Episode 277

Jan 24, 2020

Client retention, a monologue by Allissa

Listen to "E277: Client Retention Basics" on Spreaker.
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What caught our attention this week?

Discussion Topic

Client retention, a monologue by Allissa

Quick Tip

  • Stop talking. Even with clients who typically talk. See how the session changes.
  • Microsoft Todo, the new Wunderlist


  • Acuity Scheduling
  • The Jojoba Company
  • Yomassage


Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by Acuity, our 2018 software of choice. Acuity Scheduling is your online assistant working 24/7 to fill your schedule. No more phone tag. Clients can quickly view your real-time availability and self-book their own appointments and even pay online and reschedule with a click. Handle all of your forms before the appointment so you can get right to doing the massage you do best. Look and act professional by offering convenient scheduling to your clients that matches your brand and your voice. Customer support is a delight, and Acuity’s style will help you relax and have fun running your business again. Check out the special 45-day free offer at massagebusinessblueprint.com/acuity.

Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money, and improve your quality of life. I am Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines I’m Allissa Haines.

MR And we’re your hosts. I think we have a great show for you today, but of course, I’m biased.

AH Well, you are a little biased, but you’re also correct. The two can be true.

MR [Laughing].

AH They are not mutually exclusive.

MR I’m glad to hear that.

AH And Michael, I want to know — I want to just know right now. Talk to me about what you’re reading and what caught your attention this week.

MR All right. Let’s jump into it. So first of all, there are a lot of articles out there, and there have been for a while, about unplugging and ditching screens and the effect they have on brains and stuff. So they’re — this is not new. Everyone kind of knows this. But I read an article recently that I really — kind of helped me a lot. It was a little more actionable for me, anyway, from The New York Times. It was called Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain.

The reason I kind of gravitate toward these types of articles is because in the past few years, I’ve become kind of hyperaware of how negative screens can — negatively they can affect me, how much I’m kind of addicted to my phone, and how much I’ve gotten really sucked into the appeal and the dopamine rush of checking messages and notifications. And I’ve really gotten into that because the nature of the work I do in most of my business context is in technology. So I really have tried to force myself to become hyperaware of that tendency in myself and in others, and so I’ve just been noticing it more and more.

So this article is really interesting because it just — the author was talking about how he also noticed the same thing, and he actually got therapy to help him — or I actually — I think it was a coach or a therapist or somebody kind of helped him who specializes in breaking technology addiction. What I liked about this particular article was it wasn’t like, hey, go cold turkey and electronics are bad and blah, blah. It was actionable, realistic things that he did to kind of break free, and it wasn’t so much a just put all — it’s all evil and put it away. It was more of just creating a level of awareness and creating little life hacks and little systems to help him reduce the time he spends on screens and on his phone, and switch it to more of a productive tool as opposed to this thing you’re just addicted to.

So I really, really enjoyed kind of the story he told about how he went through the process and how it kind of improved his relationship with electronics and, even more importantly, improved his relationships with people in his life. So I thought it was really interesting. I thought it was a really well-done article because it had some actionable examples of things you can do to kind of unplug in a more realistic way. So that’s what I was reading this week, and it really helped me a lot. It’s linked in the show notes, but again, it’s in New York Times and you can google it. It’s called Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched my Phone and Unbroke My Brain.

AH Yeah, and I loved this because I actually read this article when it first came out last year and loved it and bookmarked it. And it impacted me, so — to the point where — and it’s so funny the way these things come together because my thing that I’m reading this week was actually to talk about what I read last year. And part of why I started reading more from real books last year was because I was trying to break my habit of scrolling at night on my cell phone, and we were at the same time trying to create a little bit more bedtime structure for the kids in the house.

So a thing we started doing at my house a while back, I think before the beginning of 2019, was quiet time, a half an hour of quiet time before lights out. So we would each read or color or draw, but the idea was to be pulled away from anything super active or noisy or screens, which we do try to shut down well before that in the evening but doesn’t always work. I wanted to — I noticed that I was doing so much scrolling on my phone at night, even after the kids went to bed, even after I was supposed to be going to bed, that I wanted to start reading real books more. By real books, I mean I have a very old Kindle that’s just the text and it’s not backlit, so — and I can get free downloads from the local library and also the Boston Public Library.

So I had been reading a little bit more in 2018, but in 2019, I made a much more concerted effort to read more at night instead of touching my phone and to — my personal mission was to read more women authors. And I actually just did a blog post about this for my massage practice site because so many of my clients read, and we were talking about what we read all year. So I will link to that in the show notes. But it was a concerted — I started to read more actual books versus reading Twitter feeds, which were agitating and —

MR Oh boy. (Indiscernible).

