Client retention is a phrase that is often thrown around in the therapy industry. What’s the big deal about client retention, anyway? You work hard to bring in new clients each week, so who really cares if existing clients choose to come back or not?
Well, that’s just it: Bringing in new clients takes your time, money and resources, if you are constantly having to seek new clients, it’s exhausting and expensive —while it may be true no business can thrive without bringing in new clients, if you can retain your existing client base, then you’ll end up reducing your costs (and improving your return on investment) in the long run.
Simples, keep more clients coming back! This sounds easy enough—surely providing fantastic therapy services is enough to keep clients coming back for more, right? But if you’ve been practising massage for longer than, say, five minutes, you probably realise it’s not exactly this cut-and-dried.
What can you do, other than offer a great experience, to improve client-retention numbers?
First thing is to remember that there are 3 stages in this process of retaining clients!
- The First Impression
Many businesses neglect this first and arguably most-important stage. During this stage, you have, at most, 60 seconds to make a good first impression. Most of the time, this won’t include any portion of the actual therapy session. The first 30 to 60 seconds spent interacting with your business generally isn’t spent with another human – rather, this is the first phone call, e-mail, social media or website visit. Making a great first impression is more than having a smiling face greet new clients who walk through the door. The number one rule of making the first interaction a successful one is to never make new clients (or any clients, for that matter) work to find information. From your answering machine to your website, frequently asked questions should be addressed in a simple and straightforward manner. Some things to address include a description of your therapies, pricing, hours of work, contact information and what to expect during the first session. Offering email and newsletter signups on your page will ensure you obtain a potential client’s contact information if they visit your website but don’t want to call. Offering online booking allows clients who access your website outside of business hours to avoid phone tag.
- Then What
Once you get a new client to come through the door for a first visit, your next objective is to keep her there. Your strategy should consist of staying connected to your new clients and encouraging commitment to your business.
Why does staying connected to your clients encourage them to come back? Establishing a way to communicate with clients will keep your business at the forefront of their minds. And then when most people think of massage, they’ll say to themselves, “I could use one of those right about now.” You can connect with your clients in many ways, and one of the easiest is to use automated e-mails and text messaging. These little gems can be sent out to remind clients of upcoming appointments, to confirm a booking, even to wish them a happy birthday or to remind them to book their next appointment. Automated emails are not only helpful to the client but are also a great micro- marketing tool when coupled with promotional codes and offers.
It’s also possible to stay connected with clients through education, using your newsletters, blogs and social media. Many first-time clients aren’t aware of the benefits regular therapies can have on their overall wellness routine. Educating clients on the health benefits of different types of therapies can lead to them incorporating it more regularly into their lives. Another benefit of education to your client-retention strategy is when your clients look to you as an educational resource, they are less likely to shop around for appointments elsewhere.
Feeling important is also a key factor in client retention. If clients view your therapies as part of their overall wellness routine, then they are more likely to book in advance and plan for the expense in their budget.
- Ongoing Clients
Many businesses work hard to retain their new clients, just to forget about them once they reach the status of a long-term client. Just like the first two stages of the client retention, the third and final stage of an ongoing client needs its own, client retention strategy that focuses on great customer service. Great customer service begins with learning what your clients want, and the best place to start is by asking your clients. Get feedback in the form of asking them directly, a suggestion box or an online survey. Once you receive feedback, respond to it. Let clients know their opinions matter; this will ensure you continue to receive feedback. When you receive negative feedback, respond in a manner that acknowledges how your client is feeling with a “how can I make this better” attitude. Your client may or may not be in the right, but it doesn’t matter. The fact is she is upset and your job is to recognize this and work with her to find an appropriate solution. If you’re able to turn the situation around and make your client happy, she’s not only going to come back but is also likely to refer your business to others.
Once clients reach this stage, you’ll notice a higher-than-average retention rate. However, you’re still bound to see lapsed clients, those who have inexplicably stopped booking their appointments. Send them an email with a special promotion. Reaching out to lapsed clients will let them know they are missed and you’ll see your retention numbers rise when they book their next massage.
When it comes to the therapy industry, no two clients are alike. Every individual has unique needs and will benefit from your therapies in a slightly different way; just as you use different methodologies of massage to accomplish different forms of healing, you should be using different strategies of client retention to keep clients coming back to your business.