Keeping attrition low is probably the best way to maintain a successful training business. Following these 10 simple secrets will help ensure your current clients stick with you for the long term!
1. Use the EAT model of selling. Remember that people only remember 20 percent of what they are told, 50 percent of what they see and 90 percent of what they actually DO! Thus, instead of telling your clients they need to perform the typical and often mundane stretching routine before they can progress into more challenging exercises, try the following approach:
- E: Put them through an EXPERIENCE. One of the best times to use this approach is during your initial assessment. Simply ask your client to perform exercises he is not comfortable with such as a full squat, lunge, push up or anything he should be able to do with good form but cannot because he is deconditioned. By allowing your client to attempt the exercise and perform it incorrectly, you are SHOWING him where his weaknesses are rather than simply telling him what he needs to do. How would you learn best? By being told you need to stretch for several hours because you are too deconditioned to do anything else, or would you rather have a chance to do a squat, find out how challenging it is to do correctly, and then be given a solution to solve your problem?
- A: Bring the problem to your clients' AWARENESS. As you’re showing a client how to do an exercise correctly, explain why he is unable to do it (in a nurturing way). For example, "Joe, as you move dynamically in a pattern such as the squat, your body requires activation from your core as well as full integration of your arms and legs. Once you have an opportunity to stretch the tight muscles, this will allow much better recruitment of the weaker muscles, such as your abdominals! Does that make sense to you?"
- T: TRAIN them properly. This entails taking all clients through what they actually need. At least 95 percent of the time, this will entail a significant phase of flexibility training and core conditioning. For example, “So Joe, now that we have identified some of the imbalances inhibiting your squat pattern, we are now going to address these with the following corrective exercise program. Does that sound like a solid plan?”
When you set the stage using the EAT method, your clients will be much more motivated to follow your stretching and corrective exercise program, and thus they'll get far better results on your program.
2. Use tie ins whenever possible. People are motivated by THEIR own reasons, not their trainers' reasons! Therefore, anytime you are performing an assessment or an exercise, you should be thinking of ways to tie in their goals. For example, “Jane, did you know your gluts are the largest muscle in your entire body? The larger the muscle, the more calories it has the potential to burn! Thus, by doing Supine Hip Extensions, we are building an effective fat burning machine for your body.” If you use tie ins like this, you’ll find your clients are all of sudden much more motivated to follow the programs you've created for them!
3. Engage your clients by following the 70/30 rule. This means they should be talking 70 percent of the time, while you're talking only 30 percent of the time. Now, I’m not implying you should be passive. You should always remain in control by being assertive and asking plenty of good questions. By asking questions, you will inevitability cause the client to ask you questions. This is your time to shine and to educate your client with information that is relevant to his/her situation. This can be a little tricky at first and does take some practice to learn and perfect.
How many trainers have you seen working in the gym talking to their clients constantly? Talk, talk, talk. This is great IF they are talking specifically about the client’s goals and how his/her program relates to those goals, but how many trainers are actually doing that? I have not seen many. Lack of communication and inattentiveness to the client’s goals is one of the main reasons why the average trainer only makes about $24,000 per year.
The correct way to engage your clients is to ask them questions that mean something. For example, “So Jane, how did you sleep last night? What did you eat for lunch today? Were your abdominal muscles sore after those new exercises we did last week? Are you feeling any improvements in your body yet?” These are all questions that are specifically aimed at a result. They get clients talking about very personal issues that are important to them. Therefore, when you begin talking about technical knowledge that is relevant to an individual client's situation, your clients are much more engaged and ready to use that information to solve their problems.
4. Don’t get caught up in small talk. Think about it from a customer’s point of view. If you go to consult with your accountant, do you want him to talk all hour about last night’s baseball game or the latest current event? Maybe very briefly, but that’s not why you’re there. Thus, small talk might be good “filler information,” but it accomplishes NOTHING and creates no real VALUE in what you are selling. Remember, every minute of every hour spent with a client must be spent SELLING yourself, not making small talk on the client’s dime.
5. Don’t try to impress your clients by using technical jargon. Only about 20 percent of people are technical minded and interested in learning the details of what they are doing. These people are generally accountants, bookkeepers or anyone with a very detail oriented personality. The other 80 percent of people are very busy, stressed out executives or parents who don’t care WHY things work, they just want to know HOW to do it properly.
6. Always end each session by giving your client specific homework to do. Whether it’s filling out a food log, doing stretches or doing some zone exercises, give them something to work on between sessions and let them know what to do in preparation for your next session. Also, let them know exactly what you will be covering with them in that next session. This makes the client feel like they are on a real program, rather than just feeling like time with you is another hour of their day that they don’t value and will not think about once they leave.
7. Spend five to 10 minutes reviewing your clients’ notes and information before they arrive. There is nothing more flattering to clients than to have their trainer know exactly where they left off during the last session. By briefly reviewing what the last session accomplished and what you plan to accomplish in your next session, you will have a much better chance of really engaging clients and making them feel like they are a part of a well thought out, professional program.
8. Make every effort to schedule your clients two to three weeks in advance. By getting your clients to commit to their training programs at the same time and on the same days of each week, you are making them feel like they are involved a regular, systematic program that is designed to get them results. We all know the top two reasons why people hire a trainer. It’s not information and it’s not knowledge. It’s ACCOUNTABILITY and MOTIVATION. Use this to your advantage by being eager and excited to get them on a regular schedule of workouts. This way, they can always count on your enthusiasm for their success... even when theirs drops off! This, above all else, will position you as a leader and a role model in the eyes of your clients.
9. Always be selling and prospecting! Although many trainers do not realize this, the purpose of a business is to serve and satisfy enough clients to generate enough revenue to earn a profit. This is the first rule in business, especially in the fitness industry. You are your best marketing vehicle. No matter if you’re at the grocery store, getting your oil changed or at the movies, you are going to attract people who need your services, so don’t be shy to talk with them and give them your business card!
I have found the best way to do this is to start the conversation by saying, “What business are you in?” This gets the person talking about himself and allows you to relax and listen. Listening builds trust. Remember, you don’t learn anything about the prospect when you are talking about yourself or your services. The more the prospect talks, the more inevitable it is that the prospect will then ask you, “What do you do for a living?” Now that you’ve got the prospect's full attention, this is your opportunity to let him know who you are and what you do. My typical prospect interaction sounds something like this:
"I’m a personal trainer and fitness coach. I help people lose weight and build muscle.” Then, remain silent until the prospect responds. Eight out of 10 people will say something like, “Really? I could use a trainer myself." Or, "Wow, that’s exciting! How do you like it?” Rather than respond by talking, this is your opportunity to ask the prospect more about their individual situation. For example, “I love my work because I have an opportunity to help people. What about you? Are you currently working out? Why do you feel like having a trainer would be beneficial?” While asking these questions, always be genuine and sincere in your curiosity about the other person. Try this a few times, and you will be amazed at how powerful these techniques can be!
10. Never stop learning! The basic law of the universe states that, “We become what we think about most of the time.” Thus, you should always be reading, listening to audio programs and watching videos. You should be getting at least two hours per day of some form of education in three primary areas:
- Technical information from leading educational sources. This includes correspondence course videos, audio programs and books.
- Customer service and client retention articles and audio clinics (on PTontheNET.com, check out Robert Cappuccio and Jim Labadie).
- Personal growth and development education of your choice. Regardless of what business you are in, continuous growth and development is not optional - it is REQUIRED. This ensures you stay on the fast track towards achieving all of your goals.
Following these simple strategies will help to keep your clients happy and your schedule full. Good luck!