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Online success series - clients and cancelling in lockdown

Given the potential financial implications that many people may be facing at present, it will come as no surprise that some will need to ‘trim the fat’ as the old saying goes, which in this case means cancelling non-essential direct debits. Gym memberships, personal training sessions and various other fitness subscriptions may well come under fire as a result.

The people making these decisions fall into 3 groups:

  • Those who value your service
  • People who value their fitness
  • Everyone else

To be honest, you won’t be able to stop those who fall into the third category from cancelling. Fitness and your services are not seen as a priority to this group right now. This is fine and when they ask to cancel, graciously explain that you fully understand their reasons for cancelling, and you will stop their direct debit from coming out the following month.

Client's requesting refunds

However, you should not look to offer refunds relating to services already provided or if the client paid in advance for a longer-term training plan. This is like someone choosing to make a mortgage overpayment and then contacting the lender to ask for it back. It just won’t happen, so you’ll need to be firm about this if asked.

It is also worth mentioning to those who cancel that they may be subject to new fees when they decide to return. However, being generous like you are, agree to honour their current fees as a goodwill gesture for at least 6 months post cancellation.

Questions to ask your clients

People in the other two categories – those who value your service and people who value their fitness – have one thing in common - fitness is a priority to them.

Those who value your service will support you out of loyalty, whilst people who value their fitness will stay because you cater to their fitness needs. As such, there are some useful questions to ask each group. First, thank them for their continued patronage and then ask them:

  • Why have you chosen to keep your membership/PT session active?
  • Is there anything specific you’d like in addition to the current service provided?
  • Please can you explain how or why this will be of benefit to you?
  • What else do you feel we can do for you?

These questions will involve your clients and make them feel not only part of a larger tribe, but that they are important, valued and respected.

Online personal training class

Client is destined to leave

Some PTs will try and keep hold of those who are destined to leave anyway. They may neglect the clients who are loyal to them, as well as those who see fitness as a high priority and choose you to be the one to help them. Hence why it’s important that this is the first question to ask.

Here are some other elements to bear in mind:

  • Assess what your competitors are offering
  • What skills do your competitors have that you don’t?
  • Why are your competitors seen as valuable by their clients?

This is a real curve ball. Can you speak to your competitors and create a joint venture? That would truly be going above and beyond, offering a higher level of service for the benefit of everyone.

Valuing fitness or your service is great but understanding the emotional reasons as to why is something else entirely. It will give you the opportunity to create something special - unique even.

Offer above and beyond to the people in categories 1 and 2 and smile as you say goodbye to those sitting in group 3. Don’t let them go empty handed though. You could offer them a farewell gift such as a free pass to an online resource with pre-made training sessions, exercise breakdowns or PDFs (food, training, mindset and so on). Allow them to stay in private or online groups that you’ve set up so they know they’re still part of your clientele.

This article was written by Ross Mitchell, Personal Training Tutor at Future Fit Training.