How fast should my clientele grow?

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How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby MedmassLMT on Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:55 pm

I started working in a spa 4 months ago. I work Th/F/Sat every week. My first month was July and I was providing 30-60mins of service a week. Now, however I have been stuck performing 2-2.5 hours of service a week from September until now. I have been offering free chair massage to local fundraisers, charities, and hospitals when they have events. My question is, is my client growth normal? I know it takes a couple of years to really have a somewhat steady career. My goal is 15-20hours of service a week (I do understand that will take at least 2-3 years to reach) I work on main street. The most heavily traffic area of town. Most of my clients are walk in or referrals from the stylists I work along side. I am also a male however I am very professional. So I don't think that's the issue.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby pueppi on Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:21 pm

FWIW, it took me about 8 years to get to a steady 15-20 (with a good portion being 20-25/week). I am in private practice, in a city of a few million, if it makes a difference. A small fish in a big sea, so to say.

I should quantify this. When I say steady 15-20/week, I mean 15-20/week. Not, some weeks 15-16 and some weeks 10-12 and some weeks 20+. Not, an average of 15/week scattered over a month, or anything like that.
Last edited by pueppi on Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby peacenut on Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:18 pm

It took me 2 to 3 years to get to at least 15 clients a week on a regular basis. I have been in practice for almost 10 years.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby Taoist on Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:04 pm

Also keep in mind the ebb and tide of business according to the seasons. Every business, whether an employer or private practice, has it's slow spells. I notice mine when the seasons are about to change but once the weather settles, business picks back up.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby athletica on Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:59 pm

In my area the market is oversaturated, seems as though every physio, athletic therapy, gym, salon, etc has a massage therapist working in it.

Do whatever you can to be better & set yourself apart from the competition.

At my clinic we primarily focus on injury care this is a competitive market when you consider all the chiros and physio fighting for the same patients. Know your competitive advantage and hammer it home.

Treat your current patients like gold, and you will have a waiting list in no time.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby kathryn on Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:38 pm

Medmass, I'm going to disagree with the previous posters b/c to only have 2.5 clients a week since September, especially since your goal is 15-20 clients per week? As Athletica wrote "Treat your current patients like gold, and you will have a waiting list in no time." There's no reason why you can't reach your goal within 18-24 months. Also, you are only working 3 days a week- as I can understand from your post. So, three days doesn't constitute a full week. If your goal is to obtain 15 sessions per "week", meaning Thursday, Friday and Saturday that is obtainable. But don't call that a week, that's a weekend. I worked at an office on Mon, Tues and Wed and within just over a year was able to get 15-20 clients for those three days, so if I could do that on a work week, you can surely do that on a weekend!

My work isn't anything special, it's how I treat each and every client. I've worked in a hair salon, wellness center, physical therapist's office, out of the back room of a bookstore, several spa's and split office times with a natural nail pedicurist and owned two separate businesses (right now I'm in my second business in a private office) and each place I was booked at least 15 clients a week just within over a year to a year and a half. These locations were both in Alabama and in southern CA. It's not that I'm that spectacular of a massage therapist, but more about consistency of service and understanding customer service. There's no reason why you should only have 2.5 clients a week after three or four months. That number should be increasing slightly, meaning at least after 3 or 4 months you should by now have 4 or 5 clients a week. Feel free to pm me for more info.

Often the issue is not our skill set, but the way we are running our practice or customer service.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby pueppi on Sat Nov 19, 2011 6:49 am

I'd like to add that I think it is different in different cases.

Although treating your clients like gold will make a difference in retaining clients, it's not just about how you treat each and every client. That is just one major aspect. Your ability to build clientele also depends on location, lease costs, how heavily you screen your clients, if you have expectations from your clients and they are able to comply, how often you are able to be in the practice, if you have energy going in other directions, if you have to work other jobs in order to pay the bills while you are building the practice, what kind of prior debt you have that eats up every small amount of income coming in, etc...

