I’ve had a lot of new clients the past few months! Many have found me on Google (way to go, SEO!), but I’ve also had a plethora of direct referrals (which is awesome since I think all of my Groupon vouchers have been redeemed). Since this client acquisition source is highly coveted among massage therapists and other wellness providers, I wondered if clients who were referred by someone they knew were more likely to rebook than Groupon clients. I was surprised by my findings.
Since June, I’ve had fourteen new clients who were referred by a friend (3), neighbor (1), relative (1), fellow congregation member (1) or another massage therapist/bodyworker (8). Honestly, I’ve never given much thought to where my personal referrals came from or if certain sources were better than others. Now that I’ve compiled the data, I’d like to share a few insights (granted, this sample size is small but it does give some useful information).
Network With Other Massage Therapists
A few months ago, a well-established ashiatsu therapist in Denver texted asking if he could refer his clients to me because he was beginning nursing school. Of course I said yes. He had sent me clients in the past when he was traveling or booked up and had gotten good reviews about my work from them. Interestingly, he has never received a massage from me (we set up a trade but he has yet to collect his half or use his referral credits). Regardless, I’m grateful for his confidence in me. In addition, a friend who is a massage therapist had carpal tunnel surgery recently and sent some of her clients my way while she recovered.
There are many reasons why our peers might refer us: illness/injury, travel, different business hours, moving or downsizing their practice, etc. Those who are near us are especially valuable because location is an important component to client commitment. Google massage therapist + your zip code or search them out on Yelp. Look for someone who has a similar focus or philosophy, and either contact them to trade or book a session with them. Having 2-3 of these relationships will serve everyone involved.
Not only have I received more referrals from fellow providers in the last few months, but those clients have returned with more frequency than any other source. Although the percentage of return visits is higher with new clients referred by friends, those who already have an established connection with a massage provider have proven to be more likely to become monthly clients. Rather than being competition, nearby therapists can be a valuable asset. Plus, you don’t have to woo them with lunch for their entire staff (which is expected when networking with physician’s offices).
Direct Referrals Outperformed Groupon (Maybe)
When I crunched the numbers, I was delighted that these referrals were so good! Since I started using Groupon, it has been the biggest contributor of regular clients to my practice (40% of total unique clients per month and 25% of my monthly income last I checked). I’m curious to see if that trend has shifted when I do my next marketing audit and income analysis.
Facebook Works (Finally!)
I’m hesitant to share the techniques I’ve been trying yet because it hasn’t been long enough to evaluate them. I’m hopeful I’ve finally found a way to actually get new customers on Facebook without paid ads (hint: it involves referrals). Stay tuned. 🙂
My most dedicated clients have found me in a variety of ways. Although I still believe that Groupon is the best tool to fill a massage practice faster, I’m always on the lookout for other marketing strategies that are easy and inexpensive. Until I can’t possibly schedule anyone else, the ongoing need to promote the practice that I love remains!
What are the best personal referral sources for your practice? If you don’t see a comment box below, please click the Leave a comment/comments link to share. Thank you!