Massage Therapy Business Tips

How To Manage Client Relationships As A Massage Therapist

updated on

May 8, 2024

How To Manage Client Relationships As A Massage Therapist

Managing client relationships effectively is crucial for massage therapists aiming to establish a professional and enduring bond with their clients. Such relationships are the backbone of a thriving practice, influencing everything from client retention to word-of-mouth referrals. This article serves as a guide for massage therapists on how to navigate the intricacies of client interactions, ensuring both the client's satisfaction and the therapist's professional growth.

In this article, you will learn:

  • Techniques for active listening and crafting personalized treatment plans.
  • Strategies for enhancing client comfort and catering to individual preferences.
  • Best practices for client follow-up and using technology for convenience.

As we delve into the specifics, remember that the goal is to enhance your practice by building strong, positive relationships with each client.

Tips On How To Have A Professional Massage Therapist-Client Relationship

Follow these 6 steps to establish a professional relationship with clients, build a stellar reputation, and increase retention:

  1. Actively listen and ask pertinent questions.
  2. Focus on clients preferences.
  3. Respect boundaries.
  4. Give homework and self-care tips.
  5. Tell them when to schedule their next appointment.
  6. Follow up after an appointment.

6 steps to exceptional client care

Actively Listen And Ask Pertinent Questions

It’s essential to make time for real conversations with clients. When you’re short on time or seeing a regular client, it’s easy to skip straight to the massage without talking first - but that’s a mistake. Building strong relationships with your clients is key to client retention. That’s why before your client is on the table you should have a chat.

Before the massage begins, ask your client how they’re feeling and what they’d like to focus on today. Actively listen to what they say without planning your response. Then, repeat back to them what they said, in your own words, to make sure you understand. Ask questions if you need more information. Do an assessment, if need be. Then make a treatment plan.

These pre-session conversations are the first step in managing client relationships.

Focus On Clients Preferences

Massage therapy is all about customer service. Sessions should be catered to the needs and preferences of the clients, and it’s your job to learn what those are. Much of that information can be gathered in your pre-session chat, but some things you learn as you go.

These factors have the ability to enhance or ruin a massage:

  • Chatter. Don’t initiate conversation once your client is on the table, unless it’s relevant to treatment. Some of your clients like to chat. That’s fine, but leave it up to them to start the conversation.
  • Temperature: Some like it hot, and others can’t stand the heat. Always ask about the temperature, especially if you use a table warmer. Some clients may appreciate an extra blanket, while others sweat under anything more than a sheet. 
  • Comfort: Always ask if they’re comfortable. Does their back hurt lying flat? Put a pillow under their knees when supine and under their waste when prone. If they’re neck is bothering them, adjust the face cradle. Too congested to breathe facedown? Put them on their side. Many clients won’t say anything if you don’t ask. They don’t know you can fix the issue for them.
  • Scent: Many people are sensitive to fragrances, either in the air or on their skin. Once it’s there, it can’t be undone; so ask before you get started.
  • Expectations: Make sure you’re on the same page about the goal of the massage. If they just want to relax, don’t get carried away with doing very targeted work on that knot you find in their back. If they have something specific they want to address, start there instead of sticking to a normal routine.

Respect Boundaries

Managing boundaries with clients is a crucial part of being a good therapist. This ensures safety and trust for both parties. When managing this part of your client-therapist relationship, establish and respect the following boundaries:

  • Physical Boundaries: Always use proper draping, and find out what your client does and does not want massaged. 
  • Personal Boundaries: It’s common for clients to share their personal business with their massage therapist. Sometimes that stuff needs to come out before they can relax. Listen, but don’t ask deep questions, council or give advice.
  • Professional Boundaries: Don’t overshare. It’s normal to feel close with clients you spend hours of alone time chatting with, but you’re still providing a service. Keep conversations focused on therapy. When you do share personal details about your life, keep it surface level while in the treatment room.

The best way to manage client relationships is to establish policies for handling common scenarios and day-to-day operations. Create a plan for how to communicate expectations, write a cancellation policy, conduct client intake, and for how to deal with difficult clients. That way, when things come up, you know how to handle them. Plus, it’ll keep you compliant with legal and ethical guidelines for massage therapists.

Give Homework And Self Care Tips

When clients come to you for a massage, they want your insight. If you relieve pain or tension, instruct them on how to help maintain that feeling of well-being, improve their situation, or prevent the pain/tension from coming back. Give them self-care tips and make suggestions on stretches and exercises they can do - if that’s within your scope-of-practice.

Write it down for them. If you suggest a stretch or exercise, do it together before they leave to ensure they do it correctly. Make note of your suggestions when you write SOAP notes and create a treatment plan for massage therapy. This is all part of establishing yourself as an expert, and adding value to your service beyond the table. You can get a free SOAP note template here, if you need one.

