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Am I too available?
Talking to a fellow massage therapist last week, we were discussing booking in clients and how some clients will try and book an appointment on the day. As massage is not my only job I often have some free time in the evenings so when I first set up as a practitioner I never said no, I would change my life around to accommodate the client. I found I was juggling home life in order to put my clients first.
I grew up in a family run business and always believe the customer comes first! This is true to a point but you can’t rearrange your life to fit in with a client. You and family have to come first otherwise you will end up running on empty and only doing a half hearted job. This is what happened to me, I was exhausted and not home much, always running from client to client. I felt happy to do this and all I focused on was keeping clients happy because this made me happy but the balance was off. Eventually I started to hate getting in my car to go to the next client and felt pressure to always be available.
Once I realised this things started to change and my clients changed too. The first time I said no I had a panic that they would want to go elsewhere but they were fine to arrange a time that suited me better. From then on I decided to have three evenings a week that I would have for massage. It is not set days but once I get bookings I try and arrange that week to be limited to three days. My life is back in balance and I am enjoying my clients again and back to getting the buzz from helping them.
I had an eye opener moment when someone I knew asked if she could pop round that day for a massage – I really didn’t have time and did consider rearranging things to fit her in. Then I remembered and politely explained that I didn’t have space until the following week – which was true. Her reply was
“Wow, I didn’t realise you got that booked up – you must be good”
That was what I needed to hear to make me realise that I was doing the right thing.
Words we use can be so powerful so it’s important to be professional and be prepared to tell clients to wait (if they need to), or explain they were lucky to get a massage on the same day as booking. Now when I get clients call and ask about a massage on the same day – if I am free, I don’t like to make myself sound too available so I will let them know that its very unusual but I do – or that i’ve had a cancellation and now available. The worry is if you make yourself too available clients will always expect it and you run the risk of becoming worn out if you do it too much.
Obviously if someone is in pain and desperate that is a different matter and as I am a sucker for a sob story I would do my best to rearrange my life to help someone in need.
It feels so liberating to not worry about clients feeling let down, most realise I have a busy clinic and are happy to wait and once they realise I can’t book them the same day they tend to book in earlier which also leeds to my home life balance being better too.
I think too often I have bent over backwards to accommodate clients that I ran the risk of not being treated as serious therapist, even though in my head I was doing my best to help as many people as possible.
I would love to hear your stories of how you organise your clients, do you have similar problems?
Either comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org