Every so often it happens. A client finishes their session and as they get ready to leave, you give a little reminder that it’s time to purchase or schedule their next package. But instead of their usual enthusiastic response, there is a quiet pause followed by an awkward mumble that they need to stop their sessions because [fill in the blank with a reason].
What do you say?
How you respond is important.
I’ve seen responses range from apathetic and dismissive to annoyed and judgmental. I’ve also seen studios give high-pressure sales pitches to stay or talk about consequences the client will experience by leaving!
These negative approaches are not only unprofessional and discourteous, they are damaging to the studio’s reputation.
But when you let clients go gracefully and graciously, they leave feeling positive about their experience with you and comfortable to return or recommend you to others. So what do you say and do to make sure this happens?
- Listen and give a reassuring smile to put them at ease and show that you care. Telling you they need to stop is uncomfortable for them. They no doubt respect and enjoy your services and don’t want to offend or upset you. They are also probably anxious that you are going to pressure them to stay so if you show sympathy and understanding, they will really appreciate it.
- Show interest in any feedback or comments
that pertain to you or your studio. Indicate that you will look into any negative issues (if relevant) or potentially make changes in the future to address their needs (i.e. more availability at their desired time, more lower-priced classes if their budget is tight, different workouts if they are looking for other benefits, workshops to help with special needs etc.)
- Do not contest their reason for stopping or pressure them to stay.Simply put, it won’t work. First of all, keep in mind their reason for stopping may not be true. Why would they tell a white lie? Because the real reason is too personal or uncomfortable to tell you. Second, by the time they tell you they’re stopping, they’ve put a lot of thought into the decision and their mind is made up. So pressuring them to stay makes them uncomfortable and anxious to be done with you. They will not likely want to return and won’t speak highly of such a pushy place to their friends.
- Show your appreciation for their business. Thank them, tell them how much you enjoyed having them at the studio and that they are welcome to return any time. Offer tips on exercises they can do at-home so they can stay healthy and fit whether they are your client or not!
- Remind them to stay connected to the studio for news, updates or future incentives that they may be interested in (relevant to their reason for stopping). Confirm that they are receiving your newsletter, reading your blog and/or connected on social media.
- Stay in touch! Depending on your studio size and relationship with your clients, develop a follow-up plan to keep in touch and make it easy for them to return. Check for lapsed clients once a month and add their names to a list along with the date of a “we miss you” card, email or phone call so you can keep track. (Always send at least one handwritten card.) First contact them 1-2 months after their last session and then decide how many more times and how frequently you want to reach out depending on the client’s personality, length of time at the studio and reason for leaving. And make sure it’s a no-pressure check-in. Just let them know that they are missed, you hope they are doing well and hope to see them again.
- Bonus suggestion: Utilise an online survey program and email a request for anonymous feedback. It is a great opportunity to get truly honest feedback, find opportunities to improve and minimise losing clients in the future. Plus they will appreciate having a confidential way to communicate any problems or frustrations they didn’t want to tell you in person.
Remember, your ultimate goal is to make sure the client leaves feeling respected and appreciated. This in turn will keep them respecting and appreciating your studio! A positive conversation will make them more likely to return and keep them speaking highly of your studio to others.