Three Retention Game Changers

Posted on Posted in Your Questions

From the great wisdom of Steve Jobs,

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they know it.”


Consider this: what if your January numbers became the baseline for every month of the year instead of your high point? It would be incredible, yes? Yes! Our simple, low investment strategy to ensure this lucrative scenario is: Retention. Retention. Retention. The year has just started and it is the perfect time to discuss. Your numbers are high and your books are fuller than usual. We need to stay ahead in the business so let’s take advantage of this great starting point.

Why wait until a client has told you they are leaving? Make building rapport with clients a habit and you will ensure a long, healthy, loyal relationship. (Whisper… I have a secret: the clients you’re retaining from last year at this point are far more important than new clients walking in the door.) Existing clients are your bread and butter and will become your best source for referrals. They also create the sense of community and energy that is integral to bringing on new clients. Don’t misunderstand though– every interaction with any client matters and impacts your bottom line and the vitality of your business. So, let’s dig into practices that will retain them all.

Here are three Retention Game Changers to take now:

1. Elevate your service before clients request it.

Responding to complaints is good, exceeding service and experience before they even express what they want is even better. How are you staying one step ahead and thinking about what your clients need and want to stay engaged in their fitness experience? Stand in the clients’ shoes and think about what you can be doing better.

Here’s a few scenarios:

  • A client enlists training to lose 40 lbs. Don’t hand them a bath towel the size of a large hand towel. Purchase towels that wrap around them the size they are now. Ahhh, that feels better. (And your more fit clients will love normal size towels too.) OK, next….Let’s literally walk into the studio as if you are the client. When was the last time you did this? Go ahead, do it right now. I’ll wait.
  • Imagine you are these common clients:
    • You’re rushing in from a stressful day at the office, you just got a text from the babysitter and you realized you forgot your water bottle. Ugh.
    • Or, maybe you’re early and nervous about being in the gym for your first session. You haven’t worked out in 2 years and the music, sounds and people all look so stereo typically unwelcoming…Yikes.

How did that go? Are you getting a better understanding of how the client is feeling? What would you change? Greet the client in their shoes and eliminate any remorse or guilt. Forgot your water bottle? No problem! Here’s a bottle of water for your workout. Train and practice with every employee to constantly greet every single person that walks in the door. Or, even better: Start a whiteboard that lists every new client so that everyone working that day stops by to say “hi” and “welcome” on their first day. How incredible would that be? How would you feel as the new client?

The takeaway: How is the studio is making the clients’ experience easier and positive at every turn possible? Make your space an energizing respite and happy place to make improvements in their life by exercising. Simple changes to improve the environment of the studio will instill more pride in working out there. Warning: They may never want to leave!

2. Be their trusted expert resource.

Be proactive in educating clients about other trends in food, wellness, strength training, clothing, software, and devices. “Does this fit bit really improve my life?” How will you respond? How will your team? Information is everywhere and can be confusing. Help them. These clients trust your expertise to some degree now. Build on that. Affirm their trust in you by providing insightful, helpful information.

Be prepared by understanding the arguments on both sides of the coin when you are expressing your opinion and recommendation. Offer a seminar and provide tips for packing easy, healthy meals for our busy lives. Practice how you want each trainer to communicate why resistance training is different than cardio. Ask a long standing client to speak for a few minutes on how resistance training changed their lives and their body to a group of newer members. Discuss what happens to our bodies as we age (and how exercise is integral) during a free “lunch and learn.” Consider an app you love and share your knowledge on how your client can track their progress when they aren’t in the gym.

Be their expert and proactively plant seeds at appropriate times during their training. People want information and they don’t have time to seek or vett out what is accurate and what is skewed. Get in the habit of asking, ‘do you have questions on the progress we are making?’ This is proactive in meeting their needs, not just waiting until they ask for a better service. And remember, you and your staff LOVE fitness. That’s why you’re doing what you’re doing, so pass on the wealth of health you already know so well. It’s so easy for you to add this check-in with a little effort. Position yourself and your team as a reliable, unwavering, positive resource in their healthy living journey and you will have a client for life.

3. Incentivize….Just because.

“Hey, on Tuesday we’re having Pleasantville Cup coffee for everyone just because. Thank you so very much for being part of our community!” How do you feel when your boyfriend or girlfriend does a ‘Just Because’; takes you out of town, washes your car, or sends a sweet text? (This is one place the dating analogy works! You all know how strict I am with fraternization and professional relationships!) I know I feel all warm and fuzzy, appreciated and pleasantly surprised. It’s so easy and such a low-cost investment. Make it simple. Place a quick, on the go healthy snack with a sign that says – Just Because. Buy everyone in the Healthy Moms class a new workout headband in your company color. Have an organic, locally sourced bottle of juice for everyone to take as they leave their workout on some random Monday.

We love the ‘Just Because.’ It’s unexpected, kind and a memorable sign of your appreciation – just because they showed up that day- which, let’s face it, we want and need our clients to show up. It’s how we foster our sense of community, it’s how we help them make progress, strength gains and improve their lives. Make the ‘Just Because’ a team effort. Involve your studio team in testing out “just because gifts” that speak to what you know of your clientele and what you know as fitness pros. It’s a great conversation that can lead to valuable information. It’s all just because and it all increases retention.

Are you ready to make January numbers your new monthly standard? Of course! Let’s recap and take action:

  1. Relate to the needs of your clients. Stay far enough ahead of them to provide an elevated experience before they ever have to ask. Just stand in their shoes and make a few changes.
  2. Remember that you are the expert. Proactively share your knowledge and set your client experience apart from the rest. Maximize your opportunities to connect and talk to your clients. BONUS ALERT – I have a free gift for you to help – Click here to receive 5 questions every trainer should ask at every session for you and your team.
  3. And finally, ‘Just Because’ goes a long way in making our clients feel appreciated, part of your community and more likely to return week after week.

Remember – clients need more of you, not less. Showing up, staying ahead and being attentive will be noticed and make a difference.
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