Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anatomy of a Lost Client

Anyone and everyone that has been training clients to pay the mortgage has been through this. You have a client that starts off strong and is gung-ho with his/her new training program. They express themselves with all the key phrases you look for during the initial conversation:

"I'm committed"
"I'm doing this for me"
"I am ready"
"I have been putting it off, now is the time"

As a fitness professional, you love hearing this stuff. You get excited and you prepare yourself to design the best possible program that will work for this client. No fitness professional (trainer or strength coach) NEVER loses clients. Every professional--including therapists, doctors, and lawyers--has sometime or another lost a client.

In the fitness world, its a reality to lose a client. There are so many factors that come into play when clients negotiate needs and wants in life. It always comes down to 2 incomparable factors: time & money.

Trust me, I am no expert at keeping clients. I have lost my share over the years. However, it is that experience of losing and getting back clients that enables me to share my insight on this very important subject.

Time and money are two things people don't seem to have enough of. How many times have you heard someone say "I wish there was ONE extra hour in the day". Or, "If I had a million dollars I would buy that boat". Truth is, there is ENOUGH time. It is simply not managed well. Truth is, there is ENOUGH money. It is simply not managed well. We live in a world that pulls us in different directions once we enter adulthood. We carry numerous responsibilities on our shoulders that it leaves us feeling out of control.

People, including your clients, tend to procrastinate. They only do things when it REALLY matters. They only do the things they need to do when they are left with no other choice. We like to pigeon-hole our options. People that mis-manage their time tend to think they are making themselves more time by waiting to do something. However, with every passing day that is spent waiting, more and more options and choices begin to diminish. Isn't it funny how we will purchase and put up a tree in our homes for Christmas a month in advance; but training sessions are the first to be axed from a daily routine because of poor time management?

Procrastination is simply poor planning. Poor planning is poor time management. When the perception is time is scarce, people will begin to rationalize what their priorities are. For instance, picking the kids up at day care, bringing the car for maintenance, and turning in a report to the boss are high priorities. However, our health doesn't become a priority until we reach a certain turning point. That turning point is the point at which people tend to leave themselves little options or choices. It is as this time, that rationality is broken down into WANT and NEED. For the most part, people want to be healthy but they rationalize that they can:

1.) Do it on their own
2.) Do it without having to spend hundreds of dollars
3.) Do it without disrupting their daily life

If any of the aforementioned factors cannot materialize into reality, than a personal trainer is called upon to help. However, when one of those 3 factors becomes 'manageable' to the client, than the client begins to wander off. How does this occur? Simple. The client begins to take charge of their life. They begin to have more energy. They begin to lose weight and look and feel better. This positive change creates a confidence and self-dependency that was once lacked. You can say that the fitness professional has almost completed their job--because they assisted a client reach a level of self-efficacy that was never existent within their former self. However, once they rationalize and lose control of their time, they tend to drop off. Hence, starting the cycle.
Some people will say that money will buy them happiness. Its not really the green paper that buys them happiness, its the opportunity to experience things that they never thought they could. However, a majority of adults have enough money to live--it is simply not managed effectively. We look at investments and we can't think past tomorrow. We want our money and we want it now. However, when clients decide to do something about their health, they are investing in something that will pay them in return down the road. They will enjoy great returns on their investments in the form of more energy, playtime with children, and tackling projects. However, as time is viewed as a scarcity, so is money. 

Managing money comes down to NEEDS and WANTS. People tend to mix those two up when it comes to expenditure. When money is sufficient, people tend to purchase things that give them a feeling of pleasure. These tangible items make them forget about certain negative or inflammatory aspects of their life for a short period of time.
The problem with managing money is we tend to become very short-sighted. An investment can be an intangible outcome for some. Therefore, when a client invests in their health--they become frustrated or discouraged when results are not seen instantaneously. This causes short-sightedness. When something that causes pain (mental), as in being  overweight or having jiggly arms, is not rectified within a reasonable amount of time (to the client), they suddenly begin to rationalize that the money they are spending on personal training can go to many other things that will gratify them instantly:

New flat screen television
New vacation to plan
New dinner restaurant to try out

Again, investing in oneself is always a challenging task. Clients make decisions based on what they leave for themselves to rationalize with. We tend to make decisions based on putting our cards down on the table and seeing what the options are. Problem is, clients tend to procrastinate and view the world with a sense of scarcity--which leaves them short of options and choices. When they feel like they are short of options, they will eliminate the one thing that they NEED---however they perceive as indulgence--and fall back into a cycle that shows no end.

The next time you sense you are losing a client--stop and intervene. Signals that should send up red flags that a client is ditching you are: repeated cancellations, poor excuses for lateness or poor eating habits, or missed workouts. Intervene by examining what may be causing a road block in their enthusiasm. Could it be your fees? Could it be the time of day? Could it be their spouse? Their job? Your attitude? The only way a n exercise program will work is if you have consistency. If your client loses that, you have not done your job wholeheartedly.

1 comment:

  1. Try not, do or do not, there is no try.


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