How do you increase patient retention?

The marketing rage is all about how to attract new clients and how to increase conversions and optimise campaigns to the nth degree. That’s all good and well. And I am by no means discouraging exploring avenues for new business. That is an essential part of keeping your business healthy.

What I am saying is this: Be very careful NOT to over-exert your energy looking for new clients to the extent that you are not showing current clients the proper attention. To paraphrase Sheryl Crow, sometimes ‘it’s not about getting what you want, it’s about wanting what you got’.

Marketing is essential to run a successful business, but client retention or keeping your existing clients happy is still the secret to physio business success. In most businesses, retaining clients is much more cost-effective than new client acquisition. To paint a portrait in pounds, imagine you are required to spend £1 to maintain an existing client’s business and £7 to acquire a brand new client. Easy decision, right? Whether you advertise on billboards, newspapers, online advertising, social media or simply promote through word of mouth, too much time and money are spent on marketing to lose existing clients.

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on how to increase client retention during and after the first booking. This is the critical time period to establish a value-driven clinic-client relationship.

Depending on which study you read, somewhere between 20 – 57% of clients do not rebook after their first session. Usually, this is not because the client’s ailments have been 100% resolved in just one go!

In one sense, one treatment is not much time to establish a relationship with a client. But let’s not lean on that crutch of an excuse because one treatment is not simply the treatment itself. There are a host of other important moments that affect client retention. Instead of looking at it as the first treatment, let’s look at it holistically as the first impression. This first impression includes the client journey starting from the first time a client is made aware of a practice up until the communications a client receives after completing their first treatment. This is plenty of ground to establish a relationship. So let’s see how we can increase a client’s chances of becoming a recurring client by looking at the different moments that combine to create a first impression.

Booking Process

The best place to start is at the beginning…How can a client book an appointment? Can they simply call the practice? Walk in and get an appointment? Can it be done online? If so, is it quick and simple? If getting an appointment requires a few calls back and forth, voicemails or archaeological research on a confusing website, a client will take note of this. Clients are people just like you and me meaning they want things to be easy and quick. Over-complicating the booking process may frustrate clients and colour their opinion of your clinic’s professionalism before they have even stepped inside your doors! So, make sure that you have a simple booking system and options for client’s to call or text to make a booking as not everyone wants to use online bookings just yet.


Communication throughout the client journey is a key part of client retention. The trick is to get the communication to a point where you hit the client at the correct points of their journey without appearing to bombard them with superfluous information. A few good queries to keep in mind…Do clients receive a confirmation email or SMS for their booking? Do they receive an email reminder, an SMS reminder or a phone call a few days before their booking? Can clients easily reach out to ask questions prior to a first session? Hitting the client at these points in their journey ensures that they are aware of their booking in a helpful fashion. This is crucial as the real trust gets built when the patient comes into the clinic.

Pleasant Arrival Experience

When a client arrives, don’t keep them waiting long. A clean, comfortable space with easily accessible coffee, water and reading materials goes a long way to maintaining a positive impression.

Building Trust During Treatment

Not much needs to be said on this one…Clinicians do their thing and deliver an awesome service. From a client retention standpoint, the clinician should focus on building a rapport with the client and establishing a plan to address the client’s goals.

Booking’s Other Half…Rebooking

When clients complete their first booking be it for a sports massage or an initial consultation…are they prompted to rebook by the clinician? By the booking team? Does the clinician lay out a recommended plan of treatments and consult the client on these? Clinicians can easily become experts in this sense because they genuinely want to help their clients feel better. Coming up with these plans increases client trust in your practice.


Once a booking has been completed, do you follow up with patients to see how their experience was? A clinician following up directly with the patient is a great way to continue building a healthy rapport. You may also want to invoke the use of surveys to collect feedback on the client experience so you can continue to improve.

Tracking Drop-offs

Is there a process in place to track clients that had one booking but did not make any future bookings? It’s important to track these clients so they don’t slip through the cracks.

These aspects all combine to create the first impression of your business and can help or hinder client retention. It’s not lost on me that there are A LOT of ways to improve client retention listed above and luckily these do not have to be manual or time-consuming if you are using your physio booking software to the utmost of its potential.

Your physio booking software increases client retention by….

  • Creating a simple online booking experience.
  • Sending professional automated emails or SMS messages to confirm bookings.
  • Sending an automated email or SMS reminder with booking details + any tips regarding how to get to the building, where to park, etc.
  • Collecting client info seamlessly with digital intake forms.
  • Utilising an easy to manage waiting list to give clients the earliest appointments available.
  • Automating recalls or follow ups to clients after their first booking.
  • Tracking clients who have dropped off after their first or second booking so they can be contacted by the booking team or directly by clinicians.

These are just a few ways that your physio booking software may be able to help. I’d recommend getting in touch with your provider and seeing how they can assist with the above and any other functions they have directly related to client retention.

Regardless of the strategies you are using for assisting with client retention, high quality services are the most important part of the relationship with clients, but make sure you have the right tools to help you with the rest so that the majority of your energy is spent on the client, not the organisation.

The first impression is important as it is hard to forget. The key is to build trust with professional and simple, genuine care. This will lead to a loyal client base and a consistent cash flow for your practice.

Every day, thousands of users around the world use Nookal as their preferred allied health practice management software on their journey for growth.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *