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by Liz Bowen

The mark of a strong business and a successful personal trainer is the ability to retain clients over the long term. Not only does this provide a foundation of steady income, but it is the impetus for attracting new clients because of the inherent positives of working with a trainer that has very little turnover in clientele. While there are many things that a professional personal trainer can do to get more long-term clients, here are a few fundamental things that set the stage for this occurring.

Position yourself as a facilitator rather than an expert.

When it comes to being a personal trainer and how you present yourself, there is a big difference between being a professional and the idea of being an expert. When you create a perception of being an expert, it can set up unrealistic expectations in the mind of the client. As such, they rely on you to supply them with all the necessary information regarding their health and fitness.

This creates a sense that it is you that is responsible for them achieving their goals and meeting their expectations. When this doesn’t happen in the way that they think that it should (because you are the focus of authority) they will look elsewhere for another personal trainer or give up all together.

When you project an image of a facilitator, it puts the responsibility for progress squarely on the client, which is where it should be. As a facilitator, you use your skills and knowledge to help clients clarify their fitness objectives and develop plans to reach their goals. In practice, this role is built on asking for input from the client in program creation so that they are actively part of the process. This enables you to create a program that they can maintain and have clear goals and outcomes in mind from the beginning.

By projecting yourself as a facilitator you create an atmosphere of partnership with the client. Consequently, they have more realistic expectations of what they must do to achieve their goals and the greater sense of control makes even small gains more rewarding.

Refer to Qualified Pros.

Since even the most experienced professional personal trainer cannot know everything, it is in their best interest to have a network of professionals to which they can refer their clients. This may be in the area of specialized nutrition or diet, physical therapy or any number of allied health professionals that have a high degree of experience and track record in a particular area.

This not only fosters the facilitator role that you should project, but also provides the client with a sense of confidence in their goals as well as you as a personal trainer that has their best interest at heart.

Be innovative with your pricing structure.

While it is important to have highly specific pricing structures, your ability to be innovative in tailoring the structures to clients can provide the basis for greater client retention. This may mean that you provide them with a set subscription fee per month that relies more heavily on an initial in-person workout program where you concentrate on form, and then coach and monitor them remotely as well as with shorter future visits.

Create a community of success.

When your clients succeed, they need to know that you are proud of them and that they should be proud of themselves. By taking every opportunity to make their successes part of your outreach and marketing for your personal training business, you create a community that encourages clients to stay and others to join.

You should be looking for reasons each week to praise one or more clients in email blasts, blog post, social media and in other advertising and marketing materials such as a newsletter. This isn’t just about big gains, but also small triumphs, fun stories and anything that shows off their best qualities as tools in achieving their goals.

The idea is to work harder at getting to know your clients, and creating a sense of interconnectedness between them and possible future clients. By introducing your clients to the community that you are building, you create a familial undercurrent. This interest in their goals and milestones creates an atmosphere of loyalty with your clients that give them tangible reasons to stay.

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