Picture this. A 36-year-old nurse and mother of two decides to rebook a massage therapist for the weekend. That is, after enduring migraines and missing work all week to care for her toddler, who just recovered from a flu.
She considers two skilled massage therapists in the area:
LMT 1 is instinctive to pain, specializes in trigger point therapy and works her hands like magic. Truly a professional and focused on her work.
LMT 2 is also spot on with her trigger point therapy but customizes a massage package for migraines and relaxation. Plus, she’s comes across very warm and relaxing. She also follow-ups her clients and sends beautiful emails newsletters with promo deals.
Both massage therapists are skilled and experienced. But the client went for LMT 2. She weighs in on both and the benefits are obvious.
So how do you stand out among a pool of outstanding massage therapists in your area? The edge lies in your communication skills.
Massage Therapists as Good Communicators
The world of massage therapy, it filled with methods and principles of healing and relaxation—that clients don’t fully understand until they receive a massage for themselves.
Sometimes we fail to help them understand this though our marketing efforts and because we are time poor ourselves, we don’t always get the chance to put much effort into communicating and connect with the different types of clients we treat on a daily basis.
Then we wonder why our skills and achievements fail to resonate.
Good communication skills are essential to success. As a massage therapist, you are required to:
Be discreet, trustworthy and professional
Make long-lasting impressions
Engage with your clients in person
Communicate through touch and palpation
So how do you show your clients you understand them? Forget about marketing jargons first. The backbone of all this is simple—it’s your communication skills.
For starters, here are some tips that can help improve your communication skills and as a massage therapist you can trust me when I say good communication is your best marketing strategy.
1) Practice Active listening
Consider the client and massage therapist relationship.
When your clients come in for their massage treatment you’ll first have an initial consultation or review since their last session to update treatment notes.
And as i’m sure that you are well versed in this part of the massage session, you’ll probably know what questions to ask, like:
“What made you seek a massage today?”
“Can you tolerate deeper pressure here?”
“How have you felt since your last treatment”
“Have you had a massage before?” And the list goes on.
This casual talk seems routine but it can be the basis of your client’s relaxation and healing process just because they feel comfortable with you.
If you’ll listen carefully to your client, it will be easier to lay out the succeeding massage methods you’ll use and if you want practice active listening then following steps can help:
Listen intently and pay full attention
Don’t interrupt a client who’s talking
Give a response or feedback to confirm that you understand what they mean
Ask questions or respond with a follow-up to learn more
Offer your solution and ask the client’s opinion and approval on your plan
Remember that your clients want nothing more than to feel comfortable with you as their massage therapist and confidence can only be built as you lead the conversation with proper communication.
2) Read and Respect body language
Sometimes, the same set of words can mean something different depending on how a client says it, so you’ll need to consider 2 things:
The words that are said, and;
Does the body language match
As Glenn Wilson writes in his book, Introducing Body Language:
“Where body language conflicts with the words that are being said, the body language will usually be the more ‘truthful’ in the sense of revealing true feelings.”
Communication is both verbal and non-verbal. As a massage therapist, when you are able to read cues, thoughts and sentiments beyond what people say, you have a clear advantage.
Because sometimes, clients may not be willing to share or tell the truth and that’s fine just sharpen your awareness and learn to read between the lines.
This way you can make adjustments and meet the expectations of even non-verbally responsive clients.
Also, watch out for your body language too, you may not notice that your shoulders are shrugging, you’re always looking away (to your phone or at the clock perhaps) or you simply just look tired.
In every session focus on your work and the client and respect your client’s time.
3) Adjust your speaking style
Every client is different. So adjust your voice tone, pitch, speed and even the words you use depending on who you are communicating to: elders, moms, millennials.
The warmth, care and calmness in your voice can make all the difference in helping your clients relax before and during their treatment with you.
To help the conversation go smoothly it’s better if you can adjust the way you speak to match their style.
Some clients prefer to speed things up, others want you to repeat what you say to process things better. Be patient with either and any speaking style. Speak in a way that makes your client comfortable.
4) Be empathetic
An excellent way to be an empathetic massage therapist is to mirror a client’s emotions. Try to feel excited when they are sharing something exciting or show concern when the other person is worried.
It does take a bit of work and energy on your part but being empathetic not only makes you a good massage therapist, it makes you a likeable person.
