Imagine the feeling clients have when they first arrive for their massage and how that is created.
The friendly face that greets them at the door, the aroma that surrounds them as they enter the room, the choice of decorative and paint colors, furniture and lighting—all of these, together, tell a story of the senses.
This sensory experience begins even before the treatment has started.
With only seven seconds to create a great first impression, the senses play an integral role in building a lasting client relationship.
The difference between success and failure can pivot on these first few moments. With more than 15 years in the hospitality and wellness industry, I have experienced first hand the undeniable power of a first impression and the role the five senses play.
Here are five first-impression tips that cater to the senses:
1. Your First Impression: Sight.
What the client sees first often dictates his lasting opinion. The client’s experience begins the moment he steps out of his car, visually taking in the neighborhood, the building, walkway and entrance of your practice.
This is why your entryway should be clearly marked, well-manicured and easily accessible. Start by greeting your client with your eyes. A genuine smile shows through the eyes, and by maintaining strong eye contact you can create an immediate connection with your guest.
Most importantly, dress for the occasion. A clean and professional appearance can make all the difference. A uniform clearly identifies a staff member and creates a professional and trustworthy relationship from the moment a client arrives.
A massage table can be a vulnerable place, and a uniform creates a professional image that can help put the client at ease. A uniform also creates a sense of pride and professionalism that reflects upon the wearer. You stand up straighter, act more courteous and conduct yourself in a more professional manner when wearing a uniform.
Because we all come in different shapes and sizes, it is important to select a style of uniform that suits your figure. Choose one made from soft, stretch fabrics that will allow you to work comfortably and move freely. It can be disruptive to adjust your tunic or remove a jacket or blazer during a treatment, so you want to ensure that your top is breathable and comfortable for the duration of the session.
Massage is a sensory experience, and the sound of a jacket or sweater can cause the client to feel uncomfortable as he lies on the table.
A fitted tunic or top is best for massage therapy as it will allow you to avoid excess fabric draping across the client as you reach and move around.
Styles that have side-slits are perfect for increased range of motion and are flattering on a curvy body type, while longer, knee-length styles look fabulous on taller women, especially when paired with a compression legging.
Consider important details, such as industry oils and other products that will touch your uniform, and select a durable style that will work as hard as you do.
It is important to select coordinates that are comfortable and can support your muscles for long hours spent on your feet, such as pants or compression leggings that are made for the way you move.
Depending on your climate, appropriate-length shorts or a long dress could be suitable, as long as there is no unnecessarily exposed skin that could brush against the client.
Comfort is key, and minor tailoring can always ensure that you find the right tunic to suit your business needs, body type and personal style preferences.
Welcome your guest into your space with a handshake, the universally accepted signal of professionalism. Connection through touch is your business, so begin with a strong introduction and inspire a sense of safety and calm.
Touch also extends to the choice of linens on your table.
Your table linens must be functional, but also reflect the quality of your service by being soft to the touch and relaxing for the client.
When you first meet a client, introduce yourself and allow your guest time to respond back with a little about himself, because a great first impression goes both ways.
Once engaged in his treatment, let the client lead the conversation. Some clients might not want to talk, since this is their quiet time to relax.
Know your products inside and out so that at the end of your treatment you can confidently assist your client with selecting the best take-away option for his personal wellness journey.
Your selection of music during treatment should provide a calming and relaxing atmosphere for the client. The genre of music is important in helping create the right setting, and so is volume.
Take into consideration your client’s needs when setting the tone of the room.
As your guest enters your space, he should be met by a calming and relaxing aroma.
Burning a lightly scented candle or incense is a great way of building on your brand, by establishing a signature scent—but be careful to avoid anything too potent.
Select products with minimal or no fragrance to avoid clashing with any aromas already in the room and to avoid the risk of skin reactions.
Personal care is equally important here, and a strong perfume or body odor can create a negative experience for your client. Remember, both good and bad smells will leave an impression, so be sure to provide only the former.
Once the session is over, offer your client a glass of water or tea.
This is an opportunity to be clever with your branding by offering a custom-infused water or specialty drink that will remind the client of the experience he had with you the next time he tastes it.
6. Professional Image
A great first experience is built on the five senses: sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste.
Combined, these create the professional image that you present to clients—and you now have the foundation to create a powerful first impression that will that let your clients know they are in good hands.
Editor’s note: Download the free New Practitioner eBook, The Blueprint for a Successful Massage Career.
About the Author
Noel Asmar is the founder and CEO of Noel Asmar Uniforms, an internationally acclaimed apparel brand servicing the premium spa and hospitality industry since 2002. As a board member for the International Spa Association and one of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs, Asmar’s experience in the business world is paralleled by her ongoing commitment to wellness.