For some therapists, if it doesn't work, they just shut down and start over again. For others they have financial backing where someone has already pre-paid everything. Others may have someone keeps them and their practice afloat.

But, what happens when you are totally alone and have to make it on your own?

You have to eat, pay rent, etc. And, in the early stages, when no one comes in you still have the pay the lights. Unless you are gifted with someone who pays the lights for you, then you have to have another job. When you have to have another job, then you aren't there when someone calls for an appointment. Unfortunately every minute you are not able to be in your office, makes building the practice longer.

Something similar can occur when you work in a spa - if you don't take your own phone calls, then, you are dependant for the spa to divvy out the clientele amongst the therapists as they call in. So, if you are out promoting yourself, you may not be available. As you are not available, it takes longer to build your clientele.

It just all depends on the particular scenario.

I look forward to more people participating in this thread. If we only had even 100 of the members participate in these threads, these forums would give us such great cross sections of practice-life.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby MedmassLMT on Sat Nov 19, 2011 7:32 am

I am working m,w,f in a chiro office. I would love to go full time in the spa, but I have to hit at least 10 hours a week before I can make that leap of faith. I try to be available every reasonable hour I'm not in the chiro office. I give every client a bottle of water after their session and ask them if they would like to reschedule. My massage is mainly medical based, but I do traditional Swedish if that's what they want. I think the main problem is that I dont bill insurance, and there are several chiros in the area that do bill for massage. I have had a few walk in's that just complain that I dont bill insurance while i'm working on them (they are usually one timers, so I assume they find someone that bills and thats why they dont return). Another issue is parking. We are on a main street right next to a Fat Pattys (a high volume burger joint). There is not a receptionist at the spa, so the phone doesnt always get answered, and as i'm sure you know, alot of people will not leave a message. I call the missed calls back on the days i'm there, but not sure if the stylists do when i'm not. About 80% of my clients come from the Stylists so I dont blame them for that. I have began distributing my new biz card with my cell # on it and they have finally left my cell number on the outgoing message of the spa voicemail. I try to market as much as I can. I havent fallen for the practice builder websites. I market through facebook, a google ad (linked to my amta member website), and I offer free chair massage to every fundraiser and public event I can get involved in. What kind of details can you give me about how to improve my above and beyond customer service to my current clients and any other practice building techniques you may have acquired.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby kathryn on Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:26 am

Before I was able to get my first business, I worked part time from a hair salon & part time from a wellness center. And that was pretty much my only source of finances & employment. I did a couple hours a day doing the hair shampoos, I was paid by the stylist, but I saw it as an opportunity to get my hands on people. That right there got me a lot of clients. It took a full year to be booked solid at both places where I could afford to get my own office space.

Without seeing you in action, it's impossible to know how you personally can improve in client relations, or if you even need it. You may find it helpful to create a stamped evaluation card that the client can fill out at home and mail to you later. Have questions about your service, why the client choose you, if they would return-- why or why not, this can really help you determine what client perception of you is which will help you know what you need to do. Things like location, ease of appointment scheduling, ease of contact and all that is important, but the way you treat each client and make them feel is the clincher. So good customer service would be confirming appointments, follow up calls after the session, thank you notes (with a couple of your cards in them), birthday cards (with or without a discount coupon), asking if the client needs to use the restroom before the session, explaining what you are going to work on in the session, attentiveness that you are applying massage where & how the client expects & wants, consistent pleasant demeanor-- for instance, if you're tired that day don't show it and don't complain about anything to the client, keeping notes about each session and also personal likes & dislikes of what the clients wants during their session, not behaving rushed or late for appointments-- having everything ready & set up before they arrive, clean appearance, clean massage room & linens. Those are just a few.

