Let’s face it, no matter how long you’ve been a trainer or how good you are, you’ll still lose clients along the way.

There’s a ton of reasons. People move, financial situations change, or sometimes clients just need a break. Often, it won’t be because of you, but sometimes it might be.

Either way, losing a client presents problems.

For one, you’ve lost the opportunity to influence or guide that person to better health and fitness which means they could fall off track. Secondly, you’ll experience a drop in your income that could mean the difference between living comfortably and barely getting by.

Then there’s the inevitable feeling of inadequacy, or wondering if it’s something you did or didn’t do. You might end up second guessing yourself to death.

Regardless of how many times it happens, it’s gonna sting. But you can’t dwell on it. Especially if you don’t already have another client ready to take that spot on your schedule or fill that new hole in your wallet.

It’s best to take action right away with what we call the “3-R” approach. By following these three steps, you’ll be able to assess what might have gone wrong, strategize a game plan to move forward, and take action that will bring you more client opportunities.

Step #1 – Reflect

Ok, your client told you that weren’t going to continue training. It might sting a bit (especially if it came out of left field) but take a second to really listen to what they’re saying.

Did they give a reason? If so, what was it?

If not, did you ask why? You should (tactfully, of course).

Some reasons are pretty cut and dry. If they lost their job, had a significant financial change, or are relocating across the country, then it’s pretty understandable why they can’t continue. However, if the answer is really wishy-washy or doesn’t seem to make sense to you, then it’s probably time for some investigation and reflection.

If something feels off, it probably is. And your client probably doesn’t want to hurt your feelings or create conflict. So, you need to approach this like a professional.

Try saying something like “I’m bummed that you won’t be continuing your training but I respect your decision. One of my goals as a professional is to keep improving myself and my service. So, would you mind giving me feedback on your experience? Perhaps what you liked as well as anything you think I could do better for future clients.”

Doing this won’t always get you a straight response, but more often than not, you’ll at least get a couple leads on where things may have started to go wrong. While that won’t necessarily be because of you, it could give you valuable insight in identifying the people or personalities that work well with you or the holes in your service (areas where you may not be meeting clients where they need to be met).

After gathering this information you’re ready to spend a couple days reflecting on it. Accept any criticisms and truly try to see them from a client’s perspective. If they’re valid, make the proper adjustments to your training or service right away or perhaps ask other clients how they feel about those topics. That way you can better gauge if you’re just being defensive or if you could stand to make some improvements.

Additionally, even if clients have a good reason for discontinuing training, you should ask them for feedback as well. The more data you have, the better service you can provide and it will be easier to identify whether you are falling short in area consistently.

Step #2 – Recalibrate

Now that you have some feedback and have taken some time to consider what went well and what didn’t, you should already start formulating a plan to shore up those issues for the future. Taking action will help you feel better about the loss and is the key to reducing the chance of having more clients fall off, but that’s just the beginning.

You now have some additional openings on your schedule and a drop in income. If you have a lot of other clients then it may not hurt so bad, but if you don’t then you’re going to have to act fast.

It’s time to create a game plan. 

Start by considering your available options. You could sign up an additional client or two, you could fill the openings with other clients by seeing if they want to train more frequently, or you could offer a new service such as nutrition coaching to replace the income. However, you need to consider your situation and long-term plan before pulling the trigger on any of these.

First, understand that you should always be trying to get new clients. You need to be marketing your service and asking for referrals all the time, because the best and busiest trainers are always prospecting. This will make sure that you have someone waiting in the wings for a time just like this. If you have space on your roster, take them as they come. If you’re booked solid, start a wait list and communicate with those potential clients regularly to stay connected and keep them motivated for your next opening.

If you don’t have any clients on tap but do have a decent roster already, consider asking one or two of your current clients if they’d like to increase their frequency. This is a great opportunity for someone that you work with to break through a plateau or speed up the progress towards their goals. Maybe you have a client that wants to build substantial muscle but only trains two times a week and could see better results by adding another day. By encouraging them to take their program to the next level you are killing two birds with one stone – and you’ll be surprised by how many will say yes. 

But what if you don’t have many clients or are unable to change any of your clients’ current program?

Then you’re gonna have some work to do. If you’ve been considering adding a service to your business such as nutrition coaching, then you could invest your time into developing and marketing that. However, you should only pursue this route if you have enough business to support yourself financially for a couple months and you plan to make the new service a lasting part of your business in the future.

More than likely, though, you’re going to need to go into marketing overdrive to fill that new schedule gap. Here’s a couple strategies from one of our other articles that should do the trick.

Step #3 – Respond

After assessing your current situation and options, it’s time to start taking action on your game plan.

If you’re pumping up your marketing, make sure to block off enough time in your week to get your activities done. Many trainers underestimate the time commitment needed to create social media posts, reach out to contacts, and meet new people in the community.

Not to mention, while you may see some fast results from one or two things you do, most marketing takes a little time to be effective. Potential clients need to see your content a couple of times or get a few reminders from you before reaching out. So, don’t always expect immediate results. That’s another good reason to never stop marketing. Instead, simply do a little less when you have a full roster and a little more when things are quiet.

Losing a personal training client is never a fun experience. It can have a significant effect on your income and force you to receive feedback that won’t always be positive. However, you won’t be able to avoid the experience, so you should learn to embrace it and use it as an opportunity to get better. By following the Axiom Fitness Academy “3-R” method you’ll be able to act swiftly in reducing the damage and strengthening your business.

Being a personal trainer is not always easy, but you can make it easier by attending one of our hands-on courses where we teach solutions to common training problems. Click here to find the right course for you.