Episode 327

Dec 4, 2020

Listen as Allissa and Michael discuss what goes into a relevant intake form to maintain a really good therapeutic and business relationship with your clients.

Listen to "E327: Intake Forms That Work" on Spreaker.
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Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by The Original Jojoba Company. I firmly believe that massage therapists should only be using the highest quality products because our clients deserve it and our own bodies deserve it. I have been using jojoba for years and here's why: Jojoba is nonallergenic; I can use it on any client and every client without fear of an allergic reaction. It is also noncomedogenic, so it won't clog pores. So if you've got clients prone to acne breakouts, jojoba is a good choice for them. It does not go rancid. There's no triglycerides, so it can sit on your shelf for a year plus and not be a problem. And that's what also makes jojoba a wonderful carrier for your essential oils as well. It won't stain your 100% cotton sheets, so your linens are going to last longer. The Original Jojoba Company is the only company in the world that carries 100% pure, first-pressed quality jojoba. And we are delighted to be their partner. You, my friends, can get 20% off the price of the product when you shop through our link massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.

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'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines I'm Allissa Haines.

MR And we're your hosts. Welcome to our show today. We're glad you're with us. And I'm glad I'm with you, Allissa.

AH Aw, thanks. Did you have a nice -- we will do minimal banter, but did you have a nice Thanksgiving, Michael?

MR I did. It was virtual as you might expect, so the family hopped on Zoom. We did a porch drop-off of some traditional Thanksgiving stuff with the in-laws, the grandparents who live nearby, and just kind of nice, simple Zoom Thanksgiving. So yeah, it went pretty well. We -- I got two pumpkin pies made for me, two gluten-free pumpkin pies. I've eaten one of them. I have one more in the fridge, so life is good. How about you?

AH Wow. Yeah, we did our usual standard of I go to get fresh bagels in the morning, and then we do bagels and cream cheese and lox and watch the parade. And then the little guy has a very specific series of Thanksgiving and then Christmas things we want to watch on TV. And then the kids set up the tree, which is great because they did like 98% of the work. And it was a pretty mellow day. And I will note that I know so many people did the whole Zoom thing, and I can't imagine what it would take to get me to want to do a Zoom with anyone on purpose.

MR It wasn't awesome.

AH I'm sure it was great. And you know what? I know a lot of people did it, but man, I don't want to have awkward hanging out with people on any day, especially not a holiday. So hats off to all of you who love your family enough to hang out with them virtually.

MR Well, like I said, it definitely wasn't awesome, but it was better than nothing.

AH Well, I think it's amazing.

MR Oh, and I have to add one more thing.

AH Uh-huh.

MR We did turkey zipline races, which was the highlight of Thanksgiving (indiscernible).

AH What is that?

MR So Eli is really into Thanksgiving because he loves making turkeys. We made about seven paper turkeys out of bags and stuff and his construction paper. And he's really into making turkeys. For some reason, this kid loves turkeys. And so we made turkey -- Thanksgiving games as well. And we did "pin the hat on the turkey" and "shoot the turkey off the tower with a slingshot" and things like that. And then we did ziplines from the top of the upstairs through the middle part of the house down to the downstairs on these pieces of yarn. And we attached the turkeys to the ziplines, and we raced them down the ziplines. And it was the highlight of the day. So we had so much fun with that.

AH Dude, have you ever done -- oh, my gosh. I'm going to send you the instructions for one of Walt's science activities for the non-profit we have -- we used to when we would run science workshops for kids in under-served communities. Anyhow, he's got a really cool activity where you take a balloon, and you tape a straw to it or --

MR Oh, yes. I've seen that.

AH Yeah.

MR Yeah.

AH You could totally do it with -- you could make the balloon look like a turkey. Oh, my God.

MR Yeah.

AH Or you could just do the experiment on its own without it looking like a turkey because it's really fun. And I bet if you could do that in your house -- you probably have a great house. If you do it with fishing line, they haul. They go super fast when you let go of the balloon.

MR Okay.

AH And if you put -- if you attach the balloon to a straw and then you put the fishing line through the straw or tubes -- I forget what he has. And it's really cool because where you position the balloon and where -- when you let go of the little spout thingy, it'll go faster or slower or in a different direction or spin around the fishing line. And it teaches kids how air propels things. It's really, really cool.

