The key to success as a personal trainer?

Keep your fitness clients happy!

That's it? One tip? Yes, one tip.

There are many ways to keep your clients happy, but here are my top three ways to keep your fitness clients smiling, referring, and coming back for more.

Increase Fitness Client Satisfaction | thePTDC | Keeping Clients Happy
Thanks to the awesome Jen Sinkler for letting me snap some pictures of her for this piece.

1. Go Above and Beyond the Norm

I'm good friends with many of the other trainers at my gym. We hang out on weekends, we lift together, and we get along very well. That being said, I still "compete" with them.

Not directly, in your face kind of competition, but a more subtle competition. I strive on setting myself apart from what's expected of trainers at our facility, and I do much more than what's expected of me.

This may sound like it takes a long time, however, it really started with minimal extra effort - which ended up paying off quite nicely.

Here are the simple things I've done over the years and continue to do:

  • Send a simple thank you to the client when they sign a contract, or resign for the 10th It doesn't matter, always show your appreciation for them investing in your training.
  • Write a weekly email, newsletter or blog. This takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour of my week, but my fitness and nutrition emails have been shared by a lot of my clients and have led to some great referrals.

This took time to get anywhere, but the first time someone came to me and said, "Hey, I was forwarded your email about core training without crunches from so-and-so, I would love to learn more!" my day was made and I knew it was working.

Note from Coach Jon: It's a common misconception that you need to write "content" in order to run a successful newsletter. While you can write your own articles, sharing other work that you feel is quite effective.

Whenever you come across good articles, simply save them and email a few at a time to your newsletter a few times a week. The title linked to the article with a 2-2 line snippet to the article is more than sufficient.

2. Give Your Client What They Want! (They're the ones paying you after all!)

This may seem like a no-brainer to some of you, but I have seen the following situation happen first hand:

  • Client: I would really like to work on functional core exercises and improve my balance while moving, etc.
  • Trainer: Okay (precedes to put the client through a very bro-ish chest and tri workout).

Needless to say, this client approached ME two weeks later, asking if he could train with me instead because his needs were not being met.

For example, when you initially screen a personal training client, you may find some areas that need work. While correctives are great, if your client wants to lose 100 pounds, a purely corrective workout will take a long time to reach that goal.

You can always incorporate correctives into the workout, but remember what their goal is, not yours! If you are incorporating something like correctives or heavy deadlifts, always explain to the client why you are incorporating them, and reference their goals and how what you're having them do will help get them there.

From Coach Jon: I also recommend figuring out what the real goal of the client is. It's almost never what they initial state. While Mike's situation above might happen and a client might ask to work on "functional core exercise", it's unlikely that he or she really knows why they have that goal.

Generally a client will initial state a goal based on what they think that they should say. It's your job to ask "why?" as many times as satisfied. Dig deeper. Figure out what the emotional reason is for the goal.

Emotion drives action. Logic jusitifies it. Functional core exercise is logical, but not emotional. The client might want to become better at sports to keep up with his son. This is an emotional goal. Once you dig that out, use the logic element to talk about functional core exercise.

More on what goal setting is (and isn't) here:

Why Smart Personal Trainers Make Stupid Goals

how to improve client satisfaction | thePTDC | find out how to keep customers happy

3. The Mirror and Family Strategies

Mirror: train the client like they're being trained by themselves. Talk like they talk, joke like they joke, motivate appropriately.

Family: treat your younger female clients how you would want your sister treated. Treat your older male clients how you would want your grandfather treated, etc.

Both of these strategies will make the client feel as comfortable as possible, and therefore help you build great rapport and relationships. Learn to read your clients quickly. If you train a very soft-spoken client, don't try to motivate them by shouting like a drill sergeant.

Always respect your clients, find out what does motivate them and use that. If they have a big trip coming up that they want to get in shape for, keep mentioning that trip when they start slowing down.

At the same time, if they do want to chat about something important during a workout, let them speak, but keep in mind their goals and don't let the session become a 45 minute talk about fantasy football, and a 15 minute half hearted workout.

A happy fitness client is a good thing to have. Keep them happy by going above and beyond expectations, remembering their goals (not yours) and treating them how they want to be treated and how you would want your family members treated.

Further Reading:

How to Start a Fitness Blog (includes instructions on setting up your first email list) - Jonathan Goodman

Most Personal Trainers Shouldn't do Assessments (how to collaborate) - Jonathan Goodman and Mike Reinold

Why Smart Personal Trainers Make Stupid Goals - Jonathan Goodman

Be the Man That You Would Want Your Sister to Train With - Chad Landers