Systems within a massage practice create structure, consistency and ease for both therapist and client.
But the idea of systematizing any part of a massage practice is often thought of as a bit cold and corporate, as if we’ll be like a factory of massage — little robots just following a script and sequence of movements, then off to the next client.
That’s not what a system in our industry is about.
The Human Factor
You can create systems around almost anything within a business to save time, make more money, prevent problems, and improve productivity and efficiency. That doesn’t mean we negate the human factor and lose all the uniqueness of our interactions.
Let’s look at one facet of a massage business that needs a system but is also quite unique for each of us: the client experience.
From the time your client first reaches out, through an appointment, and beyond to any follow-up after, there should be certain protocols and systems in place.
In order to create this, you’ll need to break down the client experience into the steps that every client goes through and determine what needs to be done at each and every one of those steps.
For each segment, let’s look at what needs to be done, and then what you can delegate, automate or regulate.
When a potential client first reaches out, how will you speak with them? Determine how you will handle emails, phone calls, and text or social media messages. Will you be responsible for that or can you delegate that out? What needs to be said when answering the phone? How do specific questions need to be answered?
It may help to work up some scripted answers, especially if you have employees. For example, you can keep a piece of paper with some common questions and general answers to glance at if an employee gets nervous or can’t remember something.
Also consider setting up autoresponders to answer common questions sent via email, text, or social media. Your services, prices, times, address, directions and parking instructions are all commonly asked about, for example, so prepare answers related to these things upfront.
Having these things automated or regulated in some fashion helps to ensure consistency and saves you a lot of time. [Watch videos on massage practice success, including client retention, here.]
Determine exactly how you will answer booking questions before you’re ever faced with the first one.
When someone says, “What do you have available?” — what is your answer? Do you give them a few options for the week or reverse it to ask them what works best for their schedule? Do you direct all messages to your online booking first, to only have to handle the messages which need you directly?
Think of the ways you can automate or regulate this process.
Will you make reminder calls the day before, send a text or an email ahead of time, or just hope your client shows up? Can you include things like directions to the facility, a digital intake form, or some answers to frequently asked questions?
And how will these reminders be sent out? Through an automated system? Or will you or an employee need to manually do this every day?
Greeting & Intake
When someone walks into your establishment for the first time, that impression is crucial. How will you greet them? Will you just give them the intake form and tell them to fill it out, or guide them through it?
If you have a receptionist, what will be their role versus the massage therapist’s?
Intake & Explanation
How much time do you give yourself to go over their intake form and discuss any pertinent information with them? How do you explain how to undress and get on the table? What sort of questions might you expect? This is a unique aspect so there may not be much to automate, delegate or regulate here, but it’s still important to feel prepared.
From the colors, lights and scents in the facility to the toiletries provided, consider what might help your clients at every moment they’re with you.
Plants in the lobby can add a feeling of life and freshness. Warm towels after a massage to freshen up can make them feel even better when they leave. Complimentary hair ties, makeup remover wipes, single-use combs, and feminine hygiene products in your bathroom can all make for a better experience.
It’s the small considerations that usually have a big impact.
This is, of course, probably the most individualized portion of the entire client experience. You can’t really systematize this part because every massage should be tailored for that individual client.
Ending the Session
What do you say to bring the client back to reality and end the massage?
Do you want them to come out to the front desk after getting dressed or crack the door so you can come back in and discuss things with them? Will you leave some warm towels for them to freshen up with?
Determine ways you can make this part of the session as special as every other step.
Checkout & Rebooking
This is one of the most critical parts of retaining clients.
• How do you take their payment?
• How do you ask them to set up another appointment? If they do rebook, do you try to upsell an add-on or upgrade?
• Do you ask them if they’d like a gift card while they’re there?
Consider all of these elements of checkout and rebooking and determine how you can improve these processes.
You should always follow up with every client, both short term and long term. There are a few ways to go about followup up and different opinions on the time frame, but generally speaking an immediate follow up is crucial.
Some therapists like to send an automated text or email out within a few hours of their appointment to check in with how clients are feeling and ask for a review. This makes a great impression and shows you truly care, and it can also greatly increase your reviews – something that boosts a business’s reputation.
If a client does not rebook, consider sending out another text or email, or making a phone call to check in with them one week to one month after their session. Let them know you hope they’re still feeling good and to let you know if they want to book another appointment.
This kind of communication is simple, concise, not pushy at all, and effective in getting clients to rebook.
No matter how individual each client’s experience with your business is, there are still steps along the way that need a system to them.
About the Author
Savanna Bell, LMT, is the owner of My Massage World, a membership company focused on providing marketing content and business education to help massage therapists around the globe build successful businesses as quickly and efficiently as possible. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “Make More Money in 2020” and “5 Essential Components of an Effective Client Retention Strategy.”