MR Nice.

AH I'm sending you the instructions. Anyhow, way too much banter. What are you reading?

MR [Laughing] What am I reading? All right. So back to stark, cold reality here. I am reading about the COVID vaccines. I'm doing a lot of reading and listening about this just because I'm just interested, and so -- like many people are, I think. And the latest news I have as of today, which is two days before we release this episode, so it'll probably be old news by then, but the UK has authorized Pfizer's and -- I'm not sure how to pronounce this -- BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. So it is officially authorized in the UK, and everyone pretty much expects the U.S., the FDA, to approve it here later this month. And supposedly, the expectation is that vaccines will be rolling out for distribution sometime in December, probably later in December, but sometime in December before the end of the year.

And I've also been listening to various podcasts like The Daily and the Wall Street Journal and stuff about kind of the plan for rolling out. And it appears that, as expected, the first round of vaccines will be distributed to healthcare workers. And then the next priority will be people that are more at risk, people with health conditions, people over a certain age, people in nursing homes. And then after that, it will be rolled out to essential workers, which is kind of a huge, broad category, but that really means people that are most at risk because of their job: people that have in-person jobs, restaurant workers, people that are most exposed in their line of work. So that's the plan. And the expectation is that sometime in the spring-ish, early summer time frame, the vaccine should be available, based on the timeline I'm hearing, to most of the general public. Now, of course, if people take it or not, that's their choice. It's a whole different discussion. But that's the expected timeline so far. So I've been interested and kind of following that, and that's what I'm reading.

AH Very cool. That's a lot more -- I don't even have a "what I've been reading." And I even looked through my browser history to be like, what have I been reading? And pretty much I just kind of took my brain offline, and I read a lot of Pinterest this past weekend and added some recipes to my meal-planning app. And that's what I've been doing.

MR Fair enough.

AH So Pinterest is what I have been reading.

MR [Laughing]

AH Michael, who is our first sponsor?

MR All right. Our first sponsor are our friends over at Acuity, who make amazing online scheduling software.

AH They really do.

Sponsor message You don't have to play phone tag. Clients can quickly view your real-time availability and self-book their own appointments, even pay online, reschedule with a click. And I want you to know that just because you utilize online scheduling software doesn't mean that you lose control of your schedule.

AH For example, right now, I am not allowing people to just go to my website and schedule their appointments because I'm screening people. So I have a little note there that says, if you want to schedule, email me. And yesterday, I got an email from a client that I hadn't seen in quite a while. And she was like, hey, are you seeing people because I'd love to get on your schedule, and here's my situation, I've been isolating, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. And I emailed her back and said, yes, I want you on my schedule. And I didn't have to play "do you want this appointment or that appointment?" At that point, I sent her the link, and she scheduled her own appointment, and I'm seeing her tomorrow. So you can still have hyper control of your schedule and only let certain people schedule after you've screened them while you use an online program like this. So that's what I wanted to say personally about Acuity.

Sponsor message Also, I'll let you know that it lets you handle your forms before the appointment, so you can get right to doing the massage you want and be prepared when someone walks in the door. Customer support is a delight, and Acuity's style will help you relax and have fun running your business. You can get a special 45-day free offer when you sign up today, and you can go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/acuity if you'd like to do that.

AH That's what I have to say about that, Michael.

MR All right. And it looks like our topic today is somewhat related. It's a great segue into intake forms.

AH Yeah. So we're going to talk about intake forms and partly because we had a premium member have a great question about screening first-time clients just in general but also because it's tricky nowadays. I think a lot of us are being even more careful accepting new clients if we are accepting new clients. And much of my advice about screening first-time clients was involved in a really good intake form that stimulates conversation. And that kind of made me want to go backwards and think -- and rethink because I did this when I kind of reopened a couple months ago. I recreated an intake form that has a whole bunch of different questions based on what I've learned from the forms I've been using over the years.

