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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Great Retention article

Well, March has been a crazy Month for me. As I wrote about in an earlier blog I just championed a change in new personal training software. I had to train 45 trainer, 20 sales counselors on the use of the new system, and assist with the transfer of 500+ client files into the new system!!...... all that on top of planning programs and training my own clients, being an active husband and father.... Yeah, it s been crazy

So, all that being said, I have not been able to blog about anything for a couple of weeks now. What have for you today is a great article I found written by Todd Durkin, I met him last year at the IHRSA convention. He is a former NFL quarterback and a great businessman and educator in the fitness industry. What I like about this article is that although it is written for the health and fitness professional, it really applies to everybody in the business world. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. If so, drop him an email and let him know.


"Client Retention: Improving Revenues by Increasing the Customer Experience"
by Todd Durkin

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?
a. Friendly
b. Fun
c. Professional
d. Personal
e. Non-intimidating
f. Service-oriented
g. Clean & pristine
h. 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:
1. Keep your energy in tune with your client(s) at all times2. Be a great listener; listen to your clients needs3. Never bring a “bad” day outside of the office into your sessions4. Assess your clients and measure periodically5. Set goals with your clients (if they are open to being held accountable)6. Prepare for all your sessions and be ready for each of them7. Meet & exceed client expectations8. Educate, motivate, and inspire your clients9. Challenge your clients10. Manually stretch your clients when finish

• Connect with clients more frequently than your scheduled sessions. You can do this by:
1. 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)2. Email your clients periodically; CONNECT with them3. Spot check your clients with random phone calls occasionally
• Communicate to your clients

1. 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.2. 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.3. 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.4. 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:
1. Always be on time for a session. Don’t have clients waiting for you!2. Greet your clients by name every time3. Develop a referral system to track when your clients refer in friends or family4. Thank your clients5. Send hand-written birthday cards6. “Feature Clients” in your newsletter or on bulletin board. We all like to be acknowledged!7. The customer isn’t always right. Just make them feel that way!8. 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.9. 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. 10. Provide clients with educational handouts periodically11. Treat every client like you would treat your mother12. “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
1. Offer social activities (i.e. Softball games, hiking, ski trips, retreats, trips, etc.)2. Mixers or Parties (Grand-opening party, anniversary of business, etc.)3. 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, MA, CSCS, is a personal trainer & massage therapist who motivates, educates, and inspires people world-wide. He is the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, where his wonderful team focuses on personal training, massage therapy, Pilates, yoga, and nutrition to help transform people’s bodies, minds, and spirits. Todd trains dozens of NFL & MLB baseball athletes and provides motivational talks and programs to companies and conferences world-wide. Additionally, Todd is the Head of the Under Armour Performance Training Council. He has appeared in 60 Minutes and been featured in Sports Illustrated, Business Week, Prevention, ESPN the Magazine, Self, Shape, and the NY Times and Washington Post. You can sign up for his FREE award-winning Ezine newsletter, the “TD TIMES”, at www.FitnessQuest10.com or www.ToddDurkin.com.

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