November 12, 2016

Good Ways to Lose Clients

As a personal trainer, I am always thinking of ways that I can improve. How can I improve the workouts I provide or my customer service? How can I improve my own fitness and stay inspired? I’m always striving to grow and evolve. I recently posed a question to my friends on Facebook and the responses gave me the idea for this blog post. I expected maybe one or two answers… everyone is busy and has a million things to look at on Facebook, but this question blew up! I was shocked. I got a lot of answers from people who were passionate about sharing their experiences with me. The question was this: 

“Have you ever worked out or practiced with a personal trainer or fitness/yoga instructor that did something that turned you off enough to not want to work with them anymore?”

Wow. The responses were pretty shocking. They even reminded me of the things I used to see happen when I used to work for a large gym. I would see fellow trainers sitting down and eating on the floor while their clients worked out. I would see them texting non-stop or even taking calls during their sessions. I would see them working out alongside them when it wasn’t supposed to be a partner workout. I was always amazed they had any clients at all in spite of this unprofessional behavior. You want to know the most amazing thing? Not one single answer had anything to do with the client reaching their goals. No one said, “I didn’t lose those pounds” or “I didn’t put on enough muscle.” It was all about the way they were being treated and respected as customers.

Something I found alarming was how many responses mentioned a trainer having disregarded a previous injury. Don't make this mistake too: as a fitness professional, educate yourself on how to keep your clients safe by providing modifications or alternate exercises based on their personal health history. It's especially important to be able to "think on your feet" when a client tells you about an injury at the last moment and you already have something else planned. This will inevitably happen at some point in your career, so its best to always have an alternative or modification in mind.

Several other people mentioned being referred to as “skinny fat” during their initial assessments. Calling someone “skinny fat” is the same as calling someone “fat.” It is mean, it isn’t going to sit well with your client and it probably isn’t going to get you their repeat business. Think of another way to discuss “toning up” and “building lean muscle” in a positive way. Hurting a client's feelings isn’t going to help either of you. Calling people out in a negative way, or asking them personal questions during group classes or sessions, will also likely cause them to never return. We should always strive to empower and uplift our students and clients to make their experience a positive one.

A few other answers people provided to my question involved the frustrations that come with trainers that were always late/cancelling or always on their phone during sessions. Obviously, life happens and sometimes there are timing issues, but make your clients' time a priority and they will appreciate you for it. Pushing products was another hot button issue. I’ve never met anyone in my life who likes being “sold” to, so review your tactics if you’re required to sell supplements and make sure you’re being considerate and responsive to your clients' feelings. Finally, several spoke of a serious lack of passion. This is not a job you can perform successfully without PASSION! You have to really want to help people - you need to have that fire inside you burning hot! I always tell people when they tell me they are considering a career as a trainer or a teacher, "You’ve gotta love it!"

The moral of the story is this: if someone is paying you for your time, it then becomes THEIR time. Your attention should be on them and their needs and how you can help them achieve whatever goal they are working towards. If you’re reading this article it means that you care about how you can improve your business and that’s the first step! Fitness professionals wear many hats and it’s certainly not an easy job. We are not only trainers and teachers, but salespeople, customer service specialists, role models, and much more. We have to know more than just exercises (but we still have to know those, too). We have to know how to treat our customers and keep them happy (AKA “paying”). Each client is different and one approach doesn’t work for everyone. Be thoughtful in how you plan for each individual session and your clients will thank you with their continued business and hopefully referrals! Good luck out there! We believe in YOU!

Mandee + Lauren