From Pain to Paying

Teach rehab clients the value of massage and bodywork in healthy times, too!

By Karrie Osborn

You’ve all had them: the clients who need you to help address their pain. They come limping to you postsurgery, postinjury, or postweekend warrior workout.

Many of these clients have little or no exposure to hands-on therapies. Once they’ve met their doctor’s referral quota for visits, or they no longer feel the pain, they often think the work is done. And they quit calling you.
Before that happens, teach clients why your work is good for them—not only when rehabbing an injury or recovering from surgery, but all the time.

Turning pain, or “episodic,” clients (like a postsurgery patient) into regular clients is a challenge every massage therapist faces. Once the pain is gone or the workers’ compensation funds run out, these clients often don’t see the point of returning for any more sessions. You need to help them understand why they should make that
next appointment.

Let the Education Begin
What can you tell your pain and injury clients so they will come see you when the insurance money runs out? The first step is to make your education relevant to the client. Is your client with the back injury coming to the end of his prescribed sessions with you? Give him information on research that shows massage therapy alleviates low-back pain, eases medication dependence, and increases joint flexibility.

Relaxation and Stress Release
Make it clear that massage can do more than relieve pain. In fact, one of the quieter benefits of massage is its role in stress management and relaxation. Explain to clients how stress-related diseases are everyday killers, but massage is a wonderful suit of armor to protect you. Getting massage for relaxation is just as worthy as getting massage for rehab. Impart this simple message: less stress equals longer life.

Make It Easy
If you want to transition a recovered pain client to a regular paying client, help him make an easy decision. If you haven’t already convinced him of the value of rebooking with you on his own, check in with this client a month after his last rehab appointment to see how his progress is. A week later, email him with a “Come Back” promotion that includes a small discount on a relaxation massage, or an extra service (aromatherapy, energy clearing, etc.), along with a note on how you think your continued service might be a valuable component in his health-care routine.
You’ve already developed a good rapport with your pain clients, and you’ve shown them successful results with your work. That’s a good foundation for taking the next step after their pain is gone and getting them in your appointment books regularly.

Karrie Osborn is senior editor at ABMP.