Your cats are eating dog food. And you desperately need more money. The only way you know how to get massage clients is through referrals.
Here’s how that has worked in the past: you did a good job, and some clients referred their friends and family to you.
Unfortunately, this approach takes months and months to generate referrals.
How to Get Massage Clients by Working Your Client List
A proactive approach would be to go through your massage client list and find reasons to engage the referrers (people who have referred a client(s) to you).
“Hey, Mary, it’s Mark. Just calling to see how your shoulder’s doing (subtext: why haven’t you been in to see me?), and I wanted to say thank you for telling Rita about me a few months ago (subtext: send me more clients, please…oh, yeah, NOW would be good…).
The problem with working your clients for referrals is that you can only go to the well so many times before it starts to look unprofessional.
You could have a referral program where you incentivize clients to send you referrals, but, honestly, are you going to do that?
It’s a little awkward when you’re both running the incentive program and getting the referrals. In other words, it’s a lot easier to say “refer to us” (a company) rather than “refer to me” ( a “me”).
But there’s another way to get referrals quickly and without stretching too far out of your comfort zone. And that is to develop referrers outside of your client list.
How to Get Massage Clients by Finding the Connectors
Connectors bring us together with referrers or people who can lead us to referrers and/or more connectors.
Zzzzz…zzzzz…oh, sorry, that sentence put me to sleep, too. Let’s try this again.
Let’s say Kisha puts you in contact with Alexandra, her chiropractor, and Alexandra now refers a client to you.
Kisha is a connector.
Or, Ramit introduced you to the Enya, the head of the borough council. And Enya introduced you to other council members, and through those connections you orchestrated a local charity event which brought a lot of attention to your business.
Ramit and Enya are connectors.
The Compounding Effect of Connectors
It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see how this connector thing could grow. Connectors send you outside your client list into pools of other referrers and connectors. Those people connect you to other people and so on. This massage marketing strategy has feet.
Who Do You Call First?
So let’s make this less hypothetical. You look at your schedule book and see that you have two crappy weeks coming up. In addition, you need to make an extra $200 a month.
So you start to go through your client contacts, hoping to dredge up some referrals. Who are you going to call first?
The client who is both a referrer and a connector.
Because this combo person has the potential to immediately throw a referral your way and lead you to referral sources.
How to Find the Combo Person
You’re going to find the combo person by making a list. Grab a piece of paper and in the center write down the names of the clients who’ve referred you a client and the names of the clients who’ve connected you to a potential referral/connector source.
Next, write “referral” to the right of the name of each person who has referred a client to you.
Then write “connector” to the left of the name of each person who has introduced you to someone who could lead you to a referrer or marketing opportunity. Your list should look something like this:
Now circle the names that have a both “connector” to the left and “referrer” to the right.
These are the clients you call first because they have the most potential for immediate and sustained impact.
Next, of the remaining names who are either a “connector” or a “referrer”, rank them according to referral or connectivity potential.
You now have a plan to help you get massage clients through referrals. Start with the circled (combo) names. Then work on the rest according to how you ranked the names on your list.
How to Work the Plan
Working the plan doesn’t have to be stressful. First, you need to find a reason to call, text or email the clients on your list.
If you don’t have a lot of history with a client, here are some conversation starters (assuming that you’re actually going to do and mean what you say):
“Just checking in to see how you’re doing…”
“Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be away in June for two weeks, but I’ll be seeing clients both weekends before…”
“I saw this article and thought of you…”
“I’m starting an email list for clients where we send out…”
“Thanks for helping me out…”
How to Get Massage Clients: Advanced Engagement Ideas
If you have some history with the client, you’ll want to get more specific with your outreach.
Here’s what I did with combo people on my list:
Offer a Free Gift Certificate
Lauren is a runner. She’s a great connector/referrer and comes in regularly. I gave her a free gift certificate for the support she provided when I was involved in a charity event.
Give Time and Attention
Travis is a personal trainer. When it comes to taking care of his clients, he’s like a mother hen (in a good way). He constantly refers his clients to me and is always hooking me up with other health professionals who share our health philosophy.
For Travis, I’ve carved out more time in my schedule so that we can talk about how we can best help our mutual clients. I really enjoy our conversations and it deepens our business and personal relationships.
Here’s what I did with my top referrer on my list:
Provide Additional and Pertinent Information
Trish is a runner with a recent IT band issue. I normally do a follow-up after I work on her, but this time I did some extra research and talked to her running coach.
Consequently, I was able to provide Trish with good information that helped her make some difficult decisions regarding her training.
Be the Promoter
Also, think about this: Do any of the people on your list have a business or work for a business that you can promote? If so, think about how you can help them?
I often do videos. I either interview the person I’m going to promote or have that person do an instructional video for my clients. I post the videos on our Facebook page and/or send the video link out to our email list.
Be the Connector
You could also help that person out by being a connector yourself.
One of my connectors hooked me up with a chiropractor. The chiro and I hit it off.
The chiropractor was thinking about opening a practice in town. I offered to get him exposure through a local trail race my brother-in-law was spearheading. If he participates as a vendor, he’d have an opportunity to connect with athletes, other business owners and health professionals.
How to Get Massage Clients Referral Style In a Nutshell
Working your list to get massage clients basically boils down to this:
- Engage clients who are both connectors and referrers first.
- Rank the rest of the clients on the list and engage them in the order you ranked them.
- Rinse and repeat with the new people you add to your list.
Here are some ways you can engage your clients:
Merge Authenticity with Strategy
If, at this point, you’re feeling a little out of your comfort zone with working your list, I get it.
I was fired as a Business Development Consultant because I wouldn’t schmooze. I quit a job as a massage therapist director at a franchise spa because I absolutely refused to sell products and services under the guise of evidence-based health, when little proof was offered.
If I was forced to do those jobs again, I still wouldn’t schmooze or mislead (lie to) customers. Those weren’t the comfort zones that needed to be stretched.
Here comes the “but”.
But if your livelihood is solely dependent on your efforts as an entrepreneur, at some point you have to find a way to be authentic and strategic at the same time.
Work the List
Engaging clients who are referrers and/or connectors is the perfect scenario to work things out.
Take your care, kindness and love and pour it into the relationships of the clients who are both connectors and referrers. Then do the same with the rest of the connectors and referrers on your list.
When I do this, I find that maintaining my integrity and making more money aren’t mutually exclusive.
And my cats are a lot happier:-)
By the way, if you’re good to go with referrals, I think this should be your next step: Massage Marketing Tips: How to Pick Winners.
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