Home Personal Training Business Foundations How To Keep Your PT Clients Longer.

How To Keep Your PT Clients Longer.

“The difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is a twist of the wrist.”
-Laurence Leamer

Personal Training client retention is the most neglected element in Personal Training businesses.  It’s the no. 1 reason why PT’s fail in their business efforts.  It’s easy to lose clients.  And it’s equally as simple to keep them…if you know how…

When you have a bad experience, you don’t go back.

That’s what the new customer service stats are saying.  Customers rank their experience as the most important factor in doing business with you.  In fact, 82% of consumers stop doing business with a company as a result of a negative experience.

In a competitive market, customers hardly complain. They just take their business elsewhere.  And in most cases you don’t even know why.

In the pre-internet days, the common wisdom was that customers will tell approximately 10 people of their bad experience and enlighten 2 or 3 people of their good ones.  But now days, in 20 seconds – THE WHOLE WORLD KNOWS.  Just like the news, people love drama – and will do anything to ramp up their bad experiences with you and make it like you nearly killed them.

In the over competitive Personal Training industry, the power goes to those offering over the top customer service.  And the beauty is, you can never go too far when it comes to customer service.  The more you give, the more retention you’re gonna have… which equals more business, quality referrals and most importantly – more long term profits.

Fact: It costs 5 times as much to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.  Focus should be on servicing your existing customers. Retention is king.

Working within a fitness chain, lets break down how long it takes to get a new Personal Training client:
Whether it’s walking the floor, or lead calling… you have to search and locate a qualified prospect (this could take a few days – or up to a week)

Then you have to establish rapport and persuade them to train with you and find an appropriate time for them to meet with you. (It’s usually a free session or discounted rate) Depending on available times, this could take another 2-3 days.

And after you’ve trained them, you go through your sales presentation and hope they’ll convert. (in some cases, you have to re-book them again in order to persuade them more)

As you can see in the above example, it can take up to a week to convert a prospect into a paying client.  And depending on your payment terms, you have to wait another week for payments to be approved and settle into your account.

Prospecting might take you 2 hours.  Plus, 1 hour in making time available to see your prospect, your admin tasks in making sure your client pays you, measuring and assessing them, figuring out a workout plan and so on – add 1 more hour.  And let’s not forget the missed income from the client who left you. (on average, that’s usually 1 hour – 2 x 30 min sessions)  And if you were to add up this entire process, it’s about 5 hours of your time.  And if you charge on average $70 per hour, then you’ve just lost $350.

Get this…

55% of customers will pay more for a great customer experience – even coming out of a recession.  Isn’t it funny how most trainers still try using price as a lure to bait more customers?

You see it all the time.  But…

55% of customers recommend a business because of its customer service.  And 79% of customers which have had a negative experience told others about it.  Usually by word of mouth.  Therefore, as a community based Personal Trainer – whether you’re working out of a fitness centre or as a local mobile PT’ing… and provide a bad experience, people are going to know.  And you know how much people love drama and attention!

They’ll go and tell others about it too – and soon, you’ll be the trainer everyone’s talking about (in a bad way)

The Lesson: The greater the experience and service you provide, the more clients you retain.

Increasing Personal Training Client Retention through PT Power Club’s Client Lifecycle.

It’s divided into 3 parts.  The first stage is what I call the ‘kindling’ stage.  This is the period where your client just signed up and is exploring with what you’re offering for the first time.  The fire is kindling and only good intentions are going through their minds.  This period lasts approximately 8 weeks.

The second stage is what I call the ‘blazing’ stage. This is when your client starts seeing results and grows more confidence with you.  Their lives are changing. They’re in control of their lifestyle. They realise their fitness goals are in reach and feel dominant.  Their friends are noticing changes, they’re exercising on their own, they’re listening and applying what you’ve told them… and so on.  This period varies, but on average 6 months or longer.

The last stage is what I call the ‘light my dying fire’ phase.  Watch out for the warning signals;

  • Lack of results (frustrated with inconsistent outcomes)
  • Overtraining syndrome (complaining about soreness, lack of sleep, fatigue, irritability, and so on)
  • Boredom (they don’t see the value in you anymore, you’re aren’t providing them with enough challenge, no variety, lack of goal setting, etc )
  • Losing interest and not exercising on their own (perceiving you as a burden)
  • Loss for direction. (They start complaining about bills and expenses, they start cancelling on you a little more often than usual, they’re perhaps looking at other means of getting results through ads and other methods and questioning your knowledge and profession)

To keep clients, you MUST be aware of these phases and manipulate them when they arise.  Introducing what I call the ‘ignite’ principle.

As a Personal Trainer, your purpose is having the mindset to make phases 1 & 2 last forever (The purpose here is to have the mindset of forever lasting relationships)

So if you know the ‘kindling’ phase lasts around 8 weeks, some strategies you might want to put in place are: Goal setting lasting 12-15 weeks or longer, explaining what kind of results they’re to experience over a 6 month – 12 month period, what kinds of exercises they’re going to progress to and how they’re going to achieve them and so on…

The ‘blazing’ stage is the longest phase you want your clients to stay in.  Your clients are loving their results.  They are spending more, referring more and are saying good things about you.  In this stage, your clients are more easily persuaded in training more with you.  In other words, they’re more willing to say “YES” to your other offerings. (classes, more sessions, etc. )  It’s the blazing stage where everything happens.  Because of the trust you’ve developed – you become their main priority in life.

Ways to add fuel and further ignite the blaze are to do random follow-ups, send them a ‘rewards’ gift (you don’t need to spend too much money here) check their exercise program and comment on it, send them a random ‘thank you’ card – further encouraging and complimenting them on their efforts, keep explaining what’s involved in the next level of progression and what they need to accomplish before they’re ready and so on…

As long as they’re learning, progressing and noticing how much further they can take themselves, they’ll stay longer.

It’s only when they start noticing their flame dying, they enter the ‘light my dying fire’ phase.  Watch out for the signs. To resuscitate this deadly stage, you need to look at yourself and evaluate your approach.  Combine ignite principles 1 & 2 and start applying them to your ‘dying’ clients as soon as you can.

The Takeaway: Keeping clients IS the most important aspect of running your PT business.  Spend 5 times more energy in retaining them.  Figure out ways to nurture your clients.  Give more than you receive.  Also have enough prospects in your pipeline ready for conversion – just in case some clients run out of fuel and burn out too soon.

Dedicated in Accelerating Your Personal Training Business Every Step Of The Way…
John Toumpakke

P.S. Fact: Most businesses think 48% of customers leave because of price and ‘affordability’ issues, when in fact only 25% do so.  When customers leave, businesses say “it’s price” because they refuse to believe clients and customers don’t love them anymore.