How to avoid the awkward membership renewal conversations
I want to share about two situations with two different clients that happened to me last week that really highlighted the importance of building real, open, one-on-one relationships with them.
Two clients of mine were up for renewal. One has been coming for four years and usually pays for six months at a time. The other has been coming for about eight months, and after his initial personal training sessions, also paid for 6 months up front.
Originally, client #1 was my apprentice at the time’s client, so I was only somewhat around during his personal training sessions as my apprentice took the lead. As a result, I never really developed a friendship or even much of a coach-client relationship with him. He’s a pretty quiet dude, who is very easy to coach and an easy person to have around, yet it’s awkward every time his membership becomes due. And since he started training with us before we were really pushing hybrid memberships (read more about hybrid memberships here), he pretty much just does group classes and hasn’t been all that receptive to doing more personal training.
It was time to have the membership renewal conversation with him. It was a pleasant conversation and he was happy to give me his new credit card information and bill him for another six months. We talked for five or ten minutes, and then I walked away feeling kind of weird about the conversation, and the whole relationship in general. I left feeling almost guilty that I was collecting so much money off this person I barely know or coach.
Client #2 has been attending my early morning classes four days a week (sometimes five) for the last six months, and we also meet up every six weeks for a one-on-one session. Prior to his hybrid membership, we spent 15 hours together putting him through personal training before graduating him to group classes. We have a good coach-client relationship and we’re becoming friends in the process. I know exactly what’s going on with him, both at the gym and in his life.
During our recent one-on-one session, we worked on some hip and shoulder mobility because his hip has been acting up a bit and his shoulders are a constant working progress. I was up front with him about how I had noticed that he hadn’t been adhering to the percentages in class, that I noticed he was constantly throwing too much weight on the bar and needed to be more patient with his progress. He took the feedback well and agreed he’s still in his training infancy and loves seeing if he can PR—he gets super excited and overcommits—and then he committed to adhering to the percentages for the sake of improving his technique and his long term fitness.
Then, he told me about his recent foray into the world of App dating, about how he’s finally ready to date again after a hard break up a year ago. He admitted he has been a zombie in class lately because he has been juggling trying to balance dating two girls at once in the last few weeks. We shared stories and laughs and then we got back to business and came up with a personalized plan of attack for his fitness during the upcoming six week cycle.
At the end of the session, I mentioned to him his membership was due. I said it without thinking about it, without feeling awkward or weird, and without having that moment where you wonder and hope the person is going to continue to pay for your service for another six months.
So. much. less. stressful. So. much. more natural! I’d take the second conversation any day of the week!