I recently trained at a local fitness club and was appalled at what I saw! For thirty minutes (while running on the treadmill) I observed a personal trainer take his client through a circuit workout. This guy had NO IDEA how to retain personal training clients and was more concerned with selling more personal training. For example:
- While his client was warming up on the rowing machine, the personal trainer was talking to someone on an adjacent elliptical trainer trying to sell them on personal training.
- While his client was doing the exercises in the circuit, the personal trainer was walking around the gym and saying “hi” to everyone else and sparking up conversation (often times walking away from his paying client).
- The personal trainer walked to the front desk and was gone for about five minutes while his client was working out and waiting for him to come back.
If I was that client, I would have dropped that personal trainer without a second thought. His actions were unprofessional and disrespectful.
To be honest, poor customer service can happen, and it’s easy to understand why. Personal trainers need to balance their job of training their current clients with the responsibility of finding new clients when their clients don’t continue. With limited hours in the day to train clients (which generates revenue) it’s hard to make the time to sell and market their services when it’s time to bring in new clients. Wouldn’t it be nice if trainer’s didn’t have to constantly find new clients and have repeat customers for life? Well … it can be done!
The Importance of Retention
Retention includes all the actions a personal trainer must take to keep their clients happy, build loyalty, and promote repeat sales. These activities don’t “directly” generate sales but they increase the value as a personal trainer and differentiate them from the competition. Unfortunately, it is something that most personal trainers don’t focus their attention on. That’s because many don’t realize how important it is and/or the actions to take to get the job done. For personal trainers, an effective retention strategy results in less time selling and more time doing what they love … helping their clients get healthier through fitness!
Retention strategies take time and effort implement but, if done consistently, can significantly increase sales (and take only minutes a day). Below are five retention strategies to consider adding to your personal training business:
- Provide amazing customer service
- Reward and recognize your clients
- Blog on your website/social media page(s)
- Offer other beneficial products and/or services
- Start a fitness MeetUp group
Provide AMAZING Customer Service
The first, and most important, thing you can do to ensure your clients continue to work with you and purchase additional personal training services is by providing the best service and support possible through their training experience. For example:
- Good communication
- Good feedback and instruction
- Safety and support
- Showing up on time
- Building genuine rapport
If your client doesn’t have a good experience with you, it’s highly unlikely they will pay for additional services in the future.
Reward and Recognize Your Clients
Providing your clients with recognition and reward for their hard work. The little things go a long way by showing your clients how much you truly care about them. This includes:
- Birthday cards
- Holiday greetings
- T-shirt, water bottle or gift certificates when they achieve a fitness goal
- One free session for every ten sessions they complete
When you give to them, they feel an obligation to give back to you.
Blog on Your Website/Social Media Page(s)
A website blog and/or social media pages (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) is a way for you to continue the “conversation” with your clients. You can provide exercise tips, nutrition advice, motivational messages, and support 24/7, 365 days a year. This keeps you connected to your clients and keeps provides added value to their experience with you. It also keeps you top of mind and helps to promote consistent workouts with you.
Offer Other Beneficial Products and/or Services
When it comes to their fitness and wellness, you may know your clients better than they know themselves. Unfortunately, you only get a few hours a week with them to provide them with the help they may need. If you find a product or service that you believe will help your clients when they are on their own, you should consider selling them as an added value to your clients. This may include:
- Home workout programs
- Nutrition counselling (if you have proper training)
- Weight loss meal plans (i.e., PersonalTrainerFood.com)
- Nutrition supplements (i.e., Herbalife, BrainJuice)
- Fitness equipment and accessories (i.e., TRX, Therabands, kettle bells, ViPR)
Your client’s number one goal is to get results. If the products and services you offer help them to get better results or get results faster, they are a good addition to your offering.
Start a Fitness MeetUp Group
Although a fitness MeetUp group is FREE for participants, it is invaluable for the retention and ongoing relationship with your current clients. During any fitness program, staying motivated can be hard and is a lonely challenge. By building a community with your clients, you not only help them to succeed with their fitness goals, you also ensure they continue to work with you (and possibly refer others). A fitness MeetUp group can also (at your discretion) include friends and family who are not currently a client.
Fitness MeetUp groups are not about exercise, they are about everything that affects a client’s success with their fitness program, including:
- Tips and information on proper nutrition
- Healthy cooking
- Emotional support when times get tough
- Feel good stories
- Building a strong support system
- How to maintain fitness on their own
- Dealing with setbacks (i.e., injuries, extended travel, pregnancy)
They are a group gathering in addition to the one-on-one personal training sessions to help your clients get the support they need that goes beyond their training hour. The group dynamic creates a support “bubble” for your clients that also leads them back to you … their trainer and leader. One company that has been using this model with their nutritional supplements is Herbalife. The have created nutrition clubs that bring people together for fitness (a free service) as a part of the their nutritional product membership. The combination of fitness and nutrition in a value-added package (one paid and one free) has been a successful combination.
Final Thoughts About Client Retention
Retention activities don’t result in immediate sales but they are invaluable in what they can do to build and explode your business. You build a tight knit and loyal group of clients who are the type of clients you WANT to train and you don’t need to spend a lot of time searching for new clients to maintain a constant revenue stream.
Take the time to plan out the retention strategies that represent what you want to build in your personal training business and start with one strategy at a time. What you will find is that you will end up with happier and more successful clients over time who will end up being the best FREE marketing for your business as they will speak volumes about what you have done for their health, fitness and quality of life!