How do you fire a client?
I work as an in-home personal trainer. I currently have a client who often cancels sessions at the last minute (she's charged for the session since her contract says that if she cancels with less than 24hours notice the fee can not be refunded). She doesn't want to do the work on her own to lose the weight (we currently meet 3 times a week). She often complains of some new injury and why she can't do certain exercises (most of the injuries are due to late nights, drinking and partying). We've worked together for 2 months and have talked about her behavior and what it takes to reach her fitness goals. She says "she knows what she has to do", but her actions are contrary to what she's saying. I've had difficult clients before, but with time, I've seen improvement. I'm not getting that same feeling this time. I've started to dread our sessions, feeling that they're a waste of time for me and her if she's not going to do the work as well to reach her goals. As a trainer, I can't do the work for her! I'm thinking of letting her go as a client. I currently have a wait list of clients who would like to train with me. But at the same time, I feel bad about not helping her reach her goals. Any advice as to how to let go of a difficult client? Or of how to perhaps, change things around?
It seems that your client perfect for wellness coaching. She may have set for herself unrealistic goals and as a consequence she many not be able to reach them.
It seems to me she is in the contemplative stage of change. It might be a good idea to think about brainstorming cognitive-based goals instead of "doing" goals because she hasn't been successful with the "doing" goals.
Is it possible that three times a week is just too much for her? Never forget changing a behavior is very hard work.
When I work with clients that are new to wellness, I always encourage them to start with wellness coaching. In this way they are able to create a vision of who they want to be in six months time. When an individual describes who they want to be and commits it to writing it becomes real. You can then brainstorm with the individual in coming up with strategies to reach their vision.
You mentioned that you both spoke together to "talk about her behavior and what it takes to reach her fitness goals." Out of curiosity, when you spoke with each other did you tell her what to do or did she figure it out for herself? Never forget, the client must have a compelling reason to change. If they don't, we can't do it for them. Help her find her personal reason to change and utilize that to keep her motivated.
I wish you the best.
Natural attrition for all clients who are not willing to invest the time, commitment and money.
And I make room for someone who is willing and wants to INVEST in themselves.
Good luck, she has to go :)
You can analyze and talk it through until you're blue in the face but if you two are not a match you're not a match.
You need to invest your time and training with people "who get it" with people "who want it"
Personally I don't keep clients that don't make strides for the simple reason that I don't want them telling others about me since there has been no obvious change in them!
Fill your training hours with clients that matter, you will put out an energy that will motivate them.
Once you have your clients identified as A,Bor C you give your A clients the best time slots and your B clients get the next slots and you ween out your C clients. These clients do not good the prime slots. Your goal is to ween out your C clients as they can bring you down and potentially hurt your business.
To "fire" your C clients you talk with them about what is happening and try and figur out how to correc the situation. If that does not work you tactfully let them know that you may not be the right trainer for them and that they should like for a new trainer. you may even want to recommend someone to them. This way you are still looking after their best intrest.
You still have to do what is right for you. Not every client is the right fit for every trainer and sometimes the best training is to turn a client over to someone else. I hope that this helps.
This was a great question. Thank you for sharing your experience with everyone. I enjoyed reading all of the answers you got!
(I would have left this in a comment for you, but it seems that the spam filter hasn't been applied to comments yet, which is preventing comments)
In our initial meeting, I make sure the client understands that my goal is for her to reach her goals and in order for her to reach her goals, she must adhere to the program. If she is not seeing progress, then I probably am not the trainer for her. My contract states that if the client is "fired" due to failure to adhere to program, program fees will not be refunded.
While this may seem brash and harsh, I have found that this tact actually works and weeds out clients who might be "on the fence" about committing to a fitness program.
I have a long waiting list and feel it is not fair to allow someone to waste my time and her money when I have someone else who would give 100% to the program. Also, I realized that having clients who are not reaching their goals and progressing are actually bad for my business as they are not really good advertisement.
I do not expect all of my clients to have phenomenal results and understand that fitness comes in all sizes and shapes - but I do expect my clients to put forth 100% effort to self-improvement. If I have a client who is not losing weight but is keeping scheduled appointments and is experiencing improvement in fitness level, character development and overall health, I would never "fire" that client. When you have a client who is putting forth 100% effort, improvement will happen! There is no doubt about it.
I also schedule a complimentary initial consultation with each client to have a "get to know" meeting. I can usually tell during this first meeting whether the client will match my personality and respond to my training style. If I feel that we do not mesh, I will refer potential clients to a trainer whose personality and training style I feel will best match that person's own personality. I have a client referral program with other trainers in my town so even while I might lose a potential client by referring, I actually help my business when someone who would not be a good fit as one of my clients gets good results by training with a trainer who matches their personality and style. Plus, I get a referral fee!
Like Marlan, I strongly agree with Tami. Not every client is for every trainer! We can only help the clients we can help & there is probably another trainer out there who can help the clients we cannot help.
Never underestimate your abilities as a Professional Personal Trainer. If you properly PAR-Q'd your client, set goals, nutrtion habits and journaled your progress and your client does'nt want to chage their personal health habits, you might want to move on to other clients on your waiting list that do need your professional help.
