“Your clients don’t care how much you know until they know you care.”
Book-smarts and letters behind your name don’t matter as much as your personal relationships and trust as you build rapport with your clients.
Your relationships are key, with each day adding to the shared story with each of your clients. In today’s fitness world, you need trust and rapport to stand out for new clients, retain old clients, promote your service, and most importantly, change lives.
Without trust there is no buy-in. Without the “buy-in,” life-changing coaching goes out the window.
Here’s How you maximize Client Trust and Build Rapport
1. Smile and Say Hello:
The first time, every time you see a client. Nothing rings in someone’s ears like their own name — it personalizes their environment and reinforces both your relationship and their decision to “buy you.” No one wants to be “wrong” and fire their coach; they want their investment to be reinforced. Smiling and saying hello is a little part that goes a long-way.
Jonathan Goodman refers to this as the Cheers Effect and it’s a great and easy way to remember to always make your client feel special.
2. Physical Contact
Be careful you’re within respectful boundaries — always be the coach you’d want to train your sister — but small gestures like handshakes, a fist-bump, or pat on the back build your relationship.
Touch reinforces safety, is effective for cueing optimal technique, care, and positive reinforcement.
3. Mirror your clients
Full disclosure, I learned the mirror technique from Jonathan Goodman and he speaks of it again in his book, Ignite the Fire.
Mirroring client gestures, tones, and emotions allows you to relate and further open the door for communication. This creates a subconscious connect and bond.
When they’re doing a dead bug exercise, kneel by their side. When they’re walking during active recovery, walk with them.
Use this within reason and don’t let your clients’ mood dictate the session.
Build a positive, hard-working environment and then reinforce hard work with laughter and fun. Chances are, they’re coming form a stressful day at school or work.
Laugh, unwind, and help everyone leave in a better mood than what they had coming in. Laughter will reinforce that training is good physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Your retention and session quality will improve and you’ll reinforce as you reinforce the positive benefits of exercise.
5. Empathize, Don’t Sympathize
Empathy as a coach separates the long-term coaches from short-lived screamers with a weekend certification.
Here are two keys to empathy with your clients:
a) Don’t drive your clients into the ground during sessions.
This takes no skill as a coach, ruins your athletes/clients, and trashes relationships.
If you can’t handle your training sessions, demonstrate exercises, or relate to their training you won’t be able to keep clients trust.
Seriously, care. Be gracious for every session and every client that walks in your doors. Each session puts food on your table, clothes on your back, and keeps the lights on. Take note of important events in your clients’ lives, surprise them with a gift, and lend a hand outside of the gym.
When you truly care you’ll build friendships outside the gym and improve lives in ways you never thought possible.
6. Find Common Ground
Ever have a new client, only to find their personally as dry as the Mojave desert? Yea, it sucks. They’re probably shy or uncomfortable, if you want this to work, you need to find common ground.
What does their T-shirt day?
Where are they from?
What hobbies do they have?
Find similarities within your clients’ interests and find out more about them. I talk business development with my 5:45 am (he’s a successful entrepreneur), good restaurants with my 11 am (he’s a foodie), fantasy Football with my hockey guys, and travel with my 12pm. Find the uncommon commonality and build your relationships on shared interests.
Personal Training is Personal
Nothing epitomizes the personal nature quite like the quote
Go the extra mile in developing personal relationships with your clients to build trust and rapport. Your relationships are the foundation for your business and the lifeblood for everything that is right about the fitness industry.
Here’s What to Read Next …
The best trainers know that the secret to success isn’t in learning new ways to get clients but instead it is the ability to retain clients.
And retention is largely dependent on your ability to build rapport with every one of your clients. Below are two articles that feature surefire techniques to improve retention by increasing rapport:
6 Ways to Establish Rapport With Your Clients – Jonathan Goodman
How to Track Personal Training Clients (free worksheet) – Jonathan Goodman