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How to build customer loyalty: How my local chiropractor uses text messaging to develop a profitable small business

My chiropractor texts me when I’m due for a visit, and it always gets me in the door. Here’s how they win my repeat business (and hundreds of others’).

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“It’s best to keep the customers you have.”

Maybe that’s obvious. But as simple as that quip sounds, the practice of building and retaining customer loyalty can be a little more involved.

For a small local business, it makes sense to focus most of your energy on creating awesome products or providing the best services in town. So thinking about customer loyalty and how you can build a program to get customers to come back may sound:

  • Intimidating or a little scary
  • Like a lot of work that’s outside your realm of expertise (or interests, to be completely honest)
  • More fit for a bigger business

All of that’s totally understandable.

That’s why I’m sharing the story of how my local chiropractic clinic simply crushes it with texting (with a small team of three full-time folks and one part-timer). I’d love to show you how they do it to inspire you to try texting for your small business, too.

Here are your key takeaways:

  1. Texting isn’t just for big businesses.
  2. You can keep it simple, fast, and convenient.
  3. You don’t need to be a marketing pro. Just text like you would a friend. 😉

How to build customer loyalty with text messaging as a local small business:

About my chiropractor: Fargo Moorhead Chiropractic and Wellness

FM Chiropractic team of four people stand in their office with a company logo on the wall behind them
The team at FM Chiropractic sourced from their website.

Three full-time folks work at Fargo Moorhead Chiropractic and Wellness. Two of them are chiropractors and one is a community outreach/front desk coordinator.

There are more than 100 chiropractic clinics in my community on the Minnesota-North Dakota border, so it’s tough to stand out in a super crowded market. But that didn’t stop FM Chiropractic from starting in 2019 and earning more than 200 5-star Google reviews.

Seriously. They even have a perfect 5-star rating as of August 2023 — that’s almost unheard of nowadays.

So how do they do it?

  1. They provide the best chiropractic experience in town (that’s my opinion, but seemingly recognized by others with those 200+ top reviews).
  2. They communicate extremely well with their customers (both in-person and via text messages).
  3. People love their services, which inspires customers to recommend FM Chiropractic through organic word of mouth referrals.

The experience is second to none. My chiropractor, Seth, remembers everything I say (and he remembers the stories my wife tells him because, yes, she loves FM Chiropractic, too). He’s humble, helpful, interested, and engaged.

Knowing that ^ you’ll see how FM Chiropractic extends their amazing in-person experience in their text message communication, too.

So let’s break down their approach to texting. 🤩

Disclaimer: I have no idea what texting software Fargo Moorhead Chiropractic and Wellness uses. It could be SimpleTexting. But I’m writing this article because I sincerely think their approach for building customer loyalty is unique and interesting, and other small local businesses may be inspired to replicate FM Chiropractic’s success after learning more.

I’ve been a marketing manager since 2014, and this story is compelling because it doesn’t take a 100% dedicated marketer to succeed with texting at a small local business. This story is simply true and inspiring, and I like it. That’s it.

You’ll note I also add my opinions here for the things I think you could do to improve upon these tactics (based on 16 years in the marketing industry, which makes me feel old just writing it down). Read on for the deets.

Text from your local business phone number

Fargo Moorhead Chiropractic and Wellness texts from their local 10-digit phone number. It’s the same number you’d call (if you were into that).

I like this approach from a marketing perspective for a handful of reasons:

  1. You only have to market one phone number: You can simply promote one phone number with a call to action to call or text you. Plus, your phone number appears local because it is local — a selling point for the 74% of people in your community who would rather support small businesses than chains or enterprises.
  2. You care about real human connections and community: Some people (like yours truly and 33% of all consumers would rather text a business with questions, concerns, or requests. Empowering your customers to text you shows that you value their communication preferences.
  3. You show you’re real: 77% of your customers would rather get help from a real person than a chatbot. While text auto replies are valuable to confirm you’ve received a message, most people just want to talk to another human being for customer service. Texting from your local number hints that someone else in your local community is there to respond and support your customers.

Like FM Chiropractic, you can text from your local business number, too. In the text marketing industry, we call this 10DLC, which is just a fancy way of saying 10-digit long codes (e.g. 234-555-6789).

How to text from your local or landline phone number

To text from your local business number, you’ll:

  1. Sign up for a free trial of SimpleTexting (or a text messaging service provider of your choice).
  2. Register your local business number, which is as simple as filling out a form after you sign up for your trial (just follow the prompts after you sign up!). You’ll provide information on your business, texting use case, and an example text that you’d like to send (which you can steal from our text message templates library if you’d like inspiration).

After that, we’ll send the information to The Campaign Registry, which essentially verifies that you are who you say you are so only your own business may text from your phone number. (And we do it fast. We’ve heard some other SMS service providers can take weeks to get you up and running, which sounds awful.)

