Attracting repeat business should be at the heart of your plans for marketing and growing your freelance training company.
As I’ve said many times before, it’s far easier to sell to a client who knows and trusts you as a trainer than it is to attract new business.
Some stats suggest that new clients cost five times as much to acquire than it costs to keep current clients. Also, just a five per cent increase in client retention has the potential to increase your profitability by 75%.
Therefore, knowing how to attract repeat business could have a hugely positive impact.
To help you, I’ve pulled together a list of 10 tips that work when it comes to securing repeat bookings.
1. Know what sets you apart
Your first step to attracting repeat business is to pinpoint what it is that sets you apart from other trainers.
Why do your happiest, most satisfied clients want to work with you?
Is it because you have specialist knowledge? Is it your training style or experience? Or do they value the relationships you build with your clients?
You might need to reach out to your current clients for their insights.
Ask them: “Why is it that you book my training services? I want to understand more about your reasons for hiring me so that I can build on that and give even you more value.”
The key here is to find out what sets you apart and then offer more of it or build more value around it.
2. Make your returning clients feel like they matter
Point 1 above is just one way to make your clients feel like they matter.
People want to feel appreciated and respected, so what could you do to show your existing clients how important they are to you?
This might mean asking, what could I be doing for them that I’m not already? What extra thing could I do to surprise and delight them?
By making sure that even the smallest of details are acted on, you can show your clients that you’re listening and responding to their needs.
And if you can show that you’re willing to go the extra mile for a client, they will want to work with you again.
3. Personalise your offering
Are there ways that you can personalise your training?
Even little touches like using your client’s name or bringing up something they’ve mentioned in conversation can make a lasting impression.
As a freelancer, one advantage you have over bigger organisations is that you will probably offer a more personal and personalised service by default. You will be the point of contact and, with each repeat booking, begin to develop more in-depth knowledge of the client’s needs.
Look at ways you can use this knowledge to adapt your services so that they fit the client’s business as closely as possible.
Which brings me to…
4. Give options
While off-the-shelf training solutions will work for some businesses, many would prefer to work with someone who can be flexible about what they offer.
Think about ways you can create add-ons to your services. Is there a way to structure your training so that clients can ‘pick and mix’ the bits that they need?
Maybe you could create mini-training sessions or workshops as well as more in-depth sessions on a particular topic?
Or could you add a virtual learning component to training so that trainees can continue to build on what they learnt in a face-to-face training session?
This sort of flexibility will help you to accommodate different budgets without feeling like you have to give away something for nothing.
The advantage of repeat training business is that, as you begin to understand the client better, you will see new ways to support them. Try to be proactive about bringing new opportunities to a client’s attention.
Can you create training that feels like it was designed for their business?
Many of the trainers in the Trainer Talk community tell me that the single most powerful thing you can do to attract repeat business is to follow-up with the client after training has been delivered.
If you’ve collected feedback, share it with the client. If you have stats that show what difference training has made to the trainees, make sure you flag them up.
It’s also important to ask how the client feels the training went. What did they like? Is there anything they would change or anything they would like to build on?
6. Say thank you
One simple way to follow-up with a client and make them feel valued is to say thank you for their business.
You could do this with a handwritten card, a quick phone call, a small gift, a loyalty discount, or even by referrals.
As we’ve mentioned above, a client who feels appreciated is likely to want to work with you again.
7. Create incentives for referrals & repeat bookings
While we’re on the subject of referrals…
Another effective way to attract repeat business is to offer incentives for referrals and/or repeat bookings.
For example, you could offer a slightly reduced fee to clients who book three or more training days in advance.
Alternatively, you could offer an add-on to returning clients – maybe a follow-up session with trainees to review how they’ve been able to implement what they’ve learned in their jobs?
Some businesses attract repeat business by offering a VIP service to clients who recommend them to their contacts. It’s up to you what that service looks like.
Or they knock five per cent off invoices that are paid within seven working days as a goodwill gesture.
8. Position yourself as a thought leader
Clients are likely to keep wanting to work with you if they feel that your expertise is trusted within your wider sector and that you can bring valued insights to the table.
You can build your reputation as a thought leader in many different ways:
- Use case studies and testimonials to show how you’ve delivered results for other clients
- Take up public speaking opportunities
- Publish an ebook for sale on a publishing platform
- Write a whitepaper
- Offer an expert comment for a news or trade article
Knowing that your insights are sought after more widely will give your clients – even those who know you – an added level of reassurance that they’re getting the very best training.
9. Offer exclusivity for repeat business
Is there a way that you can offer certain services or add-ons to your training to repeat clients only?
You can pitch this as a VIP service or extra support that’s exclusive to your loyal clients and can’t be accessed by first-time customers.
This approach can help returning clients feel that they are appreciated and can tap into bonus material because you value them.
10. Become one of the family
For a client, one of the advantages of hiring the same trainer over and over again is that they can be more hands-off. As you learn more about their organisation, you can be left to get on with the job in much the same way as an in-house training team.
This is when you become one of the family or – as one trainer I know describes it – ‘part of the furniture’.
Of course, the only way that you can achieve this status as a freelance trainer is with plenty of relationship building.
My final tip is to look at ways you can keep a meaningful dialogue going with your clients. Be proactive about supporting them. Show them at every available opportunity that you have their best interests at heart.
How confident about you about building lasting client relationships? If I were to ask you today, could you tell me how much of your training work comes from repeat business? What action could you take right now to reach out to your past and present clients?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!