Home Personal Training Business Foundations How To Keep Clients Through No Cost Surprises

How To Keep Clients Through No Cost Surprises

“It’s not the value of what you find.  It’s that something positive happened to you”
– Norbert Schwarz

Speaking about how to build a Personal Training business and client retention strategies for Personal Trainers – it’s best illustrated with a personal experience of mine that’s not fitness related…

There I was a few years back looking for toner refills.  SO many people offering the same thing.  Fierce competition.  Too much choice.  Big chains.  Small operators.  Who do you choose…?

I was always a fan of personalised service.  And I know big chains don’t provide that.  They’re all about pleasing their accountants.  So I found this one man operator who seemed to have a reputation.

He mainly dealt with toner refills.  That was his specialty – so he already earned some points.

2 days later my package arrived.  And as I ripped open the wrapping… 5 Allens Fantales fell out.

 I started laughing 🙂 !

I thought to myself –here’s a person selling boring ol’ ink and made it exciting by revealing his sense of humour.  I loved it!

Not only that, the package came with a letter explaining how to use the ink – with detailed pictures and instructions.  He WOW’ed me.

The Lesson:  He went BEYOND ‘just’ fulfilling the order.  He took out time to be creative and funny.  He surprised me with a ‘gift’ as if to say… “I respect and appreciate your business.”

I don’t eat lollies.  I don’t eat sugar.  But I never threw them away.  Why should I?  I know it’s just a few cheap lollies – but it’s got sentimental value which I respect.  And you simply can’t throw that away…

… So instead, each time my nieces and nephews come by – I surprise them with lollies.  I’m contributing.  They’re happy.  Win-Win.

Damn Lollies!

Now every time I need toner refills, I don’t bother looking for ‘cheaper price.’  I don’t search his competitors.  I just push a few buttons and 2 days later I know I’m gonna get ink and lollies.

Lollies which are worth ZERO dollars made me his customer for life.  Howz that for a retention strategy?

For something that costs nothing – his return on investment is thousands of dollars.  And that’s just me.  One person.  How about the rest of his customers…

…I was curious so I started reading his testimonials…

“Great quality refills and detailed instructions.  He even gave me lollies!”

“Prompt delivery, good product+ lollies:) happy byer thanks”

“The only people who will include lollies with your order to CHEER YOU UP!”

“Great service again, whoa hoo 6 fantails chockies! Jackpot”

“Great service again, still only 2 fantails, hoping for more!”

With a current ebay transaction of 7513 sales and 100% feedback rating – it’s no wonder why so many people are happy and who are repeat customers.

A bit of surprise and humour goes a long way.  Sometimes customers will overlook negative criticisms all because you gave them a gift which was fun and unexpected.

“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.”
– John N. Mitchell

Reciprocity is so strong, that a person will feel obligated to return a favor regardless of whether they like the person who gave the favour or not.

A study in 1971 proved the power of this.

A group was put into an art class.  An assistant of the experiment would get to know a class member and after a while would disappear for a 2 minute break and bring back a soft drink for the subject.

After the small art class was finished, the assistant asked the person to buy raffle tickets from him.

In the control group the assistant would behave the exact same way but did not buy the person a drink.

Those who had received a surprise soft drink bought more raffle tickets than those in the control group.

At the end, a survey was given for the subjects.  It revealed that whether they personally liked the assistant or not had no effect on how many tickets were bought.  In the study, subjects paid more money for the tickets than the cost of the unrequested soft drink.

One thing I teach trainers is to under promise and over deliver.  Leave your prospects guessing on what you’re gonna give them next.  In other words, don’t tell them.  Don’t reveal all your cards.  Let the element of surprise WOW them over.

Otherwise they expect it and feel like it’s ‘owed’ to them because they’re paying you money.

I remember when a client was having problems with the whole ‘calorie’ thing.  She seemed to know what she was talking about… but after a few weeks I realised her weight wasn’t changing.  She ‘thought’ she was doing everything right and it wasn’t ‘her’ fault.

I knew the problem.  She didn’t know what she was talking about.  So, I went to the local book shop and bought the latest calorie counter book.

At just $10 – my return on investment quadrupled overnight – and kept growing week by week.

Here’s how:

Firstly, I had to find out if she already owned one of those books through regular conversation.  She did not.

