There are some great massage therapists in my town (other than the ones who work with me), and this isn’t directed at them. But in every town, and mine is no exception, there are massage therapists who are thriving, and massage therapists who are barely surviving…many of whom eventually give up and go back to doing whatever they used to do, or find some other way to make a living.
Sometimes, a business just doesn’t make it in spite of your best efforts. Setbacks happen that are beyond our control, sometimes serious things like a health crisis, or your spouse losing a job, or some other trauma and drama interferes with our lives and our plans. Sometimes the location just isn’t ideal, or you’re in an area that’s already saturated when you’re just getting started. Sure enough, these things can all be roadblocks to success.
It’s sad but true, though, that people commit self-sabotage, leading the clients they do get to keep looking for another therapist. If your client retention rate isn’t what it should be–or what you hope for it to be–take a good look at the situation. Over the years, I’ve gained many clients who told me they had seen another therapist, and decided to go elsewhere–meaning they came to me. Here are just a few of the comments I’ve heard:
“I really liked her massage but her office was a mess and the bathroom wasn’t clean.”
“I asked him to lighten up several times, but he kept saying, “I can’t, because this is what you need.”
“She could never start my appointment on time. She was always late.”
“She insists on doing Reiki on me at the beginning of every session and I don’t want it, I want the hour of massage I am paying for.”
“He won’t shut up. He talks the whole time.”
“He kept trying to sell me an expensive water filter.”
“She is always trying to sell me this juice that’s $50 a bottle.”
“She’s constantly having some personal problem that requires her changing my appointments.”
“When I was face down on the table I noticed a bunch of dust bunnies on the floor. Two weeks later when I went back they were still there.”
“He did some thing walking around me and banging on a little gong for ten minutes before he started the massage.”
“He told me he had to massage my breasts, it was part of the massage.”
“She answered her telephone during my massage.”
“She’s always telling me I need to do this detox program she sells.”
“She has some kind of aromatherapy oil permeating the air and it’s just overwhelming. Just because it smells good to her doesn’t mean it smells good to me.”
“He spent the whole hour talking about his divorce. I’m a psychologist so I guess he thought I would give him some free counseling.”
“She had her cat in the office. I’m allergic to cat hair.”
“She had her dog in the office and he barked at me. I’m afraid of dogs.”
“She was dressed really sloppy and barefoot.”
“The sheets just had some kind of funny smell.”
I could keep on, but I think you’re getting the picture. At least I hope you are. The vast majority of the time, when someone tells me that they’ve left another therapist, it has absolutely nothing to do with their skills as a massage therapist. It’s lack of caring, lack of service, or lack of professionalism. If your office is clean and uncluttered, and you’re on time for your clients, giving them what they ask for and what they’re paying for, and presenting a professional persona, don’t give up. And if any of these things could be said about you, change your ways, if you want to cultivate the kind of satisfied clients who turn into regulars and send you referrals. Otherwise, the people who come through your door are just going to keep looking for that therapist who meets their expectations.