While getting new clients is a key component to growing your massage business, it can also be the most time intensive and expensive.

To get new customers in the door, you have to make them aware you exist, gain their trust, convince them to make a first appointment with a therapist they don’t know, and then, finally, wow them with your expertise (that one is the easy part!).

So once you have invested all that effort, it’s even more important not to squander it by failing to keep them coming through your door.

In fact, the amount of money you make on first-time clients is, on average, 20 percent of your total income. That means 80 percent of your business comes from repeat customers, so it’s important to give them some love too.

Repeat business requires two basic things: service and communication. Ironically, those can be the things we forget to focus on when we’re busy making sure the business side of the equation is moving forward.

Consider these three important things:

Enhance the customer experience.

This is a no-brainer, but taking care to ask clients–especially first-time ones–about the room temperature, music preference, adjustment of the head rest and their needs for the massage make a big difference. And after asking, it is important to listen to the answer. A recent Fast Company article on the “art of the ask” reminds us that we need to “ask for the client’s buy-in. Otherwise, there is no give and take or relationship.” And a relationship with a client is what ultimately keeps them coming back to you and not going somewhere else.

Give them a reason to come back before they leave.

The most straightforward way to encourage repeat business is to suggest a follow-up appointment before they leave. Not everyone is willing to commit right there, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. And better yet, provide some incentive to booking another appointment, such as 10-percent off the next massage if they book again now or offer a package that makes the cost per massage too good to turn down.


Follow Up. 

This is not rocket science, but remember, you are a marketer first, and marketers don’t just hope clients come back. You have to take the initiative to make sure clients call. And rebook. Again and again.

Thank-you e-mails are a great next-step to re-engage. Sending a quick note offers another chance to be courteous and reminds clients of the benefits of your service and their massage experience. Include your contact information, a link to your website for easy rebooking and social media links so they can stay in touch in a low-commitment way.

Really, it all comes down to being nice. Give your new clients a reason to say yes to another appointment with you and capturing that other 80 percent of revenue will never have been so easy.

Mark Volkmann, a practicing massage therapist in another life, is founder and CEO of MassageBook, a free Web solution helping massage therapists create high-quality websites with local search engine optimization and social networking built into the design. Knowing how hard it is to start and maintain a massage practice, he is interested in helping therapists do it the easy way. For more information, visit MassageBook.com.