I first heard about the concept of the “Ideal Massage Client” in one of my early sessions with my supervision group. Creating a vision of who your ideal client is and working towards having a massage business that is filled with clients who are all ‘ideal massage clients’ is just another form of self care! One of the first things to do before starting a massage business is to take the time to figure out just who your “Ideal Massage Client” is. This is one of the key steps that is often overlooked. Massage Therapists want to start out just working on everyone and they do just that! It is a good way to start actually so that you can refine the concept of your Ideal Massage Client. Often you will not know what they look like until you find out who you do not like working with. Figure out what you want from knowing what you don’t want. An ideal client is different from a target market. Your target market will be a specific group of people like athletes, pregnant women, wounded warriors with PTSD or things like that.
It is important to work on only your ideal clients or work towards achieving that. I know that it isn’t always easy to do because of being faced with making a living. I can personally tell you that every step I take and took towards working with only my ideal clients, the more successful I became and still become. (Yes even after 23 years in the profession I am still revising and working toward working with only my ideal clients.)
Your ideal client will be very fulfilling to work with. You will do your best work when you feel fulfilled. Working with less than your ideal client will often leave you feeling drained and tired, frustrated and possibly even resentful. Some examples would be working with an insurance company that pays you significantly less than all the others or working with people who constantly hurt themselves in extreme sports and keep coming to you to repair the damage they are doing to themselves.
Your ideal client will also value what you do. When you can find those people you won’t have to educate them as much as they will already know the value of massage and how it can help their lives. When people value you they will show up on time and pay your fees even if you charge more than the average. They will most always be on time and will show up when scheduled. They will rarely cancel and if they do, the will willingly pay the cancellation fee.
You will feel inspired, uplifted, motivated and happy when working with an ‘ideal client’. You will look forward to their visits. They will send you all their friends and relatives WITHOUT any incentives from you!
When you are working on clients who are less than your ideal client – you will feel drained after working with them. You will feel resentful and may even feel like hurting them in some way, shape or form. (Yes it is hard to imagine a massage therapist who is supposed to be compassionate hurting someone, but I can assure you I have felt that way before myself and have worked with many massage therapists in supervision who have said the same.) It may be a client who is always late or always calls to cancel at the last minute or someone who always asks about getting a discount or forgets their checkbook or can’t pay until next week.
Saying No to a less than ideal massage client is the difficult thing though when you are faced with paying the bills. It may take working with these people for awhile until you are able to say No or it may get to the point where saying yes is much more painful.
I used to take insurance clients from a particular company that paid significantly less than all of the others – $50 less to be exact. The people who came in with that insurance were also most likely to want to just get massage for the benefit of getting massage. Most cases were not medically necessary. They had the misconception that all massage was covered mainly from years of getting contradictory info from their insurance company telling them that they did not need a prescription. I had tons of these people calling and very few of the clients from the higher paying insurance companies. My schedule was full of them so when someone did call I was unable to get them in. I finally started to say no to the people calling with the lower paying insurance. I had about a month or two that was slower than normal but now I am booked with people from the higher paying insurance company!
You have to remember though, that if you are just starting out and need clients, you might not be able to turn clients away. It is a process – getting your practice to the point that you can work only on ‘ideal clients’. You may also not know that someone is not an ideal client just from working on them once. It may happen over a course of time. As you weed out clients little by little and focus on working on clients that inspire and nurture you, you will be working more in integrity with yourself which is really what the whole law of attraction thing is about. The more you can make decisions that support you and set boundaries that support and represent your true values, the easier things will get. This does not necessarily mean you won’t have challenges. You will have many at that. The thing is that you will know right away what to do and what decisions to make. You can also help the process along and get support by starting your own peer group or working with a supervisor on an individual basis. I offer one on one Skype sessions to help you get clear on your vision and work towards having a schedule full of ideal massage clients.
- Create a vision of who your ideal client is: What do they value and appreciate?
My Ideal Client appreciates: _____________________________________
My Ideal Client Values: _________________________________________
- Take a look at clients who do drain you. People who always cancel or are no shows are one place to start.
- Can you start saying no to just one person a week and honor yourself?
- Share your experiences by posting a comment here or on Facebook.