AH Yeah. You know what I’m saying? So this really — everybody knows what I’m saying. And we started getting those screen-time reports. If you have an iPhone, you can get the screen-time report every week. It comes to you, I don’t know, whatever day you set it. But mine came on Sunday, and it was always like, you spent an average of three and a half hours a day on your phone, and here’s what you were doing. I did not like that, and I realized the bulk of my idle phone use, my nonfunctional phone use, was happening early in the morning — I would grab my phone and look at it right away — and then in the evening.

So I really cut that in half with the evening situation, and I kind of figured some patterns for the morning to cut down my morning use as well. And I have noticed in the past couple of months that I am back to a lot of scrolling and a lot of idle phone use. It’s crazy that you’re bringing up this article today because it was three or four days ago that I decided to kind of shut it down, and I removed a couple apps from my phone that I found were most distracting and least functional, and I rearranged my screen icons so that only the programs that I really need to use for every day are right on the front, the first screen, and the remainder are on — in folders on the next screen.

So I’ve done all of these little things, and I noticed this weekend I had to use my phone a lot more. And I was around some other people in a boring waiting situation, and we were all looking at our phones, and at some point — and I don’t know how the conversation started, but we started talking and everybody put their phones down, and we had a really nice conversation with people I don’t normally talk to a lot. It was great. It was really great, and I was like, oh, this is nice.

So it’s been really front of mind for me, and I’m so delighted that you brought up this article that I read last year and kind of forgot existed.

MR That’s really cool. I didn’t realize it was from last year. I thought it was current. You know how stuff pops up in your feed from a year later and —

AH Yeah.

MR — or a year earlier and you think it’s current? But anyway, it doesn’t matter because it’s still very relevant.

AH It’s going to be relevant, I’d say, for the next 30 to 40 years until we die.

MR Yeah. [Laughing].

AH So yay.

MR Yeah.

AH And it was really practical. I agree with you. That’s what I liked about it.

So everyone, in the show notes is Michael — is the link to Michael’s — the article Michael read, the Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone, and in the show notes is my list of what I read in 2019 and what I thought of it. And I need you to know that this is actually not even all of what I read. I read probably 20 more books than is on this list, but they were super light, cheesy mystery kind of romance books that I don’t need to tell everybody that I’m reading. So very light brain candy.

MR [Laughing] Now I want to know.

AH I know.

MR I want the full list.

AH Okay. So there’s this series, The Bakeshop Mysteries, and they take place in some town in the Pacific Northwest where they have all the Shakespeare festivals. There’s a bakery called the Torte Bakery, and of course there’s this baker who used to be a chef on a cruise ship, but she’s come home because — some problem with her husband or whatever. She’s come back home to the family bakery and — but there’s always a murder, and she’s a little bit of a mystery — she’s like a sleuth.

MR Oh, I love it already.

AH Yeah. It’s so good. It’s like a hint of romance, all the mystery, and a ton of baked goods.

MR [Laughing].

AH All right. I will put that in the show notes, and then let’s never speak of this again, people.

MR [Laughing].

AH I love The Bakeshop Mysteries. So what are we doing next, Michael?

MR We are giving some love to our sponsor, Jojoba.

AH Hey, Jojoba. I got so excited about Bakeshop Mysteries, I had to just flip my page and find my Jojoba notes.

MR I’m excited, too. I do not blame you. No judgment.

AH [Laughing]

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MR All right. So what are we talking about today for the big topic, the discussion point?

AH Our big discussion point is retention tips for clients. And this is coming because we got a review on iTunes a couple of months ago and it was a really wonderful review. She said, hey, can you cover retention tips? She’s a fairly new therapist, and she was like, what do you got for tips for retention? So I’ve had this on the to-do list for a little bit, and it finally came to the top. Let’s talk about client retention basics, which are so much more than just retention basics.

Retention is — I guess I’m so excited about this that I’m startled about where I want to start.

MR I’m still thinking about Bakeshop Mysteries, so it’s okay.

AH I know. Sorry, sorry. It’s been a weekend.

MR [Laughing].

AH Recording on Monday mornings is a mixed blessing. Okay, so retention. Here’s what I want to say. It isn’t just a thing you start thinking about after the client walks out your door for the first time. It is a thing that starts with the very first interaction of your business. You want every part of your business, from the first glance at your website or first hearing your name, to be frictionless, to be easy for the client to work with.

If all a friend gives them is your name, they should be able to google your name and massage, or your business name and massage, or your name and your town name and come up with your website. So if your website has good search engine optimization, that’s going to happen. Frictionless, easy to find. If someone lands on your website and — they need to be able to easily see what it is you do if you work with people like them.

