Would dependable income, a consistent schedule, building deeper therapeutic relationships with your clients, and being able to provide a higher level of results benefit you, your practice and your clients? Of course.
But, if you are like the vast majority of massage therapists your clients fall into one of two typical categories: those who come in for occasional, one-off appointments, and those who purchase package plans. Did you know that both types of clients can be converted into another category—that of high-value treatment plans? This type of plan benefits the client as well as the therapist’s bottom line.
Let’s look at the challenges of one-off and package-plan clients, and then dive into the four action steps that will transform your practice into one that successfully and ethically sells high-value treatment plans.
The Occasional Client
One-off appointments are the most common, as they require the least amount of time and financial commitment on the client’s part. They are straightforward and uncomplicated. The client picks an open time in your schedule, shows up, pays for their massage, and then re-emerges into their life feeling happier and more relaxed.
While one-off appointments provide lots of benefits to clients, the benefits for you and your business are minimal. Single appointments require substantially more marketing, networking and advertising to keep your schedule full—and because you are dealing with a much greater number of clients to fill those appointments, there is a greater chance you will have unpaid gaps.
The Undependable Client
Packages have long been considered the best as far as appointments are concerned. They provide you with a large lump sum of revenue and guarantee future appointments. Buying several massages at once is convenient for clients, since they are most often offered a substantial savings in exchange for their larger commitment.
Packages can offer some peace of mind for the therapist because you know you will be seeing the same client multiple times, meaning less marketing, networking and advertising is required.
But, the more packages you sell, the less uncertain your schedule becomes—or does it? Let’s face the hard truth here: Your intention in offering discounted packages is clients will schedule their appointments at regular intervals and use them up within a specific timeframe.
Yet, you have most likely seen time and time again that is not what usually happens. Instead of becoming the every-Tuesday-at-2 pm-Cindy, Cindy schedules her first massage, then waits months to schedule the next session. By the time she has used up all of her massages, it’s been a year—or three. That scheduling behavior is not going to build your business or create consistent income.
The High-Value Client
The solution—the one that will create a dependable income, consistent schedule, deeper therapeutic relationships with clients and better results—is selling high-value treatment plans.
When you choose to move your practice from those inconsistent, single sessions and haphazard packages into one that focuses on creating results-driven treatment plans, you set the stage for massive success. Let’s go through each step so you can begin selling your own high-value treatment plans.
Step 1: The Consult. Complete a thorough consultation to fully understand the client’s needs. An in-depth intake, interview and assessment are critical elements that will let you determine if a treatment plan is right for the client. The biggest question to answer in determining if a treatment plan is right is: Will the client’s problem take more than one or two sessions to resolve? If yes, a treatment plan is indicated.
Allow plenty of time in your schedule so you do not feel rushed during this step. This is when you will learn about your client’s needs and also underscore your authority and expertise. Having a pre-determined set of questions will help you stay on track, while giving you the flexibility to dig deeper into those questions needing more clarity. These deeper questions can significantly impact what is included in the treatment plan and its cost, so be as thorough as possible.
If you have concluded the client’s therapeutic goals would be best achieved through a full treatment plan, proceed to Step 2. If a treatment plan is not deemed necessary, you will simply begin the massage session and continue with your normal rebooking procedure when the session has ended.
Step 2: Start with Your Hands. Hands-on work is important because it allows you to better assess the client’s tissues and their initial response to your massage techniques and style. This will help you better develop an appropriate course of treatment to deliver the most significant results in the shortest amount of time. Providing hands-on work before attempting to sell a high-value treatment plan allows the client to experience your touch and feel the results you can provide them.
I like to think of this step like the test-drive portion of the car-buying process. After you find the perfect car (the client has chosen you and is now sitting in your treatment room) and have given it a good look over (intake and interview), it’s time to take it for a spin (yay, massage time). During the test drive, you are paying attention to how the car feels and how it makes you feel. Your client is doing the same thing during their massage. This is when they are determining if your service is worth their time, worth your fee, and can help them meet their goals.
Step 3: The Post-Session Wrap-Up. After the massage is over, you should plan extra time to go over your findings, revisit the key elements of the intake and interview, and discuss the most appropriate next steps. This is when you connect all the dots for the client.
You will want to know how they are feeling after receiving the hands-on work compared with when they arrived. Bring their awareness to specific parts of their body as you reinforce their words from the interview and explain how their tissues felt and responded as you applied your techniques. Continue with additional areas as needed.
Now it is time to recommend the next steps. It’s a great idea to think in terms of 30 days: Is one more session needed or would a handful of sessions be the most effective? How soon does the client need to return? How much time is recommended between each session? What do future sessions look like? Always remember to explain why these recommendations are in the client’s best interest.Once you have determined the type and number of sessions recommended within the 30-day period, plus such value-adders as take-home tools, samples and priority scheduling, it’s time to move into Step 4.
Step 4: Make the Sale. The last step in selling your high-value treatment plan is to present the offer. You have already gained a clear understanding of your client’s needs, have proven your skills, and have connected the dots. The client likes you, trusts you, and now wants to do business with you.
When you present the offer, you are essentially presenting the whole package of benefits and results the client will be getting and then communicating the cost. Unlike standard packages, the cost of the treatment plan is based not only on the type and number of sessions, but the value adders as well. Most importantly, value comes in the form of the results the client will experience.
A standard package of five sessions might be valued at $300 but sold at a discounted price of $250 to reward clients for their large, upfront payment and your intention that all sessions will be used within six months. Alternatively, a high-value treatment plan with the same number of sessions might be valued at $1,000 when you include the session cost, recommended upgrades, value adders, and the value of the results. Because there is a much larger commitment, and a much shorter window to use, a reduced price of $700 might be offered. It is important to sell the treatment plan as a results plan rather than focus on each individual part in order to distinguish it from a simple pre-paid package.
The most important piece of advice I can give you when selling high-value treatment plans is to make the financial investment the least important factor. The money is just the fuel in the car; you’re selling them the car. Stay focused on how the proposed treatment plan will help your client feel better, function better, and get back to living their life to the fullest. Remember to allow ample opportunity to answer any questions as you go through this step.
At this point, you have provided the client with everything they need to know. Now it is time for them to either accept the proposed treatment plan or decline your offer.
If they accept, you can move right into the payment and scheduling procedure. If the client chooses to decline your offer, you will want to be clear on the reason why. Is the cost simply beyond what they can truly afford, or have they determined the value of the service and benefits does not exceed the financial investment? Is time a factor? Is getting their pain and dysfunction resolved not a high priority at this time? Whatever the reason, this is your opportunity to understand the client’s needs on an even deeper level.
Go Beyond the Basics
You have the knowledge and technical skills to provide your clients the high-level results they are looking for—and now you have an excellent strategy to sell those results as high-value treatment plans. Select a few clients, design a custom treatment plan for each of them, and start practicing your presentation.
About the Author:
Melinda Hastings, LMT, BCTMB, MTI, has practiced massage therapy since 1996. She holds active licenses in Washington and Texas, and is also a Texas Massage Therapy Instructor. She is a Nationally Approved Continuing Education Provider through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. Her CE classes are offered through her seminar business, Inspired Therapist Seminars. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “My Massage Policies Have Changed”: Communicate with Clients in a Way that Builds Good Will” and “Build a Steady Stream of Physician Referrals.”