Why you might want to be a farmer and not a hunter
By Mike James | 14th April 2021 | Advice
Sports Injury Fix Founder Malcolm Sloan returns with another blog to help therapists grow their business and improve their service. Malcolm discusses the sometimes controversial topic of client retention and why being a farmer is a much better approach than hunting.
Hang on a minute I’m a therapist not a hunter or farmer so what’s the point of this article?
These are actually commonly used terms in business fundamentals to describe how we approach acquiring and nurturing clients, and can be a really powerful analogy when we understand it correctly.
"How do I get new clients?" Is one of the top questions we get asked daily, and this is normally associated with hunting; Wanting to go out and find new clients and can also include sales and marketing. Often it is misconstrued as "I must spend lots of time and money on things such as SEO and online advertising".
As an aside, the talk Nick Knight and Bob Allen did recently at our Business Boot Camp about Offline Marketing got incredible feedback due to the practical nature and tips it gave.
When we turn the question round and ask what are therapists already doing?, we get a wide variety of answers. What is consistent is the lack of mention or understanding of how important existing clients are for recruiting new clients.
Cultivating existing clients or ‘farming’, refers to nurturing what you’ve already got so it repeatedly delivers what you need. This gives a stable base from which to allow you to go off hunting if you choose.
Why should you care? Well for a start it costs 5 times more to attract new customers than it does to nurture existing one according to Forbes , whilst Bain & Co report that just a 5% increase in customer retention rates increases profits by over 25%.
“But I don’t want to over treat people!” is the response from many therapists which is a brilliant ethos to have, but misses the point here and will be hurting your business.
The farmer who over plants, doesn’t feed and water, collectively ends up damaging their farm, however the ones who get it right get sustainability and that stable base.
Patience is sometimes needed here and considering the full lifecycle of the farm.
"Hunting" for new clients because you have to rather than because you want to is a very different thing.
When you must hunt the pressure is on and that is when desperation can cloud judgement.
You rush things and take risks, whether you realise it or not, and suddenly that nice person you spoke to offering you the ‘deal’ of only £1k a month for FB ads or the magic formula to guarantee you 20 leads a month seems attractive.
In addition, if you flip things around then who likes feeling like they are being hunted?
How does that come across?
Yet engaging with the farmer at the farm shop is often a very pleasurable experience.
For a real life experience of this imagine you’re on the M5 then stop at the Gloucester farm services between J11A and J12 then stop at the RoadChef between J7 and J8 and compare the two experiences.
So, what is the right balance?
In a health and wellness business then the contact with the client/patient shouldn’t end at the point of the final appointment for that episode of care. That’s been the time of harvest but how do you feed and water it appropriately, so it comes back when it’s ready and encourages others to do so?.
Maintaining that contact, providing helpful advice and continuing the client contact does just that. By far the most popular way of finding help is still word of or mouth.
My personal favourite is asking existing clients, where can I find more people like you?
It flatters the clients ego, makes them feel special and normally means they not only give you some useful tips, but it often triggers them to refer someone on as well.
If you’d just asked them if they knew anyone that needed treatment they’d have likely shrugged and said I don’t know. The best thing about it is you can start when you only have one client so even if you’re jut starting out it doesn’t matter.
In many ways it can be better as you can put in place processes and steps that can help you scale in a sustainable way right from the start.
As always we’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
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