I'll be the first to admit that it was extremely difficult to get new clients when first trying to start my massage therapy business. I tried "boosting posts" on Facebook or Instagram, paying Yelp and Thumbtack, paying a company to boost my SEO on Google. It seemed like nothing I did was working! I wasted so much money and time on trying to figure out the best ways to market my business and get more people in the door. It took me about two years to really figure out what works for me, and absolutely none of it was boosting posts. As Taylor from Socially Taylored once said to me, "It's literally the equivalent to lighting your money on fire." (She was right).
I first figured out what worked to get clients to engage in the business while being outside of the business when I put myself in their shoes. They don't want to feel pressured to purchase more upgrades. They don't want to be pressured into buying memberships. The average client just wants to get their massage and be on their way. So how do you as a therapist get them to be a part of your "sales team"?
I found that the best way to get my clients to increase my sales is to offer rewards for referring friends and family to new and reoccurring clients. We offer a referral discount at our spa that gives first-time clients an opportunity to save money on any of the services we offer. We give our clientele 50% off their next appointment if they refer a friend or family member within the first 30 days of their first time booking with us. After the first 30 days, if they refer any new client, they will receive 20% off any service. This has been a huge success since we changed over to our new referral program.
Before the current referral program, we previously offered 20% off for any referral, and 3 referrals gets you a 90 Minute Massage. It's still a great deal, but it just wasn't enticing enough to get people engaged for that first time referral!
I found that with the 50% discount, we received an overwhelming more amount of referrals as opposed to the original discount. With more referrals, and more discounts, we were able to reach a lot more clients. What's the difference? The increased discount and the "limited time offer" is what helps increase the likelihood of your clients going out and spreading the word. The lesson I learned here? Don't skimp on referrals! These people really are your sales team and actually want you to be successful!
Another way to encourage referrals is to offer discounts on Gift Certificates around the holidays when gift-giving is at its peak. I found the best times of the year to offer these promotions are Black Friday, the week before Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day. You could offer a BOGO discount to encourage your clients to buy more. I have found that offering a "buy 1 for your loved one, and 1 for you" promotional discount is a great way to score that new client, while also making sure it benefits your reoccurring clients.
About once or twice a year, we will have a big referral promotion where we offer a free massage if our clients refer someone in a given timeframe. For example, I would send out an email saying if you refer a friend and they book during the month of March, you will receive a complimentary 60 Minute Massage for your efforts to help our business grow. This increases the value of a referral, and your clients will then realize how valuable referrals are to the business, which in turn should increase more referrals in the future.
When trying to get your clients to get out there and market for you, you have to remember that you need to make the reward worth it. From my experience, free upgrades and discounts aren't the only thing that help grow your business. Your clients really do hold more value when they feel that they are valued. Yes, incentivizing referrals is a great way to reach new clients. Gratitude makes it even better. When your clients see how happy you get for sharing your name, that emotional connection will make them feel good! So make sure you also say thank you to everyone who shares your name!
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Mia Shaughnessy is a licensed massage therapist, and CEO of Balance and Composure Massage. She started her first business at the age of 20 and has expanded exponentially since the start of her career. This blog is for those who are interested in starting their own business, those interested in beauty and wellness, or those who are looking to keep up with the latest news at Balance and Composure Massage.