Massage Therapy Canada

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Practice Management: Summer 2005

A United States government study estimates that it costs five times the amount of resources (time, energy, money) to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.

September 29, 2009  By Donald Dillon

A United States government study estimates that it costs five times the amount of resources (time, energy, money) to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.

General Motors doesn’t want to sell you just one car. GM estimates that if they keep you satisfied with quality products and service, you could provide them with up to $400,000 of business over your lifetime. One grocery store estimated that if they can keep you as a loyal customer, you are worth more than $200,000 in business to them over a 20-year period.

What a tyrannical treadmill we ride if we keep focusing on going out to get new business instead of serving our existing business better!

It’s really true that first impressions count … so the question is, how can we make a great impression every
time, to encourage people to return to our business? I recommend three strategies: 1) educate 2) add value and 3) re-connect.


1. Educate: Cause, Manifestation, Solution
We covered this strategy in the last issue of Massage Therapy Canada1. I’ll summarize here and state it’s important to get across three things – 1) The cause of the problem 2) Why it manifested as the current symptoms and 3) How your interventions can solve their problem.

Use verbal descriptions and metaphors, visual aids like charts and models, and encourage kinaesthetic awareness of their state before and after your interventions. Educating them well will deliver the message that you can help with their problem. Everyone that walks in your door is asking, out loud or in their mind, “Can you help me?” Make sure you clearly answer that question in the first, and every subsequent session.

2. Add Value: Meet, then Exceed Expectations
Add value by providing above and beyond what they expect from you. Take the time during the case history to listen and empathize. Do a thorough assessment to really understand their problem. Make sure to address their primary problem in the first session, even if this isn’t the root cause, so they feel you are listening and want to help. Give them a glass of water after treatment and a small bag of Epsom salts to take home for their bath. Take the time to educate them as to the cause, manifestation and solution to their problem. Send them home with some literature. Do the things that go above and beyond your hands-on work, and add value to your services.

3. Re-Connect: Be Anticipated, Relevant & Helpful!
Re-visit with new clients to anchor the effectiveness of your treatment, and to check their understanding of the remedial exercise or advice you have provided. I suggest you call your first-time appointments within
24 hours after their initial treatment. Check their response to treatment … offer guidance if they are having a reaction or need clarification.

How many times have you heard someone say “I went to XYZ therapist and I was sore for three days!” How many people never seek massage therapy again because the therapist did not follow up to check for an unfavourable reaction or a misinterpretation of the home-care given?

Another way to re-connect is to send a newsletter on a quarterly basis. I tell my One-To-One MTCoach clients that a newsletter is the number one business-retention tool. Why? Because you are providing anticipated, relevant and helpful information every three months directly to your practice-base. I’ve had patients tell me they put my newsletters on their refrigerator for reference!

Newsletters keep you in the perceptual field of your clients/patients, and help them remember to make therapy an important aspect of their health care. One statistic states we perceive over 3000 marketing messages … a day! Most of them unwanted. Keep in front of your target market with information that they want and can use, to inform them and solve their problems. Re-connecting helps your clients recognize the value you provide to them, and encourages them to stay accountable for their health and well-being.

So remember, to turn those one-timers into life-timers, educate, add value and reconnect!

1 Dillon, D: Do What You Do So Well, They’ll Come Back to See You Do it Again! Massage Therapy Canada, Spring 2005, pp 6 – 9

Donald Quinn Dillon, MT is a therapist, writer and MTCoach. He can be reached via or through his seminar partner, .

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