My work consists of mostly helping clients recover from injuries and pain relief, but I like to help them relax before and during the session. There are also extra things you can do in the session, such as wipe the feet with warm towels after massaging them and/or offer a warm towel for the client to wipe off after their session. When a client turns supine, I usually place a warm towel over a face rest that I turn around for under the neck. Hot packs for the stomach and/or back after massaging that area, table warmer, fan for the clients who get hot. Bathrobe & slippers in case they need to make a bathroom run mid-session, offering a water or tissue when you have them turn over during the session.

I've heard and read many therapists complain about the things I mentioned above and think that they are a waste of their time or not necessary, but I'll tell you-- I gain a following pretty quickly wherever it is I work and those are the reasons why.

Offering free chair massage is a great way to introduce massage to the public, but it's been my experience that clientele is gained when you are performing the chair massage near your office. People want to usually go to someone near their home. Try to choose venues that are located near your place of business. Do you have brochures about your services and who you are? That can work like a mini-web site. Have you introduced yourself to the local businesses in your area? Every place I've worked, I've hit the pavement with a stack of my cards and went around to the surrounding businesses to introduce myself and let them know I'm in the area. You may be surprised how many people will be happy to meet you.

There's so much more, but that's all I can think of for now.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby MedmassLMT on Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:15 pm

Thanks for the advise!!!! I love the warm towel idea. I usually use the sheet at the end of the session to absorb the excess lotion in combination with a erector spinae stretch. I will have to work on the feedback card idea. I think I can come up with something that works. The robes and slippers are probably too much. I have limited space and not sure where I could keep them. I do ask them if they have to use the restroom before a session and if the temperature of the table it to their liking. I also do reminder calls/texts the day before or morning of their appointment. I will most certainly be shopping for a towel warmer, and towels this weekend.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby jdcan on Sat Nov 19, 2011 3:39 pm

It took me a couple of years to get to 5 or 6 clients/wk. Most of that time I was only renting a room half a week in someone else's space. I built up more quickly once I got my own office.

As for the robe and slippers, they don't need to take up any space at all. You can buy a door-hanger and lay the robe hanging against the door and you could store the slippers under the table.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby athletica on Sat Nov 19, 2011 7:41 pm

If you don't have a receptionist try a service like mindbody - online booking, reminder emails, automated followups, etc
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby JasonE on Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:26 pm

You are getting great feedback! While reading the excellent comments already provided, I thought of something else:

Consider finding a massage mentor. I recommend finding a local mentor that will work with you in person now and then. It doesn't matter if they are male or female... you just need someone that is successful, insightful about WHY they are successful, and who will be completely straightforward about anything they think you can work on to become more effective and successful.

I have met many male MTs that have the customer service, hands-on skills, and drive to be successful, but who have overlooked one or two things they habitually do that make it very hard for them to build a clientele. One guy was very good in many ways, but his speaking voice was incredibly loud, especially if he started getting excited or nervous. He just needed to figure out a strategy for turning down the volume and (as much as possible) keeping his trap shut during sessions. No one had ever pointed it out to him, and he wasn't self-aware of it. Another guy was good at most things but terrible about educating his clients after the massage; he was doing the work but failing to help the client realize the value of that work... so they didn't rebook very often. Again, habits you aren't aware of may be like shooting yourself in the foot day after day.

If you have a good mentor that is able to assess, analyze, and constructively criticize you, your environment, your customer service, your massages, and everything else you do as a professional therapist, you will benefit greatly!

For AMTA members, the AMTAmassage.org site can help you find a massage mentor that will help you with any massage or business questions. The service is free, connecting you with volunteer mentors who enjoy helping others succeed. :D
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby katamay on Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:10 am

I also can't recommend the AMTA mentor program enough. But make sure you choose someone you really want to learn from, even if it's a bit of a drive! Choosing by location might seem easiest, but you get much more out of meeting occasionally with someone who's got the career you want than meeting frequently with someone who has a totally different philosophy than you.

