Christmas. There. We said it. This is when you sell most of your gift certificates. This is when you spend a lot of time, energy, and money encouraging people to give their loved ones the gift of good health. We’ve had the chance to talk to a bunch of you over the past couple weeks about marketing for winter and Christmas. Here’s what you’re asking:

But what nobody is asking (yet) is: How do I keep the clients I’ve worked so hard to get?

Thinking about how to keep your clients is as important as thinking about how to attract them. And this goes for boosting your re-booking frequency as well as attracting new clients. As we work our way toward the biggest gift certificate sales occasion, you need to think about how to retain new clients and to encourage established clients to book more frequently. Today we’re just going to focus on new clients who have received a certificate for your services.

1. Think before You Act

Before there is any action — buying certificates to sell, telling people you have certificates for sale, writing up your menu of services —think about what impression this packet will give someone who has never met you. Are you going to be perceived as clean? professional? organized? special? And then, how are you going to maintain that first impression?

2. What Should a New Client Know about You?

This is where understanding your Ideal Client pays off. What do you specialize in (hint: not “NMT” or “trigger point release”)? Do you keep hours your Ideal Clients love (Saturdays, two late nights a week, etc)? What kind of results can they expect?

3. Customize, Customize, Customize

As best you can, find out as much as you can about your prospective client. Why is this person being given a certificate to your services? Have they had massage before? Do they have any chronic injuries/pain? Any thing you can reasonably discover — and respond to — will help you help your potential client. “How?” I hear you cry. Every little piece of information helps you customize the first bit of contact they get from you. Certificate designs, information, education, and explanations that focus on the new client all make you seem more prepared to help them heal. AND, can you be permitted to get their contact info? Because you’d like to send them a postcard if they do not redeem their certificate within [three months].

4. Reward Good Behavior

Those of you who have been reading our stuff for a couple years know we’re down on giving monetary discounts to increase sales or bookings. We think it undervalues your work and creates a wodge of clients who will only come to see you when they get a coupon. On the other hand, as any dog trainer or mom can tell you (don’t tell us there aren’t similarities between the two), there is real benefit to rewarding Good Behavior. Coming to see you is Good Behavior. Rebooking is Extra Good Behavior. You can reward re-bookings with a coupon for [15] extra minutes, or an extra/special service added on to their next session, or “preferential” appointment times. Or, if it’s just what you do, go ahead and give them a discount on their next session.

5. Follow up with Common Courtesy

A hand written thank you note does wonders for our attitudes. We’re pretty sure we’re not alone in this. Give it a try. If you like, you can reward good behavior at this point and include a re-booking coupon with it. (See above.)

6. Get out of Jail Free Card

You are not going to want to retain every client that comes under your care. This is okay. You do not have to expend your full energy trying to retain clients that do not mesh well with your practice. You do have to consider what impression you give them; they may recommend their friends to you.

So…

Before you begin (which is NOW), take an hour to think about how you are going to make your first impression. Think about how you are going to encourage that relationship, how you are going to keep that client coming back (hint: consistency). Having even basic answers to these questions actually saves you effort (and money) in the long run.