How to Keep Massage Clients Coming Back

I just finished reading Massage & Bodywork’s January-February 2017 online issue. The best article of the issue, in my opinion, was about why Massage Clients don’t rebook client sessions. The article was written by Tera Johnson-Swartz. She had some interesting reasons why clients don’t rebook sessions with you. I’m going to analyze the reasons below, plus, provide the best solution for how to keep massage clients coming back.

Here’s a summary of why clients don’t rebook:

  • Availability. This one makes a lot of sense. Massage clients want things to be convenient for them. When they are not, they look/book elsewhere.
  • Stuck in a Rut. Massage Therapist routines get a bit too predictable. (I’ll speak to this reason more below.)
  • Money Talks. Sometimes things get a little too expensive and a massage client may bump up against a financial threshold. For example, a Massage Therapist friend raises her rates $5 every year. (She does this to match the costs of inflation.) If I became a client of hers when her rate was $75 an hour, 3 years later, I’m expected to pay $90 for the same hour massage. That adds up and although I love her and her work, it might seem more affordable to find a new Massage Therapist.
  • Bad Blood. In a nutshell, this means differences of opinions, beliefs, values, etc.
  • Just Because. This reason is more of a blanket term for reasons that remain unknown.

Although I liked Tera’s reasons, I couldn’t help but have a sense of disappointment once I finished reading the article. The disappointment stemmed from her missing the #1 reason for why Massage & Bodywork clients don’t rebook.

How to Keep Massage Clients Coming Back

how to keep massage clients coming backIf you read the article and found yourself nodding your head when you read the section about getting Stuck in a Rut, you were on to something. Humans are funny creatures of habit (they like their routines) but it’s arguable that humans also like a little drama. Not a lot, just a little. Drama can add a little spice to life. It makes things more interesting, less predictable and more entertaining. The human interest in drama is why the entertainment business makes so much money.

Is being more dramatic a solution for how to keep massage clients coming back? No. (But it could help. Depends on the person.) But it’s part of it.

What gets your massage clients to rebook is staying 150% focused on them and staying curious about the what’s happening with their body.

Why do your clients come to work with you in the first place? The answer is different for every client but there’s always a reason. If you remind yourself of that reason each session, and you further inquire with each client, they will feel more cared about. Arguably, that’s part of the reason why they’re on your table in the first place.

I’ll use myself as the example. Over a year ago, I scheduled a massage with a practitioner in my town. My initial inquiry was about helping me heal from right shoulder pain. My Massage Therapist has since done amazing work. My results have been very substantial in pain reduction, increased range of motion, etc.

In the year that I’ve worked with my Massage Therapist, there has been an evolution and a transition of focus during our sessions. This is quite common. It happens to everyone. But there was a point where my Massage Therapist started focusing less on my physical pain and focusing more on my mental stress.

Our sessions are very different now compared to what they were 6 months ago. There’s more energy work integrated in each session. Though I appreciate the efforts, I sometimes wonder if my soft tissues are getting enough attention and ‘work’.

My Massage Therapist does check in and follow up post session. She does everything right except for staying curious about my needs. Right now, it feels to me, that her work is a reflection of what she thinks is best for me.

This repeated process (and not feeling like my needs are being satisfied) has peaked my curiosity about scheduling with a different Massage Therapist- someone more focused on soft tissue injury recovery.

Staying Curious About Your Clients’ Needs is the #1 Solution for How to Keep Massage Clients Coming Back

Keep your focus centered on their needs. Remind yourself of the results they want. Sort through your “Rolodex” of memories about the changes in their soft tissue. Tell them about what you notice, feel, or see. All of these things will have an impact on your client’s perception of each session with you. If they keep hearing about how things are getting better for them, they will continue to rebook.

Why do you think clients stop rebooking? Do you have a special strategy you implement to keep massage clients on your schedule? Let us know in the comments below.


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Comments 2

  • Dave KrajovicMay 24, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I love this article. These are the very conversations we are having at our healing center right now. I think you are right on about being stuck in a rut and not being curious. When that happens our massages become stale. We measure retention rate for new clients only as follows: what percentage of new clients rebook at least once within 90 days. What thoughts do you have on that metric? Do you have any data on what is best practice? So much is written about getting new clients and not enough is written about retaining the ones you do have. Thanks for this though provoking article.

    • ReidJune 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm


      Interesting question about your metric! In response, I have a question for you: why 90 days? I personally would pay attention to % of rebook rate in 30 days (but that’s only because my practice has always focused on clients who consistently do something for the Self-care). It’s always good to be clear on your vision, intention, and objective. The numbers can be a bit difficult because every client has a personal story and a schedule like no other. I’ve always believed that after each session, sharing a review of what was felt and addressed helps the client understand the health benefits of bodywork better- rather than just helping them feel less stressed. Our business is very relational and I’m not sure the data alone will be the best factor to client retention.

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