You can see how that’s a good thing. 😉

Ask customers to sign up for text messages when they visit your business

My wife referred me to Fargo Moorhead Chiropractic and Wellness a couple years ago. I’ll be honest that I was dragging my heels, so she even booked my first appointment for me.

Screenshot of text message from Nathan’s wife that reads, “You have a chiro appointment at 6pm on Thursday”
Proof that my wife is awesome.

So when I visited the clinic, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I shouldn’t have worried. The front desk coordinator, Megan, was quick to check me in. And Seth, my chiropractor, was Johnny-on-the-spot with my first visit.

As I checked out, that’s when my experience with text messaging from the clinic began. Megan simply asked for my phone number, which I freely provided with my express written consent.

Megan, FM Chiropractic’s community outreach/front desk coordinator asks clients to subscribe to text messages when they check out of their appointments. Image sourced from FM Chiropractic’s website.

How to collect your customers’ phone numbers to text

If your local small business has foot traffic in an office or building, you can do something like FM Chiropractic to begin building your text message marketing list.

Note: FM Chiropractic entered my info directly into her electronic health record (EHR) software, which then integrates with their texting tool. If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) platform and your goal is to message individuals about appointments, I’d recommend entering contacts there first and integrating that source of truth with your business texting software. The steps below will collect phone numbers directly in SimpleTexting.

I’d recommend creating a poster or sign to hang where your customers would see it. Your poster could simply ask customers to text a specific word to your phone number to join your texting list, like this example:

Simple tools like Canva can help you create posters like this (Canva will even print and mail them to you if you’d like). I created this example with Canva in just a few minutes.

The one thing to be aware of when you advertise or ask customers to subscribe to receive texts from your business is the compliance message. Make sure your advertisements include:

  • The number of texts the subscriber can expect to receive from you every month (e.g. Estim. 4 msgs/month.)
  • How to unsubscribe (e.g. Reply STOP to unsubscribe.)
  • How to receive support (e.g. Reply HELP for help.)
  • Message and data rates information (e.g. Msg&Data rates may apply.)

🚀 Pro tip: If you’d like to advertise your texting program on your website, SimpleTexting has simple (and free) tools to help you design click-to-text buttons and text-to-join keyword graphics you can embed. It’s a good way to engage folks who have shown interest in your business but haven’t physically visited your storefront.

How to set up a text-to-join keyword

Next, you’ll set up your text-to-join keyword in SimpleTexting. This way, when customers text that specific word from your poster to your business number, you’ll automatically respond to let them know it all worked.

Log into SimpleTexting and select Keywords from the left navigation.

Click the New keyword button. Now you’ll name your keyword, which I find easiest when it’s the same word people text to you.

You’ll Add to a new list. Since this example is broad and meant to build a general contact list for the business, I’d recommend naming it something wide-ranging like All contacts.

Prompt customers to schedule new appointments

My visit on Thursday, October 7, 2021, was the first time I’d ever been to a chiropractor. So while Megan, the front desk coordinator, offered to schedule my next appointment as I checked out, I wasn’t ready to commit just yet.

That’s when texting really worked for FM Chiropractic.

One month after my initial appointment, I received this text message on November 8:

This appointment scheduling prompt is brilliant for several reasons:

  1. Personable: The tone reflects the in-person care I experienced during my first visit. It feels like a real person wrote it (which is true), even though I knew it was automated to send one month after my last appointment.
  2. Timely: For me, the timing felt perfect because I was new to chiropractic appointments. I assume this automation would never have the chance to send to people who were more regular visitors (because they wouldn’t likely go more than one month without an appointment).
  3. Consistency: From a business perspective, this is a good way to get in touch with existing clients to stabilize monthly appointments (and therefore, revenue).
  4. Conversational: Because this is a text message, I know I can reply to this friendly text with a date and time to request an appointment. That makes it easy for someone like me who doesn’t really like talking on the phone.

That said, there are a few optimizations you could consider if you’d like to employ this appointment prompt tactic in your small business’s texting strategy:

  1. Begin text messages with your brand or company name. Because this was one of the first texts I received, I didn’t know who sent it by only reading the preview copy in my text inbox. I’m hesitant to open texts when I don’t know who the sender is.
  2. Mention that the recipient can reply to schedule an appointment. I wasn’t sure I could reply to the text to schedule my next appointment. FM Chiropractic could include some language that hints I can reply and someone will actually read and reply to my text.
  3. Include clear opt out language. Compliance is important for business texting, even for small local companies. FM Chiropractic could include, “stop=unsubscribe” or similar language.

