Now you are probably reading the above subject heading thinking… “Is he crazy? Why would I want to fire a paying client?” or “That sounds really arrogant, who does he think he is!” Well in fact both of those thoughts could not be further from the truth.
Getting rid of the wrong client can not only ultimately earn you a greater income but it will also allow you to put your energy and commitment into those current and potential clients who are going to be on board 100% with you and the service you are providing.
As Personal Trainers, Strength Coaches, Performance Coaches and so forth we tend to deal with people from all walks of life on a daily basis. Ultimately our goal is to help improve our client’s level of health and well being which hopefully is going to lead to an improved quality of life or performance depending on the client goal. Sadly though, the Coach/client relationship will not always work out.
I remember a few years back whilst doing an internship with world renowned Strength Coach Charles Poliquin him saying, “You are known not by the clients that you train, but by the clients that you turn down or fire”… this is something that has stuck with me ever since.
So since about 50% of my personal client base these days are Personal Trainers or Strength Coaches and as I have also had to fire a couple of clients myself in 2012 (both high profile and not) I thought I would share my tips on what you as a coach or trainer needs to look for when making this hard decision.
Remember… the quality of service you can provide your clients with is ultimately going to be dictated by the energy you can put in to doing what you do, which is helping people with their nutrition, training, performance etc. If you are consistently spending your time outside of these parameters than you might have to re-evaluate whether or not their business is actually worth your health. So here they are and keep in mind, many of these can be applied to other professions as well…
1. You are a trainer – not a counselor
This one is pretty straightforward. If you are spending more of your time counseling your clients outside of the gym then actually training them then this might be a sign that they are not for you. This can be a hard one because over time we tend to build relationships with our clients and of course a certain amount of leeway may need to be given.
But like any relationship it can become toxic if you constantly are just a sponge for another person’s problems. If your client has become an energy drainer then you owe it not only to yourself but also to the rest of your clients whom you need to help to get rid of them.
Remember as a trainer or coach you are there to train clients and get results, if they need constant counseling week after week then refer them out to someone else who specializes in that field or a colleague who prefers to chat rather than do what they are there to do… train!
2. One coach – one method
This one is pretty simple and in my opinion a golden rule that trainers and clients should abide by. One of the main reasons that people fail to get results in the gym is due to the huge amount of information available to them out there on health and fitness. Basically too much of many things can be much less effective than following one thing 100%.
If a client comes to you to obtain results yet still chooses to hire another trainer for advice at the same time you might want to ask yourself do you really want to be tied to someone who is listening to more than one source of professional help? As not only is it likely that the client will obtain less results, those results will be a reflection on you and your business as well.
Do you think Coach Poliquin would allow one of his clients to train with Paul Chek at the same time? Probably not! As trainers/coaches we are in a results based business so you want to make sure you have clients who are 100% on board with your philosophy and training methodologies and not chopping and changing.
3. Are they are a referral source for you, or do they want to keep you all to themselves?
Yes that is true, although it does apply more to training athletes and the Strength Coaches that train them. Sadly over the years – and more than once – I have had clients who deliberately chose to not refer people to me for fear of their competitors also gaining an upper hand.
Whilst one might take this as a compliment at first, on the flip side do you really want to be putting all of your time, energy and consideration into someone who will do anything to gain the upper hand?
I am also a big believer in giving credit to people when it is merited. The three biggest influencing factors that have helped me at different stages of my fitness career in different ways in no particular order are Shannan Ponton (Yes the Australian Biggest Loser Trainer), Shannon Cleary and Charles Poliquin.
I would not be the trainer I am today were not for those three. Now translate this to your current clients. Do they give credit for all the hard work and effort that goes into you helping them achieve optimal results?
If the answer is no then again you might be getting the short end of the stick and taken advantage of, so don’t be afraid to let this type of client go so that someone who appreciates and actually gives due credit when appropriate.
In closing I think as trainers and coaches it is our responsibility to provide a quality service to all of our clients. When you are doing 25-60 sessions per week if even more than one of those clients fit’s into those above three categories it can not only effect your performance with them but also with the rest of your clientele. Do not be afraid to say no to people, you cannot help everyone and on the flip side not every type of client is going to be the right client for you!
Yours in health,
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