Dare I say, this is the number one anxiety of otherwise genuinely competent massage therapists? Even I have had moments when the words for a rebook just seem to land like a brick from my mouth. The fear of performance failure and being too ‘salesy’ can override my confidence; making me feel like I am imminently vulnerable to stomach churning self-destruction.
After fifteen years and tens of thousands of massage treatments under my holster, I can tell you that busting this anxiety wide open was never easy. I learned to implement systems for myself based on the client-basics taught in books such as Business Mastery by Cherie Sohnen-Moe. Taking these basics and adding my own unique personality into them, brings out my professionalism in a more genuine and tangible way to my clients. I believe this makes me stand out from other LMTs who just want to wing-it. I know this because clients are always saying how silly they feel for using massage therapy as their last resort instead of their first. The only way they could have come to that conclusion is if they stayed with me through a complete treatment plan. Here is where loyalty is built, referrals happen, and my anxiety just melts away. Hearing gratitude from my clients with such excitement really juices me up for the next opportunity to offer that rebook. [Insert happy-dance with disco finger-point.]
So how do I get there?
I start with a solid first contact with the client. The most important aspect is to find out their “WHY?” Why did they feel so ‘stuck’ that they called in the “Big Guns” (that’s you)? Take notes… let them know that you work on that (ailment/stressor) regularly. It initiates their confidence in your ability to get them ‘un-stuck’.
Next, I make sure to put extra effort into what they are asking me to work on. I use an auditory, visual, and tactile memory method I devised so my mind doesn’t wander, leaving my client dissatisfied. Only satisfied clients say “yes” to a rebook.
Clients Who Feel Satisfied Say “Yes” to Your Treatment Plan
There is very little between a client feeling satisfied, and a client saying “yes” to your treatment plan. Why is it that you don’t get excited at the sight of their massage-hair, face cradle impression, and unfocused eyes? Something big happened in that room. You literally altered their state of being on planet Earth. They need and want more of what you do.
The real magic happens in the next sequence of events. You need to mentally grab a hold of your rebooking fear. Don’t resist feeling it deeply. Then tell that fear you’re going to ride it like a broke bronco all the way to the bank teller’s window (or some other utterly silly mental image that makes you laugh). Now, literally laugh out loud. I’m from the south, so I give a little, “well bless your hair, I mean ‘heart’.” This always makes them smile. Then I say something like, “boy, did you need that!” They readily agree with me as they sit to keep the room from spinning.
Connect and Validate
Now, as the mood is light, I take charge and move right into the actual physical things I professionally noted about their body. Body language is important here. They see me seated at my desk, writing notes on their intake form. I remark on how I originally found bad areas of their tissue and it either loosened up nicely (given their age and health habits) or the fascia/tendon didn’t ‘give’ as much as I would have expected. If the latter is the case, I comment that that adhesion or tension really must have been bothering them for a while. I’m doing several things here: connecting with them on a human and professional level; congratulating them on some good aspect of their body; and validating their original premise. Whatever I found wrong must be the result of something outside of their current ability to fix (i.e., “stuck”). Here is where I often get clients who say, “well what do you suggest?” [Insert hallelujah chorus.]
Tell Them the Truth
In my experience, they need one or two more treatments for me to be able to say that either I’ve put them on the road to healing or I need to refer them out. I’m not finished with my J-O-B until I’ve told them the truth about their condition and how to fix it. I decided long ago that I wouldn’t bow down to fear in the face of doing my job. If I couldn’t accomplish this task, I wouldn’t keep pretending to do a job of which I was clearly not capable. That’s just good ethics. Make your treatment plan offerings just another logical and systemize step in a principled treatment process and you and your client will become unstuck.
Melissa Strautman is a licensed massage therapist and former instructor. She has had 15 years of clinical experience while living in New York, Florida, and Kentucky. She has spent 10 years honing her business systems while privately mentoring massage therapists. She is currently in the development stage of a new finishing school specifically targeting the business needs of LMTs, along with other CE classes.
Wife of a professional saxophone player, and mother of three grown and 2 step-children, Melissa loves writing, theology, travel, great wine, and so much more.
Melissa’s First Contact Checklist and Memory Method Instructions can be found on her website www.MassageFIX.net, or contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign up for free resources on her Facebook page MassageFIX.