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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby MedmassLMT on Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:35 am

Jason or Kat
Can you post a link to the amta mentor search engine? I can't find it on the amta website n
Does anyone know if it is safe to heat dry towels in a crock pot if the temp is set low?
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby pueppi on Tue Nov 22, 2011 6:27 am

MedmassLMT wrote:Jason or Kat
Can you post a link to the amta mentor search engine? I can't find it on the amta website n
Does anyone know if it is safe to heat dry towels in a crock pot if the temp is set low?



It looks like you can't have access to the AMTA Mentor Search Engine until you become an AMTA mwember. Here is their FAQ for Mentee's ---> http://www.amtamassage.org/mentor/FAQs---Mentee.html -=- to get you going until JasonE & Kat get back. :)

Your other question would probably go great in the "Spa Section" --- and, may already have an answer in that section. Spa Techniques
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby MedmassLMT on Tue Nov 22, 2011 6:38 am

I am a member. There is an option to locate an LMT but nothing stating who is interested in being a mentor.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby pueppi on Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:37 am

MedmassLMT wrote:I am a member. There is an option to locate an LMT but nothing stating who is interested in being a mentor.


At the bottom of the link page I gave you there is an e-mail you can use to contact the AMTA about Mentoring:

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email Mentoring@amtamassage.org


If you find what you are looking for, please make sure and provide the info here, for other MT's who will probably also have the same problems finding the info as you did. :altwink:
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby JasonE on Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:29 am

You can find information about the Mentoring program under the "Career Guidance" tab, which takes you to this page:

http://www.amtamassage.org/professional ... index.html

Scroll down to find a link to info about the Mentoring program, click, and log in.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby rmt4u on Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:40 am

Back to the original question, How fast should my clientele grow?.
It should grow in proportion to the amount, and more importantly the quality of work you put into it, with the cavet sp? that it be the right location!!!!!!
meaning that you are working in a hair salon, i have never seen a therapist do well in an environment like that, yes you may get 6-10pts a week, but that is not that great, becuse you will probably cap out at that.
If you worked at a couple clinics in the area, all of differnt types, built up a following then opened up your own shop next door to the salon, keep it therapeutic, but comfortable and relaxing, not spa like, and drew pts from there and all your other locations, you would be closer to 20-30pts a week, and be able to have another 1 or 2 therapists working for you.

In your original post you say your a male, thats proffesional, so that shouldnt make a differnce, WRONG!.
I'm a male therapist as well, but i and my receptionist still here over the phone "oh i'd like a female pls" from new or returning pts. You just need to work hard to build up your skills, and you can become busier than other mts male or female.

You mention you didnt want to get cought up in those buisness sites? (or something like that). I started 12 years ago, and started using those sites as a refference, and a road map if you will. and i became very busy very quickly! i hired my first independent contractor in just 2 months (working 4 days a week she was up to 5 pts in 2 weeks, 20 pts in 2 mnths). my clinic that i own now averages 35 new pts a month since opening 6 years ago, our lowest mnth was 16 new pts (very reduced therapist availability, i was volunteering at the olympics), our busiest was 61!.

It sounds like you are doing alot of things right, but there is still more you can do, and be doing it smarter. take the advice of those above and get the help of a peer, not someone in your direct area, find the best some where that you will not compete with, they will be more willing to help. Also look at the best and busiest salon/spas anywhere, use them as an example, you dont have to come up with aevery thing your self, you just have to take what the best are doing and tweek it for your self.
Sorry if this came across a bit negative, thats not my intention.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby tranquilspirit2006 on Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:03 am

I worked in a hair salon doing massage for a while and it's a hard place to build a reliable massage clientele. Not impossible, but much harder. Doing free chair massage is ok but I've never found that giving away massage translates into paying customers on the table. I don't give away massage. I may *donate* time to a worthwhile group (ie, giving 30 minute gift certs to a local organization I feel strongly about supporting) but in my experience, people will line up at an event for free chairs but they don't value something they get for free. A decent number of the people that have won a donated gc I donated have come back for paid sessions, once I was able to get them in the shop, on a nice warm table with candles and music and really do a massage.

