The need to stand out to your customers by over delivering on service has never been more important. The proliferation of free fitness content on the internet, the constantly expanding personal training industry and the abundance of fitness apps and influencers (most of whom probably aren’t even qualified to be giving out fitness advice) means the fitness landscape has changed.
Only a few years ago, personal trainers held all the power. We had all the answers and knew exactly what exercises, nutrition tweaks and lifestyle interventions it would take to get a client into shape. This was information most consumers didn’t have access to, which made hiring a personal trainer the logical next step in their fitness journey.
With the explosion of free fitness advice, consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever before, making training itself somewhat of a commodity.
Not that I’m complaining. I welcome informed consumers because this is what will help our industry grow and develop. We will have no choice but to step up and take our service to a new level, offering an even more valuable product to our customers.
Plain old fitness training isn’t going to cut it anymore, so here are several ways you can overdeliver on your service and stand out amongst your peers.
Nail the basics
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘good, old-fashioned customer service’. People call it old-fashioned because it’s rarely found these days, but I think old-fashioned customer service is making a comeback. Follow these tips to brush up on yours:
- Always be punctual. Your clients won’t mind if you’re a few minutes late every now and again, but there’s no excuse to be late regularly and doing so conveys a lack of respect. Make sure you manage your time effectively so that you run on time, all the time.
- Always be cheerful. Your client isn’t just paying you for a high-quality fitness session, but a great experience too. Leave your personal life at home and always be cheerful during a session (don’t be afraid to crack a joke). Remember: it doesn’t matter if your next client is your tenth session in the day—it’s their first.
- Always try your best. Life happens. Maybe you’re experiencing some stress at home or you’re a little low on energy. No matter what’s going on, it’s important to pick yourself up and give 100% during your session. Trust me—your clients feel it when you’re not giving your all.
Become a trusted advisor
It’s never been so easy to search for information on how to lose weight, build muscle or get fit. Because of the wealth of fitness information available to consumers, trainers no longer serve primarily as information providers to clients. The problem that your clients face isn’t how to access fitness information, it’s understanding what information is right for them.
This is where you come in. Rather than being the provider of information, you need to become a curator. Don’t just dole out workouts and information soundbites; to overdeliver value to your client, you must transcend the role of the stereotypical personal trainer and become a trusted advisor who guides clients towards their goals.
Connect on a personal level
Always strive to connect with your clients on a level that’s beyond simply giving them a personal training session. While most trainers focus on building rapport with potential prospects during the sales process, outstanding trainers continue relationship-building throughout their relationship with clients.
Show curiosity towards your client’s personal life and ask questions about their work, family (including pets), social life and personal interests. Make sure you remember what they tell you and then, over the course of your relationship with that client, ask follow-up questions from time to time to try and learn more about them.
Because we spend so much more time around our customers relative to other types of service providers, we have an amazing opportunity to get really close to our clients. Take full advantage of this and your clients will love you for it.
Always look for progression
It should go without saying, but never coast with your clients. Always be on the lookout for ways to progress their training—whether it be making a novel change to the way they do an exercise (e.g., changing a dumbbell bench press from a pronated to a neutral grip) or recommending adjustments your client can make to their lifestyle to eke out further improvements.
Whether you’ve been training with your client for a long time or you’ve just started your relationship, this will help keep training sessions feeling fresh.
The power of thank-you notes
There’s something about written thank-you notes that gives off an old-world customer service charm. A nice note written on a piece of paper and handed to someone has a different warmth and feel compared to the same note sent as a text message or in an email.
I always send a written thank-you note and a gift whenever a client refers someone they know to train with me, and I recommend you do the same.
Remember: as personal trainers, we absolutely thrive on word-of-mouth referrals, and we must take the extra effort to thank our clients when they provide them.
Give out homework
Giving homework to your clients is a simple move you can work into your service that ultimately ends up being a huge value-add in the eyes of your client. By giving them homework, you go from someone who sells personal training sessionsto someone who sells results.
Prescribing your clients exercises, stretches and even articles to read between training sessions is a great way to accelerate their progress while demonstrating a superior level of service.
Read your clients
Being able to read your clients takes time and practice, and really encapsulates the art of being a great personal trainer. Tailoring your training sessions based on how your client is feeling (both physically and emotionally) is one of the unique ways we as personal trainers can mould our service to a client’s wants and needs. This is something that a YouTube video or the latest fitness app could never replicate.
The landscape has changed for fitness professionals. We need to do more for our clients than just dish out workouts and give stock-standard nutrition advice. Simply put: we’re facing way too much competition from both our colleagues and the myriad of fitness products out there on the market today to sit back and hope clients decide to show up.
You need to be more to your clients. Your future in the industry depends on it.