7 Tips to Maximize Client Retention

One of the best feelings as a personal trainer comes when clients ask if you have more time to train them. The ability to keep a client training with you for a long time is both rewarding (you’re earning good money) and fulfilling (you’re helping the client get healthier). I’d like to help you maximize your client retention as well! Use these 7 tips to build an incredible relationship with your clients! The relationship you cultivate with clients can greatly influence how likely they are to continue training with you for long term.

1. Use their name frequently.

A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Dale Carnegie

What’s in a name? How do you introduce yourself to others? It may seem obvious, but using your clients name frequently is a powerful tool to build your relationship with them. People like hearing their name, and your client is no exception. Use it as soon as you see them. Use it mid-workout, and use it at the end of the session.

2. Compliment them when the time is right.

Do you remember the first time someone commented on your fitness progress? “Hey man, your arms are looking pretty big”, or, “Hey–you’ve lost weight!”. Just as much as you enjoyed hearing it, so does your client. Give them complements on their progress. Be sure to use it at the appropriate time. Also, make sure it’s unique to your client. See below for some examples.

  • “Looks like you’ve been putting on some muscle! Are you feel stronger?”
  • “I’ve noticed you’ve had more and more energy for our training sessions!”
  • “I can see that your face is looking slimmer!”

Complementing a client on a daily basis (each time you see them, not literally every day) will make them enjoy your presence and likely want to continue training with you. Remember: many people seek a trainer to help build their self-confidence, so a well thought and genuine compliment can go a long way.

3. Learn their Friends and Family

If you want to spend a lot of time with your client (hint: you should! That’s what pays your bills!) then you should get to know their friends and family. You don’t necessarily need to meet them and get acquainted with them, but learn a little bit about them. This is especially important regarding their family. People generally like talking about their family and what they’re up to. Furthermore, it gives you an opportunity to stay up-to-date with major milestones their kids or significant others might be doing.

Getting to know their close friends is also important. Not only does it help stimulate conversations, but it can lead to a referral as well. When a client often talks about their friends, then they are more likely to bring you up in their conversations. And if you follow all of these tips, then you’ll have a great chance at converting the referral into a client.

4. Never forget their birthday.

A person’s birthday is usually the one day of the year that’s all about them. For many people this is a special day and you should take some time out of your day to recognize it. I highly recommend storing all of your clients birthdays on your smart phone and sync it to your calendar. This is how I do it:

Vettel, Sebastian
(555) 734-2021
[email protected]
Birthday: July 28, (turned 30 in 2020) 

This way, I have their birthday in their contact, and then in my calendar I’ll put how old they are so I can make their larger milestones extra special. I usually handwrite a message and get them a birthday card. Sometimes I’ll dedicate a post to them, and occasionally on bigger birthdays I’ll get a small gift for them.

5. Find a common hobby to talk about.

It’s crucial to find common ground with your client in the early icebreaker stages. Once you find something you both enjoy, you’ll have a comfortable conversation piece that you both can enjoy talking about. This tip has a corollary to it: try to expand your hobbies as much as possible to increase the likelihood of sharing a hobby with someone. Also, these can range from favorite sports teams, to weekend warrior hobbies. Below are common hobbies I look for when getting to know my client.

  • Sports (favorite to watch, to play, to follow, etc)
  • Weekend activities
    • Hiking, outdoors, cycling, camping, etc
    • Home improvement projects, indoor plants and gardening, etc
  • Pets
  • Movie / TV Culture
  • Music
    • Favorite to listen to
    • New songs to discuss
    • Playing an instrument
  • Other common hobbies
    • Photography
    • Reading or creative writing
    • Video games
    • Woodworking
    • Cars

6. Be sure that their program is personalized to them.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel for every training session. It’s ok to use old workouts and routines with different clients, but you still want to find a way to personalize it to them. Don’t forget, it’s called personal training for a reason. As a skilled trainer, you know that there is a finite combination of exercises that will yield results. In fact, drawing from your own experience, the most mundane workout routines often provide the best results. For most individuals, teaching a client how to squat, lunge, push, pull, brace, and rotate will give them all the tools needed to develop a strong foundation for training.

The important, and often challenging component, is finding a way to make it uniquely theirs. I suggest you use a few sessions in the beginning to figure out how they like to work out, and then cater your program to match their favorite style. Some clients like to constantly move, while others prefer to be a bit more focused and take time. Either way, make sure the program fits their goals and is their personalized program.

7. Push them to the right limit.

Don’t forget: you’ve got to be hard on them. They hired you to get results, so your job is to push them there. Remember what it means to be a coach: find a way to get them from point A to point B. This requires you to take the reins from time to time and let them know that you’re watching. Don’t let them slack off. Don’t let them take shortcuts. It’s far too easy to get comfortable with a client, especially when you get along really well.

I try to adapt to the 80/20 rule as often as possible. That means I am pushing them 80% of the time. That means I am pushing them to 80% of their max. That means that for 48 minutes of their hour they are working their ass off. With that being said, progress won’t happen when you constantly beat the living hell out of your client. It’s not your job to make them so sore they can’t sit on a toilet. Instead, it’s your job to find the right balance of pushing them and knowing where their limit is.

The 7 tips listed above will largely increase your client retention. These tips are, in some way or another, how to develop a good relationship with your client. You don’t need to befriend every client, but it does help to act friendly. Remember, you want your client to feel comfortable with you, and you want your client to enjoy your sessions. Be mindful of the client-trainer relationship too. You don’t want to exceed the boundaries of professionalism and become their best friend. This can end up negatively on your behalf, so be sure to set clear boundaries.