Can you sack a personal training client?
A few weeks ago a trainer asked me the following question – ”I have a client I don’t enjoy training and who keeps messing me about, can I sack them?”
Now technically speaking, as your clients employ you, it’s impossible to sack them as such, however you are perfectly entitled to stop working with them if you have good reason. Despite the initial consultation process being a good opportunity for you to establish rapport and get and idea if that person would be a good client, from personal experience I know it’s likely that occasionally you will take on someone who fits into one or more of the following categories:
- Cancels sessions regularly, often at very late notice (I regularly used to get a text message as I was actually on my way to one client)
- Puts no effort in to the training and clearly doesn’t enjoy it, no matter what you try
- Continually blames you for their lack of progress, as if paying you automatically means they will see results without taking any responsibility themselves
- Spends more time talking than training
In the first instance, in most cases you should talk to the client to address these problems, explaining how they are impacting on their results and how important it is to you as a trainer that they succeed. As is becoming increasingly clear, a large part of our role as fitness professional is to facilitate behaviour change and so some resistance to the exercise and nutrition plans you have devised is to be expected, as are excuses and diversionary tactics.
However sometimes of course you may not actually want to continue working with the client yourself. If you don’t feel you can help them and don’t enjoy working with them then not only is it potentially detrimental to your business to carry on (think about what that person is saying to their friends and family – and who knows who else on social media), it is also unfair on both you and them as neither party is getting any real benefit from the relationship (money aside – but is it really worth it?).
So how do you go about ‘letting them go?’. The simplest and most honest way is to explain that your business depends on clients getting results and that you don’t believe they are a suitable fit for your approach which means they are limiting both their own progress and yours. You could even assist them in finding an alternative source of support, be that another trainer if you know one who has a different style that might suit them, fitness classes or online resources for example.
To flip this around – consider how powerful and motivating it could be for potential and actual clients to know you are willing to turn away business in order to protect your reputation and ensure you are giving your best to those you work with. Those people then know the commitment expected of them as well as the high quality service they can expect in return, which can only enhance their chances of success.