Jonathan Goodman Jonathan Goodman is the creator of the PTDC. He is the author of several books on personal training and creator of the first-ever certification in Online Training (Online Trainer Academy). Originally from Toronto, Jon and his wife Alison spend their winters traveling the world.
What You'll Learn In this guide you'll learn how to make your clients feel super special and appreciated so quitting on you would never cross their mind even when approached by other similar services at a lower price.
Why is This Important? Strong relationships and rapport with clients result in better client adherence, retention, and referrals. And as a coach, you should be striving to make your clients feel like All-Stars, by showcasing their hard work, and going the extra mile to surprise and delight them (without breaking the bank.)
Step 1: The On-Boarding Process
Delighting and retaining your clients starts at the very beginning of their journey with you.
And one of the best ways to put a smile on the faces of new clients is with a welcome pack. A great welcome pack includes:
An introduction from you
How your program works
Some workout and training terminology so your clients don't get lost
Notes on gym etiquette
Safety, sleep and recovery guidelines
Sound like a lot of work? Don't worry. We've got you covered with a free template, courtesy of the Online Trainer Academy.
When you make your amazing clients the focus of attention as opposed to making your business the focus of attention, you win. After all, your client’s journey and any associated transformation is both their success and yours — it’s their hard work and their results. It’s your job to recognize and showcase that. Not to mention, helping your clients celebrate their wins feels great. Truly, their success is your success. Celebrating your clients publicly on social media makes your clients feel awesome and helps to promote your business. (The examples have Facebook in mind, but this can be done on any social media platform). The methods below serve two purposes: promotion for you and motivation for your client. No matter what you do, be genuine and make it all about the client. As long as you have permission to do so, showcase them and their stories. You can keep it short and sweet, and may include some, or all, of the following information:
Image (such as a before-and-after, or just a regular photo)
What they did to make the change (a few words about their efforts)
Any hardship or struggles (if applicable)
A motivational and excited finish
How you write a post congratulating a client will be personal. Short is fine; so is long. It just depends on your personal style.
If You Don’t Have Before and After Photos
Sometimes clients won’t want before-and after-images on social media, or you may not have permission to post them for whatever reason. Or maybe it’s not your style to do before-and-afters. No problem. You can still create a great story using regular lifestyle photos of your clients – with their permission of course. First, take a photo that they posted on Facebook where they look happy, healthy, and active. Ideally, the picture should relate to their training goal in some way. (For example, maybe they wanted to get healthy for the sake of their kids, and the picture is them playing with their kids.) Then share that picture on Facebook with a bit of a story. Remember, this is about them, not you. Your story needs to be about how they felt when they started working with you, what they struggled with, how they overcame that struggle, and the benefits. End by congratulating them. If You Don’t Have Permission to Use Any Photos
It’s common that you either don’t have permission to use any photos or clients’ names, or you feel a bit awkward asking for permission. If this is the case, gather data to celebrate all of your clients together (without mentioning any names) in a weekly post.
Step 3: Other Ways to Congratulate Your Clients and Make Them Feel Like an All-Star
This is a simple – but special – alternative to your typical text message. No need to get fancy; just turn the phone around, be genuine, and talk to your client.
The most thoughtful things rarely cost very much money. In an increasingly connected world, people feel more disconnected than ever. I love the idea of sending a thoughtful, handwritten card for no good reason other than to say that you were thinking of a person. And yes, send it in the mail with a stamp.
I’m an unabashed postcard lover. If you are like many online trainers and enjoy traveling or living abroad, send lots of postcards. Here’s my system for this: Wherever you go, buy a stack of postcards. Once a week, write 5 to 10 clients or past clients, sending them greetings and well-wishes.
Even if you don’t travel, I recommend buying a stack of postcards from your place of residence and sending out a few each week.
Step 4: Gifting
Well thought-out gift-giving is one of the most important and underutilized retention and marketing strategies, especially at a time when expectations for customer service are so low. Giving high-quality gifts to your clients at planned intervals throughout the year can show just how much you truly value your business relationship with them.
But, there’s a right and wrong way to go about it.
The Guidelines for Great Gifting
Most conventional gifts are terrible, and I want to help you buck the trend and be a great gift-giver.
To give better gifts that are more impactful and maximize the value you get per dollar spent, follow the rules from John Ruhlin, Cutco’s all-time leading salesperson and the author of Giftology, and give gifts that are: Best In Class – Gifts don’t have to be ridiculously expensive, but they should be the best in their class. Surprise and Delight – Since you may expect a gift on your birthday, you may not be as excited as you would be to receive that same gift on a random Thursday. Repeated Exposure – Ideally your gift should be something that is not for single use, like a meal. Instead, a gift should be something that the client may use often like a kitchen knife or a monogrammed handbag. For the Client – Each gift you send should be specifically for the client and not come bearing your logo or branding, which suggests that the gift is actually to promote you. Benefit the Inner Circle – If possible, give gifts that benefit the family as a whole, instead of just the client.
Step 5. Finally, You Need to Keep Clients Accountable
Clients will achieve success and want to keep coming back if you can help them become accountable - either accountable to you, and/or to a community of your clients that you’ve been able to foster.
Help Your Clients Celebrate Small Wins
The first piece of the accountability pie is helping your clients celebrate the little victories along the way.
Procrastination is fickle as it often stops us from what we really want to do. Achieving any health or fitness goal can take a long time. Getting in shape doesn’t happen overnight; it requires a lot of small, sometimes challenging, and consistent steps in the right direction. To make things harder for everybody, the fruits of our labor usually aren’t apparent right away. It can take months for an untrained client to get to a point they would consider “good fitness.” All of the work, money, and sacrifice can wear a person down in the face of a lack of perceived results. (Of course, we know the results are considerable throughout the entire process, but a client may not see it that way.) To combat procrastination, you almost need to shield your client from the process. Instead of looking at the entire process, help them focus on each small stage and celebrate their progress as they go. This can be done countless ways, for example:
Mail your client a certificate and stickers. Every time that they train, tell them to put a sticker on the certificate.
Check ins. Get your client to send you a photo of every meal eaten or a post-workout selfie. Send them a thumbs-up emoji in response.
Use an app. Encourage your clients to use a fitness tracker or habit app, not because you care about the data but because it allows them to celebrate the process.
Use software. If a client is completing workouts in training software, then the process of filling it in and seeing a completed workout on their calendar is a form of celebration upon completion.
Check-In With Your Clients
If celebration is the first half of the accountability equation, checking-in is the other half. This is not fancy. It’s exactly what you expect: sending your clients messages. It could be over text, email, Facebook, Twitter, or anything else you can come up with.
A typical message may be, “How was your workout today?” or “Hey! Just wanted to say hi and see how things are going. You having a good day?”
Here are some awesome examples of how an accountability texting schedule might look.
If you’re in the United States there is software available to automate your text message follow-up. It works brilliantly and you can individualize per client in order to set it and forget it.
If you’re not in the United States or don’t want to pay for extra software, I’ve included a complete collection of accountability text messages, when to send them, and how to schedule them into your calendar to alert you to send manually.