Referral Incentives

Use Referral Incentives To Grow Your Massage Practice



When it comes to growing your massage practice, there are many factors involved. Two of the most important are referrals and repeat business. Today we are going to focus on referrals.

If you missed my mini coaching call the other day, I’m going to share two of my favorite referral incentives that we talked about in that Zoom call.

The first is my ongoing, evergreen referral incentive. I’ve offered this incentive for over 20 years. It’s easy, efficient, and effective. You can adapt this to be anything you want, but for me, I use the $10 off approach. This is how it works: If you refer a new client to me, you will receive $10 off your next massage. Simple.

Note: Words Matter. Please be sure to notice how I worded that. I didn’t say, “if you refer someone to me, I will give you ten dollars”. If you said that to me, I would take a stack of your business cards and hand them out to everyone! I would give your card to my barber, to my mail carrier, to the server at my favorite lunch spot, or to any random person I meet on the street. After handing out ten of your cards I would come back and ask you for $100 for referring those ten people. You will go broke that way.

No, what I said was, “If you refer a new client to me…”. A new client is someone that I have never worked with before who has come in and, not only received, but paid for their massage. Now that referral is a new client. And once you have referred that new client, then “…you will receive $10 off your next massage.”

So now that they have successfully referred a new client to you, they can schedule their next appointment to receive the $10 off. This is why I LOVE incentives more than deals or discounts. Deals and discounts are random and devalue your work. If you can afford to offer half off or some other random discount, people will wonder why you don’t just offer that all the time.

With incentives, it’s not random. They have EARNED that discount and I am happy to give it to them. The other thing I love about incentives is that they only cost you money if they are also making you money. Does that make sense?

Let’s crunch the numbers. Imagine you charge $100 for a one hour massage. Someone refers a new client to you who has just paid you $100 for the hour. Then the person who referred that new client comes back in and pays you $90 (after the $10 off incentive). So you just made $190 to do the two massages. Was it worth it? Consider also that the new client will continue to schedule ongoing appointments (at $100) which could add up to thousands of dollars. And it didn’t cost you any marketing dollars to find that person. You never would have found that new client without the person who sent you the referral. I would say, yes it was worth it.

The next referral incentive is: The 30-Day Challenge!

When you buy a new car, what’s the first thing you do? You tell all your friends. Am I right? Even if the car you bought is previously owned, but new to you. It’s still better than the clunker you were driving yesterday and you are excited to tell your friends, maybe even take them for a ride.

It’s the same with massage. Your client will never be more excited about finding a great new massage therapist than they are after that very first appointment. So, what are they going to do? They are going to tell all their friends. And you should help motivate them to do exactly that by offering a fun referral incentive!

Again, just to make the numbers easy to explain, let’s say you charge $100 for a one hour massage. Normally, with the ongoing evergreen referral incentive, you would have to refer 10 new clients to get the equivalent of a free massage (at $10 per referral). But as a first time client, we are going to sweeten the pot by offering this 30-Day Challenge. If you refer five new clients within the next 30 days, you will receive a free massage. Is it worth it? Let’s crunch the numbers.

Five new clients equals $500. Again, these are clients that you haven’t spent any marketing dollars to find, and if you do a great job, they will all continue to be recurring clients. Is it worth one hour of your time to give a free massage to the person who just helped you make $500 (plus thousands of dollars in recurring revenue)? I would say, “YES!” Yes, it is.

So you have to ask yourself, what’s the point? What are the practical applications to use referral incentives to grow your massage practice? Here are some helpful hints about referral incentives in general.

First, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. If you believe that your massage work is beneficial for your clients, why not advocate for yourself? You want to help other people, right? You can’t help other people if they don’t know how to find you. And the best way to be found is by being referred. We have all heard the old saying, ‘word of mouth is the best form of advertising’. Guess what? This is still true.

