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Client Retention: Improving Revenues by Increasing the Customer Experience

The million dollar question is how you can build a business by keeping all your existing customers and clients happy as you grow your business instrumentally. A great example is Starbucks. They do an excellent job developing a positive customer experience for their “cronies.” Their customers come back time and time again for a coffee or drink that often costs double that of other coffee houses. Why is it that they have developed such a devoted following amongst their followers? I believe their culture, their environment, their customer service, and “their experience” drives a devoted following.

In the fitness business, building a clientele often takes a lot of time, energy, and money. Because most trainers, studios, and health clubs typically don’t have large marketing advertising budgets, it is even more important that we focus on retaining clients once we have them also. There are several measures to help improve value to our clients so that we can consistently deliver an excellent client experience and have loyal clients for a long-time. By adhering to the following suggestions, it will help develop a unique culture and extraordinary customer experience. Here are some suggestions to enhance your business and keep happy clients coming back for more and more:

Develop & know your unique culture; What is it?

  • Friendly
  • Fun
  • Professional
  • Personal
  • Non-intimidating
  • Service-oriented
  • Clean & pristine
  • Energetic & Positive

Create “Great” sessions every time; whether it’s a client’s first session, 18th session, or their 40th session in a package of 48, make every session count. Ways you can do this include:

  • Keep your energy in tune with your client(s) at all times
  • Be a great listener; listen to your clients needs
  • Never bring a “bad” day outside of the office into your sessions
  • Assess your clients and measure periodically
  • Set goals with your clients (if they are open to being held accountable)
  • Prepare for all your sessions and be ready for each of them
  • Meet & exceed client expectations
  • Educate, motivate, and inspire your clients
  • Challenge your clients
  • Manually stretch your clients when finish

Connect with clients more frequently than your scheduled sessions. You can do this by:

  • Develop a newsletter (ie. 1 x per week, 1 x per month, or 1 x per quarter); Keep it simple in the beginning and deliver great content (education & motivation)
  • Email your clients periodically; CONNECT with them
  • Spot check your clients with random phone calls occasionally

Communicate to your clients:

  • YOU communicate to your clients if you have a change in your schedule. You take ownership of any changes and don’t expect front desk or management to handle it for you.
  • YOU communicate to your clients if you are going on vacation, having another trainer cover one of your sessions, you are changing your schedule, your rates, etc. You take ownership of any changes and don’t expect front desk or management to handle it for you.
  • If a client’s sessions are up, YOU MUST communicate this to them. If you are uncomfortable with speaking finances to them for some reason (You NEED to work on this), than hand them a nice note in an envelope and let them know there sessions are up and it is time to renew.
  • Ask for feedback from your clients periodically. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. To simply ask “Is there anything I can be doing differently to help you” goes a long way in letting clients know that you are genuinely interested in helping them.

Great Customer Service:

  • Always be on time for a session. Don’t have clients waiting for you!
  • Greet your clients by name every time
  • Develop a referral system to track when your clients refer in friends or family
  • Thank your clients
  • Send hand-written birthday cards
  • “Feature Clients” in your newsletter or on bulletin board. We all like to be acknowledged!
  • The customer isn’t always right. Just make them feel that way!
  • Don’t call your clients and try to juggle around their schedules based on your convenience the day of a session. That means if you have a 3 hour break in the day, than you have a 3 hour break. It’s about THEM, not YOU. Without clients, no business! Utilize your “down” time and take advantage of gaps in your schedule.
  • If you have only one session on the books for the day, make it the BEST session ever. I still hear of trainers and massage therapists that “don’t want to come in for just 1 session.” By golly, thank God you have 1 session and use it as an opportunity to get more sessions.
  • Provide clients with educational handouts periodically
  • Treat every client like you would treat your mother
  • “Pamper” them; I am not saying baby them. I am saying spoil them with great customer service.

Make your Business a “Home away from Home”; You can attain this by doing things such as:

  • Offer social activities (i.e. Softball games, hiking, ski trips, retreats, trips, etc.)
  • Mixers or Parties (Grand-opening party, anniversary of business, etc.)
  • Make the environment comfortable, clean, and encourage socialization.

Remember the costs of trying to trying to find new clients isn’t cheap. It’s far less expensive and far more powerful to focus on internal marketing and use your existing clientele to help build your business. Although you most likely have external marketing campaigns going on (i.e., newspapers, websites, TV, radio, direct mail, etc.), internal marketing is so effective as it will help use your clients to become your own “marketeers.” Think about it, when was the last time you saw a Starbucks ad or saw them advertise anything outside of their doors? Never!!!

Make your fitness business the talk of the town. Focus on internal marketing strategies to not only retain existing clients, but to grow your business from their raving to your community. It is said that 20% of your clients do 80% of your business. Keep 100% focus on your clients and never take an experience with them for granted. Your existing clientele is way too valuable and you can’t afford to lose one of them. Treat every one of them as they were your first or your last client ever in your business. With consistent, superior customer service, a positive culture that elicits great energy, solid communication with your clients and staff, and genuine passion and concern for one’s health and fitness, you can be assured of delivering a great customer experience. And with a great customer experience, you can build a great brand.

Todd Durkin is a 2 Time Personal Trainer of the Year and Founder of Fitness Quest 10 & Todd Durkin Enterprises in San Diego, CA. He trains people from all walks of life, but is best known for the work he does with over 25 NFL Superstars. He trains the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush, Alex Smith, and Donnie Edwards amongst others. His expert staff of 30 trainers, coaches, and massage therapist/bodyworkers perform over 400 weekly sessions and help educate, motivate, and inspire the world to greater levels of health & fitness. Todd has 17 DVD’s on fitness & sports performance and has been featured in many national magazines and media outlets. His ezine newsletter “TD Times” is his way of connecting clients, trainers, coaches, colleagues, and friends from all over the world. He can best be reached via his websites,, or by using the contact form below: [easy-contact]

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