Here’s an example of that same message with some optimizations from a text message marketer:

FM Chiro: Hey Nathan, it’s been a while & we wanted to check in. How are you doing? Feel free to reply and we’ll figure out your next appt! Stop=unsubscribe

This message is under 160 characters, so it’s a short message service (SMS) text message.

Note: The only reason character count is noteworthy is because with text messaging services like SimpleTexting, SMS texts cost one credit to send a single message. If your texts have more than 160 characters — or you’d like to include rich media like a GIF, image, PDF, audio, video, or another file type — that’s when your text becomes a multimedia message service, or MMS. MMS texts cost three credits to send to a single recipient. With SimpleTexting’s base plan starting with 500 credits for just $29, though, so it’s affordable to send engaging MMS texts, too.

How to prompt customers to schedule appointments via text message

SimpleTexting integrates with 1,000+ apps. There’s a good chance your CRM or EHR platform will integrate with our SMS service.

For the sake of simplicity, I’ll walk you through an example of how you could text someone one month after a Google Calendar event ends.

We’ll send an appointment prompt text by connecting Google Calendar with SimpleTexting via Zapier. All the details are in this video:

🔖 How to start a text message or SMS loyalty program

Confirm new appointments via text

Whenever I book an appointment with FM Chiropractic, I immediately receive a confirmation text message within a couple minutes after scheduling:

I appreciate these appointment confirmation texts because they:

  1. Let me know my appointment was officially booked right after I scheduled it.
  2. Personalize the text with my name, so I know this is meant for me.
  3. Tell me where the appointment will be, so I know where to be.
  4. Contain all the information I need to show up on the right day at the right time.
  5. Remind me of the best ways to communicate with them (by replying to the text or calling the business phone number).

There’s not much I’d change about this message except potentially adding the actual day of the week (e.g. Wednesday) into the message so there is no way I could accidentally show up on the wrong day.

I also like to see the brand name at the beginning of texts. This helps me use my iPhone Messages preview screen to easily understand who texted me, which is useful when I don’t have the brand programmed in my contacts.

It’s a best practice to begin business text messages with the organization or brand name.

How to set up appointment confirmation text messages

You can set up appointment confirmation texts for your local small business, too.

Chances are that you use a specific system to schedule and manage appointments. If your existing scheduling tool doesn’t send texts, you can simply integrate it with SimpleTexting.

Let’s walk through how to send text message confirmations when a new Google Calendar appointment is created. When a Google Calendar appointment is created, Zapier will tell SimpleTexting to send a text.

Here’s how to set up appointment confirmation text messages:

  1. Copy your Zapier API Key from SimpleTexting
  2. Set up a Zap in Zapier to connect Google Calendar for New Event
  3. Add an action to send a message via SimpleTexting

Step 1: Set up a sample appointment on Google Calendar

Your appointment software should contain important information like phone number. For this example, we will create a sample event in your Google Calendar that has a phone number in the Description field.

In this example, we’ll use the Description field for the phone number we’ll text.

Step 2: Copy your Zapier API Key from SimpleTexting

Log into SimpleTexting, select Integrations in the left menu, and click Zapier Integration.

There, you’ll find your API Key, which you’ll enter into Zapier momentarily. Copy it for now.

Note: You may see a message to contact support if this is your first time using an API key. Simply click the question mark icon in the upper right to start a chat, and paste this message: “Could I get some help for API access to Zapier? I am seeing a message that says, ‘API access is disabled. Please contact us to request API access.’” You’ll get help very quickly and can continue with the following steps as our award-winning support team does their work under the hood. 👍

Step 2: Set up a Zap to connect Google Calendar

Sign up for a free trial of Zapier (or sign in) and Create Zap. Follow Zapier’s prompts to integrate Google Calendar as the first step Trigger. For Event, select New Event.

For this example, when we Test, the recipient’s phone number will be in the Description field in Google Calendar.

Step 3: Add an action to send a message via SimpleTexting

Next, add another Action in the Zap, and search for SimpleTexting. For Event, select Send a message.

Zapier will prompt you to Sign in to Connect SimpleTexting. A screen will appear where you’ll enter your API Key. Paste your key and hit Yes, Continue to SimpleTexting.

Now that your Account is connected in Zapier, you’ll be prompted to fill out the Action information.

Select your number to text from in Account phone, select Description for Contact phone, and select the second option for Message mode: “This will send only a single SMS or return an error”.

Type your message in the Text body field. For this example, we want first name personalization, so as long as the contacts to whom you’re sending texts have their names in the %%firstname%% custom field in SimpleTexting, this will automatically work.

Example: “Hi %%firstname%%, you have an appointment at Fargo Moorhead Chiropractic and Wellness on 09/08 at 8:00AM. Please reply or call 206-761-7316 with questions.”

