CK (2021): Time to revisit one from the archives of 2018! Man, this one was poorly written. Let's hope it's much better now!
New trainers commonly worry about other Personal Trainers stealing their clients. This article is designed to help those with those worries.
Questions crop into young trainers minds like:
What if people undercut me?
What if other coaches approach my clients?
What if they train with another coach in the same gym? And if they do what if people see!?
I don't have much experience as a coach, what if I'm a fraud and everyone can tell!?
You can't really stop anyone from stealing your clients because they aren't YOURS. A client can train with anyone they want, and any kind of PT contract you draw up probably isn't going to stand up in a court of law.
As Personal Trainers, we can easily begin feeling like we own a person and that they are subject to your will and are there to control, manipulate, and micro-manage.
I mean...motivate and lead into the valley of gains and shreddedness.
Your clients are their own people and if they want to train with someone else then they will train with someone else. The reasons someone may leave your services are legion and run the entire spectrum from extremely negative to extremely positive.
You can only control the controllable, so as a coach it's your job to ensure you deliver the best possible service to all your clients to make it so a client leaves either because of something you can't control like their goals have changed towards something you can't accommodate or they've achieved what they wanted to achieve.
You should always strive to be the most the most valuable trainer in your gym and to charge the most to reflect that fact.
What do I mean by this?
You should be aiming to be the coach providing the most value per pound/dollar/whatever in your gym/town/county/world.
This means you need to possess and showcase high-level coaching skills like:
- The ability to help people relax in a place far out of their comfort zone
- The ability to correct technique in an empathic way
- Knowing when to pull-back
- Knowing when to push
Plus dozens more.
Facilitate amazing experiences for your clients, be as professional as possible and be the right amount of serious for the person in front of you. Be the coach who goes the extra mile for your client.
Even then you will occasionally lose clients and you won't have a clue why they've left.
It will hurt sometimes.
The pain shows you care!
Use the pain to drive you forward to constantly strive to to provide a better service.
In order to keep your clients, make sure you are there before your clients for every session with a smile on your face.
Very few things are more powerful for positive coaching experiences than a client feeling like you are pleased to see them.
Never be seen running into the gym 5 minutes late for a session where you throw your stuff into a locker and get started as quickly as possible.
Turn up for every session ahead of time for a number of years and you'll be forgiven for the time it takes you 3 hours to get to the gym compared to the usual 20 minutes.
Always be happy to see people and always put your best foot forward even if your client is a difficult case or even if you don't like a particular client.
If you write programs for people make sure they are always delivered on time otherwise eventually you will be fired. There's only so many times a client will tolerate a program arriving a week late.
Since the birth of my son, a couple of plans were sent late, baby brain is a real thing. I strongly believe those clients stayed on board due to the wiggle room and trust I've built over the years. Now the brain fog has abetted and programs are being delivered on time again.
Talk to your clients regularly and reply to them at the agreed upon times or as soon as possible.
Both myself and Coach V are always baffled by how many trainers will not reply to their clients for weeks on end rather than easing their worries. As my client roster has increased in size, reply time has increased, if you find you aren't able to respond quick enough, take rapid action to help. I dealt with it by beginning to book more catch-ups with clients so we are in more regular contact.
This business is about creating lifelong or at least very long relationships.
In 20 years I want to be training the children of my current clients and lifelong meaningful relationships are one of the only ways to facilitate that.
If you go above and beyond what people have paid for you can have a client for life rather than a client for a month! Equally, if you do an incredible job for a monthandthe client has to leave, youstill maybe referrals from this person years later because of the impact you made in the short time you had together.
Care for your clients by correcting their technique where appropriate and don't let them feel like you are letting them get away with bad technique. Correct their technique in a way which doesn't make the client feel stupid.
There is often a movement a client can't perform and a coach eventually lets them do the movement any old way but people are watching and people talk. Unless it's a lifter who is well adapted to lifting with a rounded back for example, but that's a digression for another day.
If you let people move with bad technique not only does it look like you don't care, it also influences how many clients you are able to get on the gym floor. It influences your ability to keep clients too.
If an injury crops up multiple times on multiple people then your methods need to change until that injury stops occurring. Don't be afraid of change.
Don't shame your clients and communicate well. If a client says they feel ashamed while doing an exercise don't keep making them do that exercise!
Don't post people on social media without asking the client permission first.
Make sure everyone leaves the gym feeling better than when they came in.
Instead of being scared of people/coaches approaching your clients actively encourage your clients to talk to other trainers and to do their own research.
The more scared you appear of losing clients the more likely it is that you will lose them so tell your clients it's okay, prepare them for how to talk to other trainers and reassure them that they can tell you if they have been approached by another coach.
Confidence is king on the gym floor so put yourself in a confident light. Don't be afraid of your clients talking to people. They probably aren't looking to fire you at the drop of a hat.
And enough of the trying to tie your clients into contracts. They aren't worth the paper they are written on. You probably aren't going to want to take someone to court so don't pretend.
If someone signs up for a 12 month contract and drops out after 6 months then it's a blow but move on and get another client rather than wasting your energy trying to chase them up or worse forcing them to train with you for the rest of the time period because that's not going to be fun for anyone!
And under no circumstances should you try to price match your competition unless that means taking your prices up. Prices should never go down because you should always be striving to improve both you and your services.
If you need lower prices introduce a lower price service like group training rather than dropping the prices of your existing services.
Be there for your clients more than the competition. Care more than the competition. Be more consistent than the competition. Be more professional than the competition and most importantly be the happiest so see and work with your clients.
By doing the above you will still lose clients but you'll have the best retention in your gym, you'll have the happiest clients and your business will be the strongest and most able to deal with the test of time.
By Chris K
The Heavy Metal Strength Coach
Chris is a Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, Writer and turbodwarf with over a decade in the fitness industry. He trains everyone from beginners to high level athletes but mostly beginners. His favourite clients are people getting into the gym for the first time because they can make the biggest changes in their life. He is addicted to coffee, bacon and heavy metal.
You can reach me through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org
My Instagram is @theheavymetalstrengthcoach
Thank you for reading!