It is time to admit some of your clients are never coming back. This can be hard to acknowledge, but the only thing worse than losing a client is paying a price personally, emotionally, and financially to keep them on your active client list. The questions we are addressing today are: How long is too long? and How can you tell the difference between a client who needs to be “inactive” and one who is simply behind on life but likely to book another appointment in the distant future? The answer: You can’t. At some point, these clients will both become inactive customers for different reasons; the important decision now is how long you keep them on your active client list.
Everybody has clients they need to prune from their ranks, and Gazelle’s new filters and bulk actionsmake this easy to do. Simply search for “any client without activity since X date,” bulk change their status to “Inactive”, and make a note on their file. Don’t worry, your clients can always reactivate themselves by booking another appointment or calling you back. All your previous service history notes remain in Gazelle on their inactive client and piano records. However, between now and the day they return, you will not be wasting your time and emotional energy wondering why a seemingly “good client” isn’t calling you back.
Unresponsive clients who remain ‘Active’ in your system cost you far more than you realize.
Keeping inactive clients on your active client list might seem optimistic on the surface; but this choice always comes at a cost to you and your business that often goes unnoticed. Quite simply, your relationship with clients who waste your time and energy needs to be a story with a period at the end. Now, you might think, “But I am keeping them active because X years ago they told me they were super excited about their piano, and I am hoping they will respond to one of my future reminders.” However, there is a better way to handle this situation.
Imagine you are driving to a new client’s house, and you drive right past one of these clients who ghosted you. In that moment, you can either be thinking to yourself,” Oh look, there is that active client who has never called me back,” and then spend the rest of the day ruminating about all the possible reasons they are not responding and all things you might be able to do to “win” them back. Alternatively, you could experience the freedom of thinking, “Oh look, there is someone I once thought was going to make a great client, but now they are inactive because I choose not to waste my time chasing after people who, for whatever reason, don’t actively service their piano. One of these options results in holding your head high, setting your face forward, and confidently investing in relationships with new clients and better pianos.
But what if an unresponsive client calls me back?
Sure, one day a previous client might call wanting to become a client again. That’s okay, you can always reactivate them. They might even become a better client than they were before. But the reality is, most clients don’t. Humans overestimate their ability to fulfill their hopes and dreams all the time or their circumstances change. You can’t control any of this. If they aren’t calling, it’s unlikely they are the exception, it’s time to let them go.
Of course as soon as you say this aloud, you’ll hear that little voice in the back of your head saying, “But they gave me a great online review!” or “But, three years ago they said ___ (fill in the blank).” Yes, and they’ve also chosen not to call you back or service their piano since then. It is a both/and situation. And sadly, many of these clients do not take the time to write back and say, “Sorry, we are not servicing the piano anymore.” They just ghost you. And you are left wondering, “Was it me? Could I have done anything different? Will they come back if I run a promotion or offer them a discount? What if…?” The truth is, no; it probably wasn’t anything you did. But there is one more thing you should do.
Plan your final message!
You need to draw a line in the sand: “Any client who hasn’t serviced their piano since “X date” is going to get one final message that says, “I will be here if you need me.” Then, a few weeks later, if they have not responded, inactivate that client. Every time you choose to inactivate a client, it is a choice to focus your time on relationships with good clients who choose to make their piano one of the most important things in their lives. The more time you spend cultivating relationships with these kinds of people, the more you become a magnet for new clients just like them!
As a business owner you need to make decisions based on the data you have. Culling your active client list in this way gives you a clearer picture of the state of your business today. It is a good way to make sure your data is accurate so you can change from someone who is spending too much time feeling the weight of unresponsive clients to someone who is confidently building relationships with clients who choose to service their pianos on schedule.