Test, then see your hard work in SimpleTexting! Log into SimpleTexting, navigate to Inbox, and see your appointment confirmation. Or if you sent that text to your own phone number, check your phone. 😀

Figure out appointment rescheduling (because life happens)

A few days before one of my appointments, I got a text from FM Chiropractic. My chiropractor wasn’t going to be available, so FM Chiropractic was being proactive to retain my business.

This one-on-one text thread was extremely helpful for several reasons:

  1. Proactive: FM Chiropractic proactively communicated that my appointment time would no longer work. They prevented me from showing up and being frustrated when I couldn’t receive an adjustment.
  2. Alternatives: They suggested two times to make it really easy for me to simply reply yes to one of them. This could have prevented a bunch of back and forth if either of those times worked for me.
  3. Amicable: When the initial scheduled times didn’t work for me and I suggested something different that didn’t work for them, they replied with a third appointment slot that ultimately worked for everyone.
  4. Responsive: This whole conversation took place quickly. Every time I texted FM Chiropractic, they replied in less than two minutes. It was impressive how they wanted to take care of our little hiccup with great customer service.
  5. Retention: This proactive approach to simply reschedule the appointment rather than cancel it helped FM Chiropractic retain my business, and I got what I needed for services, too. Win-win.

While the image here doesn’t show it, you already know how FM Chiropractic confirms appointments. I received an automated appointment confirmation text message after this informal two-way text chain, which buttoned up the experience nicely.

How to text customers one-on-one

This one’s pretty simple. Log into SimpleTexting and head to the Inbox. From here, you can start one-on-one conversations with customers and see their full history of conversations with your business.

Ask for feedback and reviews

One day after a visit, FM Chiropractic automatically sends a text message to generate customer reviews.

I’m speculating here, but this is probably how they’ve gathered so many Google and Facebook reviews (which are a great way for a local small business to stand apart from the competition).

You can send a text message to generate Google reviews (and beyond), too.

In addition, you could also use texting to gather feedback to help you improve your products or services:

  • Ask a question to prompt a reply. For example, “FM Chiro: Thanks again for visiting us! We’re curious… How could we have made your experience even better? Reply to let us know. Stop=unsubscribe”. When you get responses, you can simply reply back with one-on-one threads to let the customer know they’ve been heard.
  • Gather customer satisfaction scores. For example, “FM Chiro: How satisfied are you with our service? Reply 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 (1 is low). Stop=unsubscribe”. You can automate replies to each of the numbers to gather even more information or encourage other actions. For example, if someone replies 1, you could ask “Is there anything you’d like to add?” If someone replies with 5, you could share your Google Review link, “Would you help us spread the word with a quick Google Review? [LINK]”
  • Send a feedback survey link: You could set up a survey of sorts if there are several questions you’d like to ask with an easy tool like Google Forms and share the link via text message. For example, “FM Chiro: Thanks again for visiting us! Would you provide some feedback to help us improve? We’ll randomly choose one responder to receive a free adjustment! [LINK] Stop=unsubscribe”.

How to set up automatic text messages to gather Google Reviews

When an appointment ends, you can send text messages to your clients to encourage them to review your business.

This process is similar to sending prompt texts to get clients to schedule new appointments like you learned about earlier in this article (watch that video for complete detail).

  1. Create a new Zap in Zapier with the Trigger event as a Google Calendar event ending.
  2. Optional: Set a Delay action for a few minutes so the customer doesn’t get the text while they’re still in your office.
  3. Create an action to send a message from SimpleTexting.

Here’s a help doc from Google to create a link for customers to write reviews on Local Services.

Your text message could look something like this:

FM Chiro: Thanks again for visiting us! Reviews from happy customers help us grow so we can continue providing the best service in town. Would you help us by leaving a Google Review? [LINK] Stop=unsubscribe

The wrap

Text messaging isn’t just for big businesses. Small businesses like my local chiropractor use texting to build and retain customer loyalty and relationships.

You can use texting for your local small business to:

  1. Prompt existing customers to come back for future services.
  2. Confirm and remind customers of appointments to avoid unintended no shows.
  3. Reschedule appointments to retain your relationships and revenue.
  4. Encourage positive word of mouth with online reviews to generate new business.

FM Chiro did it. So can you. 🎉

Nathan Ellering
Nathan Ellering

Nathan is the head of content and SEO at SimpleTexting. With the help of an awesome team, he’s attracted more than 65 million website visitors, converted 10 million email subscribers, and supported 300,000 software users. He's written for the likes of Fast Company and his work has been referenced in publications like Forbes. Nathan has 15 years of proven corporate and startup marketing experience and continues to venture off the beaten path. When he’s not marketing, you’ll catch Nathan canoeing in the Boundary Waters or training for his next ultra marathon. Connect with Nathan on LinkedIn.

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