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Are Your SOAP Notes Missing This Crucial Piece?

When you think of writing out your SOAP notes, or whatever format of client and progress notes you may follow, you may stick with the usual…subjective complaints and concerns, the objective findings, your assessment of that and the actions you take, and then the plan of care moving forward. All that’s great, but there’s one piece of the puzzle you may be missing. 

While SOAP notes may be great for keeping track of treatments, client progress, and all that good stuff, they can also be used to improve your customer service, client experience, and create a real connection between you and your clients; which is a big piece of the puzzle in keeping those clients coming back again and again. How? You need to be writing out all the little things. Anything your client mentions they have coming up, something going on in their life, even the seemingly insignificant, jot it down. An upcoming interview, a promotion they’re up for, a get-together with friends, a kid’s birthday party…write it down. Why? Because bringing it up and asking them about it later, showing that you remembered something that was important to them, and that you’re genuinely interested in how things are going for them, makes a real connection that separates you from every other therapist who’s an in and out, hand me the money, kind of business. This is especially true for those more regular clients…someone that’s coming in weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Even if they’re a once or twice a year type of client, write down anything significant, like buying a home, getting married, things like that; so you can ask how it went the next time they come in. I remember a client I had fairly early in my practice, who told me that her and her new husband were looking at houses to buy. They hadn’t decided, but she spent a good portion of the session discussing what she liked and didn’t like about certain houses they were checking out and the struggle to find something they loved within their budget. So I wrote a few things down in my notes. She didn’t rebook right then, so I had no clue when or if she’d be back, but I knew that if she did return, I wanted to let her know I was invested in how things went for her. It was almost a year later when I had her on the books again, and God knows I didn’t remember anything about her just from her name when she booked. But I looked back and found my notes on her and voila…that info was written out and it all came back to me. So when she came in as I was doing my intake, I mentioned that I remembered they were looking to buy a house last time she was in, and asked if they had found something. She was so surprised I “remembered” but then she had the biggest smile and told me all about the house they had found, the repairs they had to make, and upgrades she was dreaming about being able to afford soon. This lead to talk about ways she had hurt herself in the process of fixing things around the house, how she had just gotten used to the back pain now and that’s why she didn’t even mention it when I first asked if she had any complaints. I showed her a few mobilizations to help, gave her a great massage, and rounded out with telling her to come more often so she didn’t let those kinds of injuries pile up and that she didn’t have to just live with that kind of pain. Sure enough, she became a regular. Now, not everything you write in your notes is going to turn a one or two-time client into a lifelong regular of course, but it’s those kinds of connections you make that certainly tip the scales.  

On this same note, what if a client mentions how much they like or dislike a certain technique…write it in your notes so you know to do more of it or none of it next time. Or if they mention they’ve been thinking about a particular add-on or different service but aren’t quite ready to take the plunge from their usual, make a note of it and next time you run a special on it, send them a personal email or call them up and let them know you remember them saying how much they wanted to try it, and now’s the perfect time because they’ll save whatever amount off the usual price.

Or what if they think you should improve something, or mention how much they’d like something in addition to what you usually offer. For example, I had a newer client mention once that she had went to a resort on vacation and gotten some big spa package and absolutely loved the way they wrapped her face with a hot towel and used a cooling eye pack at the same time. She loved the contrast. I included hot towels for the neck, hands, and feet anyway, so what’s one more for the face along with a simple eye pack. But the fact that I remembered it for her next session and included it from then on, she was ridiculously happy and it really seemed to be part of why she became a regular client of mine. Now, obviously you can’t jump through hoops and do every single little thing someone might recommend, or go above and beyond for clients who will very quickly take advantage of that, but if there’s something a client mentions that you can add at no real extra cost or work for you, or, let’s say they mention something that you offer as an add-on, so they’d have to pay an additional fee; write that down in your notes and the next time you’ve got some little promotion going on, or just at their next visit, whatever, let them know that you remember them saying how much they wanted to try it, so you’re going to give them that little upgrade at the discounted rate, or at no charge to see if they want to add it to their sessions from now on. You might be surprised how those little things can mean the world to someone, and how much that can trigger some serious loyalty and appreciation for what you do for them.  

So, let me know what kind of things have clients mentioned that you can start putting in your notes to reference later? This type of activity, while it may seem simple, can play a big part in client retention, so take the few extra minutes a day to do this! You’ll definitely reap the benefits. 

Hey there! I'm a massage therapist, educator, writer, and business pro helping massage therapists around the world build successful businesses. My goal is to give you everything you need to start, run, and grow a profitable massage practice that supports a life you love, all without the headaches I went through learning how to do it myself.

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