Your next client Amanda is scheduled to come in at noon. Only having 13 minutes, you log into Facebook to get caught up. Nothing much has changed: Steve just saw the Superman movie and said that it sucked (funny, because Jack said it was awesome), Jessica is posing for another selfie, and yet another person thinks that you’d be interested in bejeweled (or birthdays, or candy crush…).
Clicking off, you decide to make a protein shake. The archaeological dig starts into your new bucket of whey as you try to excavate the scoop. “Why can’t they just pour the powder in before putting the scoop in the tub?” You Think.
All of a sudden a chill goes through your spine almost as if you’re having a premonition. Just then the phone rings…
Up to your elbow in powder, you wipe off quickly and pick up the phone.
…It’s Amanda and she’s really sorry but something’s come up and she can’t make it to the session and she’s really sorry but you can charge her and she has to run but she’s really sorry.
It’s too late to fill Amanda’s spot in 6 minutes which means that you’re got an empty hour to fill in the middle of the day. So what do you do?
10 Ways to Turn a Cancellation Into a Productive Hour
1. Read. If there’s one thing to immediately implement it’s to always carry a book with you even if you think you have a packed day. People ask me how I have the time to read so much and it has nothing to do with an innate ability to read quickly (it’s the opposite, I read painfully slow). Even if I have a five minute break, I’ll take out a book and read a couple of pages.
But reading isn’t enough–you must study. I suggest being selective as to what you read (especially non-fiction) and when you find a great book do the following 3 things:
- Underline and annotate. Highlighting is fine, but creating your own system for note-taking is more effective.
- Use post-it notes to keep track of the pages you want to refer back to.
- Upon finishing, go back and add the notes into a commonplace book.
If you’re looking for some recommendations, I’ve produced a list of great books for personal trainers:
2. Long extended workouts. Get on the floor and train. Take off your ear buds and personal trainer shirt and dress like a normal person. Do a long extended workout (your training can come later) and smile at the members always looking for an opening to make small talk. Remember that people don’t buy training, they buy trainers. Taking an hour a day to build relationships and becoming the most popular trainer in your gym is one of the best long-term marketing strategies you can have.
3. Walk the Neighborhood. If you work in a neighborhood and not in the middle of a large downtown district, you’re bound to see somebody you know by going for a walk. And yeah, that person is probably not alone. I’ve picked up clients simply by going for a walk through the neighborhood and running into friends, family members, existing clients, or old clients because they were with somebody else. Always be approachable.
4. Call or Email Old Clients. This doesn’t have to be a hard sell. Personally, I found it awkward to call old clients even if they stopped training for reasons outside of their control. I was never a salesmen but liked to check up. You can call but I would usually recommend sending an email just saying hi, asking how they’re doing, and ideally asking something specific to them like, “how’s Alex (the clients son) doing at University?” Just to show you care. They know why you’re emailing, you don’t need to push the sale. If they’re ready to come back, they’ll mention it in their reply.
5. Write. Maybe I’m biased, but I recommend everybody writes. There are two reasons you should write: to organize your thoughts and/or in the hopes somebody else will read it. Take your free hour and sit down with a pen and a pad and write. Write anything that comes to mind. Write about the client you just trained. Write a story about your love affair with the metallic ball that blends your protein powder so well–I don’t care what you write about, just write.
6. Research. Use an app like Evernote to clip all articles and studies you want to read later. This way, whenever you have spare time, you’ve got a cache of materials to get caught up on no matter where you are. Add to your injury file that I describe in my article called What’s in My Desk?
7. Buy Coffee. Walk around the club and ask all of the other trainers, the cleaning/support staff, and any members if they’d like a cup of coffee because “you’re going anyway”.
8. Network. Get involved with groups who have similar interests to you on Facebook and become a member of their community. Facebook is an awesome place to meet passionate and like-minded fitness professionals. Find the pages where people seem to be adding value and become a part of the conversation.
9. Work on Some Creative Marketing. Below is a picture of an infographic put together by my friend Martin Rittenberry. He took a photo of it beside another gyms advertisement. Be bold and stand out. Instead of offering the same crappy “1st month free” offer why not do something different, show your personality, and add some value.
10. Make introductions. Your network is everything. An unexpected break in the day is the perfect time to introduce two people you know to each other. For the past month, I’ve been trying to introduce a minimum of 5 pairs of people to each other a day and recommend you do the same. Industry crossover is preferred.
Bonus – Give gifts. Want to know the best way to make your day not suck anymore? Make somebody else smile. Take the hour you’ve now gained and use it to make somebody else’s day. Walk around the block looking for something that will make a friend, colleague, or client smile or, better yet, write a hand-written note telling somebody how much you appreciate them. Because, well, when was the last time you got a hand-written note in the mail?
Instead of thinking about it as an hour lost, why not consider it an hour gained?