How to Survive Client Loss (and Market Crashes): Balanced Client Base

Sometimes clients leave. Hey, that’s the nature of business, right? But if you lose a couple key clients at once and can’t replace that income reasonably fast, you’re going to be in trouble. Here’s how you make sure that you can handle any client-loss situation: build a balanced client base.

Balanced Client Base

You can classify clients in a lot of ways, like monthly client, weekly client and occasional client.

But in order to survive client attrition (and market crashes), I think of my clients in two ways: (1) recession-proof clients and (2) non-recession-proof clients.

A recession-proof client will come to you no matter how bad the economy is. She’s loaded.

A non-recession-proof client can pay for massage, but she has limitations, like if she loses her job, you’re out a client.

You need both.

No, I’m Not Smoking Crack

I know that it seems like just going for the recession-proof clients is the way to go. But it’s not for two reasons.

  1. Relying too much on recession-proof clients means you’re open for a quick, significant and long-lasting income reduction if one or more of them stop coming in for massage.
  2. Recession-proof clients are harder to find than non-recession-proof clients. And if the poop hits the fan, you’re going to need to bring clients in fast.

Here’s an example of a recession-proof-client-base meltdown.

Loretta Leaves

Loretta has more money than the state of New Hampshire. You work on her, her husband, Raul, and their son, Raul Jr. every week.

One day, Raul Jr. goes off to college.

Okay, you think, I got this. I just need to find another rich client who likes massage a lot.

But as you start to work on the rich client project you begin to realize that you can’t just walk down to the local country club and put up a flier on their bulletin board that says “Hey, if you’re a rich person (which I’m assuming you are because you belong to a country club), come get a massage and pay me lots of money” and expect clients to come running to you.

The truth is that finding a wealthy client is a bit of a slog, right?

Then comes more bad news: Raul Sr. gets sick, like really sick and can’t come in for a massage. Now, it’s getting scary. You start juggling bills.

A month later you see a glimmer of hope. Raul is getting better and will be coming in for a massage soon.

But the next time Loretta comes in for a massage she hits you with this: She and Raul Sr. are moving to Hawaii!

Can you say “screwed”?

The Rich Client Leaving Solution

Recession-proof clients will get you through economic downturns.

But non-recession-proof clients will get you through the times when you need money fast.

Remember non-recession-proof doesn’t exclude a client from being a weekly or monthly client. It just means that he can’t afford massage under certain circumstances.

Client-Balance Strategy

If you want a balance between recession-proof clients and non-recession-proof clients, you’re going to need to build referral resources in both areas.

Take it from me, you don’t want to wait until a recession hits (thank you, 2008) to have strong referral sources. Have them in place as soon as possible. Once you do, it’s just a matter of priming the pumps.

Recession-Proof Referral Sources

Think broad when looking for recession-proof referral sources.

What services do people with disposable income spend their money on?

Here are some: boutique personal trainers; out-of-pocket chiropractors; out-of-pocket PTs; private-lesson, yoga instructors; private-lesson, Pilates instructors…you get the idea.

Start building relationships with those service providers. First, cast a wide net and investigate many sources. But as soon as one seems promising, go all in with that one.

Here’s how I build rapport with service providers: How to Grow Your Business with Zero $.

Not every referral from these sources will be recession-proof, but there’s a better chance of finding one here than at other places.

Non-Recession-Proof Referral Sources

For a non-recession-proof referral source, it’s more of the same, but with one main difference: You’re NOT focusing on the higher-priced services.

For example, a non-recession-proof referral source might be a chiropractor who’s inexpensive or a bike store manager.

Again, once you find a winner, drill down.

If you want to take it a notch up read: How to Get More Massage Clients: Nurture the Connectors.

Balanced Client Base In Action

Let’s see what all this might look like with another Loretta example.

Now imagine that you have two main referral sources: A high-end personal trainer (recession-proof-referral source) and an inexpensive chiropractor with crazy volume (non-recession-proof referral source).

You Need to Adjust Quickly

It’s May and on a whim Loretta decides to take her family to Italy for 2 months starting in July.

So, you immediately ramp up your marketing efforts at a local chiropractor’s office by doing demo massages.

By the time Loretta, Raul and Raul Jr. leave for vacation, you’ve gotten 5 new clients. One comes in every 2 weeks and the other 4 come in on average once every 8 weeks.

While Loretta et al. are away you’re new clients come in for a total of 8 massages.

If you had done nothing, you’d be down 24 massages during Loretta’s mini vacation (mini for Loretta). 8 weeks x 3 massages per week = 24.

So now you’re only down 16 massages (24  – 8 = 16).

There’s more good news.

You worked on your new clients a total of 6 times before Loretta and her family went on vacation. That means you’re only 10  massages down (16 – 6 = 10).

Basically, you’ve cut the damage of Loretta and her family’s absence by more than ½ (58%).

But we’re not done.

Loretta and her family come back. Every time you see one of your new clients you chip away at the 10 massage deficit. In about 2 months you’ve made up for the time Loretta was away–and everything after that is extra income.

You Have More Time to Adjust

Next trip for Loretta is in 6 months. Great. You have time to work on getting a recession-proof client. So you turn your attention to the personal training boutique where Loretta works out.

You offer free demo massages and stretching post-workout. Latisha takes you up on the deal. Lo and behold, you find out that Latisha is Loretta’s friend.

Can you say, YES!

Latisha becomes a once a week client. Now you’ve added one recession-proof client and have 5 non-recession-proof clients.

You’ve both protected your business if Loretta goes away for good and have grown your business at the same time.

Balanced Client Base Recap

Having recession-proof and non-recession-proof referral bases is very doable and you need both for a balanced client base.

When you need a client yesterday, prime the non-recession-proof client pump.

When you’re not desperate take some time to protect your business from an economic downturn and target service providers with recession-proof clientele.

You can do demo massages or other forms of marketing to prime the pumps.

As soon as you have a balanced client base, you’ll be able to survive the unexpected while building your practice at the same time.

P.S. Don’t know where to start with fixing your massage life? Join my email group. And I’ll send you the info to get you moving in the right direction. The email group is free and you can unsubscribe anytime:-)

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