Implementing the right client management procedures increases the Three Rs that practitioners yearn for––better client retention, quality referrals, and increased revenue––without requiring marketing or promotions. 

This article introduces you to client management, its meaning, and how it benefits clients and your massage practice.

Patient Management Vs Client Management

Patient management is standardly applied in chiropractic, osteopathy and physical therapy practices to help practitioners guide and manage their patients’ care with greater accuracy, certainty and effectiveness. Client management for massage therapists applies many similar methods that empower you to practice with greater assuredness and achieve better outcomes.

This process of knowing how to guide essential areas of your clients’ care reliably is now becoming better recognized by massage practitioners who want to advance their educational and clinical skills. Applying client management procedures into your massage practice also boosts your professional confidence, credibility and practice success

What is Client Management?

Client management embraces evidence-based protocols, procedures and communications that help you better assess and guide your clients through essential areas of care. They are woven with clinical reasoning and assessment skills to help you direct, treat and monitor each client’s care on a case-by-case basis with greater ease and accuracy.

Often, massage therapists don’t know how to apply their hands-on skills best by using these methods that allow them to provide overall optimum care. Good client management skills embrace whatever hands-on techniques you prefer and enable you to evaluate clients’ primary needs, recommend care that’s specific to each client’s situation, and monitor their progress.

Utilizing these skills not only elevates your massage practice, it also gives the entire massage profession greater recognition and credibility. Plus, clients receive better, more professional-grade care. Does anyone not want these advantages for their practice, their clients or the profession?

The 3 Rs of Client Management

Implementing the right client management procedures increases the Three Rs that practitioners yearn for––better client retention, quality referrals and increased revenue––without requiring marketing or promotions. 

One nice benefit of practicing massage is it allows you the freedom to choose the level of educational advancement you feel comfortable with, similar to other health professions. For example, many medical doctors and chiropractors learn advanced specialties such as pediatric care, sports therapy and diplomate certifications. Similarly, many massage therapists receive further continuing education credentials and specialty certifications. 

Social media now finds promoters soliciting massage therapists to boost their practices rapidly. But be careful not to make the mistake of believing this is your answer to having gratifying and lasting success. After you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to solicit anonymous new clients, you’re not ensured of receiving quality ones you enjoy working with.

Plus, you still need to contend with knowing how to get clients to gladly reschedule, reactivate and retain under your care. Good client management also generates quality referrals, so your practice stays filled.

If you do choose to accelerate your client numbers through popular marketing methods, besides knowing how to have clients retain, reactivate and refer others, keep in mind that it’s also in your and your clients’ best interest for you to know how to apply such essential skills as:

•Knowing how to obtain valuable information from health history intakes and properly evaluate that information.

•Knowing how to professionally consult with clients, perform basic examinations and form assessments.

•Knowing how to design specific treatment approaches, measure and monitor changes, and chart clients’ progress using legally compliant SOAP notes.

Besides employing marketing and monetization strategies, do you really want to hold back from providing your clients with the highest-quality care?

Essential Questions for Client Management

Let’s take an example of how client management skills help you to work with a new client coming to you complaining of lower back pain. Some massage therapists might quickly assess one hip is higher and a leg is rotated, then jump into getting their hands on the client. 

A better approach would be first asking a series of essential questions:

When did this issue first begin?

Is this the first episode or have there been previous ones?

Was an accident or injury involved?

Has this been evaluated by a doctor or other health practitioner?

What treatments have you tried? How effective were they?

Do you go through periods where you feel fine before experiencing flareups, or is this a persistently chronic problem?

What tends to relieve your pain?; and

What are your expectations for the massage you have scheduled with me today?

Such questions serve several purposes by helping you know the dynamics you are facing when working with this client: did they experience a recent trauma that contraindicates massaging them at this time and warrants referring them for evaluation; what should you look for when assessingthem; what hands-on approach might work best? 

Suppose the massage therapist further knows how to perform standard examination procedures within their scope of practice. In that case, they can gather evidence-based findings to form assessments and recommend a care program with multiple appointments.

Additional client management skills allow them to measure and monitor the client’s progress, modify their massage approach if needed, and comfortably communicate suggestions for further care.

Client Management: The Missing Skill

When practicing massage full-time, I felt frustrated and confused not knowing how to manage so many areas of my clients’ care properly. So, I looked elsewhere for procedures that aren’t taught in the massage profession. 

The quest to become empowered with knowing these skills so fascinated me, I spent over $250,000 and several years immersed in learning them through chiropractic college and practice management groups.

Knowing the proper client management procedures and communication skills provided the direction and confidence that had been missing. They spontaneously boosted my professional esteem, credibility and financial success. Never again did I feel less than other practitioners and went on to help teach these well-proven procedures to over 3,000 others who created quite successful practices.

Now my mission is to share these skills with the massage profession. 

Having listened to a few thousand massage therapists describe what they want most, there is no doubt that knowing how to professionally manage their clients’ care is a seriously missing skill they wish they had.

Adding client management skills to your practice may at first seem somewhat complicated or daunting. Some practitioners may be concerned they will feel restricted or burdened with the added responsibility that they fear managing their clients’ care might impose. Others may believe, “ignorance is bliss,” or “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.” 

But avoiding critical skills that can benefit your clients and your practice can be quite costly. In some instances, it can be downright dangerous. For example, do you not want to know basic contraindications or when to refer a client for further evaluation—ignorance that can prove harmful?

I assure you, once you apply a well-integrated client management system into your practice, not only does it prove not to be an imposition, but you also actually become elevated from doubt and uncertainty. You are free to dance within your certainty because solid client management skills serve as a gyroscope and compass you can trust to stabilize and guide you.

What’s more, when clients readily sense your heightened professionalism, they are far more willing to pay, stay and refer!

Additionally, by practicing with well-accepted standards, you become better connected and feel a greater sense of inclusion and belonging with the greater health care community. Mutual acceptance and respect grow.

If you are struggling in your practice or looking to advance your professional edge, ask yourself what the most important thing you can learn that will empower you to provide higher quality care for your clients and boost your confidence, respect and financial stability is? If you feel hesitant to access new knowledge or skills to achieve it, would you rather stay stuck?

This saying is attributed to Buddha: “There are two pains in life, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret; discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs pounds.”

About the Author

Michael Koplen, DC, is a massage therapist, author and teacher. Dr. K is a faculty adviser-teacher for the American Institute of Medical Massage and Health Care Medicine Institute. He actively treats patients clinically in an integrated care practice in Santa Cruz, California. He created Masters In Massage Institute. where several top teachers bring the most advanced client management skills to the massage profession. Their client management books, courses and workshops empower you to confidently guide your clients’ care like a true professional and enjoy heightened esteem and practice success. To learn more about advancing your massage career by using these skillsets, click here.