You may think most of your clients wouldn’t book online if you offered appointment scheduling via your website—but you might find those in the Millennial generation, especially, will appreciate the speed and convenience of online scheduling.
What Millennials want
Not too long ago, I met with a group of massage school administrators. We talked about what it takes to stay competitive in today’s market environment and what business tips should be included in the curriculum.
We came to a consensus that having the opportunity to learn business management and growth techniques from someone who has shown success in business is a clear advantage. However, this alone is not enough. Consumer habits have drastically changed over the past five years; therefore, what was true for our mentors when they grew their businesses is not necessarily true for us today.
This is most evident when marketing and communicating with Millennials—the portion of the population born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s. The near-constant presence of a smartphone in the hands of Millennials tells us a lot about their preferences. They read reviews of products and services online before they buy; they get their news through links shared on Facebook and Twitter, not from the local newspaper. They communicate by text message and Snapchat, not by voice calls. And most certainly, when they make appointments, they book online.
Millennials book online
I don’t just mean massage appointments, either. As a Millennial myself, I’d like to tell you about the trip I took to the 2014 American Massage Therapy Association National Convention in Denver, Colorado:
- I booked my airline flight tickets online, not through a travel agent.
- Instead of waving down a taxi when I got to the airport, I bought airport shuttle passes online.
- I didn’t call a hotel. I booked my accommodations online via Airbnb—a community marketplace people use to rent out extra space in their homes.
- I bought tickets to a baseball game online, not at the stadium’s box office.
- I booked a dinner reservation online; I didn’t call the restaurant.
The funny thing is, I never even considered picking up the phone to get any of these things done. It was easier, faster and more convenient to book online. For the Millennial generation as well as for a large percentage of the rest of the population, this is today’s truth.
Make your business Millennial-friendly
It’s important to alter your marketing strategies to attract Millennials as potential new clients, and it’s also important to change the way you do business to accommodate their preferences. In massage therapy, this begins with online scheduling. It’s a simple addition and aligns your business with the preferences of the younger generation.
When you couple your great service with the convenience of scheduling online—or even going a step further and allowing new clients to complete their intake form online—you set yourself up for success. It’s important to remember that online scheduling does not mean you are neglecting members of the older generation who still prefer a friendly voice on the phone—you simply provide an alternative to having to call in.
In addition to the convenience of letting clients book online, most online scheduling programs will send clients email or text-message reminders as an added convenience, not only for them, but for you, too. Automated reminders mean not having to make reminder phone calls yourself, fewer no-shows and more time and money in your pocket.
If you want to attract new clients, take some time to consider what it takes to impress the younger generation, who are the future of your client base. Staying up-to-date on their preferences will set you apart from your competition.
Daniel Ruscigno is one of the founders of ClinicSense (clinicsense.com), clinic management software that helps massage therapists with SOAP notes, intake forms, scheduling, billing and promoting their businesses. He has also recently published a book, 15 Practical & Proven Ways to Grow Your Massage Business.