If your state has allowed you to reopen your massage practice, helping clients understand how you will help mitigate the risks of COVID-19 as well as any new expectations or requirements you have in place, will be key to a smooth experience. Here are some tips to help you effectively communicate with clients during the COVID-19 era.
Communicate with clients before scheduling appointments.
The earlier you can start communicating with your clients what reopening means for both you and them, the better. Your clients are bound to have questions and will want assurance that you are following protocols that reflect guidelines required from your state and advised by health experts.
Revisit your client files and perhaps do some personal outreach to those you know will benefit most from massage therapy and are likely waiting for your practice to reopen—for example, those clients who came to you for help managing pain.
Doing some of this one-on-one work before scheduling any appointments may help you reconnect with clients in a way that feels personal and meaningful, and allows them the time and space to ask any questions they might have before visiting.
Share with clients what they can expect of you and what you expect of them.
Clients are going to want to know how the pandemic has affected your practice. Share with them any changes to how you’ll conduct massage sessions in the near-term. For example, how many clients will you be scheduling at one time? What will be the protocol between clients? Do you expect they’ll wash their hands prior to the massage session or use hand sanitizer? Should they come to appointments alone? Will you accept checks and cash or will they need to be able to pay electronically? Are you going to have specific, COVID-19-related health questions clients should be prepared to answer before coming for a massage session? What is your policy on cancellations and rescheduling?
These are just some of the considerations you need to think through as you update your business policies, and your clients are going to want to understand you’ve been thoughtful in your approach and have their safety as well as your own as a top priority.
For some of the top considerations for reopening, visit our COVID-19 and massage page where you’ll find information on each state’s requirements for reopening, as well as specific things massage therapists should consider for their practices.
Update current forms and consider making them available electronically for clients prior to an appointment.
You are going to want to eliminate as much extra contact as you can and enforce social distancing, so you may want to think about updating your forms to make it easier for your clients to fill them out online prior to coming for their massage session. There’s also the question of if you want to require any additional health information on your intake forms that would help you better plan a massage session.
If electronic intake will be something new for your clients, they may need some time to get comfortable with the online environment, so preparing clients early will go a long way in cutting down frustration.
AMTA members receive discounts on practice management software, including ClinicSense, MassageBook, and Schedulicity, which can help you update intake forms and gather more information electronically.
Be prepared to more frequently remind clients of policies and updates to your practice guidelines.
You are used to being in touch with your clients, but especially during the first weeks and months of reopening, you might need to reach out to clients more frequently to ensure they are aware of any changes both since they last visited and due to any state and/or federal guidelines that might change the way you practice.
Don’t assume your clients have the necessary knowledge or are staying up-to-date themselves. You don’t want to overwhelm them, that’s true, but consider setting automatic email or text reminders for upcoming appointments. Also, doing a weekly or daily update on your website that outlines new policies or changes to old policies is a good idea. These times are going to be challenging in their own way, and you want the experience to be smooth and comfortable for both yourself and your clients. Regularly communicating information across multiple platforms can really help.
According to an AMTA 2020 survey on Massage Therapy and COVID-19, 65 percent of respondents are communicating with clients via text message and 52 percent are communicating via phone call. These statistics suggest massage therapists are taking a personal approach to client communication, which may help reinforce the trust you’ve worked hard to build over the years.
Consider extra signage to reinforce your commitment to safe practice.
If you are in a state where your practice or spa environment is allowed to have more than one client visit at a time, you may need to develop signs that remind people in the waiting room to maintain proper social distance, along with moving chairs to the recommended six feet apart. If you are only allowing one client at a time, make sure they understand your system for entering your practice, whether it’s simply coming on time for appointments or waiting in their car until called.
Additionally, if you have multiple treatment rooms, think about creating signs to help guide clients to where they are expected to be without accidentally opening treatment room doors that are in the process of being cleaned between clients. Any signage that can help your clients both easily navigate your practice while also reinforcing your commitment to safety should be considered.
The massage therapy profession—and most especially massage therapists—have seen their way through uncertain times before, and they’ll do it again this time with COVID-19. In today’s environment, massage therapy is well known for some of its benefits and you have clients eagerly awaiting your doors to open once again. When you do, maintaining open lines of communications with your clients and anticipating the questions they will have will continue to be important now and in the future.