industry, in large part, has not operated in that manner. There are exceptions, of course, such as franchises like Massage Envy, which recognizes itself as a massage business, rather than the way in which far too many sole practitioner massage therapists think of their work—as a massage practice.


give chair massage

Appreciate Clients

What can massage therapists learn from this marketing strategy? Plenty. A long-overdue arrow in a massage therapist’s quiver is a Client Appreciation Day. This can look like the following:

  1. A free, fully-clothed chair or table massage for existing clients
  2. A free, fully-clothed 10-minute chair or table massage for non-clients who come during the event
  3. Free additional 10 minutes of chair or table massage for existing clients for each non-client they bring. So if Mr. Jones, for example, brings himself alone he would get 10 minutes of free massage at the event. If he brings his wife, he would get 10 minutes of additional free massage. If he brings someone in addition to his wife, he would get 20 minutes of additional massage.

The extra times above and beyond the 10 minutes he would get at the event would be received at a future date—either tacked onto his typical session, or as a stand-alone session if he brings in enough people. In other words, if he brings in three people he would earn half an hour of additional time, which could be enjoyed as a separate half-hour massage if he likes or to be tacked onto his typical hour-long treatment.

The reasoning behind giving your current clients massage time in the future instead of during the Client Appreciation Day is strictly a logistic consideration; it prevents people—both clients and the people they bring—from having to wait too long for their 10-minute mini-sessions.

  1. Light snacks and beverages. This could involve apple juice or cider, water, cheese, crackers, grapes, cookies, etc.
  2. Every hour on the hour you could give a 10-minute free talk about massage and its many benefits, with a five-minute question-and-answer session.
  3. To make the day flow smoothly and avoid long waits on the part of your current clients and the people they bring, it’s wise to set up appointments in advance just like they do when they receive their normal sessions. This can be done online if you have online booking. If you don’t, you can have a sign-up sheet at your desk or you can take appointments on the phone, as well.


Capture Contacts to Build Your Business

Every new person who you work on would fill out a questionnaire prior to sitting on your chair or hopping onto your table. This questionnaire would also ask for the person’s name, address, email address and telephone number.

This guarantees gaining new people for your database. (You do have a database, don’t you?) This adds to the number of people who get your newsletter. (You do have a newsletter, don’t you?) If the answer to either of these questions is no, then this event might make the creation of either or both—a database and newsletter—that much quicker.


Costs of the Day

The costs for staging a Client Appreciation Day are minimal. How much do juice, cheese, fruit and cookies cost, after all? Peanuts. The biggest cost is nonmonetary; it’s your time and energy. You’ll be giving a lot of free massages to existing clients and their friends, family and colleagues.

You’ll also be giving your knowledge with periodic short talks about massage, but the more knowledge that you give out, the more knowledge and aliveness you’ll be filled with. As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who I studied with and who trained me to teach his meditation, used to say, “The teacher gains more than the student.”

There’s also a bit of time involved in minimal cleanup.

Preparation takes a couple of forms: physical, in terms of getting your space set up; and logistic, in terms of getting the word out. You can do the latter with your newsletter and websites; signage in your office; and flyers to give out to each client you work on for a month or so before the event.



Benefits of Your Day

The benefits of a Client Appreciation Day are many, including:

  1. Happier and more loyal clients, who feel deeply appreciated by you. Remember … you don’t have to give away so many free massages—so few other therapists do—but you’re choosing to do so because you care about and appreciate your clients. The event makes this appreciation palpable.
  1. Exposure to referred people, many of whom might appreciate your generosity, and who might also enjoy your healing touch.
  1. New people added to your database.
  1. You’ll feel great about yourself for your commitment to caring about people—those who you have already been paid to work on, as well as those who you’ve never met.


demonstrate care for clients

Demonstrate Care

Remember … you didn’t study to become a massage therapist to become a multimillionaire; there are many easier ways to do that. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed financially and reach as many clients as possible with your touch.

You became a massage therapist because you care about people and want to see them pain- and stress-free, and feel relaxed in their bodies. Your Client Appreciation Day is a perfect way to demonstrate that care.


Coach Cary BayerAbout the Author

Coach Cary Bayer is an American Massage Therapy Association keynote speaker and marketing coach. He has worked with Quality Inns; Oscar-winning actors Alan Arkin and Pietro Scalia; Emmy-award winners David Steinberg and Judy Henderson; and 300 massage therapists. He has created 14 National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-accredited workshops. He has authored the Grow a Rich Massage Business book trilogy. Coach Carey wrote “Create a Win/Win Referral Program to Get More Clients” and “Sublet Your Office Space for Passive Income” for, and “Expert Advice: How can I use advertising to build my massage practice?” for the July 2016 print edition of MASSAGE Magazine.