You want a smooth booking and intake process, which means even if you don’t have — and this doesn’t have to mean online booking and all these automated things. But you want it to be really obvious if someone clicks on the Contact tab of your website. You want it to say, please call me at this number to make your first appointment, or please reach out to me via this contact form to make your first appointment, or please click this button to schedule your first appointment easy online anytime.

Whatever your process is, you want it to be clear and obvious and frictionless. Again, I’m going to keep saying that word. Smooth, frictionless, easy to access. You want people once they book that appointment, and maybe even before, to know what to expect with their first massage from you. You want them to have an easy experience finding your office and walking in and filling out your paper intake form if that’s what you use. You want to have it ready. If you do online intake forms, you want to get that along with directions to your office to them ahead of time. You want that form to be easy to use. You want that intake to include the best way to reach them and permission to do — to send them bulk emails or bulk texts for future offers, if you’re into that kind of thing.

If you have an online booking system with automated reminders, you want that to be very clear and have all the information needed. If you don’t give automated appointment reminders in one form or another or you don’t do manual appointment reminders, that’s totally cool. But that means in that very first interaction when they book, you’ve got to be clear about your cancellation policy and say, I am not responsible for — in a polite way, I’m not responsible for reminding you for your appointment if you fail to remember your appointment, or whatever. But you want every part of it to be smooth and clear with all of the information they need in the simplest manner possible.

When the client walks in the door, you want to be standing there ready to greet them. You don’t want your client to walk in the door, have nobody around, or have your door accidentally locked or have them be unsure of which door they’re supposed to enter or any of these things. You want them to walk in the door and immediately feel comfortable. You want them to pull into your lot and be like, oh, that’s the sign that was in the picture of the directions page. Okay. I know I’m in the right place. Oh, I see this sign pointing to the door I walk in. Oh, I’m walking in the door, and this therapist is greeting me. So I immediately know I’m in the right place. I don’t have any of that confusion that makes the experience annoying. You want to be as non-annoying as possible.

And then you want to listen to the client and give them the best — give them the massage that they want. You do this with excellent communication skills by confirming the goals of the session after that intake — after you find out what they’re looking for, verbally confirming it. All right. So let’s do a little extra attention to that right shoulder that’s feeling a little sore, and I will make sure to get to the soles of your feet, especially, because you’re dealing with that plantar fasciitis.

One of the most effective communication tools I’ve ever used is if you’re going to do something at the end of the session, if one of the goals you’re going to be tackling at the end of the session, make sure you let the client know that so they don’t spend the whole session wondering if you’ve forgotten about that goal. So if I have a client who’s really – they say, I want a lot of extra work on my feet, I say, awesome. I’m going to do that with my fancy peppermint cream at the end of the session. I’m going to save plenty of time so we have lots of time to do extra work there. But I don’t want you to think I’ve forgotten if I gloss over your feet the first time we get to your legs. At the very end of the session, I’m going to spend a ton of time on your feet.

That communication lets them relax for the entire session knowing that I’m not forgetting, that I have a plan. And then checking in during the session after you’ve tackled one of those problem spots or you’ve hit that goal, confirming that you’ve given them everything they need there, like, how is this right shoulder feeling? Do you feel like I got to all the right spots? That’s it. And then the outtake, right? So making sure that you confirm with them that they got the massage they were looking for and perhaps checking in on anything they might want to do differently than next time, making note of that, making the offer to schedule the next appointment.

I know that this is a really long monologue at this point, and you’re like, wow, I just wanted to know about retention. But this really is all retention. It starts with the very first interaction. So when you make the offer to schedule the next appointment, if they’re not into that, make a plan to follow up. And even if they are into that and you schedule that next appointment, you also want to inform them of your plan to follow up and say, I’d like to email you in a couple of days to see how your shoulder is feeling. Is email or text better? I’d like to reach out to you. Is email or text better? Or you’re going to hear from me Tuesday because I want to — I’m going to want to see how that shoulder is feeling and just make notes on how your body responded to the massage. Is that okay? Is email or text better?

However you do it, make that plan with them so they know you’re going to reach out and they know why, so when they see your number come up in their texts or their phone or they see your email come up, they’re not like, why is this person bothering me? My massage therapist is stalking me. Make that plan so they know what’s going on. And then, if they’ve given you permission, get them into your regular email list. You could even consider targeted social ads where you use people’s contact information if they’ve given you permission, and you can target any social media ads directly to them, which sounds creepier than it actually is. But regular emails, bulk texts, whatever you do.

