By Ryan Ketchum
What all great businesses do that others don’t.
In the incredibly full market place of fitness it can be tougher than ever to gain and retain your clients’ attention let alone that of new prospective clients. I am definitely not the first person to say this but we have to start focusing on engaging our current clients and realizing that they are our biggest asset.
I am not a real flashy marketer. I can write decent copy and I think I am a person that people like to be around, I can relate to them. I rarely have unique ideas and concepts for getting new clients or increasing your conversion rates. I simply care enough about people to find out what they are looking for and then give them a solution for their problems….if I am the solution.
I have the pleasure of working with hundreds of fitness professionals of all levels all over the world. Just in the last week I have had calls with start ups and with those doing close to a million dollars in sales per year. People from Europe, Australia, and all over the US.
There is one thing that separates the super successful from the ones that are struggling to put food on the table. It isn’t talent, it isn’t skill, it isn’t even the latest marketing strategy.
The one thing that I am seeing across the board that is allowing certain fitness professionals to thrive in a time when many others are struggling is their client engagement.
They are interacting with their clients. They care about getting them results. They own their market because no one else cares as much as they do.
It was funny, the other day I was reading Chris’ post about the “39 Things That Piss Off Good Trainers” and I laughed at a lot of the answers. I wasn’t laughing because they are funny but more in the fact that trainers are letting some of this stuff bother them. There was a string of about 8 that were all about being mad a clients for not getting results or poor attendance.
Here is something to consider….
Isn’t it your job to get them great results and make sure they are accountable? Shouldn’t it be your job to find a way to break through the barriers that the clients have in their nutrition, time, etc to make sure they are getting the results that will keep them around?
This leads me to our original topic about engagement. What are you doing to engage your clients? What are you doing to build rapport with them?
You might be a little pissed off at me for calling out some of the so called “good trainers” that gave those answers in the blog post I referenced above. That’s perfectly fine by me because maybe you need to be a little pissed off to be able to realize that you aren’t doing everything you could to get your clients great results.
Engaging your clients means having conversations with them wherever they spend time. This could be your facility, after a sessions, on Facebook, Instagram, email, phone, text or at a charity event. If you know your clients well you will be able to quickly identify what channels to use to communicate with them.
So how do you engage your clients so that it builds your business?
The first step is in determining where and how you will engage them. The easiest way to engage your clients is by having some personal interaction with them outside of the session. Before or after take 15 minutes to talk to your clients and find out what is going on in their life or what is holding them back from getting results. A small, but personal conversation can open up a mountain of opportunities for you to wow a client by over delivering. I promise you that the turn ‘em and burn ‘em fitness boot camp down the street isn’t finding out personal details about their clients.
This might seem easy when you have 40 or 50 clients, but what about when you reach the 200, 300 or even 400 client marks? It is still feasible but you might have to get a little help. Teach your coaches to do this by leading by example or have your admin help you reach out to clients. At Force Fitness we only hire people that truly care about getting our clients great results. I don’t care if you are the brightest and most educated coach in the world, if you don’t take the time or care enough to talk to clients and connect with them you can’t work for me.
Too many times fitness professionals abandon the things that made them successful because they think it isn’t scalable. If you built your business off personal relationships and client engagement don’t let that slide as your business becomes more successful. In fact you should be able to increase the engagement you give to clients if you bring in the right types of people.
What about checking people into sessions? This is a prime example of fitness pros abandoning the basics when they start to have some success. We want things to be automated and we fight our clients on it. We have online scheduling and expect our clients to schedule and check themselves in to sessions. We are asking them to hold themselves accountable, but isn’t that what they hired you for?
We still use an old school roster with all 400 of our clients. We use a client management system to create the roster and schedule people but it is the coach’s responsibility during each session to check people in and account for everyone that attends. If you don’t show up for a scheduled session (boot camp or personal training) you get a phone call with in 24 hours to get you scheduled for your next sessions and make sure things are okay. If you attend a session but aren’t on the roster the coach makes sure to account for you and if they aren’t sure who you are in forces the coach to introduce themselves and creates a great experience. With this system it is really hard to have anyone slip through the cracks.
Once the rosters are checked off they are given to our admin and she organizes the info, checks them into our CMS system and starts making phone calls if needed.
It is simple, effective and most importantly personable. I don’t expect our clients to schedule themselves, sign themselves in or hold themselves accountable. That is what they are paying for and we are going to provide that to them in everyway possible. Bitching because your clients don’t check themselves in isn’t a problem with them it is a problem with your level of engagement.
Where else can you engage your clients?
Facebook is a great tool. In fact, it was created as a means of networking- a way to find girls on campus. While a lot has changed with Facebook the ability to use it as a networking tool has not. Test ways to engage your clients on Facebook and you will soon find ways to engage their friends as well. Posting pictures of them in action in your programs, asking them questions about what is holding them back and finding other ways to create conversations with them is a great start. Not only will this type of engagement nurture your relationship with your current clients it will draw the interest of their friends. That is another topic though…
Finding ways to engage your clients isn’t tough. Get to know who you serve and it is much easier to figure out how to best serve them. Find out what they like, what their struggles are and where they spend most of their time and money. Getting to know your clients through increased engagement is a perfect way to make marketing easier.
When you know where your current clients spend their time and money it makes it really easy to go find more people just like them. When you know what fears your clients have, what challenges they face, and what they want to achieve it is easy to put together your marketing message. When you engage your clients you build a strong relationship with them making it much more difficult to leave for another program or quit when things get tight. When you engage your clients you show them that you care and they become more than clients, they become loyal, raving fans of your business.
Great fitness businesses, actually all great businesses, find ways to engage their clients and build a strong base of loyal, raving fans.
Ryan Ketchum is the Co-Owner of Force Fitness and Performance in Bloomington, Indiana as well as VP of Business Development for the Fitness Consulting Group.
If you would like to get an inside look at how Ryan coaches you can check out the 52 Week Mentorship program.
Over the past several years Ryan and his business partner Wil have grown a small business in a small town into “THE FITNESS EXPERIENCE” in their area.
Ryan has accomplished the entrepreneur lifestyle and built a business that allows him to now focus on helping other fitness business owners grow their business and achieve the same success.
As the VP of Business Development Ryan is working hands on with hundreds of fitness professionals, creating resources for their development and overseeing the Success Team of Fitness Revolution. If you would like to get an inside look at how Ryan coaches you can check out the 52 Week Mentorship program.