Just what drives massage clients to keep coming back to your massage practice or spa? A focus group study conducted in 2007 in New Zealand sought to find that out. In “Why Do Clients Keep Coming Back for Massage,” which ran in Massage Today last year, contributor Sandra K. Anderson explores some of the findings of the study. The focus group study conducted by phone included such questions as:

  • What generally prompts you to go for a massage?
  • What results do you receive from massage therapy?
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  • Does massage therapy have a long-term benefit for you?
  • How does massage therapy add value to your life?
  • What is key in your decision to continue to have another massage?
  • Why would you choose to discontinue massage therapy?

The study found that driving forces behind continued massage included:

  • Massage therapy used for health management
  • Treatment goals were met
  • The occurrence of regular appointments
  • Experience described as positive -- therapist relationship, effective touch and a proactive approach to health maintenance

The study drives home the point that to keep massage clients coming back, you need to understand why they are coming to you in the first place by asking questions and explaining what you are going to do and how well the massage will meet their needs. From there, make the experience memorable.

Provide an experience clients won’t soon forget

The ambience and aesthetics of the environment contributes a lot to making the massage experience memorable. Your choice of wall colors, reception area furnishings, and the music you play during a treatment all make a difference in feeding a client’s senses and leaving a lasting impression. Even little extras like placing a hot pack on your client’s back or a pillow or rolled towel under the neck go a long way toward making clients feel comfortable and wanting to return for more.

Choice of lubricants is becomingly more important to clients who may have preferences for organic products or allergies to certain ingredients, such as nuts. The type of essential oils you use is playing a greater role in massage to alleviate pain and create a greater sense of well-being.

Since the customer is and will always be king, don’t overlook the need for outstanding customer service. It can start with making it easy for clients to book appointments online and email reminders to rebook appointments. Don’t always rely on the Internet to keep in touch; make it personal. Call to confirm appointments or reschedule if something comes up, send holiday and even birthday and anniversary greetings, and drop notes or call clients who haven’t been in for a while just to say “hi, we’ve missed you.

If you want to keep clients coming back, remember – keep it meaningful and keep it memorable.