Rob Liano, a well-known and respected life coach once said, “The only people that can ruin a relationship or make that relationship work are the two people in it.” As trainers, most of us know that building solid relationships with our clients is key to long-term success in our industry. Like it or not, you are in a relationship with your clients. In order to build a successful and prosperous relationship however, trainers must establish accountability with their clients.
First and foremost, a client can’t be held accountable if they do not know what is expected of them. As their trainer, you must inform them of what they are responsible for and what actions they need to take on their own. You should have these responsibilities and expectations printed out for your client to keep for themselves. Before your initial training session, you should cover them together and clarify your expectations fully. That way, there is no confusion between the two of you.
In order to build accountability with your clients, you must track their progress overall. Keep a record of their workouts and how they performed. Schedule and conduct regular body measurements and performance tests. A client who is measured and tested on a regular basis is less likely to shirk on their responsibilities. Sometimes the mirror test is not enough for them. You have to be able to present them with hard data in the form of test results and measurements. As the saying goes, “numbers don’t lie.”
Also, keep a record of their attendance and timeliness. A client can’t be held accountable by you if they can’t see their progress. If a client is chronically late, you have to have a record to show them. If they are canceling regularly, you need to be able to show them just how often they are tardy. It may seem obvious to you, but clients are often oblivious to their patterns. It is your job to hold them accountable as such. You have to be prepared to hold honest, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations with your clients.
As a trainer, you have to accept the fact that you are going to have to put in a lot of additional time and effort to help hold your clients accountable. Your work does not stop when your clients’ sessions end. It’s just the opposite actually. The real work begins in between sessions. The work you put in to help hold your clients accountable is just as important as the effort your clients make.
Let’s now discuss some of the things trainers can do to help hold your clients accountable. Ultimately, this will help grow your relationship with them. In today’s world, you have to be a trainer first, but a master of communication second. Most of your clients are busy people that juggle a number of responsibilities of their own. As a trainer, you must communicate with them through a wide array of media in order for your message to reach and resonate with them. It may seem redundant, but it is better than running the risk of them missing your message.
Personal texts and emails are good tools to start building accountability with your clients. A text message an hour or two before a client’s workout is an excellent way to remind them about their appointment time. Emails are better for reminding your clients about their appointment times at least 24 hours in advance. The email can remind the client about their appointment time, any special instructions for them and a few lines of encouragement as well. An email following their appointment is a solid way to update your client on their progress, but more importantly, compliment them on a job well done.
You have to be a king or queen of social media also in order to build accountability with your clients. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all free advertising platforms that can help you hold your clients accountable. Twitter is great for reminding your group exercise clients about their class times and congratulating them on a great workout together. Instagram can be used similarly. Facebook and its Messenger feature is an outstanding way to keep in constant contact with your clients. You can message clients privately to encourage and remind them. You can also create groups within Messenger to do the same with your group exercise clients.
A lot of people want recognition and social media is one of the best ways to do so. Pictures of your clients working out, status updates congratulating them on personal accomplishments or milestones and personal messages on their pages are all creative ways to recognize your clients. But while you’re recognizing them on the surface, you’re also holding them accountable. Their friends and family see their workouts and progress. They in turn can encourage them track their progress. Your client sees the people they care about taking an interest in their fitness and it helps them want to maintain accountability. It makes it a little bit harder for them to contemplate quitting or slacking on their workouts.
One of the newer techniques for building client accountability is push notifications. A variety of smart phone apps and services exist that can send push notifications to your clients’ smart phones. These push notifications can remind them about their appointment times or give them any other special instructions you might have. A good rule of thumb for push alerts is to send one at least 12 hours prior to their appointment, and then again an hour or two before their appointment. You don’t want to over-do it and send too many push alerts. Your clients will quickly see them as spam and ignore them like junk email.
As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of work for a trainer to conduct in order to build accountability with their clients. In many ways, the workout you conduct with them is the least time-consuming part of your relationship. A successful trainer will most likely put far more time outside of your traditional appointment times. As a trainer, you have a vital role in creating and maintaining accountability with your clients. A client-trainer relationship with trust and accountability at its core is key for a long-term, prosperous exchange.
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