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Bodywork Buddy Blog

Bodywork Buddy: business management software for the solo therapist that keeps you organized and makes tax time a breeze.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Series: How To Set Your Massage Referral Program On Fire / Part 3

Last week, I covered tip #2 of setting up a successful process to set your referral program on fire.  Now that you've got a process implemented, (you do have a process implemented, right?) let's move on to #3 in the series.

Referral Fire Starter Tip #3: Reward the Referrer

Many people will come up with a name or two if you ask them for friends or acquaintances who might be interested in your services. But promise them a reward of some sort, and they’ll suddenly think of long-lost aunts and former roommates who are in the market for someone just like you.
Before you sign away your hard-won profits, though, read these five tips for creating a great referral rewards program:
  1. Reward based on QUALIFIED referrals. What’s worse than having no referrals at all? Having a notebook full of unqualified leads.  One mistake I had made when I first started my referral program: I didn't put any stipulations on gift cards.  (The thought hadn't even crossed my mind). That is, until I had a client buy several gift cards for friends, and then expect a free massage for referring those people.  (Before the referrals even came in to redeem their gift cards.)  While you may be thinking, "hey! you still got paid for those gift cards, so what's the harm?".  Well, the whole point of my referral program was to get new clients.  (As we all know, not all gift cards get redeemed!).  So while I may have made a quick buck selling those gift cards, that situation didn't accomplish my goal and therefore didn't warrant rewarding the client.

  2. Reward related items. Offering a free oil change for anyone who sends five new clients to your massage therapy business? Umm, no.  (This one is probably a no-brainer.)  Make the reward fit your business model for continuity and branding; it’s just one more way to make your image stronger.

  3. Reward quickly. Waiting a few months or even weeks can delay the action-reward cycle. When people are rewarded quickly, they are more likely to repeat the behavior so they can get rewarded again.

  4. Reward intermittently, too. While it’s important to have a set reward schedule (for instance, $20 credit for each new client who schedules a session with you), it can be powerful to send “surprise” rewards as well. Once a quarter or so, send a thank-you email, coupon, or small gift as an additional thanks. These small surprises solidify your program in your clients’ minds.

  5. Reward the referred party as well as the referrer. While it’s great to reward the client who refers new people to you, it’s equally important to reward the new client. Regulars will be much more likely to tell their friends about you if there’s something in it for the referral as well. You can offer $10 off for the new client as well as for the referrer. Then it’s a win-win-win for you, your current and your future clients. 
Do you already reward your clients for referrals?  What reward has worked well for your business?

Don't forget to check in next Monday for tip #4.

Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling

She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 13 years.

                                                                       Incentive photo:


  1. My referral program is that I send a £5.00 voucher to the client that has referred a new person to me, rather than getting their details and trying to get them to come for a massage etc. I always ask how they find out about me.

  2. The new client gets $10 off their first massage, and the referrer gets an extra 10 minutes on their next massage after the new client comes in! Everyone wins.