Building a successful therapist-client relationship begins long before the client lies down on the table. An attentive & experienced therapist knows this and takes it into account when he plans and prepares for his clientele. Here are some important points to consider:
The client’s experience begins at the first interaction.
Whether a client makes his appointment in person or over the telephone, the pleasant experience must begin there. Work to cultivate a warm, energetic, and pleasant environment. Focus should be on the client and making his or her service one that she/he will want to repeat. For example, try scheduling the appointment at the client’s convenience instead of a time that works well for the therapist.
A professional location sets the stage.
When choosing a therapist, clients prefer a business location that is safe and convenient (ample parking). We are located a small office park that has plenty of parking, and our associates make sure to leave the parking spaces in front our office door open for our clients.
Filling out paper work and waiting for appointments can be unpleasant, so prepare a comfortable waiting area to prepare clients for their upcoming service. Our waiting area is tastefully decorated and offers stuffed upholstered chairs, refreshments and reading material. We also offer custom apparel for sale that our clients can browse while they wait.
You are what you wear.
It is essential that the therapist dress appropriately to present a professional appearance. Some massage therapists wear scrubs but I find the look a little sloppy and it reminds me of the sterile atmosphere of a hospital. Because my practice also includes personal fitness training, I wear fitness or business-casual apparel customized with my business logo.
An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.
Rushing to prepare a room while the client waits can make him/her feel unimportant and start the service on a negative note. Conversely, preparing the room so that everything is ready when the client arrives sends the message, “I have prepared for you because I was looking forward to your being here.” We recently updated our massage room to include a large cabinet that holds sheets, towels, and face rest covers to help transitions between clients run smoothly. Have the registration forms ready on a clipboard with a pen. This is another way of saying ,”We are expecting you, and your unique needs are important to us.”
I use the time while they complete their paperwork to double check the massage room. Our most popular massage features hot stones and aromatherapy. I now have a chance to make sure the stones are clean and hot and that the aromatherapy oil is at hand. Searching for components of the massage gives the impression that the therapist is inept and unprepared. The double check helps guarantee good service!
Take time to get to know new clients.
Therapists should greet new clients with a smile and a handshake. When the paperwork is finished, look it over for information that may help give an appropriate massage. We always ask new clients what is going on with their bodies. Their answers also give clues to the best way to help their bodies. As we leave the waiting area, point out the water cooler and the rest room for his/her convenience.
The massage being helpful and pleasant is the crucial factor in the equation From the minute the client and the therapist engage one another the therapist’s attention must be focused on the client. The client must feel that the only person on the therapist’s mind is him or her and that the entire purpose of the massage is for his comfort and wellbeing.
Acknowledge your limitations.
It is important that clients understand the limits of therapy and therapists. I tell them I am a great therapist but a terrible psychic. I count on them to tell me if they are hot or cold, if the pressure is too intense or not strong enough and other information that only they know. Maintain focus on the client. If they want to talk, do so, but answer briefly if they ask you questions about you. The massage is always about the client!
The client’s experience shouldn’t end just because he/she has left the office.
After the massage the therapist may make suggestions about future visits if the client’s condition warrants it. Such suggestions should be just that. I avoid trying to pressure the client to reschedule at this time. A hard sell can make the client uncomfortable and ruin the feeling the massage has created. The therapist, no matter how good, cannot afford to neglect a client. Each deserves attentive service from the first encounter, the initial arrival at the office, the massage itself and the final interaction between the office staff and the client. At each juncture there is a possibility of sabotaging the therapist-client relationship. Care must be taken to insure that each interaction is handled with the end in mind, proper service that leaves the client happy with the service he or she receives.