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Retaining clients is a critical concern of all businesses - personal trainers are no exception. The costs associated with acquiring new personal training clients (marketing, initial assessments, promotions, etc.) are much higher than those needed for simply retaining one.

 

So, as a trainer, you should make client retention a very high priority on your to-do list. Particularly in these uncertain economic times, it is extremely important to strive for high retention rates by keeping clients as long as possible. Now more than ever, you must convince your current clients that training with you is not a luxury purchase. Show them that your sessions are a vital part of their health needs, not simply a want.

 

On the surface, the key to retaining clients seems relatively simple: Help them reach their goals so that they are satisfied with their training results. What you do in training sessions is, of course, a major factor in the success of your clients. But another equally important component is staying tuned into what occupies your clients' time outside of the gym and what trends they may be participating in. One area that is vital to tap into is the aspect of technology - both from the viewpoint of how your clients use it and also how you should be utilizing it.

 

Make Your Website a Powerful Client Retention Tool

Today's fitness consumers use the Internet, mobile phones and email to stay connected. It's vital that you also use advanced communication tools to reach out to your clients. You need to go well beyond supporting clients only during in-person training sessions.

 

Your website is one of your best client retention tools. Through streaming videos, an online newsletter, audio casts, virtual workouts and online tracking logs, you can increase your clients' success, which will help retain them for longer. It will also show your clients that you are their one-stop expert source for all wellness topics. That means they will find your services critical, not just for working them hard during a training session but also keeping them informed and educated.

 

Educate through Videos

Steaming videos represent an opportune way to support clients. By offering clients access to regularly-posted streaming videos, you further enhance the trainer-client experience. Try to commit to a specific schedule your clients can rely on by uploading new videos to a members-only area weekly, bi-monthly or monthly. Practical video applications include workout tips, exercise demonstrations, equipment reviews, nutritional suggestions, educational series, weekly challenges, etc.

 

Motivate with Downloadable Podcasts

Personalized audio recordings are another great way to retain clients. Even though you may be booked from dawn to dusk every day with clients, each one of those clients wants to feel special and unique. By offering customized audio casts for your clients, you can help invoke that personalized feeling. There are two beneficial ways a client can use your audio recordings: listening through their computers or downloading to a personal media device.

 

Everyone spends a lot of time on their computers, so listening to something (versus reading it) can be very helpful. Your client simply logs in, clicks on the player and listens while they do their other computer tasks like reading email. Audio educational recordings and messages from you allow them to multi-task while gaining fitness information.

 

Providing audio recordings which can be downloaded to a personal device opens up a whole new world for motivating and encouraging your clients. Imagine your client out for a run while they are listening to you, their personal trainer, sharing motivational words, or picture a client listening to your educational fitness recordings during their morning commute.

 

Retain Frequent Travelers and Clients that Relocate

In the past, the situation where a trainer and client could not be physically in the same location presented an insurmountable obstacle. Today that barrier has been lifted. With the ability to give your clients workouts that are viewed either through a computer or a mobile phone device, geographic location is irrelevant.

 

Utilizing this technology alone will help boost your retention rates. Never again will a client have to part ways with their trainer when they move to another city or when their job forces them to travel weekly. Now the client can continue working with you, the person they already know and trust; they simply do it online. You give them their own unique login details for your custom website, and they can view workouts, log their results, track their progress and more from any Internet-enabled location in the world.

 

Plus, with the introduction of mobile workout technology, a computer isn't even a requirement. With more than 250 million Americans subscribing to a cellular service, you can bet your clients don't leave home without their phone. So give them workout access right in the palm of their hand. Think of the client convenience - viewing exercise demonstrations while working out at the gym. For frequent travelers, it's not necessary to haul their computer to the hotel gym; they just grab their phone.

 

Mobile access can also help their diet. Consider this common scenario: Your client is eating at a restaurant and is unsure of the calories. They grab their phone, log in to your site and view a calorie look-up database.

 

Phone Support Offers Additional Flexibility

Some clients may be very comfortable with using computers but find typing to be a bit too time-consuming. Ensure that these clients' support needs are also met. Offering multiple means of communicating with you is crucial. The more flexible options you provide your clients, the less likely they are to make excuses for not completing logs, following their weekly fitness recommendations, eating healthy, etc. If you incorporate a phone log, your clients can simply dial a number and speak to record a food log, workout log, leave you a message or leave a recording for their daily journal.

 

Your clients will be thrilled with the ability to call the number right when they're eating at a restaurant and in a matter of seconds make a recording of everything on their plate. Or they can record a message about their workout while on their way home from the gym. Phone support also helps encourage clients to keep a daily journal. Imagine the great convenience of a client simply talking their thoughts whenever they want and those being recorded and saved for future access. The client can then play those recordings anytime they need some insight.

 

Encourage Team Support and Friendly Competition

Studies have shown that exercisers who also have family and peer support are more likely to succeed than those going it alone. Offering your clients a place where they can forge new relationships will help them stay interested in workouts, which in turn will mean longer retention for you. And providing monthly challenges keeps clients looking forward to each new competition, which also means they stay with you longer.

 

Stay Connected with a Client Newsletter

A content-rich newsletter is beneficial in so many ways. It offers regular touchpoints with your clients and will be seen as additional value-add for the dollars they spend with you. And while you inevitably share a lot of important teachings with clients during your trainings sessions, rich newsletter content offers you another medium for providing lessons. For example, sharing a recipe with a client helps remind them of the importance of nutrition. A regularly published newsletter allows you to address timely health topics with your clients. For example, sharing tips for staying fit during the hectic holiday times or working out in the hot months.

 

Plus, a well-written, interesting newsletter will surely be forwarded on to a client's family and friends. That means an automatic recommendation system for you without the hassle of begging for referrals.

 

Using All the Tools of Retention
Your business depends on keeping clients and helping them succeed. It is imperative to include all the cutting-edge online resources at your disposal in your “toolbox." Don't let any aspect of client retention go left unattended - especially since your competition is likely to be using these web-based techniques as well.
 
Lynn Bode is founder of the Online Personal Training Association (www.onlinept.org) and president of TrainerForce (www.TrainerForce.com), a company that provides comprehensive online personal training software to fitness professionals and health clubs.

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