Unfortunately, we cannot help everyone who comes our way however, we can focus on those clients that are motivated for personal success.
I have fired clients in the past...its not easy nor fun, but in some cases it has to be done.
Some tips I have used:
* I never raised rates as an excuse to fire a client.
* Honesty is the best policy.
* If my client has not met their weight goals, I temporarily cease personal training with them and will give them a return date for a weigh in to meet a set weight. If they achieve that specific weight, then training resumes, if they do not, I let them go.
* I simply state that I am not the right trainer for them and I do not want to continue to waste their time and money and I can refer them to another trainer that might fit their needs and I apologize for letting them down.
In some cases the client will see that you are serious about them and their health and might have a moment of clarity and change their habits. Even if they don't return, they will respect you for your honsety and professionalism.
Now looking at this on the business end of things, which is what we need to look at even more: Is she paying you top dollar either by ETF or on a per month (s) basis? If it is an early morning client and you know she is going out the night before you could possible have a potential client already lined up to take her place (if it is not 5 or 6am). If it is that early, then you are getting paid to sleep and maybe use that time for working out. I had another client for 1.5 years that cancelled 75 to 80% of the time. I also trained his wife and mother who were very diligent with their training routines. I looked at this way, he was paying for all three of them and he knew what he was doing. He ran a successful business so he knew what it would take to get the results he wanted. He also was paying me for all the sessions he cancelled or no showed. That is when I started partially booking clients in his place. I told them upfront that my client may cancel, but I would not be able to let you know until last minute. They were fine with that, especially if I told them the terms. He finally dropped off, but I continued training the wife and mother for the two more years.
I know you want to help this individual with her health & wellness, but you are also in the business to make money. If you can get a new client to replace her and increase your rates by at least 10%-15%, then I would replace her, but make sure that new client pays you up front for at least 1 to 3 months at a time.
Hope that sheds some insight!
Kisar S. Dhillon
Wellness coaching is an excellent idea in this situation.
My thoughts are that you should tell the client that you want to start meeting just once per week. I have the feeling that this client is under a lot of pressure. There are always extenuating circumstances that we are never aware of. How hard are you pushing her? Is she the type of person that can be pushed as hard as you're pushing her or can she be pushed harder?
It sounds to me like she's burnt out. She needs a vacation. She's having to fill her life with too many negative things to fill a void that exists within her. I think that with some wellness coaching, you might be able to help her to see how she is erring in her ways. Make sure her goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and that they have a timeline. (SMART).
A personal trainer can only help a client if the client is willing to be helped. If you honestly feel like you have tried everything in the book and out of the book, then consider refering her in the nicest way possible to a counseling psychologist (use good judgement). I'm not a fan of leaving a client out in the cold either, but sometimes it's needed. Sometimes people just aren't ready to move on, and you shouldn't force yourself into someone else's life.
Bottom line: Try wellness coaching and drop the sessions to once per week for a month while you take on some new clients to get your mind back on track and off of this nightmare. Allow this client to think for a while. If needed, refer the client to a counseling psychologist (be careful about how you go about that). Your mind has to be ready for this type of committment. Some people need the extra help in a clinical setting to get on the right track. There's nothing wrong with that.
I hope you can help this client to get it together! The whole situation sounds like a nightmare. Surround yourself with positive things and positive people for a while, and great things will happen. We can't save everyone. All you can do is give it your best. Don't "kill" yourself in the process. You know what I mean?
I think Susan and Kisar stated it correctly. She's not at a place where she wants to really train yet. She's still "thinking about it". And as a result, I'm not enjoying training her and its starting to effect how I am in our sessions. That's not a good result for either of us. She's not seeing any results and I really don't want her to be a representation of my business since it is not due to my work with her, but her lack of committment and readiness to change. Maybe later on, she'll be ready. But right now, its time to sever our relationship since its not really working for either of us.
And Tami, thank you for your response on the ABC client model. I will keep that in mind.
I hope this provides some insight as well.
You could raise your rates
Tell her that the time is no longer available
or just say it's not working out and
refer her to another trainer.
Clients are relationships and some may not work out.
I ended up saying "nice to meet you" after her last session. I never asked her to resign. I told her she should try other trainers for variety.
The training sales team just sales, period, so you don't have a general feel for the client, they show, you train. That is where I experienced difficult clients, at that point I have the freedom to not make myself available.
On the other end of the spectrum, when you are canvassing and generating your own client, then it is more personable. At the initial assessment stage you will determine if the client is a good fit for you. Now, if the client becomes difficult over a length of time you have to evaluate if the client became more of a friend or did bad habits on both sides creep into the trainer/client dynamic.
Mac Dodds M.A., Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
I'm sure by now you have already made your decision about this client. As for myself, I would just refer them to other trainers who might be more suitable for them. Not all of the clients click with their trainer and when this happens, there is really not that much that you can do. Don't take it personally, not all clients will be a good much for you. I'm always upfront with my clients, I set the rules and I explain to them why I'm there and why are there also. I do my best to accommodate them and try to help them, but at the end of the day it takes two to tango. I don’t give up on them easy because our job is to try to find a way to help them. They made the effort and the first step to contact us, so the least we can do for them is to give our best effort to make things happen for them.