The people we are Rolfing currently and those who have recently completed Rolfing are a critically valuable resource for the four of us at Rolfing Associates, Inc. in sustaining and expanding our practices. In fact, a majority of our new clients come to us through activities traceable directly or indirectly to our clients.
If we took no active steps to request and encourage support from our clients to tell others about Rolfing and to refer others to us, we would still experience a level of client-support that would be important. However, because we are active in requesting and encouraging such support, we significantly increase the extent to which the strength of our caseloads originates in such client activity.
The activities described here must be initiated with sensitivity to the purpose of the Rolfer’s relationship with clients, namely to meet clients’ needs and not to meet our need for new clients. It is important that we be alert to the difference between encouraging client-support activity primarily so that the client feels he/ she is pleasing us versus pointing the client in directions for being most effective in expressing the natural human enthusiasm for sharing a valued, newly discovered resource. This does not imply anything is wrong with clients experiencing and enjoying our pleasure when they support the expansion of Rolfing. It does mean we need to make our unconditional commitment to the primary purpose of the relationship a priority and within that to then recognize and focus the universal impulse to share an enthusiasm.
Becoming clear and comfortable with this distinction is key to working with ambivalence about broaching these topics with clients. At the level of the hands-on aspects of Rolfing, we more fully understand and embrace the intrusive quality of our work, because we are clear about our purpose: we have our clients’ permission and support to intrude, and we distinguish moving resistant but willing tissue from assailing tissue which is not ready to move. As we learn a parallel distinction in the client focused aspects of practice building, we can intrude with grace and live with and learn from our mistakes in this arena, as we do in the other.
At Rolfing Associates, inc., we are learning to be more thorough in mentally reviewing a checklist of possible forms of client involvement to encourage with each client and at each session, and in determining an appropriate intervention (if there is one) in light of the client’s relationship to the Rolfing process, to us, and to previous possibilities we may have suggested. We record our interventions after each session on a checklist-recording form in the front office and total them each week. This reminds us to stay with the discipline of this activity and allows us to see where each of us could pay more attention to this aspect of practice building.
What follows are the kinds of possibilities we raise with clients and,in some cases, a simple introductory scenario of how we might broach the topic. I include the latter, because I have seen Rolfers be uncertain about how to introduce these possibilities in a low-key and appropriate way. When a conversational and easy approach become second nature, it loses its charge for us and for our clients.
– Gift Certificate Program. We are making more and more use – and getting more and more return – from the gift certificate we offer clients during their Rolfing process. Clients may give these to anyone who has not been Rolfed. They offer a first Rolfing session at half the usual price and have an expiration date, 6-8 weeks in the future. We are glad to give clients as many of these as they can use. We might introduce the gift certificate to our client by saying, “We have a program which lets you give anyone who has not been Rolfed a gift certificate worth one-half off the cost of a first Rolfing session. Can you think of anyone you might like to give it to or would you like to take one in case someone comes to mind?” I will send you a copy of our gift certificate on request if you send me a stamped, self-addressed envelop with your request. (See ” Authors” department for the name and address of Jeff Galper and Rolfing Associates, Inc.)
– Follow-Up on Gift Certificates. Here is an obvious but easily overlooked tip: keep track of certificate distribution for the purpose of future follow-up.
The productivity of this program is greatly enhanced when we ask our clients, several weeks after giving them the gift certificate, if they have found anyone to give it to. If they haven’t, our question is a reminder. If they have, we ask who that was, what the person’s interest is in Rolfing, and whether it might be appropriate, in our clients’ opinion, for us to call the recipient of the gift certificate to see if they have questions or if they want to make an appointment. Often our clients want us to do that, and even with the gift certificate in-hand and dated to expire in several weeks, our calls to the recipients of the certificates are effective in increasing enrollment. If our clients have given out the gih certificate, we ask if they would like another. They often do.
– Solicit and receive potential clients’ names. This activity overlaps with, but is sometimes separate from, the two above. Simply asking a client, “Do you know anyone who might like to receive literature from me about Rolfing or a call?” may sometimes be quite appropriate. In our offices, we elicit many names of interested people who eventually become clients in just this way.
– Use the telephone. Notice the emphasis on our actively reaching out to call potential clients in some of these strategies. Several years ago, we conducted a study at Rolfing Associates, inc. of the processes by which clients move from not-ever-having-heard-of-Rolfing to making the final decision to come for a first session. One of our findings was that over 50% of our clients made the commitment to a first Rolfing session as a result of a phone call we initiate. Active outreach works.
– Distribute post-ten brochures. by the time we complete the 9th session with our clients, we have given them one of our brochures describing the various uses of Rolfing after the basic series concludes. This is a prelude to a conversation we have at the 10th session about the same subject (See ROLF LINES, article “Building a Post-10 Practice, Vol.XVIII, No.2, p.30).
– Create a demonstration. Sometimes we present lecture/ demonstrations which are advertised about town and open to the general public. We also like to give lecture/ demonstrations which are arranged and organized by clients and presented where they work or to the clubs/organizations to which they belong. In recent years, client interest and support has led to our presenting Rolfing to such groups as the nursing staff at a hospital, first-year medical students at their school, the staff of a large psychotherapy center and employees at a local bank who attend an in-house fitness program. An opener with clients might be, “Do you think there might be interest among the staff where you work in an in-service presentation on Rolfing?” (or your runner’s club, annual meeting, etc.).
– Support a demonstration. When we schedule a lecture /demonstration that is open to the general public, we prepare a postcard-sized notice/invitation to help publicize it. We then ask our clients (as appropriate) if they want to attend, or if they know of others they might invite or if they have a place to leave a small stack of the cards or to post one where others might see it.
– Distribute Rolfing literature. Is there a place where the client could leave a stack of our basic brochures, a place where they are likely to be picked up? Examples are the staff room at work, a health food store in a neighboring town, or the literature of a sports equipment store. Would the client take some brochures to have available for friends?
– More ideas. Less common but useful when they happen, include:
On two occasions having clients associated with small community libraries place Rolfing and Ida Rotf Talks in their libraries as a gift from Rolfing Associates, Inc.
Arrange an introduction to key people at their work places to pursue the possibility of various involvements of our organization with theirs, such as literature distribution, a lecture/ demonstration or employee discounts for Rolfing.
Buy a gift certificate for one or more sessions for someone.
Facilitate Rolfing being the subject of a radio or television program or the topic of a local magazine/newspaper article.
At various times in our practice, client involvement has also included making financial contributions to the Rolf Institute, particularly for research and writing articles or generating articles about Rolfing in national magazines.Developing Client-Support for Rolfing