Whether you are a personal trainer, a physical therapist, or a massage therapist, it is not enough to simply find a new client; you need to cultivate that relationship to give you the opportunity for the client to become a long-term, loyal customer who sees value in your services. We call this cultivating dedicated clients. In many cases, when done right, these customers turn into great friends! Loyal clients are your greatest promoters and are proven to have the highest willingness to recommend you (called Net Promoter Score). But how do you do this? Here are 3 simple steps to take to cultivate client opportunities:
- Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. One to one service businesses like personal trainers, PT's, or massage therapists, have word of mouth referrals as being most often cited as the number one criteria for success. Loyal clients sharing their success stories with their friends are the best (and least expensive) ways to promote your business. Below we will talk about how to earn these recommendations from your happy customers but just know it lay simply in your ability to provide them a service that they see value in, coupled with them forming a positive connection with you. If either of these are missing your opportunities will fade.
- Consider offering discounts to these clients who refer a friend to you or better yet, give both the new customer and the referring customer a nominal but worthy discount.
- It goes without saying, once your business is up and running, be sure to set up and begin actively working social media. At a minimum you need: a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, an Instagram, etc. Which social media accounts you choose to spend the most time on will depend on your target audience and how much time you have to dedicate to this task. According to hubspot (a preeminant inbound marketing services company), focusing on a few key social channels and maintaining consistent engagement is crucial for successfully promoting your business. So, if you don’t have a lot of time to spend making posts, focus on one or two accounts where you think most of your clients will be.
- Attend events. Local events, near your business, related to your industry or your target audience will allow you to make face-to-face contact with prospective costumers. For example, we know a newly graduated physical therapist, that sped up their growth rate by volunteering at a local marathon while also having a recovery booth to assist runners. A marathon is just one example.... there are countless opportunities if you get creative.
Social media, word of mouth, and local events will help you establish yourself so that your services can be recognized, resulting in your client base growing by cultivating dedicated clients.
Form relationships with clients
- Remember that piece about word of mouth? Well, first you need to make sure your clients care enough about you to talk about you and recommend you to a friend. The best way to do this is to show that you care about them! Simply sending them reminder e-mails or calls about sessions with you is a great start. But, it is important to add an even more personal touch – when you are treating them or training them, ask about their life or simply the things that are important or meaningful to them. Learning about them and building a true relationship will ensure they become loyal clients. Not to mention, it will make that session much more enjoyable for both of you!
- Give your client your undivided attention. You can’t have these great conversations with your client if your busy checking your e-mail, posting a tweet, answering the phone, running around your facility, and trying to service them all at the same time. In order to build a quality relationship, your client needs to feel like they are important and worth your time (and their money). So give them your focus and ensure that they are satisfied with your services during the entire session. Creating a comfortable and pleasant environment will help build their trust and cultivate that strong relationship we’re looking for.
- In order to truly gain loyal costumers, it isn’t enough to stop after forming a relationship. You have to continue to cultivate that relationship and maintain contact. Take note of conversations with your client and follow up on what you talk about. If last session your client told you about her son, be sure to ask about how he is doing during your next session. Can you relate to your client? Maybe you have a son too? Eventually these conversations will become second nature and your clients will love you.
- Have you ever had a client stop showing up? Find out why! If they are injured and worried that they can’t keep up with your workouts, you need to know about this. Maybe they’ve lost motivation to stay in shape? Are they concerned about the cost of your service? Get to the bottom of it because without this information you aren't able to understand the situation. Don't let the fear of the "unknown answer" keep you from trying to reconnect with them.
- Consider teaching your client something new every session that they can take home and do themselves. The teacher-student relationship will help to build trust and a sense of reciprocity. If you are a personal trainer, for example, considering giving your client with acute mobility challenges a set of isometrics they can do before their daily walk. Then, during their next session, maybe you can suggest a new set of exercises to build upon the isometrics. Be sure to tailor your tips to each client so that they see how you personally adapt things for them. Every time they practice what you teach, they’ll be reminded of how great it is to have you as a practitioner!
Establishing yourself, forming relationships with your clients, and maintaining contact with them will ensure that you establish long-term, dedicated clients that will help keep your business going.