One of my clients is getting ready to go off to college. I have been teaching her since she was thirteen years old. I can’t believe that her slots will be open in just a few weeks. Losing a client to college or moving away isn’t anything I can control. In fact, that is an amazing opportunity worth celebrating and a lucky Pilates instructor will be gaining a wonderful client. But, what about those clients who come do a package or two and then miss a session, go on a vacation and then when we follow up…crickets. Where did they go? Why did they go? Was there something I could have done to retain them?
I recently read that businesses lose an average of 20% of their client base annually. That might not sound like a lot if you are an independent teacher. That could simply be two clients a year. But, if you can’t replace them right away then you’re talking lost dollars. And, the truth is it’s cheaper to keep a client (way more profitable too) then it is to try to gain new clients. It’s important that when a client buys into you or your studio that first package that they get to the second one and beyond. But, how? How can you ensure that your clients come back even if a sudden financial upset occurs? How does Pilates stay off the chopping block?
Don’t take the first purchase for granted– Just because a client bought one package doesn’t mean they are a client for life. We need to see them continue to make their practice a priority. Keep their “why” in mind and remind them of it when appropriate often through the first couple packages. For more on your clients “why” check out my mini course here.
Keep it simple– in the beginning, it can be easy to give them more and more new exercises thinking that they might get “bored.” But, remember they have a whole life outside of Pilates. The clients really don’t remember what we taught them the last time. Instead, focus on them getting the concept of the exercises and feeling how the movement is helping what brought them to Pilates (what’s their why). Their Pilates may be ugly but it’s more important that they move then that they do it perfectly today. They have their whole lifetime to “get it” and they will as their body is ready. Too many new exercises can make it difficult for them to feel like they are grasping Pilates.
Follow up and remind– The more you stay on their mind when they are not in a session or in the class the better. Follow up with how they are feeling post their workout and thank them for taking the time to work with you. A little thank you goes a long way. Remind them of their goals often and their future sessions. This makes them feel more like a human in your world and less like a name on a time slot.
Just say no to ghosting– you may feel like you know why a client “disappeared” after a session but it is better to follow up professionally and be the person who is an open space for movement, learning and Pilates rewards. If the client wants to ghost us then that is their prerogative. But, as teachers, we owe it to every future client and teacher out there to do everything in our power to make sure that when a client leaves Pilates they loved it even if they don’t want to or simply “can’t right now.” Every client who has a bad Pilates experience is more than one less Pilates client for our teaching community. Be your awesome professional self so that when they leave they tell their friends how great Pilates is (ideally with you) even if they are not coming back.
Consistency is the Key-its important for clients to be super consistent with their practice. It’s your job to make sure that they schedule early and often so that they can schedule their world around Pilates. In the next webinar “Ditching the Churn” we will go over exactly how to rock this. But, if you’re waiting for your clients to set up their own sessions it’s easy for them to keep pushing it off until they have “more time.” But, if you keep them on their schedule and follow the tips above and the many other tips we will go over in the next webinar you are going to be good to go on the retention front!
You may be thinking if I lose a client I will just gain another client. But, it’s super important that we learn from why we lost any client. Ask ourselves what we could have done differently and then make the appropriate changes. I found an example of how this can affect your bottom line and I am going to try to Pilates-business-ize it for you.
Take two Pilates instructors: One (A) maintains 90% of her clientele while the other (B) only maintains 80%. They both add 20% new business each year. Teacher A is already ahead the first year while B is back to square one. As the years continue teacher A continues to see her profits grow and teacher B is simply maintaining. You might think maintaining is still a win but it costs extra to get those new clients…so which would you rather be? The grower or the maintainer?
Let’s ditch the churn together! Get ready for the August 3rd Webinar and I will cover some amazing practices to put into place in your personal teaching business or your studio. Let’s grow your client base from here on out! Are you ready?
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