What You'll Learn In this lesson you'll learn the 4 key phases of client retention and how to implement them in your fitness business to impress and retain more clients for longer.
Why is This Important? Client retention is one of the most important factors to implement in any training business, especially if you run low end memberships. The business depends on recurring revenue to survive and it usually costs more to acquire a a client than it does to keep one.
Step 1: Understanding Client Retention
Did you know that it costs five times as much to attract a new online personal training client, than to keep an existing one?
The first rule of any online training business is to retain clients and build a loyal relationship with them, and thereby avoid customer acquisition costs. It’s a well-established fact that 44% of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition vs. 18% that focus on retention.
Client retention is arguably one of the most important aspects of your fitness business. It takes a lot of hard work to draw clients into your business, whether that be through online or offline efforts, so it's important that you work to keep these clients more than satisfied once they actually decide to work with your company.
Unfortunately, many personal trainer business owners focus too much on the before and not enough on the after when it comes to their clients. If you want those all-important referrals in the future and if you want to keep your business solid, it's your current clients that are going to be your biggest asset.
In other words, it's those that continually come back for recurring services that help your business remain stable and give you the leeway to experiment and grow, so you absolutely have to focus on retention.
Step 2: Find What Your Clients Want Most
Data. The data you need to find out exactly what your clients want is right in front of you.
By observing and communicating with your existing clients or those who are your ideal clients, you can obtain all the data you need to find out what your clients really want.
And we're not talking about the things they want from a program. We're talking about the things they want from you as a service provider. Things like customer support and an easy way to access workouts and nutrition advice. In a recent survey published on HubSpot, it was found that companies who put data at the core of their marketing/sales decisions improve marketing return on investment by 15%-20%.
The same article notes 30% more time spent analyzing marketing performance data yields 3x higher open rates and 2x click through rates for email.
That’s great, but what kinds of marketing data should you be analysing if you want to improve your customer retention?
Crappy user experiences – If signing in to your online training app was full of friction, why would they want to return?
Email metrics - Analyzing clicks/open rates in the email onboarding series that convert first time members to second time members & eventually into loyal fans.
Customer service – Poor customer service is the reason why 82% of U.S customers leave a business – so perhaps looking at customer service scores might be where you start?
Improving each of these areas might boost your customer retention – BUT it’s only by scrutinizing your customer facing metrics & direct customer feedback that will provide you with your top priorities.
Now that we know data is important, we need to know how to get that data. It can be specific to your business but here are a few ideas to get you started:
Email & contact forms - literally asking your clients how they found you, what they like, what they don't like and why they cancelled on you.
Surveys and polls - creating Facebook polls and surveys to get ideas for new features, requested info and common topics to write about.
Usability tests - pay someone to use your site and give feedback on various features.
Customer interviews - you can ask to interview customers in exchange for services.
Analytics - make use of software that analyses your website page usage and find sticking points.
Comment boxes - "Was this useful?"
Step 3: Use Data to Improve Your Product/Service
Your existing clients will tell you a lot about what they need & want in order to keep coming back.
Without these methods of collecting feedback, any future improvements to your service would be mostly guesswork & the chances of actually solving critical problems that keep people engaged, or coming back, are severely reduced.
It’s not just online trainers that can take advantage of customer feedback forums & in-line customer support either. Face to face personal trainers could learn a thing or two about retaining clients.
It goes without saying, use the feedback you get from your clients to create a better and more streamlined service, even if it costs you money. Money spent now could save you money spent on obtaining new clients later because the existing ones don't want to stick around.
Step 4: Rewards And Gamification
Beyond delivering a better customer experience based on feedback, some of the other ways we can increase customer retention include rewards and gamification.
While a rewards program might seem like a no-brainer, surprisingly, 66% of small businesses don’t have a loyalty program. For personal trainers, the benefits of a rewards program might include:
increased client engagement
higher client lifetime value
greater ability to upsell & cross-sell
But… it’s not as simple as taking on a rewards program and expecting online training clients to start logging in every day.
For personal trainers who employ low end membership business models with thin profit margins, offering an incentive like 2% off isn’t very enticing. So we need other ways to add value without cutting in to the profits.
This is where gamification comes in. Gamification is the process of applying typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, to encourage engagement with a product or service.
Ways to gamify your online training service can be categorized into three elements and include:
Progression - levelling up or gaining points to achieve a status.
Investment - earning recognition for accomplishing tasks, checking in to receive challenges, being incentivised to involve others
Cascading Information - receiving bonuses for accomplishing tasks, discovering new information when you complete a task, accomplishing tasks in a set time frame.
How you choose to gamify your service is up to you and depends very much on your business model and assets available to you.
Step 5: Make it Personal
Appealing to your clients' needs and making every client feel like they truly matter goes a long, long way.
60% of all customers stop dealing with a company because of what they perceive as indifference on the part of salespeople
70% of customers leave a company because of poor service
80% of defecting customers describe themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” just before they leave (surveys alone won’t tell you everything)
Besides the obvious approach of fulfilling your clients' wants or needs, other techniques to keep customers happy include:
Sending a note on their birthday - Yes, this takes a bit of tracking, but it’s an easy and inexpensive way to show customers that you care!
Give them personal attention - Giving your time and personal attention sets you apart from the competition.
Express appreciation for every purchase - Whether it’s a thank you email or a verbal “thank you,” expressing your sincere appreciation makes people feel like they are making a difference by supporting your business.
Give back - Perhaps you donate a percentage of your sales to charity or offer items or services to non-profit auctions, by giving, oftentimes you’re not only making a difference, but you’re giving people a reason to want to support your business as well.
Customer only discounts - Providing a perk, such as a discount or free shipping for future purchases is a nice touch, rewarding clients for their business and incentivizing them to come back!
Product improvements - Show clients that you care by listening to their advice. If they have feedback for you or your business, they will feel appreciated if you consider their feedback and if appropriate, make necessary adjustments to your business based on their recommendations.
So now you know the importance of client retention and you have a strategy to start improving your retention, it's time to get started.
Begin with getting into the mind-set of "Client Retention Thinking", identify what you think might be impeding the increase of high client retention rate and then start testing those assumptions to find out how to improve it. Make sure you measure your current client retention rate, and track how your business improves over time.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHY IS CLIENT RETENTION IMPORTANT? In previous lessons we clarified that selling an online training product or membership is harder than a face-to-face service and it takes time and effort. For that reason once clients are already in, it will be easier to retain them than replace them when they leave.
WHAT IS THE SECRET FOR GOOD CLIENT RETENTION RATES? Everybody likes to feel that their opinion counts and they are valued customers. There are many ways to reinforce this, but the most obvious one is to listen to their feedback and handle them with respect. This doesn't mean you should amend your services by each feedback, but expressing interest and answering their feedback even if it is about explaining how something works for their benefit is key.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE A LOYALTY PROGRAM? Loyalty programs are to keep clients engaged. You don't necessarily have to have a loyalty program in its traditional sense but creating a fun program they can take part in will help their sense of belonging to a community which is very important to keep clients engaged for the long run. This can be done in forums, Facebook Group or other ways of creating a community.