One of the most common reasons practitioners seek mentoring is to attract more clients. But sometimes shifting the focus to your existing clients, is the key to a thriving practice.
Are you aware of your golden clients?
They follow your advice and return over the years as needed. They’re the first to share your posts or sing your praises to those they know who need your help.
These clients might consult you for a period of time and then not come back until a new issue arises. But in the meantime, they’ve referred many family members, colleagues, friends and strangers. They’re your cheer squad, who support and promote your business.
How to identify golden clients
Cookie-cutter marketing can focus on the ‘ideal’ client, while ignoring the gold right in front of you.
Have you completed an ideal client exercise only to find it’s too broad or super-specific to be useful? Or when some of them consult you they’re not who you really love working with?
Golden clients sometimes differ from who we imagine are our best fit. Clients who you click with don’t always fall within the demographics or niche you want to pursue.
Going beyond theoretical ideal clients to discover your golden group, can make work more satisfying. Learning how to best support them also means their referrals can potentially do a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to attracting new clients.
Characteristics of golden clients
- Frequent referrers
- Like, comment and share your social media posts
- Open every newsletter
- Love the way you work
- Follow your lifestyle prescriptions for years and only need to return for a tune up or if a new issue arises
If you’ve already defined your ideal client, is the golden client different? When you focus on behaviours rather than demographics, it can uncover a few surprises.
Return on investment
Existing clients provide the biggest return on investment of your precious time and resources rather than continually attempting to attract unrelated new clients. When you’re a proficient practitioner, it’s much easier to retain these clients, than work hard to attract new ones.
Creating social media posts or newsletters can flow more easily and be more effective, when we have a golden client in mind. What did they present with, how were they struggling, what did they ask for, what were the exact words or phrases they use, and what advice did you share that worked? When our marketing promotional activities (eg social media, newsletters) reaches out to them, we’re also catching the attention of future golden clients.
How do you reward or acknowledge loyalty? When an old client you’ve not seen for a while refers a new patient, it’s a great reason to get in touch to say thank you.
Cracking the client retention code
Successful businesses nail client retention!
What happens in the initial consultation is vital. We need to be active listeners to understand our client needs, communicate the diagnosis and treatment plan effectively, set expectations and establish trust.
That’s a lot to achieve in a first consultation but doing all this often determines whether a client returns or not. This is different to thinking we need to ‘cure’ someone when we first meet. Rather it’s about good clinical skills and clear communication to establish a therapeutic relationship. This is why an initial session may require more time and energy, than a whole day of follow-up appointments!
Client retention is two-fold. It begins with developing enough trust for the client to return for a follow-up. Then regardless of how frequently you work together in the future, you’re most likely to be their go-to practitioner with you for the life of your business.
It’s not about over-servicing. In some ways it’s the opposite. A satisfied client knows no matter how long it is before they need your services again, that they can and will return.
Do you know your return rate? If not, find your bookings from a year ago. Explore the first 10 new clients from that date. How many followed up within 6 weeks? A healthy return rate is 90% (9-10/10). A return rate of consistently less than 70% suggests somethings not working. Mentoring is an effective way to determine and remedy the root cause.
How to boost client retention
Longevity in business has taught me to value all clients, especially existing ones.
In 31 years of practice, the longest gap between initially working together over a number of sessions and the client’s next batch of follow-ups was 24 years.
There’s an ‘old’ client I’m currently seeing, who initially presented in my first year of practice. Over the years they’ve come and gone — often for 3 or more months of consultations and then none for a couple of years. To date, they’ve referred four generations of family members, their partner and three generations in their family and numerous friends.
Client retention tips
Set expectations: explain when you need to see them next and why, the signposts of improvement and what the end goals are.
Consistency: Set your clinic hours and stick to them. Reply to client messages in the same way each time (e.g. by email, SMS), in an agreed time frame and always within working hours. If you have a newsletter, send it consistently – fortnightly, monthly, bimonthly or seasonally.
Acknowledge: referrals or engagement on social media.
Keep them in the loop – newsletters are the most effective for my client base. Thanks to the back-end statistics I know exactly who is opening it (often within minutes of it dropping), what they’re clicking and how often it’s shared. Almost every newsletter results in bookings from ‘old’ or more recent clients.
Speak their language – medical terminology or naturopathic jargon can bamboozle or be misinterpreted. So too the way we communicate via social media. I’ve witnessed a number of experienced practitioners who’ve outsourced their posts without an effective brief as to who their clients are and what they’re interested in. For example, perimenopausal or older clients are often active Instagram or TikTok users, but may resonate differently with images and messages curated by a Gen Z content provider. A pretty grid with single digit engagement won’t boost your business.
Need help retaining or attracting clients? Gill offers individual business mentoring and professional supervision beyond the cookie-cutter courses.