From basic appointment scheduling software to robust, multi-featured software suites capable of running an entire company, as a massage therapist you have lots of choices when it comes to technology designed for your needs.
If you’re still answering every phone call yourself and hand-writing gift certificates, you are missing out on time- and labor-saving programs that can free you up to focus on your most important task: delivering a fabulous massage.
Four Reasons to Get Comfy with Tech
1. Clients have come to expect it.
The use of technology to make our lives easier is now commonplace. Think about restaurant reservations, requesting a ride (like Uber or Lyft), or booking a hotel room. It’s now all self-service and clients love that they can do things when it’s convenient for them.
For massage therapists, this means allowing clients to do appointment scheduling online, receive an automated reminder about their upcoming appointment, and complete their intake form online. A few years ago, this was a competitive advantage, but now clients have come to expect it. For example, I don’t know many 20- or 30-something-year-olds who will pick up the phone to make an appointment; they’ll simply use Google to find someone they can book online with.
2. Tech saves you time on tedious administrative tasks.
No one signs up to be a massage therapist because they love paperwork. Your goal is to spend as much time with clients as you can and less time on the admin work. So when you think of how technology plays a role in that, think of the concept of the “time buy back principle”:
Let’s say you’re spending 30 minutes per day on paperwork or on the phone doing tasks such as appointment scheduling that can easily be automated. That time works out to be 10 hours per month, which we can say is conservatively worth $600 if you were to spend that time in session with clients instead. The time buy back principle in this case is simple — making a small investment into technology to accomplish these tasks for you means buying back $600 worth of your time.
3. You end up with more money in your pocket.
When you have things running on auto-pilot via technology like clinic management software, you’ll start to notice a few things. First is that such a program can help reduce or even eliminate no-shows and the lost revenue from them by requiring clients to enter their credit card number when they book their appointment online.
Next, you can have marketing automation work for you and start to see an increase in the number of appointments you book each week. For example, every Sunday you can program your software to automatically email your clients with a list of your availability for the next two weeks. A simple reminder like this may be all it takes to book an extra 5 to 10 appointments per week. Additionally, you’ll be following up with clients who haven’t seen you in a while to encourage them to book an appointment.
Finally, imagine making sales even while you’re asleep. You can use technology to sell gift certificates through your website. I have seen some massage therapists couple online gift certificate sales with a promotional email around holidays like Mother’s Day or Christmas and make thousands of dollars in a day.
4. You will feel the relief of being more organized.
It’s not all about time saved and dollars earned. The most common reason people tell me they switched from pen and paper to clinic management software is because they wanted to be more organized and do away with some of the stress that comes with owning a business.
How Do I Choose a Software Program?
Once you’ve decided to try a software solution, you should look for a program that is designed for massage therapists. That means a program that includes appointment scheduling, reminders, SOAP notes, intake forms and invoicing, at a minimum. You want this to all be covered by one program, because trying to manage multiple software programs is a major hassle.
Next, if you can’t try it first — don’t buy it. Use the free trial that most programs offer. This will allow you to easily make a comparison so you can choose the program you like the most (and you won’t get involved in any high-pressure sales tactics along the way).
Finally, if you’re only seeing 5 to 10 clients per week and don’t expect to grow too much beyond that, there are some great low-cost options out there. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing price within your decision criteria. Once you’re in the 15+ clients-per-week range, you want to make sure you are investing in quality so you aren’t stuck on a platform that doesn’t grow with you.
Look for SOAP Notes Functionality in Your Software, Too
SOAP notes are essential for ensuring continuity of care and proper billing for each client visit, but they can do much more than that. Use your SOAP notes as a tool to educate each client and demonstrate your attention to their care. When you do, you’ll enhance their experience and encourage them to complete their treatment plan. Satisfied clients are more likely to continue scheduling appointments with you, and also to refer others to your practice.
It can be a challenge to balance the need to accurately record information in your notes with the need to use your time effectively. But whether you record your notes during each treatment session or after, don’t overlook the opportunity to demonstrate to each person you treat that you listened to their concerns. Be attentive as you record their pain points. Make notes of their personal preferences or other issues they raise as well. Don’t count on your memory to bring these matters to mind at their next appointment.
Your clients are more likely to trust your expertise and accept and follow through with their treatment plans if they understand those plans. Share the details from the planning section of your SOAP notes with your client as a tool to educate them about the benefits of each element of your plan. Talk to them about the self-care instructions included in the plan and make sure that they understand not only what to do, but also why.
At the start of each session with your clients, review their understanding of the plan and their feedback about its effectiveness. Do they feel that they are improving? Are they confident with your advice?
If you use your SOAP notes to help build relationships, you’ll put yourself and your practice at an advantage.Modern health care customers have many options to choose from when seeking a provider. What makes them choose one over another? Your clients want to know that you actively listen to their concerns and that they can trust in your expertise.
Earn your clients’ loyalty and increase the lifetime value of each of your client relationships by investing a little time in each session to listen and engage. Then, ensure that your memory will not fail you and demonstrate your attention by maintaining detailed electronic SOAP notes.
The Future of Practice Management
The great thing about technology today is the speed of innovation. For example, when COVID-19 hit, ClinicSense was able to implement an automated COVID client pre-screening process before most businesses were even allowed to be open again. Then we implemented new marketing automation features to help our customers schedule more appointments, and they saw immediate results.
Technology is the future for most businesses, including massage therapy. Make sure to adopt a program that fits in well with the way you work and offers frequent updates and responsive technical support, at a price point appropriate for your practice. Your technology solution is out there.
About the Author
Daniel Ruscigno is the co-founder of ClinicSense, which offers clinic management software that helps with appointment scheduling, intake forms, SOAP notes, billing, email marketing and more. His articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “4 Tips for Getting People to Subscribe to Your Newsletter” and “The Importance of Testimonials for Your Business.”
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