Setting up a Client Referral Program to Grow Your Massage Therapy Business


So, you’ve got your massage license and you’ve opened your massage therapy practice. You may have expected that the massage clients would just start to roll in, but the truth is that you have to proactively seek clients out. This can be done in a number of ways, but the quickest way to get early results is to start a referral network for your massage business. 

While all businesses can use referral networks to shore up their base of clients, massage therapy businesses in particular benefit from this practice. In fact, the American Massage Therapy Association estimates that over 90 percent of clients find a massage therapist from a referral by another client. This allows potential to get a trusted recommendation from someone that can speak first hand to the quality of a massage therapist that will do intimate work on their body. 

When learning how to start a massage therapy business, a good start is to think locally. Look at people who are located within a reasonable physical distance of your massage therapy practice. You can contact nutritionists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and even nutritionists and personal trainers who you can partner with. These medical providers may often refer their clients to massage therapists, and there is no reason that you cannot reciprocate referrals to each other provided that the relationship gets off on the right foot.

You also can offer your clients referral bonuses for referring you clients from their friends, family, and personal network. These bonuses can come in the form of gift cards, more comprehensive services, discounts on future massages, or even cash bonuses or a percentage of the service that you are providing. These can be customized to the type of referral you are working with, such as one who also uses a personal trainer or one who has more pain management or chiropractic needs. 

To build your client referral network, you also need to not just ask for referrals, but also facilitate them. This includes following up with clients who agree to refer business to you, and even offering to write an email or text message on their behalf to send to their connection. This message can serve to introduce you and your massage therapy practice to their connection and also allows you to take some pressure off clients who may not know how to approach someone in their network with this ask.

You’ll also need to follow up with the referrals to make sure that they follow through. Referrals often slip through the cracks for people, but in the early days, they can make or break your massage business. Offering increasingly generous incentives, such as credit toward a future massage, can go a long way in helping a client remember that they were intending on coming to your business after speaking to you about a potential massage.

Overall, those who want who are struggling in getting clients for their nascent massage therapy business should consider creating a referral network. Not only it is a great opportunity to get the word out there about your business, but it will also allow you to organize events, and help to create evangelists for your massage services. By doing this, you’ll not only be able to get more business, but you’ll also be able to build more loyalty with your existing massage clients and have them come back to for your services again and again. 

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