Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, March/April 2008. Copyright 2008. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
I consider my practice successful when I see a high rate of repeat clientele. I know not every customer who visits me will return right away, but my current retention rate is that 90 percent of my clients visit again with three months. In my mind that is very successful. I worry less about finding new clients and trying to constantly bring in other customers when I am confident my current clients are well satisfied, enjoying their experiences, and seeing benefits in all aspects of their lives.
I am often surprised by my clients, especially the new ones, who come in saying, "You are the hardest person to get an appointment with!" Quite often these clients were given gift cards or referred by other clients. It shows that word of mouth is still the best recommendation. I work in an area 30 minutes from home, where there are quite a few places to receive a massage, but I have a steady flow of clients and a good amount of regulars. I have been in business for almost eight years. It is nice to have good feedback like that.
A signal that made me feel successful in my practice is the compliments I hear from strangers referred to me about my success in working with individual clients. Word of mouth is the greatest sign of success. It is one thing to tell someone you enjoyed and benefited from a session and it is another to boast about it and spread it and encourage others to seek it.
My practice includes acupressure treatments. My clients have received great benefits from the power of energy movement. Getting down to the root of success for my practice was about connecting with clients' needs and offering them support and a setting that would give them the opportunity for "me" time during their treatment.
Victoria, British Columbia
If you asked 10 therapists to evaluate the success of their practice, you might get 10 different answers. Many may state that their main goal is earning a high income. While I want reasonable monetary success, I believe the greatest success in my practice has nothing to do with money. Hearing a thank you from a client leaving with a relaxed body after coming in for a much-needed therapeutic massage is at the top of my list. When a client returns again and again, then refers family and friends to you, life is good. When a client who has suffered with migraines for more than 25 years tells you how much she looks forward to your treatments, and you see that appreciation in her eyes, it is better than any $20 tip. I enjoy having new massage students come to me asking their list of 20 questions about my perspectives on massage--meaning the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all. These students allow me to reflect on my career and look into my heart to see where I am and where I want to be. Massage is a wonderful practice, not a job, because the therapist can draw a healing from the positive energy flowing in the room while he works his skillful hands in touching the client's spirit, mind, and body in a positive way. My success is signaled by one simple aspect: tuning into the needs of my clients and putting that as a priority for the hour they spend with me. If I focus on this fact, the rest shall follow.
Roger D. Werstler
In one week, I am opening a 5,000-square-foot spa and salon and I am so excited to say we also have a spa, salon, and studio just for kids. As a therapist for nine years and working with a lot of pain management and stress related disorders, I have found that most people never learned as children to breathe, let go, and relax. At the Spa, Salon, and Studio on Ashley for kids they will learn to do just that. We offer Totsage (massage for kids), manicures, pedicures, and yoga and Pilates classes. To me, as a therapist, success is to "prevent," and by reaching children and teaching them how to listen to their bodies, not internalize their problems, and prevent future stress related problems, is when I can say as a massage therapist I feel like I have reached the ultimate success.
Success is having clients who become regulars by consistently rebooking (weekly or monthly) and have referred their friends and relatives. I also offer several modalities in which I have specialized training: massage therapy, reflexology, reiki, and craniosacral therapy. These tools have been very helpful in bringing in new clients, many of whom become regulars.
For me, after 12 years working as a massage therapist, professional success is marked by several things: clients who keep regular appointments, those same clients referring others, and seeing new clients each month, all of which contribute to my business success. Seeing my practice thrive by offering a valuable service to others helps me grow personally, nourishes my soul, and boosts my self-esteem.