Hospitality Will Get You Everywhere
By Kelli Calabrese MS
Make no mistake, having a room filled with new equipment and providing a good workout is not enough anymore to maintain happy paying customers. A wealth of trainers abound, so the experience you provide is going to weigh heavily on your clients remaining as loyal customers.
Personal Training is the epitome of customer service, much like the efforts of a concierge. Constant commitment to helping clients get physical results and feel good emotionally goes a long way in building client loyalty and acquiring high-quality referrals. The highest compliment you can receive from your client is a referral.
Little touches that reinforce how much you care are not only nice, but they’re also good for business. Throwing an occasional client appreciation day is a great way to enhance relationships with clients, and keep them coming back.
The gathering can be as simple or elegant as you prefer. Americans always seem to associate food with hospitality, socialization, comfort and good times. Feeding people often makes them feel valued and helps to win them over.
Your fare should be light and healthful such as freshly squeezed juice with a platter of organic fruit or a pitcher of citrus water on ice and samples of a homemade low fat muffin. You could provide the recipe from a healthy cookbook you endorse (ultimately leading to cookbook sales).
Another option would be to work out an agreement with a joint venture partner in the restaurant or retail food industry to supply refreshments in exchange for having signage in your facility, an ad in your newsletter or a banner on your web site.
How to throw a client appreciation party In addition to the occasional light refreshment, consider throwing a real party for clients and their guests once or twice a year. The purpose should be twofold: first, to show appreciation to your clients, and second, to exchange information with their guests.
When inviting clients, send two additional invitations for them to pass along to guests. Invitations can be sent via e-mail at no cost. The invitation should create some mystery and let them know it will be fun, including dancing, prizes, awards and more. Your party might have a theme, and include cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, music, barbeque, or whatever you think your clients would most enjoy.
The party can be held either at your facility or offsite.
Have your guests register as they arrive so you can make a point of introducing yourself while gathering information about them. Have qualified staff mingling to answer questions and promote services.
Keep the party social, but include a recognition ceremony to acknowledge clients who have reached milestones in improving their bodies and health.
Knowing they may be honored will encourage clients to want to attend and bring friends to support them. This would also be a good time to make a special announcement. For example a new service you will be offering, a new exercise technique you will be studying, a new product you will be launching or something new you will be carrying in your pro shop.
Ultimately the focus should be about how the new offering will help them. To add to the fun, raffle off a few items or have clients bid on the chance to train with you. Proceeds can go towards a hot new piece of equipment for your facility. If you can, barter with a food service provider to cater the food.
You could also involve other kinds of partners where appropriate, such as a masseur to provide chair massages, or a florist to enhance your dcor, or a DJ to get the crowd moving.
As guests leave the party, hand them a flyer with an offer, such as a discount off of your next seminar or a special rate on their first training session. To create a sense of urgency, specify a purchase deadline of one week from the date of the party. Follow up with all the guests within a few days of party, while your hospitality and enthusiasm are still fresh in their minds.
When my club celebrated it’s 10-year anniversary, we rented out the ballroom at a major hotel and members and their guests paid a premium to attend. They enjoyed the club and it’s benefits so much that they were willing to pay to socialize with the trainers and staff.
We were able to rely on the guest list for future marketing throughout the year. Little things mean a lot You want your facility to be a place to workout just like The Ritz Carlton is a place to sleep.
Little touches really do matter.
Small gestures like refreshments, sending a thank you card, birthday card or a note congratulating them on their success lets clients know they are respected and esteemed by you. Your clients success is your success. They are your walking billboards.
As their transformations become noticed by friends and coworkers, they will be quick to give you credit and refer others to you. I recently had a female client who went from 20% body fat to 16 % body fat in 3 months. Two people who noticed how good she looked are now clients of mine.
If I see an article I think would be of interest to one of my clients, I’ll e-mail it to them and remind them about someone they said they were going to refer. Each contact with your client gives you an opportunity to earn a referral from them. Yes, coordinating a party does take some work, but the payoff is clients who feel valued and guests who had a great experience and will want to be part of the in crowd.
According to Mary Jayne Johnson, regional health and fitness manager for The Wellbridge Company, she rewards her club’s members for referring a friend by giving them a $50 gift certificate, which can be used towards personal training, pilates lessons, the pro shop, cafe or for other club services.
Mary Jayne says, By giving clients reasons to refer a friend, you can manage your time better and increase your income per hour. If clients want to share a training session with their friend, it makes training more affordable for them and you make more money per training hour. Parties and other personal touches help build trust and confidence in you as a trainer and business professional.
Clients who feel they have received exceptional service will refer others. See every training session as an opportunity to create raving customers.
Service That Sells! The Art of Profitable Hospitality by Phil Roberts Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service by Ken Blanchard
Kelli is on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Personal Trainers, An Expert Fellow for the National Board of Fitness Examiners, and has attained over 20 fitness and nutrition certifications. Kelli is the co-author of Feminine, Firm and Fit and is available for fitness consulting. She can be reached at Kelli@KelliCalabrese.com. For more details go to www.KelliCalabrese.com