*3 min read
Every health practitioner has had this experience…
A client starts a treatment and after a while, they fall off the map and stop coming in. It may start with a cancellation or a missed appointment, then you never hear from them again. This, in the business world, is known as customer attrition or client turnover and from a business perspective, it is much easier to retain an existing client than find new ones.
Client turnover can happen for a number of reasons, but we’ll be focusing on the top three:
- Patients who are cured
- Patients who aren’t engaged in the treatment anymore
- Patients who leave the location of your practice
We’ve also included a few recommended suggestions on how to remain pro-active.
The main aim for health professionals should be to cure the patient of whatever ails them. However, there are certain fields (physiotherapy, remedial massage, therapy) where the problem has the potential to spring up in the future, due to stressors in the patient’s life (be it sport etc).
For patients who have completed their treatment, an excellent idea is to follow up with an email 3-6 months after the completion of their last treatment. Spend a couple of minutes writing an email that asks how they are going and if they have any renewed concerns. If there was a particular stressor that instigates the need for treatment, you are able to reference this if you feel it is appropriate. This simple act can often prompt a client to check in with themselves and to book an appointment even if it’s simply to ‘check in’ and review the strategies/programs you gave them.
TOP TIP: Make a note to send a personal email to previous clients at a 3-6 month mark.
Not engaged or making any progress
This problem is a little harder to solve than a purely logistical or financial issue because you’re dealing with the subjective feelings of the patient. Unfortunately, it’s a fact that some clients just aren’t right for you, or vice versa. In order to deal with this, there are two strategies we suggest.
Provide homework that requires completion prior to the next session. This will keep the client engaged between each session and provide them with an achievable goal that will make them feel they are actively contributing to their betterment on a daily basis. What you choose to provide as homework should be tailored specifically to your client or patient, rather than a blanket approach for all.
At times, it’s best to transfer to another practitioner you feel would be better suited to the individual. Don’t ever be afraid to refer a client to another practitioner in your area when a client is not responding to your services. This method may not solve the turnover problem, but it does cultivate a positive relationship amongst yourself and the practitioner you are referring to, and they are likely to make referrals back to you when they find themselves in a similar position.
It is important to note that you should be making the referral for the client’s best interest not your own, so be sure to consult with your client to explore their feelings about their treatment.
Another common reason for client turnover is geographical, when they move out of your area. If they move to the other side of the country there might not be too much you can do if you’re a physio or remedial massage therapist, but if you provide counselling or life coaching, having a secure video channel can work well. The key here is security to ensure your client feels safe sharing intimate details across the web. A quick search results in a number of platforms that provide this service at a number of different price points.
On the other hand, if the client has only moved to the other side of town, you may consider finding a space to rent in their new neighbourhood. There are plenty of fantastic consultation and treatment rooms, that can be booked automatically as you require them.
Just keep in mind:
- It’s far easier and cheaper to retain an existing client than finding a new one.
- You’ll never be able to stop client turnover, but you can reduce it.
If you’ve got any thoughts about how you might implement these suggestions or other suggestions you’ve tried yourself, share them in the comments below! We’d love to hear what works for you.
Who wrote this post…
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