Good customer relationship management is the secret to client and customer retention when you're a solo practitioner.
Just remind your students that you're there, and you're the answer to all their problems in life.
If you raise your rates, let your existing students continue paying the original, lower rates. This is called "grandfathering" those students. When a student leaves, point out to them that by leaving, they're losing the low rate and will come back in at your current rates.
There's a little-known, related technique. If they still want to leave, tell them that you'll just sit in the dark eating cardboard until they return. I call this "grandmothering" those students. I learned it from my Jewish grandmothers.
If they leave, however, then we must turn to spiritual masters to find out how to respond with peace and equanimity. They say: If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was, and always will be yours. If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with.
What the spiritual masters don't know is that according to QuoteInvestigator.com, this quote actually came from an anonymous student writing assignment for Professor Jess Lair in 1969. Seeking spiritual truth from an anonymous 18-year-old seems pretty sketchy. And neither the 18-year-old nor the spiritual masters know jack about running a business. "If you love something, set it free." Hogwash! If you love something, get it into your Customer Relationship Management system as soon as possible, and keep that relationship flourishing!
If many of your students eventually return, then you just need to remind them that you're there, and you're the answer to all their problems in life … if only they call.
When someone leaves, put a note in your calendar to send them a follow-up email six weeks, three months, and six months into the future. In the follow-up email, send them an article or note or something funny about English. Maybe a cute article that shows that the English word antidisestablishmentarianism has more vowels than they use in a year. Keep it light and fun, and in the cover letter or the signoff, say, "Now enrolling students for a March start date." If they're ready to return, the article plus the gentle reminder will be enough to get them to pick up the phone, or send an email, or instant message, or
Instagram, SnapChat, WhatsApp, or Facebook update.
Retaining customers and clients when they want to leave is tricky. It's easier to retain them in advance by offering them package offers. Make it hard for them to leave with existing-customer discounts, grandfathered low prices, and accountability programs designed to address the problems that most often cause them to leave. If they decide to leave anyway, pity them, and follow up briefly every few months to make sure you're still top-of-mind.
I'm Stever Robbins. I help people build the psychological, emotional, and practical fonudation to Live Extraordinary Lives. If you want to know more, visit www.SteverRobbins.com or Get-It-Done Guy's Facebook page.
Work Less, Do More, and Have a Great Life!
Customer image courtesy of Shutterstock.