Author: Tahnee Donkin
As fitness professionals, we often take it personally when a client leaves. We’ve all felt that
sinking feeling in our gut when it takes us by surprise, often leaving us with a sense of
rejection. But did you ever consider that every client that leaves presents us with an
opportunity to reflect, learn and grow?
A good fitness professional spends quality time with a prospective client, getting to know
their goals, their needs, and their underlying motivation. They know that investing time in this
process often leads to a higher conversion rate and better results. What if we invested the
same amount of quality time into a client who is leaving us? How you respond in this
situation says so much about who you are as a person and as a fitness professional, and it
can make or break the relationship you have with your client.
Firstly let’s reflect on why clients leave. Some of the most common reasons clients tell their
trainer are money, time, other commitments or to go it alone. These are all socially
acceptable reasons to stop personal training, however often it’s not the real reason. I’ve
worked with thousands of personal trainers and gym members over the last 12+ years, and
in my experience here are some of the most common REAL reasons that clients leave and
are afraid to tell their trainer about:
● They feel like their PT doesn’t listen to them
● They feel like a number
● They don’t feel valued
● The training style doesn’t match their goals or needs
● Poor customer service
● PT over promising and under delivering
So how can we turn a client leaving into an opportunity? It’s inevitable that clients will leave,
and we should plan for this and role play this just as much as we would with a conversation
about someone’s goals and needs.
Here’s a simple 5 step process to follow when a client wants to leave:
- EMPATHISE: Respond with genuine empathy, and seek to better understand the
situation and how they are feeling
- LISTEN: Set aside time for a relaxed face to face discussion. Use open ended
questions and ask for genuine feedback. Your main objective here is to listen and
gain a better understanding of the real reason the client is leaving.
- FIND A SOLUTION: Ask the client “what would need to change in order for us to
continue training together?” Focus on finding a solution.
- SUPPORT: Discuss the next steps in their fitness journey and how you can provide
further support (Eg. catch up for coffee to check in with them in 4 weeks time)
- COMMUNITY: Ensure they remain part of your online community, ever after they
have stopped training with you. You never know when they may return or refer a
friend or family member.
One of the best ways to ensure your clients feel comfortable in providing honest feedback is
by offering a Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee, where you offer 100% money back for a
session if the client wasn’t 100% happy with it. The thought of giving a client their money
back can be scary, however it opens up a conversation and gives you an opportunity to fix it,
rather than simply losing the client for good. I know I’d much rather refund 1 session than
lose what may have been 2 years worth of weekly sessions. A money back guarantee can
also help to put prospective clients’ minds at ease during the sales process.
So what about clients that leave due to relocation or job loss? 2020 has taught us that we
can train clients anywhere, anytime using technology. Online PT and virtual PT mean that
you never have to lose another client due to relocation. We’ve also learned the positive
impact of going above and beyond to support a person in need. You may consider creating a
unique program, subscription or offer for clients impacted by job loss. The most important
and impactful thing you can do for them is to continue to treat them as a valued member of
Remember, every client will eventually leave, it’s how you respond to it that’s important. Plan
ahead and don’t be too hard on yourself. There’s usually a silver lining if you’re willing to find
it, and this valuable feedback can be the very thing you need to take your business to the
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Blog distributed by: Tahnee Donkin
Tahnee is the Challenges Manager at Fitness and Lifestyle Group (Fitness First Australia)
Connect with Tahnee Donkin