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The forgotten client

Too many PTs are so focused on attracting new clients that they forget the ones they already have. Mark Durnford outlines how trainers can ensure they don’t fall into this trap.

Growing your client base is very important, but a mistake many trainers make is to dive head-first and invest all of their time, money and passion into this goal.

While it is obvious that, for any business to succeed, growth is required – and understandable that many trainers who are feeling the pinch in these tough economic times are keen to acquire new clients – this must not take the focus away from those you worked so hard to obtain in the first place: the clients you already have.

Retaining these clients and obtaining future new referrals through them is key to your success in this industry, so focus on what you can do to enhance these aspects of your business. Another reason to focus on existing clients is that – compared to sales and marketing – retaining your clients costs very little money, if any at all.

It’s an obvious statement but one that is vital, so it’s well worth repeating: give your clients 100% of your attention whenever you're with them. There's nothing worse than a trainer being distracted by the TV or their phone or looking at others in the gym while delivering their session. Remember, potential clients are in the gym watching you, so always be your own greatest advert.

Actually listen to what your clients say – don’t just nod your head when they’re speaking. Listen in the true sense of the word and remember what they’ve said; refer to these points in future sessions and conversations. This shows your client that you are interested in them, and the more you know about them, the better you will be as their coach, as well as having a greater understanding of what motivates them. Many other opportunities can arise from knowing more about your clients, for example, recognition of birthdays, family occasions, holidays and personal achievements. How much would offering a free session on a client’s birthday cost you? Almost certainly not as much as the goodwill you will have gained.

Always have SMART goals and regularly measure progress. This can be done in many ways, but without it you are unable to highlight success. Recognise success, however small that milestone may seem. This can be as straight forward as giving genuine praise directly to that person or even announcing it to a wider audience through social media.

While the need to retain a professional client-trainer relationship is important, there’s nothing wrong with organising some social events. This can be taking each of your clients out over Christmas or organising a run/fitness event in which you compete with all your clients. This will create a social group and community feel that all your clients can become a part of and will enable you to see them in a different environment.

Why not run a calendar of free educational seminars? You can contact all of your clients and let them know that once a month, at a specific time and location, you will be speaking about an area related to health and fitness – be that nutrition, stretching or hypertrophy. This adds overall value to their sessions and is a great opportunity for you to showcase your knowledge and passion.

After each session, always spend a few moments reflecting on your performance. Highlight no more than three things you did well and three things to improve for next time. Regularly ask your clients for honest feedback and consider sending them all an email with a short questionnaire on your performance, what they like and what you could do better. Ultimately, it's how they feel that counts and, in all industries, people need feedback in order to progress.

As obvious and simple as some of these ideas may sound, it's important to constantly strive to offer your clients the best customer service possible. If you were on the receiving end of excellent service as well as achieving fantastic results, then it’s unlikely you would ever want to leave.

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Author – Mark Durnford, Lifetime Tutor

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