Also, you should have a good referral spiel prepared. Don’t stumble over it. It should be well rehearsed. It should also be meaningful, memorable, and maybe even educational. This is part of what I call, education-based marketing. We need to teach our clients to refer other new clients to us. Sometimes they don’t know they are supposed to do that. It’s our job to be sure they know, not only that they should be referring people to us, but also give them the tools to be referral machines.

You could say something like, “I don’t spend a lot of money on advertising so that I can keep my overhead low and keep my prices reasonable. I depend on people like you to tell other people about how my work has been beneficial to you, so I can stay in business. For example, Betty will receive $10 off her next massage for sending you in!” This is very general, but I would make it as specific as possible for the situation. And be sure to point out that they themselves have been referred (if they have been).

Or if someone says, “I love your work” or “you do great work,” then they have just made the conversation about you, and it’s OK to ask for referrals. You can now say, “I appreciate that you said that. In fact, it would be great if you shared that with someone else who you think might benefit from the work I do.” Then hand them a few business cards.

Another helpful hint, especially for the 30-Day Challenge, is to make it FUN! Everyone loves a good challenge. Just don’t be too overaggressive about it. When you are explaining the rules of the 30-Day Challenge to Wilma, you can throw down the gauntlet by adding (in a fun way) that “Betty is crushing the 30-Day Challenge! You are the third person she has sent in and she still has two weeks left. So if you have mutual friends with Betty you should try to get to them before she sends them all in because only one person can get credit!” But beware. When Wilma asks who Betty has sent in so far, you can’t tell her. We have to adhere to privacy laws for ethics reasons. And never make anyone feel bad about not ‘crushing’ the 30-Day Challenge. Not everyone wants to play your game.

One question I get a lot is, what if they don’t quite succeed in referring five new clients? What if they only get four, or three? That’s OK. Evergreen referral rules still apply. $10 off for each new referred client. So if in the next 30 days, your first time client sends you four new clients, they still get $40 off their next massage. This is still good for them, and good for you.

Another technicality, what if they send in five new clients but it happens in 32 days? Well it depends on a few things. Did it take 32 days because I didn’t have an open spot for their referral? If they tried to get in, but I didn’t have space on my calendar, it’s not their fault. I probably would still give it to them. Use your best judgment. Keep in mind that the five new referrals will watching closely to how you handled the situation to determine if they will continue to send you new referrals as well.

So I use the 30-Day Challenge as a first time client incentive. Partly, as I said, because it is part of the education-based marketing that I do. And partly, because they are seriously motivated after that first massage session. But you could use it anytime you want. It can be a grand opening special. Or a post-COVID re-grand opening special. You can use it as a Black Friday incentive. Meaning you can say, for the month of November you will offer this 30-Day Challenge. Whoever refers five new clients in the month of November will get a free massage (or a free one hour gift certificate to give away). Keep in mind that a gift certificate given away is potentially another new client.

The other thing you need to keep in mind is that all of these new clients coming to you in the month of November are potential purchasers of gift certificates for the holidays!

Let me crunch some numbers one more time. If you get five of your current clients to crush the 30-Day Challenge that means you will have 25 new clients. You can then offer each of those 25 new clients the 30-Day Challenge (from the date of their first session). If each of those 25 crushed the Challenge, you would have an additional 125 new clients, which means that you would have to hire another person to handle the overflow! While it’s not realistic to think that everyone will crush the Challenge, a bunch of them will. And even if some of those new clients only refer one or two new people, you can see how this will add up very quickly and fill your massage calendar!

So these are my two favorite referral incentives. Again, I would encourage you to adjust them to suit your own needs. The important thing is that you are educating your current clients to be referral machines. We will talk more about exactly how to find these new client, and how to educate your current clients to send you the right people.

I’m going to leave you with one more important piece of marketing information that relates to referrals. It’s the ultimate marketing question.

The Ultimate Marketing Question:

Would a consumer recommend your product or service to their friends?

If the answer to this question is YES, you will run a successful and profitable business. If the answer is NO, you need to fix your product or service or you will go out of business quickly and painfully.

Good luck to you. Let me know if I can be helpful to you in any way.

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