It doesn’t matter how much you use mail, email or the phone to stay in touch, eventually clients will fall out of the loop and you’ll lose touch. Are these clients a write-off? Far from it.
Right now, most of the therapists reading this lesson are sitting on a largely untapped asset – inactive clients. If you reconnect with them and ask them to come in for a massage, a significant percentage will take you up on the offer.
So I would suggest everyone conduct what I refer to as a “reactivation campaign” to get those inactive customers back in the loop. Furthermore, plan to do this on a regular yearly basis.
Why would you think that these people would come back to see you? Let’s look at thereasons why people leave. Here they are in the order of least likely to the most likely:
1. They die or move. Not much we can do there.
2. They no longer need or benefit from your services. In the case of massage, they may have gotten through a stressful period; or your work has been so effective that they no longer have physical discomfort; or maybe they are experimenting with more active forms of relaxation. Even in these cases, however, they could likely still benefit from some occasional massage as a wellness tool.
3. They were dissatisfied with your service. Maybe they didn’t feel quite the way they expected to feel; maybe you were offensive; who knows, maybe you have bad breath. This may happen, but hopefully you’ll have a plan to minimize the number of these occurrences. You’ll follow up the day after to nip those problems in the bud. And of course you will always guarantee your service so that the customer has immediate recourse and the problem can be resolved.
4. Most likely, however, is that their buying habit was interrupted and they just forgot to start again – they got sidetracked. They may have gotten sick or went on vacation. They may have gotten caught up in some project that has been particularly engaging. It could be that they’ve become temporarily over-saturated with massage – it is possible to have too much of a good thing Chocolate bars are good, but if you eat a dozen, you need a little break before you go back for more. Think of the services you have used or the products you have bought in the past. It’s most likely that you stopped using them for this reason. You wanted to buy them again, but you just never got around to it.
So most of those inactive clients, likely up to two thirds of them, who stop seeing you do so unintentionally. They’re not mad at you, you didn’t upset them and they weren’t dissatisfied. They just got caught up in doing other things and they either forgot to book another massage or just got out of the habit.
These past customers are highly predisposed to using massage again. Not only that, but they are highly predisposed to getting their next massage from you specifically because they know and trust you. However, they’ll only do so if you remind them of why they need massage and ask them to come in again to take care of themselves.
One effective way of doing this is by sending a letter – a reactivation letter. There are two approaches that work well.
1. The first is writing an “I’m concerned” letter.
Basically the main idea of this letter is to convey your concern that they have not returned to the clinic for a massage. Tell them that you are concerned that maybe you offended them or maybe they were dissatisfied. It’s very important that you find out so you can make sure this doesn’t happen again. If they have just forgotten to take care of themselves, you would love to see them again. Ask them to contact you to let you know if there was a problem or simply to book a massage appointment. You can tie this to a promotional offer such as a discount or upgrade on their next visit if they come in within the next month.
2. The other letter is a “Whatever happened to” letter.
Do you ever wonder what has happened to clients who just seem to disappear, never to be heard from again? I do. Let them know you were thinking about them: “I was thinking about some of the great people I have met as a massage therapist and I wondered whatever happened to you. (If you can merge your client’s name into the letter to personalize it, the letter will have more impact.) I haven’t seen you in ages. I’d love to see you again. I know massage would be great to help you manage your stress and tensionetc.” Again, ask them to book a massage and perhaps offer them an incentive to do so.
With either of these approaches, you can expect anywhere from 2% to 10% to come in for an appointment.
If you follow up the letter a week later with a personal phone call however, the response will increase dramatically. Expect the response to at least double.
In the phone call, simply reiterate the message in your letter: “I was concerned…” or “I was thinking to myself, Whatever happened to…” Don’t forget to ask them to book an appointment with you. Give them incentive to book now by offering them an upgrade or discount on their treatment so that they don’t put it off for another year. If they can’t book an appointment for whatever reason, offer to follow up with them later (and make sure you follow through on what you say).
Let’s go back to the woman with 1,000 client files. Let’s say that only 200 of those clients are active. That means she can contact about 800 inactive clients. If her response rate with a letter and phone call is 2% to 10%, then she will bring in 16 to 80 clients in a very short time frame. Furthermore, if each of those clients spend $500 over their buying lifetime, she will make anywhere from $8,000 to $40,000 over the coming years. Considering it might cost $400 in postage, this approach provides an incredible return on investment – a real windfall.
Sometimes my workshop participants come up with the greatest ideas. Here’s one that I thought was clever: It’s likely that a certain percentage of your inactive clients have moved. When you call, you may find that their number has often been reassigned to someone else. Instead of apologizing for the interruption and hanging up, why not make them the offer you were going to present to your inactive client…
“Well I was calling for Susan, but since I have you on the line, I’ll introduce myself. I’m Eric and I’m a massage therapist here in the neighborhood. Have you ever had massage before? Susan used to see me regularly and then she seemed to disappear. I was concerned and was wondering what had happened to her, but I guess she’s moved. I was going to offer her[state your offer]. Would that interest you? Since Susan can’t take advantage of it now, I might as well give you the opportunity.”
Will they accept your offer? Who knows? But it only took you a few seconds to introduce yourself to a new prospect, tell them a little about yourself and give them some incentive to book an appointment. It can’t hurt.
To sum up, if you’ve been in practice for a while and have inactive client files, then you must absolutely, positively try this strategy. You are potentially sitting on a very valuable goldmine.