success as a massage therapist

To complement “Things You Can Do Now to Create Lifetime Clients” in the March 2016 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.


Yes, you read the title correctly, although I’m sure you’re already asking yourself, “Can I really make $100,000 from just one massage client?” The answer is yes—and I’ll prove it to you with an example of success from my own massage practice.


4 Steps to Success

Before I show you how it all adds up, I have to tell you why I have been able to make $100,000 by retaining one client. In essence, it boils down to the incredible power of four specific things I do in my practice:

  • Understand who my ideal clients are
  • Ask ideal clients to rebook every time—and follow up if they don’t
  • Ask ideal clients for referrals for more ideal clients
  • Be what I call a lifetime therapist

Although I won’t go into details here on how to define your own ideal client, get clients to rebook or gain referrals; however, this story involves all four steps to success and also shares a few ways I strive to be a lifetime therapist.


A Success Story

A client I’ll call Thomas started seeing me my first year in practice. After the first visit, he enthusiastically told me the massage felt great. However, when I asked if he wanted to reschedule, he said “No,” and walked out the door.

For the next few weeks, he came in for massage appointments and we repeated the same scenario. As someone who was trying to build my practice, it really bothered me that he didn’t reschedule immediately. I knew he liked my work, but wanted to know I could count on him returning. I didn’t understand what the problem was.

Finally, after an appointment I asked, “Thomas, I noticed that every time you come in, you enjoy the massage, tell me how great it felt, but then leave without rescheduling. Why is that?”

“Well, Felicia, I have many appointments each week and never know my schedule until Monday morning.”

“Yay!” I thought. He had an unpredictable schedule and that’s why he couldn’t rebook. It wasn’t me. I thought about his answer for a moment, and said, “Thomas, if I called you on Monday mornings when you know your schedule, would that be helpful to you?”

He got a perplexed look on his face and said, “Really? You’d call me?”

“Sure! I’d be happy to call you on Mondays if that would help you come in for a massage every week.”

“Wow, Felicia. That would be great!”

So, guess what I did? It may sound crazy, but for 18 years I called Thomas every single Monday morning to find out if he’d have time for a massage that week.

Eventually, we found a standing time which worked well for him, so then I’d call to confirm he could make it.

Initially, my goal was simply to get Thomas to rebook every week. I wasn’t planning for the long-term, per se, just trying to keep a predictable amount of revenue in my pocket each week. However, the special touch of reaching out to him every week made him very loyal. More than 21 years after his first appointment, Thomas is still my client.


The Ripple of Success

Since Thomas travels a lot more for pleasure now, and misses more appointments than he used to, I’d estimate he’s averaged about 40 massages a year for the last 21 years, paying an average total of $70 per session. Let’s see how that adds up:

40 massages per year at $70 per session x 21 years = $58,800

Thomas has paid me almost $60,000 to massage him. Can you believe it?

But that’s not all. He also buys gift certificates for his wife, Judy. As with all my clients, I do whatever I can to make her feel special. For example, Judy adores Wintergreen Lifesavers®, so I make it a point to have plenty on hand for her. When I first realized how much she loved them, I started decorating the table with Lifesavers every time she came in. She gets a kick out of the effort.

Judy has been a client as long as Thomas has and comes in about 12 times a year.

12 massages per year at $70 per session x 21 years = $17,640

Did I mention Judy is one of the best referral sources I’ve ever had? Many of her referrals were, or continue to be, with me for multiple years. The 10 clients she’s referred to my current spa practice, which has been open since 2006, have spent a combined $15,016 on their services so far and have also referred additional clients. And though I no longer have records from my first spa, I can think of at least eight other former regular clients Judy referred—most of whom came in monthly on average for a year or longer; who easily had 175 total sessions between 1994 and 2006.

Using the very low end of my prices during that time, $50 per session, these clients would have brought in another $8,750 to my business, although I believe the amount is likely much higher.

Conservatively speaking, here’s the cumulative effect of retaining Thomas as a client:

40 massages per year at $70 per session x 21 years = $58,800
12 massages per year at $70 per session x 21 years = $17,640
+Income from Judy’s referrals: $15,016 + $8,750 = $23,766

Total value of Thomas as a lifetime client = $100,206

Not all clients are like Thomas and Judy, but you never know who your $100,000 client might be. Often, all it takes to win someone over for a lifetime is asking a few questions, making a few phone calls—or remembering to stock up on Lifesavers®.


Felicia BrownAbout the Author

Felicia Brown, L.M.B.T., is the owner of Spalutions!, which provides business and marketing coaching and consulting for massage, spa and wellness professionals. She is a sought-after public speaker with appearances at many national and international conferences, the author of Free & Easy Ways to Promote Your Massage, Spa & Wellness Business, and has been featured in numerous trade publications. This article was excerpted by permission from her new book, Creating Lifetime Clients: How to WOW Your Customers for Life. Brown wrote “Things You Can Do Now to Create Lifetime Clients” for the March 2016 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.