This scenario sounds all too familiar to massage therapists nationwide: You provide an effective massage session helping ease physical pain within a client. Upon completion of session, you recommend weekly sessions to help keep the positive momentum of healing going.

This scenario sounds all too familiar to massage therapists nationwide: You provide an effective massage session helping ease physical pain within a client.

Upon completion of session, you recommend weekly sessions to help keep the positive momentum of healing going.

You explain how facilitating postural changes will further ease physical pain with the weekly massage session plan accomplishing a total realignment of posture.

However, the client simply refuses the weekly massage session plan and informs you that they will return when their pain returns.

How many times has this scenario occurred to you? How many times have you wanted to help your clients more than it seems they wish to help themselves?

As I speak to massage therapists nationwide, this frustrating scenario creates angst among therapists. We approach our massage sessions from a sincere space of service and we yearn for clients who value their health to the extent that we do.

Yet, they don’t re-book.

Many People Want to be Healthy

Two analogies used to explain this phenomenon are the classics, “Clients take better care of their cars than their bodies” and “Clients don’t care about their health as much as they should.”

However, current health trends simply don’t bear these ideas out. In fact, a growing number of Americans is spending a significant amount of money on health-related products and services:

  • According to the Council of Responsible Nutrition, the dietary supplement industry contributes over $121 Billion to our economy annually. This figure indicates how more Americans are health conscious than ever before.
  • Also, the number of yoga practitioners has risen by 29 percent (from 15.8 to 20.4 million Americans) in the last decade according to a report by the Huffington Post in March, 2015. This also speaks to a more health conscious population.
  • Finally, 19 percent of adult Americans have received massage, according to a national survey. The U.S. census confirms 245 million adult Americans; therefore 46.5 million adult Americans received a massage from July 2015 thru July 2016. This also speaks to a more health-conscious society.

Your Massage Session Plan

These figures confirm we massage therapists cannot make blanket statements describing that our nation is unhealthy as a whole. There is a sizable population of individuals seeking better health and wellness.

So, how does a therapist find and speak to these people?

Actually, the more appropriate questions are: How do I acquire clients who care significantly for their health and wellness in my practice? and How can I get my current clientele to value their health and wellness?

We shall explore these fundamental questions in this article, and look at these five keys to unlock the door to massage session re-bookings:

  1. Live a lifestyle of health and wellness;
  2. Follow up;
  3. Highlight benefits derived from treatments;
  4. Celebrate client victories; and
  5. Talk directly to clients about booking more sessions.

1. Live a Lifestyle of Health and Wellness

Living a lifestyle of health and wellness will help to naturally accomplish this goal.

Like attracts like, after all.

People are naturally inclined toward people who share common interests and values. If a therapist becomes more health-inclined, their clientele typically follows suit.

This occurred to me before becoming a yoga teacher. In September 2016, the month I enrolled in yoga teacher training program, I had 12 clients cancel their 15 appointments that month, with only one ever returning.

My practice went through the same metamorphosis as myself.

As I became healthier in mind, body and spirit, my clientele transformed as these 15 monthly spots were filled in with health-minded yoga enthusiasts and wellness professionals.

The conversation of having a need for regular bodywork became quite easy at that point.

(One key point to remember is to not assume an ill client does not value their health. Chronic pain patients are seeking assistance with their signs and symptoms. They will also value a therapist who provides an appropriate massage session plan to expedite healing of their condition.)

2. Follow Up

When following up with clients, it is important to ask both specific and open-ended questions rather than a simple “Do you still feel good?”

Helping clients identifying a specific benefit several days after session will solidify the value of massage in their mind.

3. Highlight Benefits

Upon massage session completion, help the client highlight a specific benefit after treatment received from the massage.

Having your client perform range-of-motion exercises, helping client re-create the activity contributing to their pain and indicating changes in posture are ways to highlight benefits for clients

4. Celebrate Client Victories

Celebrating with our clients when they achieve a new health goal will further develop rapport with clients.

Offering discount on a future massage session or adding more time to a future service are good examples to show a small gesture of appreciation that your client is improving their health.

5. Talk to Clients About Re-Booking

Now let us delve into how we may converse with our current clientele about receiving massage sessions more regularly.

Some of the previous advice mentioned will overlap into conversations with current clientele.

With our established clientele, conversations may also be steered towards long-term goals. Here are some questions that can be asked in this regard:

  • What are some places you would like to visit as you near retirement age?
  • What are activities you wish to continue doing years from now?
  • Which aspect of health do you want to focus upon this next year?

These questions are used to help a client think in a bigger-picture manner about their health and how a long-term massage session plan supports their life goals.

Too often, our hectic lifestyles accommodate short-term just get through today thinking. This does not support making healthy choices, as we may likely select the sugar-laden, caffeine-riddled selections to give us just enough energy to just get through today.

Helping our clients view long-term goals for their life, as long as that conversation is within your scope of practice, makes a huge shift in the minds of many, which supports making healthier choices.

Ultimately, a therapist maintaining their own regular self-care practice and a high level of professionalism; marketing toward health-conscious populations; and speaking to the varying aspects of health to current clientele will better communicate the need for more regular bodywork treatments.

About the Author

Jimmy Gialelis, LMT, BCTMB, is owner of Advanced Massage Arts & Education in Tempe, Arizona. He is a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved provider of continuing education, and teaches “Professional Ethics for LMTs” and many other CE classes. His articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “For HIV/AIDS Patients, Massage Provides a Touch of Humanity” and “Treatment Planning: Why One-Size-Fits-All Never Works for a Massage Practice” (March, in print).

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