We all do it…
Every day of the week we make assumptions about our clients’ needs, their attitudes in the gym, and their training goals. If you aspire to make and keep your valued clients happy moving forward, you can start by kicking these ten habits:
1. Stop assuming clients read the welcome packet.
Sure, you pulled together a beautiful collection of answers to frequently asked questions, plugged in some pretty pictures of the space, inserted gloriously detailed staff bios, and outlined how your payment structure works…but nobody read it. If you want to ensure that people get these messages, you’ve got to tell them again and again. And then tell them one more time.
2. Stop assuming clients will tell you when they’re annoyed.
Every client handles their own annoyance differently, and I can assure you that vocal complainers are the exception and not the rule. Your problem, which you may not even realize exists, is that nearly every paying client in the gym has something in mind that they’d like to see you improve within your operation, but only a small handful will tell you what that is without being asked. Always ask for feedback.
3. Stop assuming clients care that you had a bad day.
There are a number of coaches out there who treat their clients like therapists between sets. It’s fine (expected, even) if clients bring their stress to you as a coach during down time between sets, as it is a sign that they trust you and value your opinion. It is not fine, however, for you to take that liberty with the time they’ve paid a premium for. The service you provide is typically expected to be the best part of their day.
4. On a similar note…stop assuming every client wants to make small talk.
Just because we want our coaches to possess extroverted tendencies doesn’t mean we demand that they impose their gregarious nature on every person who walks through the door. Some people want to be coached when warranted, and then left alone with their thoughts in between sets. It is perfectly okay to give them their space.
5. Stop assuming elite athletes want to be fenced off from gen-pop clients.
Gym owners in the performance space often conclude (without asking) that their “elite” athletes want to be allotted designated training times and privacy from the boring normal people who don’t exercise for a living. Those owners are typically wrong. It only takes a conversation or two to realize that 99 out of 100 professional athletes are regular people when they step off the playing field. They crave normal social interaction like you or I. Let them engage with the locals.
6. Stop assuming clients perpetually crave facility upgrades.
We’ve upgraded our gym on more than one occasion over the years, and each time I have been surprised to receive push-back from and handful of our most loyal clients. “You guys are going to get too corporate…the bigger you get, the less attention we’ll receive…I don’t want to give up the garage gym feel we already have here.” Make sure you’re investing in improved training space because clients are asking for it, and not because you’re guessing they would if given the chance.
7. Stop assuming gender-matching is imperative in coaching assignments.
We don’t have a whole lot of female coaches or interns who come through our space. With just 8% of our intern applicant pool being female in the past 36 months, shifting this trend is a big challenge. When we do line up a great female coach to contribute, I avoid making the mistake of assuming that they MUST be in the room for every female athlete assessment, and MUST be assigned to one-on-one coaching duties with new female clients during week one. Unless the coach or client specifically requests the pairing, the next coach in line, regardless of gender, is typically the right pick in a setting where every coach on the team will be working with every athlete in some capacity during a their time with us. There’s no need to force the interaction.
8. Stop assuming your longest-tenured, most experienced clients want hand-holding.
Being so experienced with our programming that you don’t need a coach assigned to is a badge of honor that many of our “regulars” proudly wear here at CSP. Sure, our unofficial rule is that every paying client has a staff member assigned to work one-on-one with them during the first week of a new program, but some rules are made to be broken. Make your most loyal clients feel trusted to be self-starters and take comfort in knowing that they’ll approach you if they’re stumped. So long as there’s eyes on them as they begin their new material, everyone will be just fine.
9. Stop assuming clients will look for ways to bring friends without being asked.
It seems like common sense that people would want to improve their training experience by sharing it with friends, but they rarely take the initiative to make it happen on their own. I’ll bet you often find yourself thinking: “Why don’t any of this kid’s teammates train with us? He loves it here.” Don’t stop there. Walk up to that athlete in the gym and ask him yourself: “You know, Johnny, you’re obviously killing it in the weight room with all of this progress you’ve made in recent months. When are we going to get some of your buddies in to join?” Most of the time you’ll learn that high school kids aren’t all that proactive until you put the idea in their heads.
10. Stop assuming your clients will take offense when you need to raise prices.
There are very few products or services in our lives that do not increase in price over time. This is why you should stop convincing yourself that a reasonable price increase every couple of years will be interpreted as some sort of attack on one’s character. Look your client in the eye, tell them that your cost of delivering an exceptional service has increased over the years, and then exhale as they look you in the eye and say: “I get it. Thank you for giving me a heads up.”
Less Guessing, More Asking
The primary takeaway from this list is that we could all benefit from killing our habit of guessing what is going on in the minds of our clients. Increase your questions asked, decrease your assumptions made, and start enjoying a more satisfied and engaged client base.