A big problem for new therapists, those starting out on their own, or those starting back up after a break can be getting repeat bookings.

People are busy and there are lots of therapists out there, so how do you keep them coming back to you? This is especially hard to do with conditions that require a more long-term approach.

Improvements may not be seen initially, so it can be hard to encourage someone to keep coming back and spending their hard earned cash.

When I was first starting as a therapist, just after graduating, I missed a few tricks that I now know are key to getting clients to keep coming back. Here are my top tips that almost always guarantee a client comes back again.

1. Explain, Explain, Explain

Knowledge is power, or so they say! I believe that people need to know the details of their own injury or pain syndrome to accept it, understand it and appreciate what needs to be done to fix it.

As a therapist, you need to explain the details of everything you are doing during assessment; what your findings are; what the condition is; what causes it and how you both can work together to correct it.

This explanation needs to be in language they can understand. It’s no good using Latin anatomical terms and medical jargon with most people. Use common terms for body parts, use posters or models to help visualize it and demonstrate movement patterns yourself.

In my experience, if they don’t understand what’s going on, they are less likely to invest in their part of the treatment plan and less likely to see results. This equals lost faith in you as a therapist and no more bookings!

2. Talk Through Your Treatment Plan

This is linked to the above point but I feel it is so important to fully talk through your treatment plan with your client. Explain:

  • What treatment you believe will be most effective
  • What their part of the plan is (i.e., exercises/home care/avoidance of certain activities)
  • Initial aims, followed by mid- and long-term if necessary
  • Alternative approaches if the initial plan doesn’t have the desired effect
  • Roughly how long you expect before they start to see some improvement

Why would a client keep coming back to see you if they don’t know what you are trying to achieve and how you plan to achieve it?

3. Friendly but Professional Manner

How you talk to a client has a big impact on how they view you. Too friendly and you risk coming across as unprofessional. Too business-like and you leave the client feeling cold and uncared for. It’s tricky to get the right balance.

First off, you need to greet them in a friendly, professional manner, looking smart and giving them all of your attention.

Second, you need to listen to what they are saying, and I mean really listen. Sometimes you need to read between the lines to get a good sense of what that person is really saying.

Third, you need to make small talk, ask the client a little about themselves to put them at ease, but don’t dig too deep. Don’t offer your opinions or judgment, and don’t air your dirty laundry!

4. Book Their Next Appointment Before They Leave

This is a big lesson I learnt in my first year of practice. Being quite shy and lacking confidence, I found it hard to ask people if they wanted to book another appointment for fear of rejection.

Some would naturally ask to book in again, and others would walk away, never to be seen again. Had I asked them, I believe at least 50 percent of those would have rebooked.

I slowly learnt that if I asked, the majority would say yes and rebook there and then. A few said no but mostly gave a plausible reason as to why they couldn’t book right now.

I found that of those who said they’d contact me to book in again, I’d guess only 40 percent ever did. And I don’t believe in most cases that this was due to dissatisfaction, but more life getting in the way. People are busy and forgetful and neglect their own health in favor of nights out, new clothes or holidays!

Try explaining to these clients that a few treatments close together are far more likely to be effective than the same number spread out over a longer time frame.

5. Block Booking and Recommend-a-Friend Discounts

Give people a discount for booking a course of three, five or even 10 appointments. Whatever works for you and them!

If you’ve given them confidence in yourself as a therapist using the tips above then most people are happy to commit to a treatment plan and a reduced fee for paying upfront.

Alternatively, offer a recommend-a-friend scheme. Offer a discount on their next treatment if they get a friend or family member in to see you. Everybody loves a discount, especially one where the effort on their part is minimal!

Starting out is hard. Building your client base takes time and perseverance. But following a few of these simple rules above can help to get people coming back again and again.