So intake forms that work, what does that mean? What do you need in an intake form? A bunch of things. The first thing is the obvious one, is that you want all of the health info needed to deliver a safe massage. And that is different for everyone. A safe massage for one person is unsafe for another. So you want a form that entices people to give you all of the necessary information regarding their health and their medications and injuries and surgeries and all of these kinds of things so that you can deliver a safe massage.

You need contact info, and you need that contact info in case you need to contact them, let's say, after their massage, maybe just to check on how they're feeling but also maybe to tell them that turns out you were exposed to COVID two days prior to their appointment, or that they dropped their ring behind the chair when they were getting dressed or undressed and you have their jewelry, or all of these things that are reasons you might need to contact someone and to market to them later and to get permission to market to them and to reach out to them to encourage them to reschedule -- schedule another appointment.

And there's a combination. All of these things work together. So a good health information form and getting the contact info on that form, these combine what you need to maintain a really good relationship with that client, both therapeutically so you're giving them the massage and the results that they came to you for, and also business-wise so that you can contact them if your kid is sick and you have to cancel their appointment later that day. It's -- when you haven't gotten someone's phone number or you haven't clarified how you should get in touch with them or they gave you their email address but didn't tell you they only check it once every four weeks, this -- all of these little bits of information are going to help you communicate more effectively and therefore, run a better business, straight up run a business that looks like a business and not someone who's just a hack and doesn't treat it like it's important.

So some specific things, and I will note that I definitely referred to -- ABMP has some great forms and printouts. And specifically, they created a whole bunch of new stuff for when COVID hit and all of these new COVID protocols, which we'll get to in a minute. But I referred to ABMP's information. I kind of used them as a guide a long with my own intake form. And I will give everyone the link to all of that information. It's free for everyone, not just ABMP members. They opened up a whole bunch of resources when the coronavirus hit, and it's available to everyone online. And I will make sure that the link to that is in the podcast notes. Okay.

So screening, intake forms, these are so obvious I'm a little bit embarrassed to say them. But you need their name. You need to know the date that they filled out this intake form so that you know, five years from now, if this information is still relevant or you need a new intake form, you need to do a verbal. Phone number and preferred phone number, how they can -- how you should reach them. An email address and a note -- a line that says, what is your preferred form of communication? And that could be -- you could do check boxes: you could do phone call, email, or text. Whatever works. Whatever you want to do. Don't put options in there that you don't -- that you are not interested in.

How did they hear about you, and can you thank that referral? If someone sent them to you, is it okay for you to acknowledge to that person that the client -- that client became a new client and they came in? Am I allowed to send to your mom a note that says, thank you so much for sending so-and-so in? You want to get permission to do that because that's a nice relationship-building tool for that client who sent someone new in.

Have they had massage before? This is great. This tells you a little bit more about the instructions you might need to give them. It gives you a conversation opener to find out what kind of massage they had and why they stopped if they were getting regular massage, which is -- we've done actually whole podcasts about this -- this wonderful question our friend Ariana suggested of asking people, why did you leave your last massage therapist? It gives you huge clues about the kind of care and treatment that they want in the future. So asking if they've had massage before is really, really important and asking about that kind of massage that -- leading that to a conversation about that.

Why they are seeking massage today, right now, and that might change their next appointment, which is why this is part of a written intake as well as an every-appointment verbal intake. Describing the injury or issue that they are coming -- seeking massage for. Medications, recent surgeries. Some forms -- I don't do this, but some forms ask, what are your typical activities of daily living that are affected by the condition, which is great. I do this kind of verbally and kind of make my own notes, but some people have this in a written form. Some people ask your occupation because that -- if -- it's going to be clear, if the occupation is a truck driver, that you know what their body's doing for most of the day. I actually don't ask this anymore; I kind of do it verbally, but whatever. I like -- I feel like I get more information from conversation, but that conversation is instigated by an actual structured intake. If you do insurance reimbursements, you want to ask them if that's something that they are looking for, and you can get all of that insurance information so you can do the billing. And there's all -- I mean, again, everybody's is different, but these are just some baseline ideas.

