I have a cat named chocolate. This dude is 21 years old!
I was at the vet yesterday and I asked them how old their oldest pet is. They said 22. So my boy is almost a record holder!
There are a few things he’s got going for him that have led to his long life:
- He’s Siamese
- He eats 3 shrimp a day
- He’s treated well, not spoiled
- He goes to the vet for regular check ups
The same thing can help keep your clients a long time.
A Siamese cat, genetically, tends to live longer. Chocolate has this advantage built into his genes.
OK you don’t need Siamese or Thai clients… but what you DO want are the best customers (we call them students). This is client selection. When you know exactly who your ideal client it, they are much more likely to stick with you longer.
All clients are not equal. If you just sign up any person who writes you a check, you may find that they may not be the right fit for your program.
When I was a younger business owner, I took students into my martial arts school. I taught primarily families: usually 2 parents and their kids. On occasion I’d get the young 20’s guy who wants to take martial arts. And sure I could sell them on the initial membership but retention on these guys was always abysmal. Not because they weren’t cool guys, or that my program was not good… it was that we just weren’t a good fit for one another.
Get clear on who your ideal clients are, and when someone comes to your door, you’ll know whether they are a good fit or not. This is dramatically help your retention.
He eats 3 shrimp a day
So Chocolate, since we got him in Thailand, has eaten pretty well. The village we lived in had a farmer’s market every Tuesday night, and one of the stalls sold fresh fish. My mother bought some for dinner one night, and Chocolate wouldn’t stop following her around. It turned out that this little cat LOVED these fish! So every Tuesday Mom would get fish for dinner, and a fish for him.
Today, he’s not eating fresh fish but we have moved him to frozen shrimp. Yeah, the same kind from the grocery store seafood section. And it’s not just any old shrimp, it’s Argentinian wild-caught shrimp.
What’s important here is that he has a high-protein diet, which is what cats need. And he’s had this for most of his 2 decades.
Your program should be the same way. Are you giving your clients what they need? And this is real substance. Are you giving them what they truly need to be successful working with you. This comes down to one simple word: results. If they came for fitness, are they getting more strong and less fat? If they came for confidence, are they showing that? If they came of better grades, is your program teaching this and are their test results better?
The true secret to retention is progress in the core areas of competence they need. Make sure they get it.
He’s well-loved, but not spoiled
There’s a lot of talk about the “wow” experience for your customers, and some of that comes in the form of sending them presents, cards, gifts, and things like that.
This is great!
But if the core areas of competence aren’t being met, then these aren’t that important.
Could you imagine if I fed Chocolate only kitty treats, and not good quality protein?
He DOES get the occasional treat, we also make sure that we don’t give him too many.
Same goes with your clients. A WOW experience needs to be tempered, or else the “wow” goes away. If your clients expect a WOW all the time (and this is not to say you shouldn’t have a high standard of service), then a WOW is no longer a WOW… it’s mundane.
Under promise and over deliver part of the time, so that, when those occasional hiccups DO occur in service delivery (which they will), you still are able to deliver with your high standard.
He goes to the vet for regular check ups
It’s not enough that I just feed Chocolate good stuff, brush him, and take care of him. I need to make sure he’s all good and healthy. He goes to the vet for a check up regularly. This way, if something WAS to come up, I could address it.
What about your clients? How often are you checking up with them, in a formal way? Reviewing their goals and outcomes, their progress so far. Oftentimes our clients and students are shy to tell you when things are not going well… but trust me, they won’t be shy about telling other people!
Be sure to stay ahead of the game with them, keep them moving forward, and help them progress. If there’s anything “wrong,” address it ASAP. Get it out of the way so you can do what you were meant to do together… make magic happen for them!
And who knows, maybe you’ll have a client for 21 years!