Cancellations and communication breakdowns can turn client relationships sour. Here’s how to tighten up on your professional boundaries.
Running a fitness business is challenging enough without the extra stress of tricky clients. But the truth is, if you’re dealing with people then you’ll inevitably end up dealing with their “quirks”.
If you’re dealing with people then you’ll inevitably end up dealing with their “quirks”.
No-shows, late cancellations, and out-of-hours messaging will soon become a drain on your time and energy. It’s worth getting clear with clients so they know what the rules are.
Also read our guide to letting a bad client go.
The problem: clients not showing up for sessions
No-shows can really cause a problem with the way you run your business. Sure, you might get full or part payment for the session. But there’s a bigger problem here. When clients don’t show up, you’re left at a loose end. Which is really annoying when there are so many admin tasks you could be doing.
The solution: systemise sessions
Clients need to understand the consequences of ghosting you. Make sure you have a cancellation policy in place, clearly communicated on your website, during consults, and in your onboarding process. And send reminders of upcoming sessions (there are easy ways to automate all of this).
The problem: lack of client commitment
Consistency is a vital part of any health and fitness goal, but some clients just won’t give you the necessary commitment (despite your best efforts at accountability). This is frustrating for you as a professional, because it impacts their results but might also reflect poorly on your service.
The solution: higher engagement
Tap into human behaviour to boost client commitment. Make sure clients are working towards a meaningful goal, and help them celebrate small wins. Work on your engagement strategy so clients feel connected to you and your business.
The problem: clients not seeing results
There can be dozens of reasons why a client won’t make progress, but it’s usually down to a lack of consistency, poor reporting, or low adherence. When this happens, it can damage your business reputation – and your self-esteem.
The solution: get to the bottom of it
If a client follows your plan, they will make progress. So what’s the problem? It’s your job to find that out in a sensitive way. Make sure they are confident with whatever tracking software you use. Are they under-reporting? Are they worried about disappointing you? Have they had a poor experience with a trainer in the past?
The problem: out-of-hours communication
We’ve all had that one client who text messages (when you use Voxer) or leaves WhatsApp voice notes at 10pm on a Sunday night. Whether it’s a simple message to check their next session time, or an emotional dump about their latest food blip, it’s got to stop. Your sanity (and homelife) depends on it.
The solution: clear boundaries
It’s highly unlikely that these clients would leave their GP a rambling voice note at the weekend, so you need to tighten up your boundaries. Our industry can lead to blurred lines between friendship/coach/therapist/team mate – and this has some positive aspects. But you need to be very clear from the start about communication. What platforms do you use? Between what hours? If messages are left, when will you respond?
The problem: clients rescheduling sessions
Everyone needs to reschedule sometimes. But if it becomes a regular thing, you’ve got a problem on your hands. Constantly needing to revisit your work diary is a drain on your energy and a waste of your time.
The solution: get into a routine
Help your clients see you as a health professional with a busy schedule. Try to get into a routine from the start, giving clients a regular and recurring slot. Aim to get them booked in for a few weeks ahead, which will help you manage your diary. And be clear about your cancellation and rescheduling policy: it’s for emergencies only, and carries a penalty.
5 proactive ways to deal with difficult clients
- Clear communication: be clear and vocal about your policies around bookings, cancellations, rescheduling, and getting in touch
- Set a routine: encourage every client into a regular routine, with sessions on the same days and times
- Get booked up: aim to book clients in several weeks ahead so you are not trying to manage your diary every week
- Enforce the rules: every professional has Ts & Cs, so make sure you have a cancellation policy and penalties for no-shows
- Send reminders: automate a reminders system for sessions, calls, check ins, and any other client event
Has this advice helped you manage the trickier elements of the client relationship? Check out how Striive’s automation features and diary tools to make life easier below.