Tell Them When To Schedule Their Next Appointment

Don’t let clients leave without telling them when they should come back. That’s key to getting clients to rebook and ensuring they meet their wellness goals. Base your suggestions off your assessment and their current goals.

If you offer a treatment package that makes regular sessions more affordable, discuss the details with them and explain their options. Offer to schedule that next appointment before they leave, and set up recurring appointments if it’s appropriate. If clients aren’t ready to schedule yet, let them know they can schedule online at their convenience. Using online booking makes it easy for clients to book on their schedule.

Follow Up After An Appointment

Communication shouldn’t end after the massage. Effectively managing client relationships requires staying in touch. At a minimum, therapists should follow up with new clients, as well as return clients with new issues or goals. Send a quick email or text to check-in with them and ask how they are feeling after their session.

Following up shows that you care. It’s an opportunity for clients to ask questions and share valuable feedback. If they’re feeling great, it’s a good time to ask for a referral or review. If they’re not feeling as well as expected, this is a chance to offer more self-care tips, adjust your treatment plan, or give them a referral if they need one. This is an essential step in providing exceptional care and building strong relationships with clients.

Why Is The Client-Therapist Relationship Important?

The client-therapist relationship is vital as it builds trust, ensuring effective communication and personalized care. This foundation enables therapists to better understand and meet client needs, leading to improved outcomes, satisfaction, and continued engagement in the therapeutic process. Plus, your relationship with clients impacts your work-satisfaction and personal fulfillment too.

5 Effective Ways To Communication With Clients

If you’re looking for effective ways to communicate with massage clients outside the treatment room, use massage therapy software like ClinicSense. This will make sending the following types of personalized messages much easier to keep up with:

  1. Personalized Emails
  2. Newsletters
  3. Wellness Check-Ins
  4. Appointment Availability
  5. Ask For Feedback & Reviews

5 ways to communicate with clients

Personalized Emails

As a massage therapist, using personalized emails can significantly enhance your client relationships. Tailor your communication to meet the unique needs and preferences of each client. Whether it's custom health tips, tailored appointment reminders, or thoughtful follow-ups post-session, your effort in personalizing these messages shows you care. This not only boosts client satisfaction but also keeps them engaged and loyal to your practice. It's a powerful way to demonstrate your commitment to their well-being and progress, solidifying trust and respect in your therapeutic partnership.


Utilize email marketing through newsletters to engage and inform your massage therapy clients. Focus on delivering content they value—be it wellness tips, motivational stories, or updates on special offers and new services. This approach transforms your newsletters into anticipated sources of valuable information, reinforcing your expertise while fostering client loyalty and satisfaction. By making your clients feel connected and valued, you strengthen your relationships and build a supportive community around your practice.

Wellness Check-Ins

Incorporating wellness check-ins as part of your customer service strategy can significantly enhance the client experience. These emails, sent to clients who haven't booked in a while, serve as friendly reminders that you're thinking of them and their wellness goals. Life gets busy, and sometimes clients forget to book. These check-ins help clients stay on track with their wellness plan. Far from being intrusive, clients often appreciate these personalized touches, viewing them as a testament to your commitment to their health. It's a simple yet effective way to show you care, building a stronger connection and encouraging clients to re-engage with your services.

Appointment Availability

Regularly sharing appointment availability through email is an excellent customer service strategy that benefits both your clients and your practice. Whether sent weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, it helps clients find and book essential last-minute appointments, and it ensures you stay fully booked. It's a win-win situation: clients appreciate the convenience and attentiveness you offer, while you maintain a steady flow of business. This method of communication demonstrates a commitment to accommodating your clients' busy lives while optimizing your practice's operational efficiency.

Ask For Feedback & Reviews

As a massage therapist, it's essential to ask for feedback from your clients. This practice isn't just about gauging satisfaction; it's a powerful tool for building stronger relationships. Open communication invites your clients to share their thoughts and experiences, making them feel valued and heard. By actively seeking their feedback, you not only gain insights into how to enhance the client experience but also demonstrate your commitment to personal growth and service improvement.

How Can Massage Therapy Software Help Manage Client Relationships -  And Improve Communication & Care?

Massage therapy software, like ClinicSense, streamlines client relationships and communication by automating tasks such as appointment reminders, wellness check-ins, and feedback requests. This ensures consistent, personalized communication without the need for manual tracking, enhancing the client experience and therapist efficiency.

It offers more than just communication and automation. Using online SOAP notes can help you keep track of client goals, monitor progress, and make note of personal details you want to remember next time you see them. Reviewing your notes before each session can significantly improve not just your treatment but the entire interaction. When you remember what matters to them, clients feel truly valued and understood. That’s the best way to strengthen your relationships. If you’re ready to build stronger bonds and manage client relationships efficiently, sign up for a SOAP notes free trial at ClinicSense.

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