As any trainer knows, getting a good, steady, reliable stable of clients is the perfect dream. We know all too well that what we sell can be an impulse item for many of those who seek us out. At the beginning of the year, new clients pile onto our schedules like ants at a picnic, all imbued with the fervor of their New Year's resolutions.
And you know what happens next; within the month, some of them start dropping like flies. Irrepressible enthusiasm fades and pretty soon, you start hearing every excuse under the sun for not coming to the next training session. People that threw every dollar they had to train with you are now willing to let that money just flush away down the drain.
Working out is hard. We know that better than anyone. Sticking to a schedule for working out is hard. We know that too. We tell them this before we begin. Staying motivated to come and work your brains out is hard. "But, that's what you expected...that's why you hired me, right?" Nothing really worth having is going to be easy. Happens every new year.
So, how do you break through that wall of impulsiveness and weakness to get someone who's just on the edge of quitting to stick with it, trust you, and allow you to get them what they want and need, a fitter, healthier body and self?
Well, here's where your people skills really need to come in. We already touched on the basic tools you, as a trainer, need to give people to keep them excited about the whole training thing. Empathy, enthusiasm, and innovation. What you need to add to that mix is just being accessible. There's nothing worse than a trainer who never has time to talk to their client. My clients have access to me 24-7, with some limits, of course. I mean, don't call me at 3am in the morning.... But you get what I'm saying.
Also, just make sure that you're not overwhelming your new clients. Starting a fitness program for them is already hard enough. If you turn it into a scary, painful nightmare, they're definitely going to quit on you. Some people really need to be eased into this whole fitness thing...not too easily, but you have to work them hard while still letting them believe that they can do this. Pulling out your hardest workouts at the start is just going to defeat the entire purpose.
Another thing you need to do is set a precedent with them as far as their commitment is concerned. Make sure that they know how valuable your time is, and that taking them on was a commitment on your part as well. This is not some casual thing they get to do whenever they feel like it. You are in demand, and you set aside this special slot in your schedule just for them. In a tactful way, make sure they know it.
I also like to set the rules before the first session starts; don't be late, no refunds if you cancel within less than 24 hours, and no frequent cancellations. Lay the hammer down firmly, but softly. They need to know to take it seriously.
Use your first few sessions with them to show them how worth it it is for you to train them. The first sessions are really the make or break point with new clients.
Show your knowledge, caring and develop a good rapport early. Also remember that each client is different, and you have to really use your intuitive skills to know how to motivate that client and keep them excited and wanting to show up again for the next go round.
Client retention is one of the hardest yet most vital elements of a successful personal training career. Takes a bit more work than most realize, but it's so worth it for all involved in the long run.