Posted by stevehochman on Tue. Jul. 1st, 2014
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. But how many of you can look over the last couple of months and admit that you’ve spent more time wooing possible, potential new clients than you have wooing the ones that have signed up for your latest body transformation challenge? How many of you spend all your time after a session trying to sell personal training to the people that came in for a free session and almost no time at all interacting with the ones who are on their second week of a challenge? In other words, you set down the bird in your hand so you could reach for the two in the bushes.
I’m not coming down on you for it; it’s understandable that you’re so focused on bringing more people through the door that you lose sight of the ones that are already there. It’s a natural mistake to hope that the results of your transformation challenge or four-week special will somehow automatically result in those people signing up for six months or a year of training. But if you see yourself and your interactions in this scenario, then I’m betting your retention rate from those challenges and limited-time offers is much lower than it could or should be.
When you stop “romancing” your clients, the trainer around the corner starts looking really good. Even if your training is getting the results, they’ll eventually go somewhere they feel valued. I promise you that if you don’t deliver a sense of community and actual relationship, most of the people your marketing brings in will be gone before you know it. This leaves you having to reinvent the wheel every few weeks or months because you’re constantly trying to replenish your membership.
So how do you sell personal training in such a way that the retention factor is practically automatic?
Here’s a blueprint for turning that transformation challenge or low-barrier offer customer into a long-term client:
Make sure the customer is acknowledged and welcomed every time they walk in the door. Nothing is quite as alienating as walking into a group setting and feeling invisible. A smile from the person working out next to them isn’t enough. A wave from the trainer from across the room isn’t enough. Make sure that you or the trainer welcomes each and every customer.
Whenever possible, also try to make sure that one of you speaks with the customer after the session as well. Ask them how they’re doing, how the class was is there anything you can go over with them one-on-one.
Give special gifts and treats to the customer. Welcome them on their first day with a goodie bag full of stuff like water bottles, recipe cards, hand towels, supplement samples, anything you like. Every week or so give them a small token of your appreciation and their progress, such as a gift card for a smoothie or a free fat loss report you’ve written. This is one of the least expensive tools there is. When they fill out your questionnaire, make to put their birthday on your office calendar so that you can give them a card signed by the staff and can acknowledge their special day.
Keep in touch. One of the fastest tracks to dropping out is when a customer misses a couple of workouts and no one bothers to check on them. All of that talk you spouted about community and family and working together flies out the window. If someone misses more than one session, make sure you or one of your trainers calls to see if they’re okay. And use that call to get them back in the door. They might have a reason completely unrelated to you for missing a couple of sessions, but if they miss any more, there’s a good chance they’ll either lose their momentum (and drop out).
If they’ve been going into work early and couldn’t make their early morning sessions, invite them to come to your 7PM workout. If their boyfriend/girlfriend just dumped them, encourage them to come to a session later that day to work it off or just hang out and have a few laughs. If they’re too sore to work out, explain that you can easily modify their moves or weights so that they can ease into it a bit more slowly.
When you deliver a sense of community and of belonging to your low-barrier offer guests, you make it so much easier to sell them one of your long-term training programs. Not only will they want to keep getting results, but they’ll want to remain a part of the community you’ve built for them.