Everyone talks about retention, but how many people actually have systems in place to ensure they reap maximum reward from what should be the lifeblood of their businesses?


Probably 10% at best.

Most fitness business owners approach to retention is this: “If I’m getting my clients great results they won’t leave.” I don’t think I’d define that as a systematic approach.

We all know (at least I think we do) that it’s much more expensive to acquire a client than it is to keep one. So why so little attention to keeping them and so much to new business?

Well, it wouldn’t be fair for me to point out the wrong way without providing an alternative, now would it? So here are some tips for improving your retention:


  1. Learn everything you can about your clients. Brian Calkins (one of the smartest trainers anywhere) created a form modeled after Harvey Mackay’s “Mackay’s 66”- a questionnaire in his book Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. Brian and his staff know everything from their clients’ anniversaries to their favorite music.
  2. Use what you learn. Send cards and notes during special occasions. Play client’s favorite music when they’re training (when you can), mention family members by name. People love special attention. Give it to them.
  3. Relentless Contact. Dan Kennedy suggests contacting your clients at least 26 times per year outside of the times they are actually doing business. Send multiple weekly email newsletters, send the cards and notes in just mentioned. Have special client appreciation events. Make them really appreciate doing business with you.
  4. Use the “Velvet Rope.” Ryan Lee and Jim Labadie really pushed this concept in the past and it’s brilliant. Make clients feel fortunate to be able to do business with you. If they don’t take you for granted, they’re less likely to leave.
  5. Clients must make commitments. If you’re clients are on contracts they are automatically retained. 80% of your clients should be on 3-12 month contracts. I believe that Alwyn Cosgrove only offers 3-month and 12-month programs. There is some piece of mind with this approach. If you’re not constantly having to re-sell them, you can focus on getting to know the clients and develop a long-term strategy for getting results.
  6. Develop User Friendly Membership Options. Remember, times have changed. Clients now have a variety of options so just offering training alone will not stand out. Offer “continuous success” programs where you’ll meet with people and provide program design, nutrition coaching and assessment on a monthly basis. Do your best to add as much value to your memberships as possible. By being customer centric, you can definitively increase your average client lifetime which equals to increased success in your business!

This is only scratching the surface, but I think it’s a good start.

Retention is so important to fitness business success but it’s more than just keeping a client, it’s about the value of ONE as outlined here.

Serve your clients and they will serve you.

To your success,

Pat Rigsby

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