Is it possible to grow a massage practice by focusing on existing clients more than new clients?


Debbie Landis knows it is.


Debbie started her massage practice in 2012. After graduating massage school, she worked at a massage clinic in town for two years before she felt she had the necessary experience and courage to open her own practice.


The beginning was rough, she freely admits.


“Getting new clients in the door and on my table was much more challenging than I realized.”, she shared.


It took time, but after nine months of building referral connections with local gyms, personal fitness studios, and a local walking club, she had enough clients to keep her booked an average of 10 – 12 hours a week.


It was a pretty good start, but she was really struggling to grow beyond this level and meet her goal to see an average of 22 clients a week.


“I was a mess. I was at that point where I needed to decide whether this was going to be a part time thing, or whether I was going to really commit to making this a business that could sustain my financial goals. It was a really difficult time.”


In her search for a solution to help her break through, a friend suggested she try using MassageBook, which promised a complete solution to attract new clients, increase return visits, and to streamline her growing administrative load.


“As I started exploring MassageBook, I’d have these thoughts like “oh, you know what would be really great to have…” – and then I’d see exactly that ability in there.  It was clearly put together by someone who really understands the challenges a small practice owner faces day to day.”


As she moved her practice away from paper towards letting software do all the heavy lifting, she immediately saw an increase in her appointment volume.


“My clients really loved being able to view my availability online and to book appointments on the web – there was an immediate increase in my appointment activity.”


While this helped get her closer to her goal, she realized she would have to do something more to actually reach it.


As it turns out, that something more was targeted marketing; sending a specific message to a specific person at a certain time.


How it began:


One day, as she was looking through her clients in MassageBook, she saw a lot of people she had only seen a few times that hadn’t come back since.  She realized that if she could only get 5 or 6 of those dormant clients back each week that she would meet her income goal.


“I was kind of shocked to see how few of my first-time clients weren’t coming back, but I couldn’t ignore the numbers on my business dashboard staring me in the face each day.


Soon afterward, Debbie decided to send out her first email to clients that hadn’t made an appointment recently in an attempt to get them to come back in.


She had seen that she could add “tags” to clients in MassageBook and had used them occasionally to identify some of the athletes she was seeing by their hobbies.


“ I just started tagging clients by their sports one day. You know, like “runner”, “crossfit”, “triathlete…”


But it wasn’t until she went to send her first email that she realized how powerful the tags she was applying to clients were.  She saw that she could use these tags when preparing a list of people to send an email to.


“I started off simple. I would select basic rules in MassageBook like preparing a list of all crossfit athletes who hadn’t had an appointment with me in six weeks. I would then send them specific articles related to common injuries I saw them having and how massage could help.”


The response was immediate as she had three crossfit clients book online by the time she logged into her MassageBook account the next morning.  Encouraged by her discovery of this tool, she began experimenting with more and different ways to send emails to her non-regular clients.


“It just works amazingly well. Now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I know what works and I can almost predict the booking response. My most recent discovery works unbelievably well. I look for local running races and send my runners an email the week before wishing them a good race, giving them a link to the race if they haven’t registered yet along with links to upcoming races, and letting them know I’m here for them before or afterward. I always get a great response.”


MassageBook makes it really easy to identify people in a client list not only by tag, but also by criteria like how long ago they had their last appointment, how many appointments they’ve had to date, how much money they’ve spent to date, and a number of other factors.


These criteria can be combined however you like –  for example, if you want to send a gift certificate promotional email to all the triathletes who you’ve seen at least three times in the last six months and whose birthdays are coming up within the next 20 days – you can do so easily.


And how’s Debbie doing today?


“I’ve hit my goal the last three months in a row. In fact, I’m getting to the point where I’m having to turn some folks away. Now I have to build breaks into my schedule to make sure I’m not overdoing it. I’ve learned that 22-25 hours a week is about the max I want to do. That equates to  little over $5,000/month, which is a great income for me.”


Does she have any final suggestions for others?


“ I think the important thing is to start somewhere. Even sending out a single email to a group of clients once a week is going to have a bigger impact than you think. Just seeing those extra bookings coming in each week gave me the encouragement I needed to do more and get more creative in targeting certain clients. All I can say is it’s a no brainer. Do it and you’ll get more repeat business. I really think it’s that simple. At least it is if you’re using MassageBook.“


Mark’s Note: Thanks Debbie!  Great of you to share your story with others.