To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Retail Therapy: Provide Clients with Home-Products to Improve Session Results and Create a Healthy Massage Practice,” by Felicia Brown, in the October 2011 issue. Article summary: Selling retail to your massage clients is both ethical and beneficial—for both therapist and client—and should be an important part of every therapist’s practice.

by Eric Richard

As with any service-based business that requires appointments and reservations to operate efficiently, most massage clinics regularly deal with a stream of no-show clients who miss their scheduled times. These individuals not only have a negative impact on the daily schedules of the practice and its therapists, they also waste valuable time slots that could have been filled by other clients. The result is a loss of both time and money.

There are, however, actions that massage practitioners can take to reduce the number of missed appointments and keep their operations running smoothly and productively.

Appointment reminders. Reminders of any kind can significantly minimize the number of no-shows. In fact, some surveys show appointments can reduce these by more than 50 percent. The standard and traditional reminders—phone, e-mail and postcards—are effective; however, they can also require a significant amount of staff time.

Automated e-mail and text message reminders, a feature found in some software applications, such as online appointment-scheduling software, are becoming the preferred choice among a growing number of practices and clinics.

Missed-appointment charges. This is a common procedure among many massage practitioners. Not only does it allow the practice to recoup some of the lost charges from a missed appointment, it motivates many clients to either make their scheduled appointment time or at least call ahead to cancel or change it. Either way, it equates to fewer no-shows and a better-run practice.

Online payments. Clients who pay for their massage sessions when they book are less likely to miss their appointments. That’s why some practices give clients the option of paying for their sessions online. Some even require it when scheduling online. Besides reducing the no-show rate, online payments also streamline the accounting and payment-processing procedures.

Missed massage appointments may, at first, seem like just an inconvenience and a part of normal operating procedures. They can, however, be a significant drain on both staff resources and a practice’s budget. Implementing a few simple processes can help reverse this trend.

Eric Richard is the senior technology writer for Appointment-Plus (www.appointment-plus.com), a leading online scheduling software application used by massage therapists to automate, streamline and improve their appointment-scheduling processes. The software has helped small and large businesses, Fortune 500 companies, colleges and universities, government agencies and other organizations schedule more than 65 million appointments since 2001.

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