In this episode of Business or Pressure, host Allissa Haines walks through the steps to make being your client, and staying your client, easy for the customer.
Making Your Massage Business User Friendly, Massage & Bodywork magazine, Sept/Oct 2023
Ian Harvey, Massage Sloth Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/massagesloth/
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0:01:11.8 S1: Welcome to Business or Pressure, taking the pain out of massage business with me, Allissa Haines. This is your no-nonsense guide to building a happy, sustainable massage therapy business. It is our mission to make sure that every massage therapist and body worker has the tools to build a thriving business. Let's jump in. Can we make it easy to be a massage client? And what does that mean? That's what we're talking about today. We are talking about the little steps, the little stages when a potential client looks for you and finds you and hopefully becomes your massage client, and how to make it easy in every little step. My column in the September-October 2023 issue of Massage and Bodywork Magazine is titled Making Your Massage Business User Friendly. It's worth checking out that issue. But we're going to dive into this even more, more specific little examples of how you can make it easy to be your massage client. And we're starting before anyone ever meets you. We're starting with the search.
0:02:22.9 S1: There will be clients who find you via referral from other clients, but a lot of clients are going to find you from blind searches on the internet. They're going to search under terms like "massage for headache," "massage in... " name that city or town. And there are things you can do so that you come up a little more. One overlooked way to get your massage website and your business in general found on the internet is to make sure that you are embracing all the different map options available to you. Our businesses appear on the different map apps that are used on people's mobile devices. And I'm talking about the Google Maps, and I'm talking about Apple Maps. You may or may not be aware that each of these map programs has an option to add your business location to it so that if somebody opens a map and it's in the neighborhood of your office, they're going to see your business name pop up, if their travels bring them close to your office. But also, people can search within a map. If you've ever opened a map and looked for coffee nearby or a gas station nearby, people can do this for massage.
0:03:36.7 S1: And on top of just searching within a map, when you have your business added to these various map applications, you are more likely to show up in searches via a browser. So if you've ever looked for a massage in your town and you've used Google, the results pop up and there's usually a little map option that pops up. And if you click on the map, it's going to show you a dot and business information for any business that is in that location and has properly put their information into Google. You can do this a few different ways, and we'll have the links in the show notes here. For Google, it's called Google Business Profile. For Apple, it's called Apple Business Connect. Both of the services are free and getting your profile up there and having it complete is going to increase the chances of your website and your business showing up in a search, in a map, or a browser. So it's worth looking into. Alright, so let's say somebody has found your business one way or another on the internet and they land on your website. So many massage websites are lacking a few things that would make them so much more usable and findable and helpful to anyone looking for a massage.
0:04:50.3 S1: The where. Make sure you have your office address all over that website. It should be in the footer so that it's obvious on every single page of the website. It should be on a contact or location page, whichever you're using. And if you are about to object and say, "But I have a home office. I can't put my exact address on there. It's dangerous." Absolutely, you are correct, but you can put at least the town or city and maybe even the neighborhood in there. There have been so many times where I have gone to a massage website and I don't know what city or state it is because there's no location listed. It's not in the business name, it's not in the domain name, it's not anywhere on the website. Sometimes it might be on a contact or location page, but usually you have to hunt for it. And that's not great for searchability and also just for making it easy for a potential massage client to know where you're located. So be sure that your website has the address, at least the town and neighborhood of your location, or it's super clear that you're a mobile onsite therapist if you go to other people to give massage.
0:05:57.9 S1: There are a lot of massage websites that don't have the massage therapist's name. That's an issue. And I've even seen people create About pages and have a little biography, but never actually start with their name. So you might have a full bio and even a picture, but the massage therapist's name is lacking. And it sounds wacky, but I've seen it more than once. And it's an easy mistake to make when you're writing your own website, because you know who you are and it isn't going to occur to you to make sure your name is there. But definitely check out your bio and make sure that your name is in a few places. The Contact page is a really good place to just add your name in there as well. It's worth double checking. All right. So services and prices again seems obvious, but it's something that gets missed. And I really, really, really encourage you to put your services and your prices together. It's super frustrating when you're looking at a website and one page of the site lists all the services and then the prices aren't listed there, you have to go to another page or you have to wait to see the pricing until you get into the booking software. When you separate the services and prices, you're just putting obstacles between the client and the process of booking.
