Picture this scenario. It’s January and your new evening Pilates class is packed. Everyone’s enthusiastic, motivated and loving the classes. Come March, people have started to fizzle out. Their New Year’s Resolutions to get fitter and healthier have long been forgotten. Life and work have taken over. But obviously, this isn’t good for the bottom line of your business. How do you fill up your classes again? While you might need to come up with strategies to bring brand new customers in, a quicker way to get your classes fully booked again is to bring back your loyal customers. Generally speaking, retaining your current clients should be easier (and cheaper) than acquiring new ones. But how exactly can you encourage your existing or previous clients to buy from you again?
1. Keep meeting their needs
So a few of your clients stopped attending your classes. Why is that? Is it because they got the results they were after and moved on? Because your service offer no longer meets their needs? Or could it be that they’ve lost their trust and confidence in their own ability to achieve the goals they were shooting for?
Do some digging and try to find out. Get in touch with your previous clients if you have a way to (are they on your email list or could you reach them on social media, for example?). Try to get under their skin and really understand what they need right now. Maybe they have indeed outgrown your services for the time being. So can you offer them something else that meets their needs?
Maybe they need a more intensive, boot-camp-style offer (upsell), or maybe they’re simply no longer right for your evening class anymore because they have a young baby at home. So could you offer them to come to the same class you run on a Saturday morning instead (cross-sell)?
Always review and refine your ideal customer persona
If you’re wondering how to always make sure your offer is on point when it comes to meeting your customers’ needs, do this. Schedule time in to regularly review and refine your ideal customer persona.
- Are you still serving the same people you were serving a year ago?
- Have they changed?
- Has your service offering changed?
Whatever the case may be, always make sure you focus on providing a solution to your ideal customers’ problems. If and when their problems change, but you’re keen on working with those same people and retaining them as customers, then adjust your offer in line with the struggles that your clients are currently experiencing.
So if you’re a yoga instructor running classes for Mum & Baby, where will your mums take their business when their little ones outgrow the baby stages? Or when they become pregnant with their second baby? Can you offer classes in a location with creche facilities? Or maybe start specific sessions for Mums & Toddlers or Mums & Pre-Schoolers? Of course, you may decide that your target market are first-time mums only, but if you’re keen on retaining your existing, most-loyal customers (the ones who will rave about you) then plan ahead. Nothing stops you from creating a business that grows and evolves with your customers (and their families!). It’s a win-win for everyone. You get to work with your dream clients, and they’ll be back again and again (and keep telling their friends and family how amazing you are).
2. Deliver great customer experience
What kind of customers experience do you offer your clients? Spend some time looking at all the ‘touch points’ along the journey from your customers’ perspective, not yours. So, what is it like for your prospective and existing clients when they interact with you? Do you tend to ignore private Facebook messages because you don’t know the person sending them but then reply within minutes if they make an enquiry via email? Do you have a contact form on your website that doesn’t load or a phone number that just rings and rings? Every single interaction with your prospective or existing customers matters. From the day they first come across and like your Facebook page to the day they open their purses and part with their hard-earned cash to book an expensive one-to-one consultation with you.
So make sure you’re consistent. All the interactions and exchanges you have with your potential or existing customers need to be ‘on brand’, pleasant, and seamless. Your customer needs to get a real flavour of what it’s like to be working with you. And if they can say great things about you and your business every time they interact with you or your business, they’re much more likely to stay with you. Don’t give them a reason to leave you and book a class with your competitor! Focus on keeping them happy, and they’ll reward you by turning into super-loyal customers.
3. Create a loyalty scheme
Can you offer your existing customers incentives or discounts if they book repeated business with you or recommend a friend? You could reward your loyal customers by introducing a loyalty card, for example. Use something along the lines of what you get at your local coffee shop. You stamp their card every time they book a session with you, and when they’ve booked 10, they get one for free.
Or set up a simple Refer a Friend or Thank You programme. If they introduce a friend to your services, both your existing client and their friend get 20% off your next booking, for example. Or a consultation at half the price. Depending on the business you run, you can get really creative with this. Some may see it as a way to devalue your services, but really, it’s a way for you to acquire a new customer, and over time, through repeated business, you’ll make up more than what you originally spent to welcome them into your family of loyal clients. For more on this, have a look at my post about the Customer Lifetime Value or CLV.
4. Surprise and delight your customers
Always try to go above and beyond to help your existing clients – it will always pay off. When you stay really focused on working with your ideal clients and understanding what they want and need, you’ll be able to do this fairly easily. You’ll become experienced at anticipating their needs and will come up with the right offer before your customers even have to ask. So, by the time your PT client comes to their 10th and last session, you’ll have already designed a targeted set of follow-up and maintenance sessions that they just can’t say no to.
But also, be kind and considerate – show them that you value them as customers. They just had a baby? Do they have a birthday or a big occasion coming up? Get them a nice card. Or maybe they’ve achieved a fitness goal they’ve been working towards for months, if not years? Get them a little something to celebrate their achievement. It doesn’t have to be anything big. But make a point of showing them that you’re thinking of them, that you value their business, that you appreciate them, and that they’re ‘more than just a number’ to you. They say that little things mean a lot, and in most cases, this is absolutely true!
5. Give them something for free
Now, I’m not recommending you work for free. But sometimes going the extra mile for a client, especially when it doesn’t cost you the Earth, is a great way to make them feel invested in you. This is why strategies like a free initial consultation or a trial class or session can work so well. Your client doesn’t just get to try out the service before they buy or commit, but they also get to feel invested. You’ve been generous with your time and given them something for free, which you didn’t have to. Now they’re more likely to try you out properly and come back for a paid session.
So for example, if you are a nutritionist supporting mums, you may come to the end of a consultation with your patient, and on the door on her way out she shares, worried, that her child hasn’t been eating very well. Could you take five minutes out of your day to give her a small tip (informed by your professional opinion) that could help with her child’s eating situation? In just a couple of minutes, you may be able to completely transform meal-time for her. The result? Not only she’ll feel great about the fact that you’ve been helping her out, but she’ll know that you care. You didn’t have to offer advice, but you did. She’ll appreciate you even more than she already does, and she’s likely to come back to you, rather than go looking for another nutritionist. You never know, you may have just gained a lifelong fan!
6. Become their customer
Yes, you’ve read that right. Make an effort to get to know your clients. What do they do? Maybe they have the perfect solution to a problem that you are experiencing. I have personally become a customer of some of my own clients in the past, and it’s a great way to generate repeat business. You pay them to help you with what they’re great at. And they pay you to help them with what you’re great at. It just couldn’t work any better. It’s the recipe for building strong, professional long-standing relationships that may even turn into friendships or future business ventures or collaborations if their services are complementary to yours. This is why I am a huge advocate of attending local business networking events.
Would you like some help with your customer retention strategy?
I hope this post has given you some nice ideas to try out to retain your most loyal customers. But if you’d like some help to come up with a strategy that’s right for you and your business, do get in touch. I have tons of experience helping health and wellbeing professionals just like you with their marketing efforts. You don’t have to do it on your own!