Engagement strategies for the modern-day coach
By Paul Jordan, COACHD.FIT, NASM CPT, PES, CES, FNS
Today’s market is flooded with online fitness platforms and quick education programs. It’s a buyer’s market out there; clients and new potential coaches alike. Over the last few months, the relationship between coaches and clients has undergone a profound shift. Services – from big boxes to independent – have been forced to change, and coaches are feeling the pain. Senior executives and business owners have to spend more time considering strategies, not only to increase staff and clients but also to retain them. Loyalties are being tested so it’s time to either adapt or die a slow business death.
During my mentorship time with coaches, it has always surprised me how we (the industry) don’t have consistent programs to develop sales skills for retention. So today, I will share my thoughts on client retention.
I’m not going to speak about getting clients in this blog post. If you’re a veteran or work in a big box you should be getting assistance. The problem? You know when you kill it one month and switch to a service mode till it’s time to resign? Yeah, you know it… it’s the roller coaster of revenue.
Not a fun ride huh? A key thing to do is to increase your engagement. It’s one thing to enroll clients, it’s another to keep them. It’s been proven that increased engagement leads to compliance with programming. Compliance with programming leads to clients achieving, and in most cases, exceeding their expected results. You deliver your part of the deal and the client stays on board longer. It’s highly likely they will refer business too! So you may ask yourself: What are the most effective client engagement strategies? How do you keep your people engaged, motivated, constantly improving, and happy? Good thing you found this blog!! Here we go!
What do you think are the three key elements behind effective client engagement?
A Sense of Belonging. Professor William Kahn of Boston University held in-depth interviews with employees (Kahn 1990, 692-724). He found that for an employee to feel engaged, they had to:
- ne can learn, and for how long. This is an important consideration with online training in particular: you will find that some clients will happily get on with individual training, while others are better suited to synchronous, group training. Your platform should offer a variety of ways in which the user can engage.
- Feel that their work was meaningful and made a difference
- Feel valued, trusted and respected
- Feel secure and self-confident
The same applies to clients. They have to see/feel the results. They have to trust you. In other words, the more a client feels part of a process, the more likely they are engaged with what needs to be done for success.
These factors are easy to overlook. It seems quite simple written out like this right? But we know changes to the market make the need for effective client engagement strategies even more critical.
Before Shelter-in-Place, we often spent more time working at our places of employment rather than our homes, so it made sense considering all the ins and outs of the working environment. It’s not about the money we made – it’s how comfortable we feel where we work, how we feel around our colleagues, how we feel about the value of what we do. Notice I used ‘feel’ a lot: subjective impressions have as much (if not more) clout than our cool, objective opinions when it comes to your members/clients. Value is subjective to how people feel about you and your brand.
The best strategies for employee engagement
Alright, so having looked at the background issues, let’s consider the strategies we need to improve employee engagement.
Surveys and Questionnaires
A survey is only the springboard to engagement. Once you have the results, follow up. Focus on common issues and ask your client about how an issue can be improved upon.
The more your clients are asked their opinion, the more they will feel empowered, trusted, and respected – and the more engaged they’ll be. Having a once in a while satisfaction survey is not enough to gauge how you and/or your team are performing. You also need to open channels where each client can raise issues and give feedback (based on your business model). For this, consider creating a special email like firstname.lastname@example.org. Your clients can air issues and get feedback from leaders.
Listen and Act
If a clear issue has been identified, then it should be rectified. More importantly, it should be visibly addressed; particularly if you have discussed it with them. Knowing that one’s opinions are not only listened to but have also contributed to change is another way to increase engagement.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
There’s nothing better than seeing your ideas and work practices being praised, so ensure that your clients have the opportunity to share their stories, successes, and challenges. Meet and greets are great along with special group classes for your clients and invited guests (see what I did there?). Classes promote team engagement and can create or strengthen relationships.
Learning Styles and Preferences
Understanding how clients learn can make or break your relationship. Taking from educational theorist Neil Fleming ‘s VARK model of Student Learning (Learning Styles, 2020). VARK is an acronym that refers to the four styles of learning: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic. Besides the style of learning, it’s good to know whether they prefer to work independently or in groups as well.
You should consider what someone can learn, and for how long. This is an important consideration with online training in particular: you will find that some clients will happily get on with individual training, while others are better suited to synchronous, group training. Your platform should offer a variety of ways in which the user can engage.
Where these strategies really shine, however, is on your platform. It’s proven that a one-stop-shop platform can increase engagement. So use a platform for 1 on 1, small group, and classes. You can thank me later…:) Remember: your business is your brand, your community. Communities thrive best when everyone feels included, valued, and trusted. The more engaged your clients are, the more productive they become; and you get something money just can’t buy – a respected brand!
Kahn, W. (1990). “Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work”, Academy of Management Journal, 33 (4), 692-724
Teach.com. 2020. Learning Styles. [online] Available at: https://teach.com/what/teachers-know/learning-styles/ [Accessed 18 April 2020].