0:07:09.5 S1: Give people the information that they need right away. Get it all together on the same page. I often find that massage websites also don't include someone's office hours or the days that they work. And a lot of times, people don't put this in because they don't want it to be restrictive, they don't want a client to think that they couldn't be available. But your office hours are a really important foundation of your business and of your boundaries, so get them in there because it's super frustrating for a client to not see when you're available or to have to call you to make an appointment and they say, "I'm available on Mondays," and you book them for a Monday, but a Monday's not really a day that you like to work. So maybe they see you once or twice, and then you say, "You know, Mondays are a little hard for me." And that can be really frustrating for a client 'cause now they've built a relationship with a massage therapist who can't see them on their preferred day. Their life would be easier if you had just put your days of service on your website and they knew, "This massage therapist doesn't work Mondays, I'm going to need to look elsewhere."
0:08:12.8 S1: So get your office hours or at least your days onto some part of your website. It can be in the footer, it can be on the Contact page, it can be on the Services page. Doesn't matter. Get it somewhere. Now let's talk about booking. It's really helpful to make it obvious to clients how they should book. If you have online booking, you should have super obvious buttons all over your website linking to that booking page. It should be in the header, ideally in the footer, and somewhere in that Services page, make it really, really obvious what they need to do to book with you. If you have online booking, that's a button. If you don't have online booking, make it very clear how clients should contact you, and make it easy for them to find your contact info. So, a Contact page that includes a form for them to email you, or you can put your email address right on there, but that might lead to you getting a little extra email spam, so sometimes a contact form is a better option. You could put your phone number and be real clear if they should text you or not. So put your phone number and you can say, "Phone calls only," or "Texts not accepted," or "Calls or texts are fine," or "Calls or texts are welcome." It also helps to clarify when you will respond.
0:09:31.8 S1: If you don't want to be responding to clients or potential clients at all the times, make a note in there: "Emails, texts and voicemails will be answered during business hours." And this is another reason that it's great to have your days and your business hours listed on your website so people can know when they will hear back from you. It is a great boundary to set before somebody even becomes your client. And in the process of actually booking, whether it be virtually online, or you're having a phone call with people or a text exchange, make it real clear what you expect from them. Do they need to complete a form before that first visit? Where do they find that form? Do they need to show up a few minutes early to complete the form? Be sure to let them know that. It can also be really helpful to have a "What to expect for your first appointment" blog post on your website or just an info page, and direct first time clients there so they get all the information that they need and you can have a really successful first few minutes of that appointment. And that's all the pre-appointment stuff you can do to make it easy for someone to become your client.
0:10:40.7 S1: And what about when they get to the office? Some of this is just basic manners and customer service, but we don't necessarily have manners and customer service classes in massage school, so it's worth thinking through the process of what happens. When someone walks into your office, are you standing right there ready to greet them? If not, maybe you should be. If they've completed an intake ahead of time, great. If they need to sit down and create it then, have it ready, have a clipboard, have a pen and have a place for the client to sit to complete that form. And when that's done and you walk them to the massage room, you're going to confirm all the information on that intake and you're going to ask about current issues and you're going to ask about priorities. And we have a whole podcast episode, it's ABMP's episode 371, How to Give the Right Massage, that talks through all the different things that you can do to be sure that your client gets the massage that they're looking for and the massage that you feel is good to give to them. So, check out that episode. You want to give really clear instructions for how they should get on the table.
