In many ways, client retention is a lot easier in a one-on-one setting than in a group environment. It’s easier to develop trusting relationships with your clients, to provide your undivided attention, and to offer a personalized training program designed specifically for their goals.
But one-on-one training comes at a cost: A financial cost that most people can’t afford, all the while it creates an environment that lacks community, friends and support, hence why group fitness has become so popular.
For the group class gym owner, however, that also means one of the biggest challenges for group class functional fitness facilities is client retention.
Two-Brain Business owner Chris Cooper suggests the average length of engagement of a client at a functional fitness group class gym is around 7.8 months, meaning most people don’t even last one year in a group class facility.
- Similarly, this Morning Chalk Up article from October 2021 reported on Zen Planner, Wodify and PushPress data (all CRM software companies). They pegged annual client retention to be 69 percent, 54 percent, and 58 percent respectively, well below what Cooper and other experts in the industry say should be considered good client retention.
Regardless of whether you have a client retention problem or not, you probably wouldn’t complain if your client’s average length of engagement improved, right? That’s one of the hot topics covered in the Two-Brain Group Coaching Course.
Four Tips to Improve Group Class Client Retention
1. Focus on the First 100 Days
The first 100 days at your gym probably plays the biggest role in determining whether a client will stick around for one, two, five-years plus, or whether they’ll fall off shortly after their fundamentals are complete.
The solution: Hold their hands in the first 100 days. Maybe not literally, but figuratively you need to be doing everything you can to make them feel comfortable. Don’t take anything for granted in regard to how the client perceives their experience when they’re new to the gym.
For many, the gym is still unfamiliar territory, so even things as seemingly mundane as knowing where to put their keys when they workout, or troubleshooting how to sign in to a class, or knowing what washroom to use, can be intimidating, and can often lead to discomfort or a sense that they don’t belong.
Take the time to go through absolutely everything with new clients, ask for feedback, and hold their hands until they’re comfortable walking alone.
2. Tie Everything Back to the WHY
In life, there are some things we have to do and other things we want to do. And while we might continue doing things we have to do for a while, it’s a lot easier to do the things we want to do. In other words, human nature will always default to the want to over the have to.
The same is true for each type of workout: If you as a coach can convince your clients that they WANT to do the workout, rather than have to, they’re going to enjoy it a lot more and be more likely to come back because the gym is a fun place where they want to be.
The easiest way to do this is to tie each workout back to their WHY, back to their goals.
- Why? If they buy-in to the why, and they understand how it will help them reach their goals, they’re more likely to be compliant long-term. In other words, if they genuinely care about the workout their intrinsic motivation will go through the roof.
But how do I tie everything back to a person’s why in a group setting, when each person’s why, and when each person’s goals are unique?
Luckily, most of our clients’ WHY can be broken into three buckets:
- Clients who want weight loss/lean up
- Clients who want to build muscle/strength
- Clients who care about their performance for performance sake
When you break clients down this way, it becomes a lot easier to take a group of 20 clients in a class and find ways to motivate them intrinsically to be excited about any given training day.
Now, through education, you can now speak to the clients who want to lose weight about why they should care about squatting heavy today, or to the person who wants to gain strength about why they should be stoked about the 20-minute conditioning piece on the agenda.
Coach Josh Martin goes into how to do this in great detail in the TwoBrain Group Coaching Course.
3. Keep them Safe and Injury-Free
This, of course, comes down to the actual coaching—from the warm-ups you administer to prepare your clients’ joints and central nervous system for the training day, to how to scale workouts—however, it also has to consider people’s psychology.
One of the possible problems with training in a group are dealing with competitiveness and, to a certain degree, ego. Ego can easily stop people from buying in, which leads to bad decision-making.
In light of this, in his course, Coach Martin delves into ways to keep people bought in, even in the competitive heat of the moment in a class when they’re tempted to throw more weight on the bar than they should. Further, he talks about the various problem clients—from the Chatty Cathys to the Big Britches Barts, to the Sly Stallone—and how to get through to each of them.
One more tip: Celebrate, not just quantitative PRs, but also qualitative ones, such as how people move, or a smart decision they made to preserve the intended stimulus of the training session.
4. Results, Results, Results
Have you ever had a client quit the day after they got their first pull-up, or when they reached the 50-pound weight loss mark?
The bottom line is clients who see results will stick around.
And results come from, not just the training program and smart coaching you’re providing, as well as client compliance and consistency, but also from your ability to consider and understand the social, psychological and biological factors that go into delivering an excellent service in a group setting: A service that helps people reach their goals.
Learning how to do just this is at the heart of the TwoBrain Group Coaching Course.