Second, I hand wrote a personal note on how much I value her as a client and all I want is the best for her.

Third, I mailed out the book and note on Friday morning so she’ll get it by Monday.

And fourth, on our session on Tuesday – she couldn’t wait to see me and tell how happy and excited she was that someone actually cares for her.  She was originally training with me twice a week… and on that Tuesday – she signed up for 3 times! … all because now she wanted to make it work.

I invested just $10 and she ended up training 3 times per week for a little over 2 years.  $4,400 of extra income I perhaps wouldn’t of otherwise gotten.  For $10 and 30 minutes of work – where else will you get a 43,900% return on investment?

Too much focus is on the now and too little is on the future.  Building strong foundations are where most trainers fail.  Too much focus is on the ‘now.’  And sadly, that’s the attitude of failure.

The other lesson:  It’s NEVER about the dollar value you give… it’s about the perceived value.  It’s NOT ‘just’ the thought that counts… it’s analysing and thinking… “how can I give emotional value to this person”

Expensive gifts aren’t always the best.  The gifts which trigger the greatest positive emotions are what have the greatest feelings of impact.

I was at a birthday party last Saturday night.  And the section where the presents go – you see one thing.  Alcohol.  It doesn’t matter how pretty you dress up a bottle of alcohol or what fandangle coloured gift bag you put it in – from the outside… it looks like bloody booze.  And you’re not fooling anyone!

I mean, going to the liquor store ‘on the way’ to the party and picking up some cool looking bottle and slapping it in a gift bag and with a note saying…

“To (name).  I wish you all the best for your # birthday.  Love (your name).


It shows the attendee didn’t go out of his way to use proper thought and really analyse what the person really wants.  I mean, come on…

…The birthday person is inviting, feeding and providing a night full of entertainment.  The birthday person used some creative thought to figure out what her guests would like, and spent a whole lot of time and money in making sure everyone has a good time…

…The least an attendee could do is be a little more appreciative and not be so damn predictable!

Bottom line:  If you want to WOW and get more Personal Training clients – make sure you surprise them with a gift that doesn’t cost you much… but delivers high perceived value.

Sometimes a hand written birthday card with a personal note goes a super long way.  Upon meeting a prospect – I ALWAYS try getting their birthday.  And I mail it out when the time comes.  The same goes with Christmas cards.  It only costs me time – but the value is unbelievable.

It shows that you respect them as a person and you care.  And in most cases – you’d be the only one in their life who remembers and truly cars for them.

And the reciprocity you receive = more retention and referrals.

Treat everything you purchase as an investment and you’ll dazzle yourself with how much control you have over your life – and weed out unnecessary purchases.

NEVER refer to anything as a ‘cost.’  Ask yourself…

“How much am I investing?” 

“What’s my return on investment when I act now?”

“How much extra value can I contribute by taking this small action?”

“What possibilities can I gain that’ll contribute to my long-term happiness and success of others?”

A poor minded person asks “how much?” or… “what’s it costing me?”

Behave like a wealthy person.  Always focus on the long term possibilities of your actions.

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

Building A Personal Training Business With Lollies

P.S. I would love to know of the different ways you come up with in WOWing your clients and prospects

P.P.S. Your comments are always welcome 🙂

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John Toumpakke for years has been helping Personal Trainers build marketing systems and business positioning strategies - turning regular PT's into gurus of their industry. His brand PT Power Club is known as the provider for advanced Niche marketing solutions for Personal Trainers and has developed new and unique systems helping trainers find and develop their own fitness niche. He coaches and trains a tightly, successful bound community of trainers teaching them how to stand out and dominate their competition through his powerful positioning strategies. PT Power Club’s goal is to teach and coach Personal Trainers across Australia on how to truly find their unique status within their community and eliminate all competition.


  1. OMG – One of your most informative posts i’ve read!

    Who would of thought lollies are the answer to client retention and money making?

    Unbelievable 🙂

    It just goes to show what a little creativity does to your business

    Great Post 🙂

  2. You’ve just given me like a thousand ideas on how to WOW my clients. Off to the supermarket and stock up on lollies.

    How funny will it be when my clients receive a bunch of Fredo frogs and chocolate bars from me. That’ll definitely help with my client retention 🙂

    Jokes aside… it goes to show how just a simple gesture goes a long way. And it doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Another epic article.
    Thanks John


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