To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Succeed in a Tough Economy, Part Two: How to Retain Clients,” by Jason Borecki, in the April 2012 issue. Article summary: Our economy is currently a bit challenged, to say the least—but by employing a few innovative marketing strategies, a massage therapist can encourage clients to spend the money needed to improve their health with frequent massage sessions.

by Renae Bechthold

When a client does not rebook with you, are you disappointed? Do you feel slightly embarrassed about the possibility the client did not like your treatment or you, and that was the cause of her not making another appointment? The truth is, for the majority of these situations, the reason your client did not rebook has nothing to do with the quality of your massage.

To become masterful at keeping clients, you’ll need to master more than great massage skills. There are four critical processes we train our massage-business-owner clients to do in their businesses to improve the number of return clients. Two of them are introduced here.

1. Communicate to create a goal and a plan. Through your intake process on the client’s first visit or consultation with you, communicate thoroughly with her. Determine and understand what her goal is, what she wants to accomplish. When you understand what your client wants to achieve with her body, you can create a plan together to achieve that.

If she tells you she just wants a relaxing massage, then you haven’t connected deeply enough with her, her body, her life and what is going on. This should happen on your first visit or consultation. If you rush through this part of your first visit just to get to the hands-on part, you will miss the most critical components for causing client retention.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the quality of the massage alone that will cause people to stay and rebook. Your clients must have a goal and a plan.

2. Track results. Once you and the client have settled on a plan for her body, it’s your job to ensure the client sees she is getting results in accordance with that plan. Schedule regular progress-assessment time. When people get results, when they make progress, they see value. When your customers get value, they will spend money and return.

How effective are you with these types of conversations? If you need help, consider finding out how to improve this aspect of your client-management system. If clients are not rebooking, that means either you have set no goal for your client’s body, you have no plan to achieve that goal, the plan isn’t scheduled or you are not helping your client be present to her results and improvements.

Each of these four components is like a spoke in a wheel. If one or more is missing, it makes your wheel weak, bend and crumble. Executing all four within your business means your retention wheel will be strong.

Keeping your clients is key to a thriving massage business, yet it doesn’t happen on its own. Putting into place effective, proven client-retention systems will create a strong and consistent business.

Renae Bechthold is a professional business coach with 27 years of business-building expertise, and author of the $100,000 Massage Business Self-Study Guide. She owns Metro Massage (, a company that trains therapists to increase their revenue and client retention through learning and mastering the business of massage.