Client retention is the key to any successful business. While acquiring new clients is the lifeblood of a growing business, it cost a lot less to keep them than constantly having to find new. The fitness industry operates the same way. How can professionals retain clients for services that are 100% based on disposable income? There is no one single answer. I will share my experiences to help you in whatever line of client business you are in.
The first step in retaining clients in a business based on disposable income is to have a salesperson mindset. A huge problem in the fitness industry is that personal trainers think people will come to them because they look good and like working out. That is the farthest thing from the truth! Unfortunately, personal trainer certifications wait until the last chapter of a 500-page book to give any information on sales and marketing. 38 chapters are dedicated to anatomy, biology, physiology, and how to partner body parts together for an effective workout routine. One chapter half the length of all the others gives any info on how to gain and retain clients. The same goes for doctors, lawyers, and accountants to name a few.
The second step is to work with a wide variety of clients with different goals and ages. To many trainers want the perfect client who does everything like them and has the same amount of time to spend as they do. The overwhelming majority of clients have jobs and families that require 99% of their attention. A couple hours per week with you is not their life. By working with a variety, you learn how to relate and adjust your style to different people based on where they are in their life. I had a female trainer co-worker who only wanted to work with other females who were “serious” and had time two days per week at 5:00PM or 6:00PM. Because she was so restrictive, she missed out on a long-term client that became one of my best friends. Needless to say, she isn’t employed by the health club anymore or has any clients attempting to train privately.
The third step is to be a product of your product. People only invest when they see a potential ROI. Fat and out of shape trainers are broke. It doesn’t mean you have to be a fitness model or competitive bodybuilder. You do have to represent a healthy, active lifestyle, and be able to do the workout yourself that you’re making the client perform. I say this because sometimes the obvious is not so obvious.
The fourth step is to be authentic. People hire other service providers based on some type of emotional connection and justify with logic. If you are fake, good luck in retaining any clients beyond an initial package. Because fitness professionals are completely optional, clients are not required to stay with you or even finish out a package they purchased. A person invested in you because they felt a connection that makes them want to show up before or after work when they have better things to do than waste it on a flake. Some of my best friends were and are current clients. You can maintain professionalism and cultivate personal relationships outside the gym when you are authentic.
The fifth and final step is be teachable. Continuing education credits are required for any professional service provider. I’m not talking about going through those motions. Listen to other gym members, co-workers, managers, and industry news. Don’t be afraid to implement new ideas and techniques to keep your clients and you interested. I always have my ears and eyes tuned to other trainers on how they work with their clients. Give credit to them when you use their ideas and techniques. It fosters a giving relationship at work and one of trust. A couple other trainers bought and read my book. I was honored they thought highly of me enough to invest into my philosophies and practices.
It is easy to think your business is different. The truth is it really is not when dealing with people. The service or product you represent is different, how you interact and relate to other humans is the same across all businesses. For more info on how I work with clients, please email me, Matt Peale, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and go to my website, mattpeale.com.