Increasing your PT client retention can be challenging when you’re new to personal training. There’s much to consider, from building rapport with your clients to setting up your pricing structure.
With the right advice, you can optimise your behaviour and business structure to improve client relationships and keep them invested in your training.
Here we cover 9 essential tips for boosting personal trainer client retention, so you can improve your career prospects and increase your guaranteed income.
1. Always use their name
Frequently using someone’s name establishes that you’re invested in them personally.
Human behaviour expert Dale Carnegie said ‘remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.’
Using someone’s name in a conversation means you’re creating an individual message and goes a long way to motivate them.
It causes their brain to release dopamine and serotonin, the ‘feel good’ hormones, and associate this with your interaction.
It’s a simple but effective trick for boosting PT client retention that you should use in conversations and when encouraging them to push that bicep curl again.
2. Listen to their goals
This sounds simple, but discovering exactly why your client has come to you for advice is vital to creating that all-important relationship.
A study by the International Journal of Listening found that ‘active listening responses in initial interactions increase the recipient’s perception of feeling understood compared with other response strategies.’
Finding out their goals early on and continuing to check how they’re progressing means your clients will feel as though you value their opinion.
It shows you’re dedicated to their progress and prepared to adapt their training based on their desired outcome rather than the one you think they should aim for.
For example, your client’s main goal might be to build muscle in their legs rather than lose excess weight. You should keep this in mind when creating their workout programme.
Not only is this your duty as their personal trainer, but it also means they’ll achieve the results they’re paying to see and be much more likely to continue working with you.
If you have a lot of clients, it’s easy to try a one-size-fits-all approach, but that won’t work. You won’t see much PT client retention if your clients don’t feel you’re actively trying to help them achieve their goals.
3. Make your sessions exciting
We don’t mean jumping around like a puppy or talking so much that you look like you’ve taken too much pre-workout. We mean being excited about training with the person and their progress.
Positive energy creates more positive energy. Chances are you’ll have to act as a therapist often with your clients, so turn negatives into positives and create an exciting atmosphere for them.
It’s a good chance they’ll be unhappy about their current physical health, so they’ll be looking to you for motivation to get excited about making a change.
Keep them on their toes by changing up your sessions together as they progress. Much of PT client retention relies on your clients feeling empowered and having fun.
4. Know your stuff
Make sure you know how best to get results for your clients and use that knowledge to help them.
Have they heard about a new weight loss regime or training program? You need to be all over that with your critique and let them know what you’re planning for them is safer and gets better results.
Be the go-to expert in your field, not just in the gym but online too. Start a blog to discuss the best way to achieve results and critique the latest fads.
Chances are, when someone compliments your client, they’ll refer that person to your blog or social media page, so it pays off to ensure you’re seen as a good knowledge base.
Good personal trainer client retention is impossible to maintain if you’re seen as someone who isn’t speaking from a perspective of authority.
5. Draw attention to the future
When it comes to PT client retention, one of the most important elements is always focusing on the future.
This instils the idea that your value to them will never become obsolete and that you’ll always be able to help them progress, even if they hit the initial goals they set out to achieve.
For example, say you’ve been working with your client for six months, and they’ve lost most of the excess weight they were hoping to lose.
You can increase your chances of PT client retention here by saying something like, ‘now that we’ve almost hit your weight loss goal, it’s time to start thinking about how we can improve your strength and body composition’.
Or you could say, ‘in two weeks, we’ll change your diet to accommodate your goals more aggressively to avoid a plateau in your training.’
Planning ahead opens your clients up to new goals and lets them know they need you to help them stay on track to achieve them.
6. Track their progress
Your clients will be keeping tabs on how they are improving, but you need to be all over it.
You could use an app such as Trainerize to visualise their progress through graphs and charts and even upload progress photos to refer to every few weeks.
Emphasising the value you’re adding to your client’s lives is important for PT client retention.
Not only does it show them how far they’ve come thanks to working with you, but it demonstrates the possibility of exceeding their expectations.
Once they realise they’re making more progress than heading to the gym alone, they’ll likely continue their fitness journey with you.
7. Always be available
Every client wants to feel like you are tuned into their progress, so constant contact helps build a strong relationship and lets them know that you care.
Go easy on the ‘how is the dog feeling’ texts but send them a message now and then to let them know that you’re pumped for the next session or to offer good advice on some new supplements that may help them.
In addition, being available when they text you helps strengthen PT client retention rates, as they now have access to advice when you aren’t around.
8. Go the extra mile
There’s one surefire way to prevent your clients from leaving you for another trainer—always strive to go above and beyond their expectations of you.
Treating them to a coffee after your session, buying them a token gift on their birthday, or gifting them helpful recipe books to keep them motivated will allow them to see how thoughtful you are and help you to stand out.
Next time their friend mentions how their personal training sessions are a little monotonous, they’ll make a mental comparison and realise how fortunate they are to have picked you.
If you’re lucky, they might even make some referrals.
9. Re-visit your payment structure
One of the biggest mistakes for increasing PT client retention is signing new recruits up through block payments.
These are one-off payments that sell personal training through a set period of weeks rather than through a monthly payment plan.
For example, you may sell a 12-week training programme with three weekly sessions to a client for £799.
But the issue here is that once this initial period is over, the client has little incentive to continue training with you—they’ll expect to get into shape during this time and no longer require a personal trainer.
The solution is switching to a monthly payment structure instead, where clients sign up for your services indefinitely:
As you can see, this option works similarly to the average gym pricing structure.
It provides you with at least six months of guaranteed income rather than just a few weeks. It also makes it much more likely for your clients to stick with you, as they’re unlikely to cancel if they begin with the intention of working with you over a long time.
This is one of the lesser-known methods for increasing your PT client retention and gaining more new clients, and you can learn more in our complete guide to designing PT packages.
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