And then, we -- I'm sorry. I'm scrolling and I lost my place here. And then there's all these COVID-related questions now that we have to ask every client every time. So they might be in a physical, first-time appointment intake, and then these are going to be repeated in one manner or another for every single appointment. Have you had a fever in the last 24 hours? Do you now or have you recently had any new respiratory symptoms or sore throat or shortness of breath or loss of taste and smell? Have you had any muscle aches, chills, all of these things? Have you been in contact, known contact, in the last 14 days with anyone who has been COVID-19 positive or exhibited such symptoms? And these are questions we have to ask. Sometime -- some people, our states mandate that we ask them. Some people, our states or regulating boards are mandating we take people's temperature on the way in. But obviously, it's stuff we need to ask.

There is also -- in intake forms, it is a place and a time for us to present our protocols and policies to clients and have them sign off on them. So if you have a cancellation and no-show policy, you want that to be a segment of your intake form where they acknowledge this policy and affirm it, which means later on, if they no-show and you charge them for the appointment and they're like, why you're -- I never knew that was a thing, you can show them the form that they signed and said, you acknowledged this policy and agreed to it, and you're going to need to pay for that appointment before I can book you for another one. And it gives you a little bit of confidence in asserting your protocols if you know that someone has had to acknowledge them in the past.

There is also the concept of -- well, there's consent for treatment, which is people saying, yes, I know you're a massage therapist, I know you're going to touch me to treat me, I'm allowing you to do that, I am -- there's their responsibilities, which are, I will keep you updated of my health information, all those kinds of things. And then there's also now -- we've got this COVID addendum, people acknowledging that just by virtue of being outside of their house, there is always a risk they could catch COVID. And I don't think of these things as a waiver because if you have lax protocols and someone catches something in your office, it's not likely they're going to sue. But if they did, they might -- your waiver ain't going to save you, but I do think it's an important part of consent for treatment that people acknowledge the risks associated with getting bodywork during a pandemic. And it's good for us all to assess those risks. I have to flip back to my notes now.

And there is also a portion -- and I think this needs to be an addendum nowadays to intake forms -- if you know a client has had COVID, if on that intake form they noted that they have had COVID in the past, there's a whole new set of questions and considerations that you need to think about and you need to converse with that potential client or that client about. And Ruth Werner wrote a really wonderful blog post, which was also a column in the ABMP magazine, about the things we have to consider when treating someone who has had a COVID infection in the past based on what we know about clotting issues and all other kinds of things. This can't be made into a check box form necessarily, but there are components of it that absolutely can be.

Now, that question about daily physical activity, that's a question you want to ask someone who had a known COVID infection and has since recovered as much as we know they have recovered. We want to know if they have challenged their body on a daily basis and what their -- if their respiration has any issues or if they have any new lesions or rashes or sharp pains in extremities, in muscle bodies. We need to know all of these things. And again, I'll link to that blog post. And some of these things are in written intakes, and some of these are conversations that we have, and I'll note that now: An intake form is just a form. It's just a tiny little slice of the full process of getting to know a client before you touch them so that you can touch them safely and with the results that they're looking for.

Now, how do you do this? Do you want a paper intake form? Do you want an e-form? That's up to you. Some people still love paper charting. I, at my deepest core, love paper charting, but it's not practical for my business and my space how I need things to function to have lots of paper around. What works for your clientele? If your clientele is not people who are going to be comfortable filling out a form online, then paper might be the best for your intake form even if you do online charting. If your clientele tends to be pretty savvy and understands how encryption works and doesn't worry about their health information being hacked into or anything, and you're using systems that use proper encryption and compliance, yeah, go for it. E-forms are great. If you're going to do an e-form, is there a system that you already have that can do it? Maybe your online scheduler has some kind of form embedded. There's all kinds of stuff.

There are really great online systems now that are fantastic for electronic health records. There's one specifically made for massage therapists called Hands Heal EHR. And it's really wonderful for intake forms and also how you chart and creating full treatment plans for clients. It's really, really neat. There's another program that used to be called SOAP Vault and now it's called Noterro; they just rebranded. And it's just this huge and robust suite of online services for your business, including scheduling but also intake forms and charting. And it's really, really interesting. And these are programs people might want to check out. Or you can just go with Google Forms, which, yes, you can make HIPAA compliant. Yes, they are secure and makes it easy if you manage the bulk of your business through Google -- I don't know what it's called anymore. It's not -- I don't think it's called Google Drive anymore. I forget what it's called. Anyhow --

MR Oh, Google Workspace.