And also — and this kind of gets much forgotten because we think so much in technological terms, but old-school paper mail stuff is still really valid. So if you’ve got a client base that doesn’t sign onto your email list, that doesn’t want bulk texts, that doesn’t want that technological interaction — they’re already flooded — then you could be right for old-school birthday cards and holiday cards and thank-you cards. People love getting a card in the mail, always, and it can be worth the stamp to do so, especially if you have people who are not really into technological communication stuff.

And that is my long answer on retention. A reminder that it doesn’t start after the client walks out the door. It starts before the client ever even sees your business for the first time. That was long.

MR That wasn’t that long.

AH It could be a hundred different podcast episodes, but it’s what we got. And thank you for reviewing us on Apple Podcast. I didn’t call it iTunes. I called it Apple Podcast. And thank you for requesting that topic because I had a really good time putting it together.

MR Nice. I like it. Thank you.

AH What’s next?

MR All right. Before we get to quick tips, let’s give a shoutout to Yomassage, our other sponsor today. Yomassage, we love you guys.

AH Hey, Yomassage.

Sponsor message They combine restorative stretching, massage, and mindfulness in small-group sessions. Limited in-person trainings for 2020. They’re going to be in August and February in Portland, and March and a few other places. The virtual trainings begin the first Monday of every month. I am hearing such great feedback about the virtual trainings. It’s just a whole new model of online trainings. You, my friends, can get $50 of for Massage Blueprint listeners on trainings January through March of 2020 using the code BLUEPRINT, all caps. You can go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/yomassage. Check out their virtual and in-person trainings, and you can use the code, all caps, BLUEPRINT for $50 off trainings at the beginning of 2020.

MR Yay.

AH Woo-hoo.

MR All right. Quick tips. What do you got?

AH Can you go first?

MR Sure.

AH Okay.

MR All right. Many of you who know me have heard me talk about the wonders of Wunderlist, my favorite to-do app has been Wunderlist, spelled W-U-N-D, Wunderlist. So I’ve been using it – I just like saying Wunderlist [laughing]. It makes me feel German.

AH I like when you say Wunderlist.

MR Yeah. So I love this app so much. It is brilliant. It is perfect in every way. I have been loving it. I have been really sad lately because it has recently been purchased by Microsoft, which is not always a great thing for [laughing] software that gets purchased by Microsoft. However — side note — Microsoft is cool again, apparently. There’s a lot of good things they’re doing that have really changed my mind about them. So that’s a whole side discussion. But anyway, so Microsoft purchased Wunderlist, and I’ve been holding out and holding out and saying, okay, I’m not going to switch to their new app, which is called To Do, because I just love Wunderlist so much. Surely they won’t make it go away.

Well, they’re making it go away. They’re taking it away. They’re sunsetting it in May, I believe, which means it is going to be discontinued. It won’t be available anymore. It’s just shutting down in May. So there’s no choice. I’ve been grumpy about this for a while. I’ve been like, okay, I’ve got to find a new app. There’s nothing out there as good as Wunderlist. I’ve been really digging my heels in. And Microsoft is trying to get everyone to switch to their new to-do app called To Do, which is kind of the replacement for Wunderlist after they purchased it. So I’m like, okay, fine. I’ll try it.

I didn’t have high hopes. I was skeptical. But I want to report that To Do actually is a good replacement for Wunderlist. I am actually satisfied with it, which — I never thought I’d say that because there is nothing that could top Wunderlist in my mind. But To Do is actually very good. It actually migrates your — all of your items over from Wunderlist perfectly. At least for me, it did. It perfectly migrated everything over, all my recurring tasks, all of my reminders, all of my lists. Everything moved over exactly as it should’ve, which was nice. And I am using it on a daily basis now just like I did Wunderlist. It has the same functionality, and actually, there’s something I like even a little better. And that is —

AH What?

MR I know, I know. I can’t believe that I’m saying this. But it actually has a little — a new little list called My Day. I’m opening it right now just to make sure I get the terminology right. It’s called My Day. So what I used to do is I would click on the stuff that I have to do for that day, and I would take out a piece of paper and I’d pull over the top three to five things I wanted to really accomplish that day and crossed them off to feel like I was picking out my daily landscape and knocking that stuff out because I sometimes wouldn’t get to everything.

To Do actually has a list called My Day with a little sunshine next to it. You click that, and you can pull things over and assign them to My Day that morning. So you can basically plan your day out realistically based on what’s going on that morning, and it takes the place of my need to pull them over into a notebook.

So I’m even going to say that To Do has even more a functionality than Wunderlist. So if you’re like me and you loved Wunderlist and you were a sad panda because it was going away, I want to report to you that I have tested Microsoft To Do. I like it. It has officially replaced Wunderlist, and I am happy with it. So I hope that helps anyone —

AH Wow.

