You can’t be a coach for life without clients for life: Retention tools to turn your clients into lifelong ones!

As a coach, we have all had unlikely clients quit. When it happens, it’s heartbreaking.

One day, a client looks like he’s going to be committed to his fitness and to your gym for years to come, but then somewhere along the way his commitment starts to fade. You don’t notice, but his five-day a week routine becomes twice a week, then once a week, and then one day you realize you haven’t seen him for a month.


What went wrong?

The truth is, sometimes even the most unlikely clients end up leaving the gym for one reason or another. While not everyone is going to be a client for 10-plus years, as a coach—and especially as a MadLab coach for life—we believe it’s your job to do all you can to turn your clients into lifelong ones. To recognize the warning signs when a client’s commitment starts declining, and to get them back on track by reminding them why they’re there.

A few tools that go a long way in keeping your clients on board and committed for the long haul:

1. A culture that respects Tribal Elders

At MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, we have a Wall of Respect with pictures of everyone who has been a member for 5-plus years.

To honour our Tribal Elders, we host a formal event each year—with food, drinks, speeches and socializing—to induct new members onto the wall, and to show our continued appreciation for past inductees.

Getting on the Wall of Respect is an honour that only the most committed ever get to experience. It has become a part of our culture to the point that people can’t wait to become part of the special Tribal Elder club. And it goes a long way in client retention and happiness.

2. Constant check-ins

When you have a small group of clients, they’re easy to keep track of in terms of whose showing up and whose not, but as your client book grows, it gets harder and harder to recognize when someone starts falling off.

Having a formal way for clients to check-in goes a long way, as it allows you to generate weekly and monthly attendance reviews.

And even when clients are coming consistently, it’s always a good idea to reach out periodically via text messages, phone calls, e-mails. Just a quick check in to see where they’re at, and make sure they’re happy and getting what they need from your gym and their coach. It’s also a great chance to meet up with them for a one-on-one personal training session—to help them continue to achieve their goals.

3. Social House

Clients who embrace the social aspect of the gym tend to stick around longer. So…host events, competitions, parties—a chance for people, especially new people, to mingle and develop real friendships with those they sweat with.

4. Get involved in their lives

While some clients don’t want to get that close with their coach, many really appreciate a coach who supports a cause they’re into. So if you have a client whose a musician or a stand-up comic, or whose hosting a charitable fundraiser, make the effort to support what they do. What goes around comes around.

5. Become friends

If someone quits via text message, you essentially know they didn’t value your relationship very much—that they didn’t see you as a friend.

MadLab CEO Craig Patterson put it best when he said this: “Nobody has ever quit on me by text message if they have been over to my house for dinner.”

While you can’t be friends with everyone, and you certainly don’t want to force a friendship, take the time to invest and befriend the cool ones.

The point is, don’t get complacent: No matter how good a coach you are, every stage of the lifecycle of a client has its risks for drop-off. Recognizing these stages, communicating with your clients, and ensuring you’re giving them what they want and need will help you retain them for years to come. Coach for life, client for life.

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