Even the busiest massage practices have unfilled appointments. Those openings may result from occasional short-notice cancellations or may be persistent at less popular times. If we’ve been consistently booked, these can be a pleasant respite to catch up on office tasks, errands, and self-care. But if they happen too often, they may be keeping us from earning as much money as we want to. Having a few quick and easy strategies for filling these spots can be the difference between stability and uncertainty.
KEEP A CANCELLATION LIST
Certain days and times tend to be more convenient for more people than others. This creates more requests for those slots than we can book. Keeping a cancellation list lets us have clients on reserve for those appointment times that are in higher demand.
I keep this list on my phone and check it every so often to refresh my memory. If the day comes that someone is waiting for and nothing has opened up, I text them to let them know that I haven’t had any cancellations yet and ask if they still want to be notified should that change (that way, they know I haven’t forgotten them). If they say yes, I ask if there is another day and time they would like just in case nothing changes. If they say no, I apologize for not being able to get them in that day and ask if there’s another day and time that will work for them. Clients who really want to receive our work will be willing to bend a little if we are sincere in our efforts to accommodate them.
As my practice has matured, I have certain spots that are almost always full (specifically weekend mornings). Those times have been occupied with standing appointments for years now but do become available when those clients have conflicts. Lately, I’ve had a couple of new clients book at those times when they’ve been open only to be told that I can’t see them at that time again with any predictability. Since neither of them is looking for massage super regularly, I’ve offered them the option of being cancellation fillers. This serves us both by giving them the flexibility they want and gives me go-to substitutes for the days those slots will be open.
LET CLIENTS KNOW YOU’RE AVAILABLE
There are several ways to notify clients that you have openings you want to fill. You can send an email or group text, post on social media, or contact individual clients who tend to book then directly. The possible complications here are double-booking or missed communication while you’re in session.
Online scheduling eliminates the need to stay on top of your phone while waiting for individual clients to respond. Just share the link and the first person to book gets it. Otherwise, you may be limited to communicating with one person at a time to avoid an awkward situation. You’ll learn which clients reply quickly and which ones don’t so you can reach out to the ones who get back to you promptly first.
Sharing this type of information may not be welcomed by all clients. It’s important to get their permission to contact them for this reason or have them opt in voluntarily. Having a Facebook group where only your openings are posted or using ManyChat to broadcast them on Facebook Messenger allows clients to adjust their own preferences about receiving these communications (I filled an opening today this way while writing this post). If you use email or group text, have a separate list specifically for this purpose.
RAMP UP YOUR MARKETING
Even the most dedicated clients can leave. Some of my very best regulars have relocated, experienced financial setbacks, or moved on for any number of reasons. When those sporadic openings become the norm, it’s time to find more clients.
Think about the kinds of people who are available those days and times when you’re slowest. Then devise a plan to reach them. Weekday mornings could be filled by stay-at-home parents after they take their kids to school. Weekday afternoons might work well for retirees. Evenings are prime time for those nine-to-fivers in the offices near your practice. Perhaps a special for certain days and times would pique interest. Use your imagination and keep your ideal client in mind.
Maximizing our schedules is essential for maintaining a practice that supports us. Trying different things for at least three months will reveal the best way for you to find success. With a bit of creativity and consistent effort, those openings will be less frequent and your income will be more reliable.
Cath Cox has been a licensed massage therapist in Colorado since 1999 and is the creator of the Booked and Busy in 90 Days System™. Her mission is to heal the world by inspiring independent massage therapists to build thriving practices of their own so they can work authentically for as long as they desire. She currently provides ashiatsu barefoot deep tissue massage exclusively in her private practice. You can learn more about Cath and her journey at bookedandbusy.com.