AH Google Workspace, there you go -- which is what I do. I use a Google form for my intake form, and all of the responses to that form aggregate into one big master spreadsheet that's got all my client info. And then it's super easy to cut and paste that client's line into a spreadsheet that I use for each individual chart. And it's secure, and it's easy, and it doesn't involve me having to have a file cabinet at my office, and it works. And if my office burns down or all my computers get destroyed, I can access that information from any computer ever, so I know that I'm always going to have access to that if needed. So you got to think about what your clients would be cozy with, and you can ask them. You could figure out what you're comfortable with. Online charting might not be a great idea if you don't have internet at your office and the cell service is terrible. So you get to think about what would work best for you.

And this was -- all right. So I'm done. I'm done all my notes. And you might get to the end of this and be like, but she didn't really tell me what I need, because I can't tell you what you need because all of us are different. Someone who does -- my form -- my addendum, essentially, for people seeing me because they're actively in treatment for cancer, I got a lot more questions for them than for somebody coming in just because they don't sleep all that great and they just want to get a massage and chill out every couple of weeks. That's a -- these are very different forms. This is very different depths of information that I need. So my hope here was just to kind of give you an overview and maybe light a fire under you to rethink your intake form to be more robust. Or if it's super complicated and you ask a ton of questions and get really specific but you're not really doing massage that demands that kind of information, maybe it's time to simplify your form. Maybe it's time to cut some of that out and do a little bit more with a verbal intake to be sure you're not missing anything. You can do that. I simplified my form a couple years ago, and it's really, really nice.

And that is all I have to say about intake forms. But yeah, we'll have all of the reference links in the podcast notes, which you can access at massagebusinessblueprint.com/podcast. And we're episode 327, really, really easy to find. And that's all I have to say, Michael. I'm done.

MR Nice. Excellent advice. I'm a big fan of online intake forms. I'm a big fan of online anything, anything not paper. So I'm a fan. Yeah.

AH It's kind of a boring topic, so sorry, but it needed to be covered at some point because we had enough questions.

MR I agree.

AH I'm done. Who's our next sponsor, Michael?

MR All right. Our next sponsor is us. We're going to slip into the sponsor rotation because we can because it's our podcast. So we are going to take this sponsor spot to tell you about a service that we have, and that service is to build websites for you, our massage therapist listeners. So I wanted to bring this up at the end of the year here because -- well, I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, let me tell you about what we do.

So you may not know, but we build websites here at Massage Business Blueprint. We build them only for our Community members, so just a heads up. We require that you be a part of our private community to take advantage of this service. We just want all support to kind of go through that community. But we do build websites, and here's why because for the past, I don't know how many years, we have listened to massage therapists talk about the experiences they've had with web designers, and they've been frustrated. It takes too long. Six months later, they still don't have a website. It costs too much. The process is painful. And so we decided we wanted to do this and make it simple.

So we have a specific package for website -- or for massage therapists to get a website up and running for you really quickly, really easily, and as pain-free as possible and at a very competitive price. So the process takes about three to four weeks. We can have a website finished for you in about three to four weeks. We kind of guide you really kind of hands-on through the whole process. We know that lots of times, when you're working with a web designer, they ask you things like, well, what do you want, and tell me more about this, and they ask you all these questions that you don’t know the answer to. And so we try to kind of fast-track all that, and we have a nice framework of proven -- "proven" is a dumb word; I'm not going to say "proven" -- a process that works, that guides you through getting a website up and running really quickly. It's beautiful, and it's mobile-friendly. It's search engine-friendly.

It's $1,500 as a one-time setup fee for the site, and it's $35 a month for the ongoing support agreement and hosting and all the stuff that's rolled into that. So if you would like to take advantage of that, it is at massagebusinessblueprint.com/website. And there are some examples of other websites we've built on there. You can take a look at them. And if you want to go ahead and order at the site, you can order it right there online. Again, that’s massagebusinessblueprint.com/website. And I wanted to bring it up near the end of the year as well because we've all had different experiences with income this year; I realize that. But if you want to put this on a 2020 expense to kind of lower taxable income, this would be a good time to go ahead and order that. We can invoice you before the end of the year if you want, and it can go as an expense in 2020 if that's something you would like to do as well. So again, massagebusinessblueprint.com/website. If you've been putting off redesigning your website, if you want the process to be simple and a little less painful, check it out, and we'd love to help.

