Why RETENTION is synonymous with SKILLSET
This post is going to be focusing on what you can do to increase your retention. Remember in the equation of getting more clients and getting greater profits and all of that sort of thing: One of the factors that can make the biggest change to your income is better retention of clients that you already have.
Reason being: the cost of acquisition of clients and the cost of converting clients is actually quite high in terms of time and money. And so therefore, if you're keeping clients for a longer space of time, then you're actually able to make more profit in less time in the longer term. That aside, we all know that we can't really get results that the clients desire in the space of two weeks, and that personal training is a longer term thing. And therefore, by getting to know our clients better and better, then we will actually be able to get them more benefits in the long term as well because we will know the client better, we will know how their body works, know what's going on in their life, and we'll be able to help them in more things.
So at the end of the day, being able to get more results relies on us being able to keep them longer. So that said, how do we keep clients longer? My belief is that you need to be working on your skillset every day of every year that you have your clients. The thing is, the second somebody gets a gym membership, the second someone signs up with you, they are getting the most value that they will ever get from you. They get more attention. They're, you know, getting more access to something they didn't have before, this is a new thing. So they feel like there is more value coming from the interaction and the money that they're paying right at the start.
And when they continue to be paying you the same amount for something that diminishes in value over time, which is what it feels like if it takes less time to know how to train the person better how to get them results because you know the person better then they feel like they're getting less for the same price that they are paying. It tends to be that your price is either the same as what you first started charging them, or it might have gone up with the price increase with inflation and that sort of thing.
To increase the retention rate and the perceived value for your client, we need to be looking at ways to make the client feel like they're getting more value from you. Ways to make the client feel like they're getting more value for you is about increasing your skill set so that you can better help your client and that's not just about learning about your client per se, but it's also about adding more access to things that they may not have at the start. This could be better access to some of the software you have, better access to training plans. Maybe they get an injury because they go and do some hiking that they never were able to do before starting with you (but they had a freak accident and fell over): now you learn everything there is about that specific injury. Say they get diagnosed with say diabetes, and all of a sudden you start learning more about diabetes to help them better. These are things that make your client feel like they're getting more value from you.
So if you're someone who really cares about what you're doing, the best way to do this is to upskill. It's also to build better systems in terms of how seamless everything is for your clients, which is more upskilling. And it's to learn more about what it is that your clients are suffering from. You can do this by your "continuing education credits" by doing courses, conferences, and by learning more about specific things that come up for your clients. Here are some ideas: psychology, it can be about stress reduction, maybe about certain ailments that your clients go through certain injuries. It might even be learning things like new moves in the gym like a Turkish get up. Or it may be around how to use new pieces of equipment, and or new ways to get clients results through nutrition.
These are things that when done correctly can help your client feel like sticking around for a bit longer because they just don't know what's in store for them next, which is a crazy time value as we know. On top of that, things like learning how to have better customer service skills can be a soft skill that is very important in this realm of the woods because as you get to know your clients a little bit better you might find that there's more incidences of your professional boundaries being pushed in terms of say, your cancellation policies or how late someone is for a session and wanting to still get the same duration of session from you or changing their session last minute or maybe deciding that they want to have a phone call with you each week outside of their session time to discuss things that are relevant to them getting results, but yet that's time that you weren't allocating to the price that was involved in training the client.
These are things that learning that skill set of interpersonal skills can really help you with. It is important to be able to reaffirm your boundaries in a respectful manner, but also not alienate your clients at the same time. And that's a really hard line to walk and if not done correctly, on one hand, you can have it that you've been walked over by your clients and you're pretty much like a PT "go-fetch" where whatever time they say they want to change to you're just going to be there; they tell you that you've got to drive to their house to take the session, you just will do it. These are all things that can mean that you get a big impact in terms of the potential profit that you can make, and also your own sanity and energy that you have to give to your other clients in sessions. On the other hand, it can mean that you lose clients as a result of them getting really angry with you if you handle these things in a poor manner.
For example, during lock down (for 1 month) you were able in Melbourne to take clients in the park one or two clients at a time. As a result, many clients got used to being able to see me closer to their home, and they were adamant they should be able to get that after lockdown. The thing is, for personal training, if you are taking weights, this is time to set up, driving takes time to the location, and pack down coupled with last minute weather changes make it not worthwhile doing for a sustainable businesses if you have your non-lockdown week-load of clients. People want to train typically at peak times before work, after work or at lunch time. If you are driving and setting up during your peak time, you are losing a lot for the pleasure of lugging the weights and tarnishing them in the park (that is if its one on one or two on one not for the bigger classes you stick around for). Allowing this to happen due to extenuating circumstances during lockdown reminded me why I don't make exception to boundaries I set about my business or what it does.
So with the soft skills I'm talking about and with the other skill set of learning about different injuries ailments and that sort of thing, is all pointing to the fact that retention can be improved by learning more and better defining your skill set and getting more skill set in there. When you get more skill set all of a sudden, your clients will go "this product is worth so much more value than what I'm currently paying". And that makes them want to tell their friends because people don't tell other people when they think the value that they're paying is what they're getting, it surpasses what they're paying. They're like "this is a crazy good deal!. I've got to share this with more people". Because you're going above and beyond and in the Rule of Reciprocity. People will go out and sing your praises.
On the other hand, if you're doing things that go against this, such as alienating your clients potentially just losing your cool with them, getting angry with them, these are things that are going to make the "negative word" spread very quickly, about how you handle difficult situations. And when you handle difficult situations, if you get known for that in your town or city... psychologically for every one piece of negative feedback that's out there, you need 10 pieces of positive feedback to neutralize that out. So it's quite difficult to come back from negative things being out there.
Anyway, just a few thoughts for the day. If you are contemplating working on your skill set and you want to be pointed in the right direction and you just need to soundboard some ideas off someone, just reach out to me. I'm more than happy to have a conversation with you. And we can help to get to the place that you want to be quicker! You'll also be giving me some ideas for the 7th book that I'm writing to help Personal Trainers navigate this in their business.