In this article you’re going to learn how to improve your client retention rates for online personal training. This means you can get better client results and boost your income in the process.
There are two big hurdles you need to focus on to improve your online fitness business:
- 1Acquiring Clients
- 2Retaining Clients
It can be quite frustrating as a coach in the health and fitness industry. Many clients have great intentions and motivations at the start yet they never stick to our program long enough to get the results they expect.
I believe as an industry, we are quick to blame our clients who fail, as I typically hear trainers saying “they’re not motivated enough”, “they don’t make it a lifestyle”, or “they just want quick fixes”.
Yet we cannot tarnish everyone with this same brush, as truth be told, there are a number of reasons why people will quit your online personal training program.
As you can see, these aren’t linked to “motivation”, “lifestyle” or “quick fixes”.
Let’s break these all down one-by-one in detail and look at some best practices to help you resolve them.
The most obvious reason why clients will quit is that they believe they are not seeing the results that they want. This can stem from unrealistic expectations that they have around your program, or from the sales and marketing you did to acquire them.
Of course, clients could simply quit your program because they have achieved the results that they wanted and no longer need your services. This could also mean that they are ready for a ‘next level’ program or service, to take get even better results.
How to improve
You should make your program results orientated. Clearly state the type of results that clients can expect from following your program. This may mean reframing what a ‘result’ is for them and as a result, you can better manage expectations.
Most online personal trainers create programs that last 6-12 weeks and the entire focus is on the end result. Instead, provide some ‘quick wins’ for clients throughout the program.
What significant milestones will clients achieve throughout that program that leads to the big goal being achieved at the end? Acknowledge and encourage the sharing of these positive outcomes as and when they are achieved.
Although some clients may enroll with you, they still may decide that it is too expensive for them, and therefore quit. They may feel they are not getting good value for their money or that they were charged expectantly.
You will also have to accept that currency fluctuation can affect you as an online personal trainer, or that a change in your client's financial circumstances can all cause people to quit your program.
How to improve
To help clients with managing their own costs, offering multiple billing options can help, but remember to keep them simple. Be clear upfront about your pricing and how it works.
An effective strategy for clients who quit because of cost is to have a downgrade option available for them to transfer onto instead. This could be a different type of program or the same program with fewer features.
It’s also important to price fairly, so be sure to do your market research so when clients do the same, there are no big surprises to be had.
If you need more help with pricing your online program or service, then be sure to check out our article "Online Personal Training: The Complete Guide to Pricing".
The biggest reason why clients quit is down to a lack of time to participate or implement your program. This means they are finding it difficult to prioritize your coaching.
Some clients are also using health and fitness products to help them achieve their goals for an event or special occasion e.g. holiday, wedding. Clients can, therefore, quit once this window of relevance has passed.
As an online personal trainer, you will likely be helping clients in multiple countries around the world. If you’re holding live online events or coaching calls, then time zones can also be difficult to get right.
How to improve
When first onboarding client, be sure to set realistic time frames with them and indicate how much time may need to be invested in the program or coaching.
You can also break your program down into manageable phases so that clients don’t feel overwhelmed.
Of course, you should also account for the different time zones for any live events and remember to be flexible with your schedule. If you promise something to a client, then you must deliver on it.
As an online fitness business, you will be creating paid content for your clients. Sometimes we don’t create enough, and other times we create way too much for people to manage. Occasionally, this content can also not be what clients expected or was promised.
You should also understand the ‘level’ of your client before creating content for them, as it shouldn’t be too basic or too advanced.
Ideally, your clients will consume everything that you create, but this may also mean they quit your program as a result. Or, they simply dislike your style or delivery of the content and can’t work through it effectively.
How to improve
Again, you should set some expectations on what clients should expect from you in regards to content. The key is to continuously add the right amount of value and make clients aware of this on a regular basis.
Once you build up a lot of content online for your clients, then be sure to organize it well and give people a ‘roadmap’ to guide them to the right information at the right times for them.
By really knowing who your ideal online client is, you’ll be able to create content that is at the right level for them.
Getting client feedback on your content is also important, especially when it comes to how they would like to consume it. Cater for this and offer your content in multiple formats such as video, mp3, text etc.
Clients may quit your online personal training because they have had a grievance with you or another client. It happens!
They may also not agree with the direction of your program or coaching or are simply not satisfied with the product.
Regular payment disputes can also cause clients to quit.
How to improve
Aim to resolve any grievances privately and amicably – be the professional that you are.
If something goes wrong and it upsets people, then be transparent and tell your clients what went happened and why. This can help bring clients into a discussion about any problems they see.
You should also encourage regular feedback from your clients and in-person meet-ups or Skype calls are effective for doing this.
We can all face website problems and bugs as online personal trainers. These can range from payment issues, limited internet connection or website hosts crashing. Many of these things are even out of our full control.
However certain technology features like user interface for your client software or website can affect how well someone can use your program. A lack of mobile-friendly options can also cause people to quit an online program.
How to improve
To help clients with the technology that you use in your online fitness business, then be sure to have clear support channels to help them resolve any potential problems.
A good onboarding sequence for new clients that highlights how to use the online personal training software or tools that you use is essential. This could include things like an FAQ’s sheet.
To ensure your technology is user-friendly and up to date, be sure to get help with your tech – use freelancers and harness the support you get from any programs or software that your purchase.
If you need more help with your website or online personal training software, then be sure to check out our article "The Complete Design Guide to Your Personal Trainer Website".
It’s quick to blame or judge our online personal training clients if they don’t stick to our programs, but you should now apply the previous strategies to reduce this from happening. Your program or service can always be improved and it can significantly boost your retention as a result.
Continue to innovate your online programs and add value whenever possible. Don’t get lazy.
Be sure to keep a continuous dialogue with your online clients to offer support and gain important feedback.
Let's build your online fitness business together
If you're a health and fitness pro who would like to learn more about creating a successful, meaningful online fitness business, check out The Exceed Masterclass.
The Exceed Masterclass is your essential resource for the training, advice and support you need on how to become an online personal trainer.
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