Your clients will be drawn to rebook knowing that ‘here’s someone who truly understands me, and not just anyone who cares about the hourly rate.’ Just be genuine!
5) Be an expert on your Specialty
Some clients are very inquisitive about massage and ask questions like the history behind massage therapy or the science behind every modality.
You don’t have to be a text-book junkie to be a good massage therapist. But your intellect and knowledge in the field can help build your reputation as an expert.
Clients will trust you more if you can try your best to give a meaningful response to even the most trivial question. Don’t hesitate to share your knowledge. As a massage therapist, who can best advocate the profession than you?
Show them why you are one of the best massage therapists in town by professionally communication the knowledge you have and relate it back to how you can help them.
6) Be honest and ask questions
Massage therapy is a scientifically growing field, backed by many years of studies and research so be honest with what you know and don’t make false assumptions much less exaggerate claims.
Respect the gaps in your knowledge if you’re asked a question you don’t have the answer to and find out the answers for the next visit with your clients. It’s also good to ask your clients how much they know about massage therapy to gage their level of knowledge as well as general questions about them to start building rapport and trust as well as assisting the muscular ailments.
7) Have good intentions to help
Most massage therapists who’ve entered this profession see it more as a vocation than a career. It’s their calling! With great desire to help others, they don’t feel the effort they put into their work because their intentions are clear: to help others.
Whether it’s to help a client relax, relieve pain or complement recovery from an ailment, be clear on your intentions and offer your sincerest help.
Assume your clients mean well too. Don’t make assumptions about clients based on your past experience. It’s easy to fall into a routine and learn from your worst clients behaviour.
Unless you have verified the facts about their situation and conduct, or they disrespect you, give them the benefit of the doubt and respect every client.
8) Follow through on your promises
You were able to communicate well with your clients during your sessions together and you also managed to help them relax or relieve their pain. But you said you’d follow up on them after a week, then you didn’t.
Good communication skills require consistency. If you don’t intend to follow up or this is something you just simply struggle with, then don’t say that you will. The bottom line is: don’t make promises to your clients you can’t keep. This is the best way to lose their trust.
9) Communicate with clients online too
Your online presence matters in your personal branding as a massage therapist. You always want that stay top-of-mind among you existing clients and prospects who know about you but haven’t booked as yet. When you are actively participating on your business social media profiles and responding to comment you only affirm your honesty and communication skills.
Your effort to reach out and keep in touch with your clients outside of their massage session, will only provide more ways for your clients and potential clients to reach out to book in a massage with you or ask and muscular related question which could then lead to an appointment being made. It’s important to allot time to engage your followers, like and shared posts, as well as posting interesting and engaging content yourself.
10) Never Stop Learning
Learn new skills and if you can, enroll in courses that interest you, whether it’s mastering new massage therapy specialties or improving your communication skills.
Studies say, acquiring new skills doesn’t just open up more opportunities for success, it also keeps you younger and sharper.
Do you know how some massage therapists can still have time for continuing education without missing their bookings?
They save time in streamlining work and business practices. Here at MassageBook, we offer simple yet powerful tools that help you simplify time-consuming tasks like, SOAP notes, allow online bookings, automated appointment reminders and email marketing to better communicate with your clients regularly.
This way you don’t get burned out with repetitive and cumbersome workloads. Most importantly you can use the time you save to do what you love—growing yourself, your practice and spending time with your loved ones.
Good Communications skills are achievable
In this social age we live in today, you get your message out by combining face to face interactions with digital connections—social media marketing, emails and other sites online.
But good communications skills start inside of you. It comes from the heart. It simply means making the most out of every opportunity to interact with a client, be it during your sessions, outside of your session or online.
When you are eager to help, and understand your clients you can easily deal with difficulties and other demands in this profession.
The advantage of these communication skills in marketing is that you will definitely stand out in your massage therapy specialty with the most powerful marketing weapon on your side: word-of-mouth.
Your clients will be proud to recommend you to others.
Finally, understand what kind of communicator you are. So you can work on improving your weaknesses and maximizing your strengths.
The edge to being a good communicator goes beyond being a massage therapist and in marketing, it boosts you in all aspects of life.
By Sheree Evans
Marketing and Relationship Guru at Massagebook.com