It’s a common question I see floated around; something to the effect of “A client…
Are your clients dependent on you? Do they know when it’s been too long between massages and automatically know that’s what they need? You can’t build a business on one-off massage clients. It just doesn’t work for most of us. You have to get clients who come back over and over again; who have standing appointments every week or every month; who will cut their own hair and change their own oil in order to not give up their massage appointments.
While we promote self-care, and give homework to our clients to help keep them out of pain, there is a certain level of dependence that they have on us. In order to grow a massage practice based on repeat clients, you have to build a slight feeling of dependence into those clients. Now, some people might not like that idea and think that sounds slimy, but it’s not.
I’m dependent on my grocery store. I have to go back every week to keep putting food on my table. Could I grow all my own food? Yes, but I don’t have the land or the time to do it all just yet. So I rely on someone else. I’m dependent on my mechanic to fix my car when it messes up. Could I figure out how to do it all myself? Yes, but I don’t want to. So I take it to him.
Nothing can quite replicate the whole body effect of a great massage, so they keep coming back again and again. No matter what stretches or exercises they do at home, they’re bound to get too stressed, or move just the wrong way, sleep with their neck in an odd position, or otherwise not feel their best. When I say we need to build dependence into our clients, I’m saying that you need to make it so that, even if they don’t have a standing appointment with you on a set schedule, that you’re the first thing they think of when they’re not feeling their best. That they know they’ll get relief if they come get a massage. There’s nothing slimy about that at all.
But dependence can work against us as well.
Are you too dependent on a just a few of your clients? What if one or two of them moved away or lost their job and couldn’t afford your massages anymore? While you obviously depend on clients to keep your doors open, being too dependent on just a few of them can mean disaster for your business.
This is why having a variety of clients can help when the economy takes a hit, someone moves, or it’s just the slow season in your town. It can be easy to get complacent when we have enough money coming in, but what if that changed? If you lost 2 of your most high-spending regulars right now, how would that impact your business? Would you be struggling to pay the bills? Or would you have clients waiting to fill those spots?
If that thought scares you, don’t stop marketing just yet. Keep building and growing. Don’t get complacent. You need to diversify your income, diversify your market, or at the very least, have a solid schedule and cancellation list ‘just in case’. I’ve seen therapists who sell a big package and with that cash in hand are already checking out of necessary things they need to do to grow their business. But that money will run out, and you still have to give all those massages. All it is, is a pre-pay, not a big hike in income.
Your clients’ dependence on you is what builds a business. Your dependence on clients is normal. But being too dependent on too few means you’re just one decision away from disaster.