AH Thanks, Michael.

MR Yeah.

AH Yeah. What's your quick tip?

MR So it's more of a hardware thing I wanted to share. I have been using this ring light for a while, and I really love it. It's really a great light. And so what is a ring light, you might ask. A ring light is a light that is shaped in a ring, and it's meant to give you good lighting if you're on Zoom. So a lot of us are -- some people are doing virtual sessions, and I know some people are doing kind of remote yoga stuff or just meeting with your kid's teachers for parent-teacher stuff or just whatever kind of meetings you might have on Zoom. Lighting makes your environment much better. It just looks better. And so I have this ring light set up in front of me, and when I have meetings, I kick on the ring light, and it really illuminates my environment much better, and it just makes me look better on Zoom. And so I really like it. It's really inexpensive. It's called the Ubeesize 10-inch Selfie Ring Light. It comes with a tripod. I'm sorry; I did link to Amazon. We try not to link to Amazon if we can help it. But I looked around, and their main product site was sold out. And so I haven't yet found an alternate site that I trust. So right now, it's linking to Amazon, but do your own research if you want to find an alternate site. But I really like the ring light. So if you're looking for a really inexpensive -- it's like 30 or 40 bucks, I think -- ring light, it's a really good one. I really like it.

AH Well, that's neat. Thank you, Michael.

MR Yeah.

AH I keep saying I'm going to get one, but I'm kind of too cheap for it. So I'll be -- I'm just going to get over that.

MR What do you got?

AH My quick tip is also a -- I'm sorry our things are like "things you buy." But I did want everyone to know --

MR Or not. It's okay. [Laughing]

AH I know, or not. That's totally cool. I actually got a new -- well, I ordered it; it hasn't come in yet -- a new bullet journal. And I wasn't going to because I don't bullet journal anymore. When the pandemic hit, everything kind of fell to crap. And I have really good electronic systems as far as like calendars and to-do lists and stuff. But I have definitely missed having a paper notebook to jot random notes and ideas and more creative thoughts. And it's -- and I don't want to be like "journaling" journaling every day, but I do miss actually writing certain kinds of ideas and things down. And also, my bullet journal was a really great tool for me to keep my three words. We do this annual three-words things, and it's kind of like the antithesis to resolutions in the new year. And I couldn't tell you what my 2020 three words are right now because the way that I used to kind of keep them in front of my face all the time was my bullet journal. And also, I had little notes in my little cubby at my office. But I don't go into an office five days a week anymore, and I never put my sticky notes anywhere else. And also, my schedule's a little more wackadoodle now, and I work from several different places, so there's no one place where I am every day.

So I decided I wanted a paper bullet journal again to put some more creative thoughts down and actually get physically writing a little bit more. And the new official Bullet Journal is -- they updated it. So it's got a few different pages of slightly different page design that allows for more flexibility. It's got really cool month stickers. And it just looks really good. And they didn't jack the price up. It's still $24.95. And it's an updated Bullet Journal with -- and it comes with a little guide and, again, a sticker sheet, which I really love stickers. So anyhow, there's a new Bullet Journal. I will link to it in the podcast notes. And let me know if you get one. Oh, and it comes in two colors. It comes in black, and it comes in this pink blush color. I totally got the pink.

MR [Laughing] Nice.

AH And so yeah. That's it. New Bullet Journal. I'm done.

MR Cool. Great stuff. All right. Well, thank you for everything, Allissa. Great episode. I'll wrap us up if you want.

AH Please do.

MR All right. Well, thanks, everyone, for joining us today. We appreciate you being part of our Community. You can reach us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. We have a contact form there where you can send us a note, or you can email us directly at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. And as always, if you enjoy our show, share it with a colleague; share it with another massage therapist who could use some help and support. And if you want to give us a review, we also enjoy those as well. So thanks, everyone, for joining us today. Have a great day. We will see you next time.

AH Bye.

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