As a health and fitness professional, you know it is imperative to offer the highest quality of service possible to your clients. Competition is fierce, and your customers have plenty of choices for where they spend their personal training and health coaching budget.
What you might be surprised to learn, however, is that customer experience has taken the lead over products and services (and even price) as the biggest differentiator for businesses of all industries and sizes. In other words, your coaching services might be best-in-class, but if your customers don’t feel good about the overall experience, it won’t matter.
Client appreciation is a big part of the overall customer experience. It makes consumers feel seen, heard, and valued as individuals — not just dollars that contribute to your bottom line.
Here are 15 simple client appreciation methods you can try right now to boost your fitness business marketing efforts and drive loyalty with your clientele:
1. Call clients by name
If you teach group classes or serve multiple clients at once, make an effort to learn each class member’s name the first time you meet them, and use it when you greet them the second time. They will be delighted that you remembered them and will be far more likely to come back to the class or session. For an extra dose of personalized attention, take a minute to email new clients to compliment them on their participation, or ask for their feedback on the class.
2. Create a referral program
Health coaching and nutrition businesses rely on word-of-mouth advertising from their existing clients. It is far more credible to a prospective client when a peer recommends a business or service than when the business brags about itself. Create a referral program to encourage your clients to bring their friends and family to try out your services. Reward customer loyalty with gifts, giveaways, or a discount on future services. Even better — ask your customers what kind of incentives they would value most before you launch the program.
3. Host exclusive client events
To keep things fresh and exciting for your customers, try hosting an invitation-only class or service that is just for clients. Maybe it’s a candlelight yoga class or a nutritious recipe swap. Nutrition and health coach business marketing is all about creative ways to retain clients and position yourself as their go-to expert. Exclusive events are also a great way to get to know your most loyal customers and hear their feedback about what would make your business even better. Loyal customers will be far more comfortable coming to you directly if they have a problem or suggestion, rather than just disappearing — or worse, leaving a bad review on their way out.
4. Create a feeling of community
When your business feels more like a community than a commodity, your clients will keep coming back and engaging with you and with each other. Introduce customers to each other whenever possible. Host a potluck dinner or open house for clients to come in and socialize. It’s another way to show that you value your customers as individuals and as the community they collectively create.
5. Remember special occasions
When you gain a new customer, make a note of the date they signed up, as well as their birth date and any other special occasions. If your client base is too large to send physical birthday cards, at least take a moment to send a personalized email along with a discount or free gift. Your clients will be flattered that you took the time to remember their special day. On member anniversaries, give a quick shout out or note of congratulations on social media to publicly show how much you appreciate your most loyal clients.
6. Offer a master class
If you have clients that take every class you offer and challenge themselves to continually learn and improve, consider offering them a master class or workshop to hone their fitness or health habits even further. Limit the size of the class and restrict it to only those students who have completed a certain number of classes or courses with you. In doing so, you’ll encourage people to take more classes to qualify for the master class. You’ll also ensure that the ability of master class attendees runs at a high level so that it’s more valuable for everyone who attends.
7. Ask for feedback
It can be a bit daunting to ask for honest feedback about your business. After all, it’s your baby that you’ve grown and nurtured from the beginning. Sometimes, when you’re too close to something, it’s difficult to recognize areas for improvement. Make it a habit to ask clients for feedback on a regular basis, and then be ready to thicken your skin a bit and actually hear what they tell you. Often, the best ideas come directly from clients. They’ll be glad you asked, and you’ll walk away with some great new ideas.
8. Give away plenty of swag
Swag is a universal love language. Everyone enjoys getting something for free. In fact, 85% of people say they have positive feelings about brands that offer them free promotional products. On top of that, every water bottle your customers carry or shirt they wear with your logo on it is an advertisement for your business. Invest in swag your customers will love and use and then look for ways to surprise and delight them by giving it away for free. The word of mouth advertising is well worth the investment.
9. Hire live music
If your class playlists are getting a little tired, hire a band or singer to come in and entertain your clients while they work out. It will be a class to remember and one that they will tell their friends and family about. After the class is over, invite everyone to stay for a mini-concert and drinks or snacks. It plays nicely into building your community of loyal clients and helping them get to know you and each other.
10. Make a donation on behalf of your clients
As you get to know your customers, you’ll learn what causes and issues they are passionate about. Surprise them with a charitable donation to an organization that is important to them. People want to associate themselves with companies that care about helping others. As you’re sending birthday emails and commemorating those milestone anniversaries, send a small donation on behalf of your clients to let them know that what matters to them, matters to you.
11. Take your business outside
Everyone craves a little extra vitamin D now and fresh air sometimes. If your business is near a local park, offer to host a class outside. Encourage clients to come early to enjoy a cool drink and some socializing before class. A change of venue makes even the most static of classes feel fresh and new. Have sunscreen and extra sunglasses on hand as an added touch to make the experience even more special for your clients.
12. Hold a “you choose” class
The next time you have a group class with several regular clients, let them choose some of the exercises you do that day. Maybe you can put one person in charge of the playlist or warm-up for the class to add a fresh spin. It’s a fun way to let your clients’ personalities and preferences show. It also creates a sense of investment in the class that will keep the group coming back and trying other services that you offer.
13. Upgrade services for free
Unexpected upgrades are one of life’s simple pleasures. The next time a client books a service with you, offer them an upgraded experience or add-on. Maybe it’s an extra class on their package or free towel service for their workouts. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Even little touches make a big difference in setting your business apart for its standout service.
14. Host outside experts
While your clients trust you as their go-to expert, it’s always nice to get the perspective of someone new in the health and fitness industry. If you know professionals in related fields to yours, bring them in for “ask the expert” sessions or guest-hosted classes. If you’re a personal trainer, you could “skill swap” with a nutritionist in your area to offer mini-classes to their clients if they offer nutritional consultations to yours. It doesn’t just add value to your clients — it also introduces you to the other expert’s client base, opening the door for new customers for your business.
15. Send thank you cards
Your clients are the heart of your business. There are countless ways to show them how much you appreciate them, but sometimes a simple thank you card says it best. Personalize a note to your customers to let them know how instrumental they’ve been in your business growth and sincerely thank them for putting their trust in your company. A note of genuine thanks that asks nothing in return is a rarity that your customers will notice and remember.
Client appreciation never ends
As you get to know your clients better, you’ll start to recognize their preferences, habits, personality traits, and even pet peeves. Client appreciation can take many forms, depending on the services you offer and your unique clientele.
As your business grows, it might get more difficult to extend the same personal touch that you did as you were starting out. To ensure that client outreach doesn’t get forgotten, build it into your quarterly and annual marketing and business plans. Treat it with the same level of importance as you would any other marketing tactic. The rewards you receive from treating your clients with care are an invaluable ingredient in your future success.