0:11:43.6 S1: And even if this is someone who's had massage many times over the years, when someone comes to me for the first time, I really like to pretend it's their first massage ever because massage experiences are so different that I don't know what the last person told them, or maybe it was just 20 years ago on a cruise they got a massage. I like to assume that they've never had a massage and give very specific instructions on how to undress. And this is a good time for a little sidebar on undressing. In massage school, we were taught to say, "Undress to your level of comfort." That is the most vague and ambiguous statement I have ever heard, and no one really knows what it means. It is our job to be specific in the instructions we give clients, and "Your level of comfort" is not at all specific. We've got to give clients better instruction than that. Instructions for undressing can be different depending on the treatment that you need to give. So for a general relaxation massage with attention to the shoulders and neck, my instructions are going to be, there is a hook behind you for your clothes. You can leave your bottom undergarment on or off. However you're comfortable is just fine. But if I'm going to give a massage that involves some really specific low back and hip work, the instructions are going to be really different.
0:13:11.4 S1: I'm going to say, there's a hook behind you for your clothes. In order for me to do some real specific work in the low back and the hip, it would be helpful if you undress completely, including your undergarments. But I want you to do what's really comfortable for you, so if you prefer to leave them on, that's fine. I'm going to work with that. So I've expressed why it could be helpful if they take their underwear off. But I have also opened the door for them to do what's comfortable for them and assured them that I can give them effective work, whichever way we go. Next is giving them instructions on how to get on the table, which sounds silly again, but you've got to tell them if you want them to be face up or face down. It helps to gesture and maybe fold back the top draping. And I kind of slide my hand under the top draping and say, "You're going to get right in here." And I gesture that they should get under the top linens so that I'm never going to walk in and find them unintentionally laying on top of the linens, and have that be a whole thing. When it's time to roll over, we need to tell them how to do it. Do they need to slide up to get into the face rest? Do they need to slide down to be fully on the massage table? We need to give instructions.
0:14:23.8 S1: And when the massage is over, it's our job to instruct them on how to get up slowly so they don't get dizzy. If you're leaving a towel for them to wipe off, make sure they know where it is. Be sure they have all the information to do what you need them to do after the massage. And all of this applies to the after massage time too. It's your job to guide them through payment and booking. We've talked about this in previous podcast episodes. And the bottom line is that this is all about setting and managing expectations as you make it easy for someone to become your massage client. Setting good expectations, being clear in your communication prevents confusion. It prevents frustration that makes it difficult or annoying for someone to become your client or remain your client. You're in charge of expectations. You're in charge of clarity. You set the bar and then you meet that bar. Clients really like consistency and reliability. And when you set the right expectations and you meet them 99% of the time, clients will stick with you. And when there's an occasional glitch, they're going to understand and be really gracious about that.
0:15:37.5 S1: Today's high five is a repeat high five. Once again, I am appreciating deeply Ian Harvey, who is the massage sloth, and specifically his Instagram account, which is @massagesloth. And the thing that I love about Ian and his Instagram is that he is so good at featuring other massage therapists who are doing great work online. He recently shared a video from another therapist's feed that was her giving a massage and talking about the kind of massage that she gives. And he was so great about highlighting that and pointing out from a marketing perspective what was really good about that video. And he's great. He shares other therapists' work and gives them beautiful props in addition to just sharing his own wonderful work. We need more of that. And I am so appreciative to call Ian my friend.
0:16:29.3 S1: If you have questions about running your massage business or an idea for an episode, please reach out via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me making websites and playing with my community of massage therapist colleagues over at deepbreathdigital.com. Make sure that you are subscribed to ABMP's podcast so you don't miss an episode. And friends, if you are happy with this podcast, I encourage you to go to ABMP's feed on Apple podcasts and leave a review. Tell them that you love all the different kinds of episodes. Tell them if you like this one, because you know, I like my job here and I want to keep it. And it helps other people find our podcast when you leave a review. So, thank you. There is so much to learn about building and maintaining a massage business. We're going to help you cover the business and the marketing side, the communication skills, and all the things to help you be successful. I will meet you right back here for the next episode. I can't wait.