Do you feel like your massage therapy career has plateaued? Are you looking for new clients to bring fresh life to your practice? Consider establishing a client referral program. Referral programs allow benefits for both the client and the massage therapist. For the therapist, it is an opportunity to enhance one’s income while growing a client base. Referral programs can bring the massage therapist thousands of dollars in new business. For the client, it is an opportunity to receive discounted or free massages through referrals, and to accumulate more massages at a discounted rate.

Client Referral Programs: Client Referrals and Professional Referrals

A therapist-client referral program is a win-win referral program. When a client makes a “word of mouth” referral and sends a new client the therapist’s way, the therapist will send the client a thank you note with a voucher for a discount off their next treatment—often around $8, according to Massage Magazine.  Although this may seem like giving money away, the therapist is actually increasing income as his or her loyal clients begin advertising through word of mouth. There are many ways to reward clients, from writing clients actual checks based on the business they send in, to punch cards awarding a free massage when a certain number of referrals are achieved.

Massage therapists can also increase their client base by setting up referral programs with other therapists, physicians, and body workers. Such recommendations are known as Mutual Business Referrals. This referral program is focused on a “You refer me, I refer you” dynamic. Individuals from different professions exchange business cards and send clients along based on client needs. For example, if a client were to express tense shoulders to their primary care doctor, the doctor could send the client to a massage therapist with whom the he or she has a mutual business referral system set up. Therapists can also recommend other therapists with specialized massage niches that would benefit a certain client.

If you opt to create an MBR schema, it should be noted that it is quite important to be familiar with the practices of those they are referring. One good way to assess MBR partner quality would be to trade sessions. For example, you could trade a massage treatment for an acupuncture treatment. It is key to maintain good standing with those in your referral group by holding regular meetings and by maintaining a steady flow of referrals.

Legal Matters for Client Referral Programs

Monetary awards, in the form of a coupon or discount in exchange for a client referral, are not allowed in all states. Massage therapists and students should be mindful of the laws in their state regarding coupons and vouchers for massage. Students attending a Washington Massage School or planning to practice in the state of Washington should be especially aware of this, as monetary awards for massage therapy are illegal in Washington. To avoid any legal issues, it is vital that new massage therapists research the laws regarding monetary awards within their state.