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As the New Year gets underway, your schedule may include many first time massage therapy clients taking advantage of the gift card or gift certificate to your spa or massage practice that they received over the holidays. Some will be anxious about their first visit, even if they are looking forward to the pain relieving benefits or relief from tension and stress. After all, the prospect of taking off one’s clothes to receive a touch-based therapy can be intimidating.

Keep this in mind and also prepare your staff for first-time massage clients. The goal is to make new clients feel comfortable from the minute they walk through your door. A smile from someone at reception can begin the process of putting someone at ease. Your front desk team should also be prepared to point out the basics of our spa or massage practice, including where clients can change, where the bathrooms are, and where they can get a beverage while they are waiting. While you don’t want to get into sell mode right away, during the introduction to your facilities, you also can point out your retail selections.

Personalize the experience

During intake, you have an opportunity to start building trust with new clients and help them overcome any concerns they have about what’s going to happen and what they need to do during the session. You’ll want to find out about their problems and expectations for the massage, recent injuries, chronic health issues, eating habits, amount of exercise and any allergies or sensitivities that you need to know about to help you in selecting the right lubricants to use during the massage.

You’ll also want to share your philosophy about the type of massage you recommend and what type of results they should expect. Once you determine the type of massage, provide recommendations for self-care at home after the session so that the benefits of the treatment continue.

Regarding disrobing, discuss draping so that modest clients will feel less apprehensive about the session and relax more to enjoy the treatment.

There are other things may need to address to put a client at ease through this first session.  First-time massage clients may be concerned but hesitant to ask about:

Talking – You want clients to forgot about their worries and day-to-day obligations and unwind. Tell them to close their eyes and relax. If they still are feeling uncomfortable or nervous and start to chat, encourage them to concentrate on their breathing in and out. Some clients might like to wear wireless headphones to listen to own music.

Participating - Clients may wonder if they need to help you when you move or lift part of their body. At the onset of the session, explain that unless you request their help, they should leave it all to you.

Speaking up – Clients should give you feedback during the session. They should let you know if they are uncomfortable about pressure you are applying, room temperature, comfort of the table and even if they don’t like the background music. Also advise them to let you know if they are experiencing any pain or discomfort.

The goal of the initial massage is to put your new clients at ease and start building a relationship that encourages them to keep coming back.