Given the altruistic nature of our industry, many fitness professionals tend to be lax when it comes to attaining formal client contracts or setting and enforcing policies with clients. Contracts are not only important for your legal protection, but provide a platform to set clear policies and expectations with clients the moment you formalize your business relationship.
Along with the required legalese you need in your contracts, here are ten policies you should consider including either as points in your contract or as a separate agreement that you review together with each client.
1. Late-cancellation/no-show policy
Clearly outline your late-cancellation window along with the penalty for late-cancelling or not arriving for their class or appointment (for example, cancellation less than 24 hours prior there is a $20 fee or forfeiture of a session). Ideally, if you have a client management system that can be setup to automatically charge or deduct clients’ accounts, it keeps you accountable to following through with the charge.
2. Current rate
State a client’s current rate or price package, what specifically is included, and what is not.
3. Annual rate increase
Avoid the difficulty of not knowing how or when to increase your rates by incorporating an annual percentage increase in your contract. For example, “As long as you keep a current and active membership, your monthly membership rate will increase by 10% annually.”
4. Health/medical updates
Make it clear that it is imperative that they keep you apprised of any changes to their health including surgeries or procedures, medication changes, diagnoses, etc.
5. Release after injury
If a client wants to return to your exercise program after an injury, physical therapy or other medical issue, require a written release from the physician/physical therapist prior to returning to exercise.
6. Cancellation policy
Clearly state your cancellation policy in the case a client wants to cancel their membership/program.
7. Refunds/partial refunds/pro-rated membership policies
Outline specifically what, if anything, can be refunded or pro-rated. Using language such as, “to our discretion,” or “in extenuating circumstances” gives some flexibility to how you deal with different situations that may arise.
8. Expectations of clients
Be clear about what is expected of your client; arriving on time, communicating pain or discomfort, doing their best, etc.
9. Holds and transfers
If a client can put their membership on hold for a certain period of time, include the parameters. Do the same for transfers of membership, sessions or payments.
10. Open for communication
Remind your clients that you have an open-door for them to communicate with you with any concerns or questions that would make their experience more valuable.
Review your agreement with each client point-by-point (you may even go so far as having them initial each point) and give them a copy for their records. Having clear expectations will minimize difficult situations and ensure that you can spend your time focusing on serving your clients best!