Here’s a happy statistic for you: In the typical business, a 5% increase in client retention can result in anywhere from a 25-125% increase in profits. In other words, keep more clients, make significantly more money. Wow. Combine these cool numbers with the hard work it takes to get a new client, and it just makes good sense to put effort into keeping clients happy and in your fold.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Here’s another happy stat: On average, satisfied clients spread the word to 4-5 others. So active client retention also increases the influx of new clients. That’s a nice assist!
If you need an additional reason to focus on client retention, here’s our favorite: it’s good for dogs. The more a dog sees you for training, comes back for additional classes, goes out with you for walks or spends the day at your daycare, the better that dog’s life. And if mom or dad have to go out of town, better the dog stays with you than somewhere she’ll be stressed.
Convinced to increase your retention efforts? Here are 3 ways to get more clients by keeping the ones you already have:
1. Step up retention marketing
Retention marketing is marketing directed toward dog lovers who are already part of your business, either as current or former clients or students. It’s about staying in touch and nurturing relationships. Taking the time to do this work maintains connections and brand loyalty, making people more likely to continue with current services, more likely to come back for additional or new ones, and more likely to tell others about you.
All dog pro businesses can make great use of social media and email newsletters for retention marketing. Trainers, also get in the habit of periodic email check-ins after training ends, if you don’t already. You’ll be amazed at how many clients come back for additional training if you reach out from time to time to see how they’re doing. Class instructors, provide personalized next-class recommendation cards that include a small discount to help encourage the next enrollment. Ongoing service providers like dog walkers and daycares benefit from keeping in more regular touch via email, text, weekly reports, and the like. And extra touches, like an unexpected thank-you card or gift for being a loyal client, can go a long way toward cementing long-term loyalty.
2. Ask for referrals
No matter how much your clients love you, it’s never a bad idea to increase the chances they tell others how awesome you are by simply asking them to. A client sharing a written or verbal compliment provides the perfect opportunity to ask for direct referrals, a website testimonial, or an online review.
Anticipate and help offset seasonal slow periods by putting out a call for referrals a month or so ahead via direct email or your email newsletter. (“We’ve got some rare openings coming up this Summer. Have friends, family, or co-workers whose dogs might benefit? We appreciate you sharing the word!”)
You can do the same when you’re rolling out an exciting new service—let current and past clients know, and encourage them to spread the word. You might consider creating a referral incentive program, or simply reinforce the truly desirable behavior afterward to keep referrals coming.
3. Encourage clients to come back
Repeat business is even better than new business. You get to work with clients and dogs you already know, it’s less expensive, doesn’t require selling yourself to someone new, and it means lighter admin work, too. Here are three ways to encourage current and past clients to come back for more:
Tighten up your service model & policies. Dog walkers and daycares, this is a big one for you. Set your policies to encourage predictable, consistent use of your services. This allows you to make a steadier income with fewer clients, and it’s safer for the dogs, too. Class instructors, tightening up missed class and make-up policies will help students see better results, making them more likely to sign up for your next class. Private trainers, selling training packages and enforcing a strong cancellation policy makes clients more likely to reach their training goals—and more likely to tell others about the difference you’ve made in their lives.
Send reminders and notices. Pet sitters and boarding facilities, send early reminder notices to your favorite and most loyal clients to help them secure spots during your busy seasons.
Trainers, tell current and past group class students about any upcoming or new classes. All dog pros, make sure your clientele know when you launch a new service, too. Put the word out more than once, utilizing multiple marketing channels, such as social media and email newsletters or blasts.
Add new services. Speaking of adding new services, doing is a great way to create opportunity for clients to do more with you, and for past clients to come back. If you’re ready for growth, or need to create some, think about what your clients need that you aren’t already providing. Are there topics classes that would offer the perfect post-basic manners experience for your busy students? Would you be able to capture more clients by offering premium solo walks for dogs who aren’t appropriate for your group walks? Or are you walking social dogs who would benefit from walking together in small groups? If you’re running a puppy daycare & train program, it might benefit clients to team up with a dog walker for when the pups age out, or expand your services to include adult dog daycare for puppy grads only. And adding day training for clients too busy to get their training homework done or attend classes can significantly increase their training progress.
One easy, effective, and satisfying way to get new clients for your dog business is simply to keep the ones you’ve got. Stepping up retention efforts decreases your sales load, increases your income, and is great for dogs and clients. Oh, and it leads to new clients, too. Happy statistics. Happy clients. Happy dog pros!
Want to learn all the best ways to get more clients? Join us for Marketing Made Easy, an online dogbiz University course.