None of us do insurance billing or prescriptions and I don't ever care to. In almost 6 years, I've only had a couple of people even ask about it. I think that most people who are looking for insurance massage are not likely to go to a spa or salon, they're going to look at a DC or PT office. And those are going to be limited time clients, because insurance isn't going to cover their once a month massage forever. I have people that have been coming to me every 3 or 4 weeks since I started and they pay out of pocket. I have a few clients who wanted weekly massage so I offer them a contract that they pay $200 upfront and get weekly 1 hour sessions for 4 weeks. So they're paying $50 instead of $65 per session but they have to pay it all at once. They jumped at the offer. That's a nice chunk every time they renew their contract. This time of year, we all also offer 4 1-hour sessions for $200, and give them gift certificates to bring in whenever. It's a Christmas time only special. Some people buy for themselves, some people buy to give to 4 different people, some buy for spouses.

We've started doing FB specials on slow days which have had a great response. One day it was 'Bring a non-perishable food item in for a local food bank and get $10 off your appointment today". We've thrown it out there "This afternoon only, get a 30 minute massage or facial for $25 if you mention FB!!" One day we did half off any full priced service. Some are new people and some are old, reliable clients but it fills up an empty afternoon that otherwise may have remained empty. Pretty much, it's just non-stop self marketing and PR. Do you do hot stone or anything else? The more you can offer, the better.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby MedmassLMT on Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:03 am

I am taking everyones advise. I have found a mentor about 30 miles from me. We are just playing email tag now trying to set up a meeting and/or phone conversation. She is so busy that she is closed to new business. I do understand that a more clinical setting is where I need to be for the kind of work I want to do. However, I needed a place to start. I work for a commission split rather than a space rental. That way I can build a little without having to worry about losing money. The only clinics in town that would consider renting or commissioning a space are in chiro offices. I have spoken to sports medicine docs, PT clinics, and MDs, but none of them has shown the least bit of interest. I have worked in chiro offices, and I only end up with insurance patients that will not pay out of pocket. Once I have enough regular clientele to cover overhead in a new place, I will start to look into opening my own place. Thats not something that I ever wanted to do, but it would seem to be the logical next step at that point.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby pueppi on Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:17 am

MedmassLMT wrote:only clinics in town that would consider renting or commissioning a space are in chiro offices. I have spoken to sports medicine docs, PT clinics, and MDs, but none of them has shown the least bit of interest.



Consider plaing an ad for what you want in our For Rent and/or In Search Of & Want to Buy sections.

You never know who may have something to offer. :)
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby tiger snacks on Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:53 am

I work Monday-Friday 9-5 at a spa and 6-10 at my office Mon-Fri. And all Saturday and Sunday at office.

Crazy? No way. I get a massage every week, keep my hands stretched out, ice my hands, wrist, forearm, on busy days.

Studies show that successful people work an average of 60 hours a week, not 40 hours. There are several techniques that I have used to generate clientele every week. The most I've had in a week was 12 new people. And every single one came back. On top of this I'm a male therapist. Isn't it harder for males in the industry?

The point to all this is hard work. When I get home after a full day I still return emails, text, and chart/add emails to my database.. We have to work super hard our first year or 2 to get the ball rolling. Superior customer service, the will to heal people, client retention, professional website, phone service, member of chamber of commerce, charity work, community event chair massage, all this and more goes into being the best in your city and area.

Now I have to work on SEO so I can get my website to the top of google.

Cheers, hope this encourages you.
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Re: How fast should my clientele grow?

Postby Pete on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:31 pm

MedmassLMT wrote:She is so busy that she is closed to new business.


Not sure if you've considered this as I haven't read this entire thread, but I just wanted to chime in and make sure you're planning on discussing with her the possibility of taking on her overflow business (clients she would otherwise be turning away)...this could be a great opportunity for you both...
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