Increase Client Retention with 3 Steps

(5 minute read)

Coaching is a career built around helping people.

Most of us who got into the fitness field do so to work with others to help them reach their goals.

Who wouldn’t want someone in their corner to help them on their journey? Hardly anyone – so why is it so hard for coaches to keep clients?

In my work, I often see coaches too quickly shift from helping mode to fixing mode. The intent is still pure- helping others reach their goals- but the method is vastly different.

Sometimes people just need to work through what they are thinking before they are ready to consider action and we might be their only safe outlet. 

Sometimes people need us to relate to what they are going through.

Sometimes people need, and are ready for, some answers. And sometimes it’s all three.

Long-term successful relationships require many things but namely the following three:


This is another word for listen.

Did you know the average person actively listens for about 17 seconds before either interjecting their own ideas or minimally making a judgment on what the other person is saying?

Undoubtedly, some of the conversations you have with clients may not be that engaging from a topic standpoint (how their favorite pants were out of stock once again at lulu lemon, or perhaps hearing the same story about their kids).  But how can you use this information to connect with your clients for better results?

Pehaps connecting a weekend nutrition goal with a family dinner that includes teaching the kiddos how to shop for healthy greens; or creating a water goal for two weeks, the accomplishment of which is then reinforced by having them buy a new headband or top at lulu? When you truly listen, you can weave the threads of their lives into better, longer lasting activities and results for your clients. They will notice and feel connected to you for the long haul.


Not everyone’s life journey and day-to-day tribulations are as interesting as others. As a personal trainer or coach, you will undoubtedly have a wide variety of clients and accompanying issues.

The hour-by-hour analysis of the weather on their last vacation, or how it’s so very hard to not eat the whole box of cookies, can for sure get old. You wish you had the stressor of your Mercedes needing new tires.. – The reality is that you do not need to relate, and you definitely do not need to try to fix their challenges.

Often coaches will get frustrated when they hear the same challenges over and over despite the amazing recs they gave their client.

We all have our own unique hurdles and frustrations and many people suffer from a paucity of people who care or will listen. Just like there are different body types, different innate athleticism, there are different personalities and ways people process information.

Empathy is about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, not your own.

Appreciating and understanding that their life is no simpler than your own, just different. Let them know you understand that something is frustrating or hard for them.

Note here. I am not saying that you need to relate, you simply need to understand that it’s hard for THEM. That is what is key. By doing so, you have established your willingness to truly help them on their journey, not try to take them on yours.


We have all experienced someone who has over promised, and under delivered.

When that person does it repeatedly, how do you view that person? Is that the person you go to when you really need something? Is that the person you trust to keep their word? Do you start to dismiss what that person says? We might like that person, but we do not tend to count on them for outcomes.

To keep clients and attract new ones through a strong reputation, you need to walk your talk. This includes doing what you say. If you end a session telling your client you will send them the link to that book you recommended, or that supplement you discussed, make sure you do it. If you talked to them about their knee pain and told them next session you have some special exercises you will run them through, plan that program and execute.

As coaches you are often working long hours and often back to back with clients. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for research and ongoing client texting.

So take a Sunday, identify 5 – 10 common things you recommend or offer to clients, organize those resources so they are easily accessible on your phone and schedule an extra 5 minutes between clients to follow up with your promises as they are walking out the door.

Or if you said you would check in on them tonight, or research something, have a reminders app on your phone always open. Add your task to it and make sure you get to it that night. You do not have to promise a lot to create value. You just need to follow through on your promise.

Coaches chose their careers to help people and get results.

Avoid burnout and grow your client base by actively engaging, empathizing and executing with your clients. When we actively listen, put ourselves in other shoes and provide value through consistent execution, clients will feel like they have someone in their court, increasing their chance for success, staying with you, and building your reputation.