I like to know why people who have received massage in the past, do not return for more treatments. That way, I can look for trends and see if there is anything I can change in my practice to help alleviate some of the most common deterrents.

A good way to find out why clients are not returning to your practice is to survey your own non-returning clients. If they feel comfortable sharing their reasons with you, you can gain valuable information specific to your practice.

To get the bigger picture of why people don’t return, we can take a look at things like the ABMP Consumer Surveys. The 2013 survey is still being cited for consumer statistics on ABMP’s massagetherapy.com website, so hopefully we will see a new consumer survey soon. Even so, while the percentages may change, the actual reasons clients don’t come back for more are likely to be the same.

The Good News

In the 2013 survey, 13% of massage clients stopped coming in due to cost, down from 22% in a survey just 2 years earlier. That’s probably a good sign that consumers have a bit more cash on hand (since the overwhelming majority of clients have to pay for massage out of their pockets rather than being able to use insurance). According to ABMP, it may also be that they are “becoming more willing to invest in their health through massage.”

The Not-So-Good News

More concerning is the 30% of people that didn’t feel a massage was necessary. As soon as the symptom that prompted their previous experience with massage was gone, they didn’t feel it was needed. This tells me that we are not doing a good enough job educating clients on all the benefits of massage. We need to promote the wellness and preventative care aspects, as well as the alleviation of specific physical symptoms.

The Bad News

Consistently, 25% of people say they are just too busy. That’s a lot of people who feel they can’t afford the time for something they value. And isn’t it the busy folks that really could use a massage? What can we do to help them squeeze us in?

How to Get Busy Clients Back in the Door

Busy people forget to do all sorts of things that make a difference to their health. My hygienist says that lots of patients claim they don’t have time to floss in the summer! Here are some things you can do to help get those busy clients back on your table:

Offer shorter sessions, combined with less frequency, if necessary. What if you offered 45-minute appointments at the noon hour for clients in close proximity to your office? Or, space permitting, could you get an additional therapist in your office to cover those coveted 5:00 appointments?

Change your schedule to accommodate their needs. If you have either the luxury or the necessity of sticking to limited hours, that’s how it is. But if you need to fill more slots in your schedule, think about where you can flex. Open up your evening schedule until 8 or even 9 one day a week. Or offer hours on Saturday and/or Sunday, say, twice a month.

Survey your clients — include some who used to be regulars but who haven’t come in for a while. Call or email them. Tell them you are considering adding hours, and ask them if they would be interested in getting bodywork in the evening or on weekends. Give them a choice of hours when you would be willing to work. For example, would they prefer Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, or Saturday mornings?

Don’t offer the same solution to everyone. Send an email or postcard offer to clients you suspect may really need a break, or who you haven’t seen in a while. Tell them of your flexibility plan to find ways for them to keep getting the bodywork they love and need. Find out what would actually work for them.

Okay, friends, let us know — what’s worked for you? What else can practitioners do to get busy clients in the door?