MR — out there who is in the same boat.

AH Wow.

MR I know. Crazy, right?

AH That’s really exciting. I’m very proud of you.

MR Yeah.

AH That’s a lot to move to a Microsoft product, and you did it, and you did it well, and you did it fairly.

MR Well, just — I know I said I wouldn’t go down a side note, but let me just jump back there one more time.

AH Do it.

MR Microsoft is actually doing some really cool things. What they’re doing is they are — they used to be kind of the evil empire, right? They would be a proprietary and write crappy software and make everyone use it. But now they are in this mode of they are looking for the most successful open-source projects out there, and then they take those open-source projects and they integrate it into their system, and they basically give back to those projects. They basically contribute to those projects, and they kind of pick the project they want to support.

They’ve developed some really cool applications, and they’re supporting the open-source community by doing this. So they’re really kind of doing a 180 when it comes to how they participate in the software community as a whole. And some of their products are really nice. One of my — a software company that I co-own actually is running on Microsoft Azure because they’ve really built a great platform. So they’ve really turned around, in my opinion.

AH That’s awesome.

MR Yeah. It’s kind of crazy.

AH So my quick tip — and we don’t cover a lot of hands-on, in-session stuff, but my quick tip is a little bit about what happens in your massage room. And it is a suggestion to shut your mouth.

MR [Laughing].

AH We all — and you’re like —

MR Shut your piehole. [Laughing].

AH Shut your piehole. We all have — I think the bulk of us have very — a wide breadth of clients, and many who we know don’t say a word during their session. And I’ve heard of massage therapists who are like, I don’t allow any talking in my session. I shut down any chat right away. But I think that that’s probably a very small minority. I think many of us, if we have clients who are chatty, we roll with that. I try really hard to follow the “don’t speak until you’re spoken to” rule because I don’t ever want to initiate conversation in a session.

That said, and especially working with people who — with anxiety, a lot of people cannot not talk during the session, at least at the beginning until they get a little more comfortable in the space. But what I try to remind myself — I came out of a couple sessions a few weeks ago realizing that I had been a little overly chatty. I don’t think that I actually initiated conversation, but I know that I extended it when I didn’t need to. And I tried to be really mindful of that moving forward. And it was interesting because I had a few clients who normally chat, who, I think because I was especially mindful about not over-speaking or elongating a conversation, they kind of shut it down and they didn’t speak so much, and their sessions were dramatically changed, and I think the work was better.

One client commented and said, wow, I’m not used to not talking. That was really nice. I’m like, yeah. You know what? I have to be reminded every so often that even if someone is typically chatty, it doesn’t mean they always want to be chatty. It was really, really great to be reminded that just because a client has been chatty in the past does not mean they always want to be, and the converse is true, too. I actually had a client who rarely ever says anything be very talkative in the last massage. And it was great, and — because it was very interesting to get to know a little bit more about her. It gave me some insight on the physical issues we’re working on, and it turned out her son has opened this company that runs science workshops, just like my partner. It’s really cool, like a whole nonprofit thing. It was very interesting, made a great connection.

But when she came out of the session, I said, you know, we don’t normally chat, and it was nice to chat. But I don’t want you to feel like you always have to moving forward. She laughed and she was like, it was good to get to know each other a little bit, but you’re right. We won’t always chat. And it was just so good to be clear and open about that communication.

So if you are normally someone who chats during sessions with clients who are indeed chatty, maybe limit that for a few sessions and see how it goes. I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of you out there who are just nodding your heads and being like, Allissa’s just learned this now?

MR [Laughing].

AH I haven’t just learned this now. I recognize that one of the most common complaints people have about massage therapists is that they talk too much, and therefore I have my very careful “don’t speak until spoken to” rule. But we all get into ruts, and this was a very — kind of an easy and gentle way to pull myself out of a rut that I didn’t — it took me a while to realize I may have been in. And it’s made a nice and interesting change in my work. I just want to suggest, everybody, shut your piehole, which I am going to do now.

I’m done, Michael.

MR [Laughing] All right. I see what you did there. Nice segue. All right. Well, we’ll wrap it up there, then. That’s a great place to wrap it up. Thanks for joining us today. You can find us on our website, as always, which is massagebusinessblueprint.com. As you can tell by now, we do love reviews on Apple Podcast. So if you feel like giving us a click and a review and a rating and a couple sentences about what you think about the podcast, we would love that. We might even read it in a future episode. So thanks for that.

As always, thanks for joining us today. Have an awesome day, and we’ll see you next time.

AH Bye.

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