Retention! Hold onto your clients

Nov 21, 2023 | by Shaun Radford

As a new business owner, you’re on an exciting journey to build and grow your venture. One key to your success is keeping your clients happy and coming back to you. In this article, we’ll explore why this is so important. Client retention, which means keeping your clients with you, is like a secret ingredient for your business. It’s not just about making sales today; it’s about building a loyal client base that keeps coming back. When your clients stay happy and engaged, they not only help your business succeed, but they also become your biggest cheerleaders, referring their friends and family to you. In simple terms, it’s all about keeping your clients happy and watching your business thrive. Let’s dive into the world of client retention and discover how to make it work for your business!

Why Is Retention Important?

Client retention is the process by which we hold onto our loyal clientele. This means that we focus on the clients we have for the long haul, and less energy needing to find new ones. On average, it costs five to 25 times as much to acquire new clients than it does to retain our existing ones [1]. So it makes sense to do our best to hold onto a client base that already meets our needs. 

Not only does the cost factor in dollars and time factor into retention, but the ability to attract new business through referrals and word of mouth also increases. A happy client, one who is getting results and enjoying their experience with you, will sing your praises at any point.

Furthermore, having a solid and consistent client base:

  • Allows for the focus on the client to be maintained
  • Your energy is put into this client base and not externally focused 
  • Creates a steady and stable income
  • Provides you with consistency in your workload
  • Cost less in time and energy
  • Provides a great experience for both you and your client

So how do we get there? How do we turn our clients from one-shot wonders to clients that consistently turn up, time after time? Let’s jump in!

Understanding Client Motivation and Engagement

As fitness professionals, we know how to motivate our clients. We know how to get them to do exercises and push through tough sessions. However, what causes them to continually come back and pay for our services?

There are a few factors here. Firstly, we must create deeper client relationships to help with engagement. Business News Daily [2] states that “customers need to feel appreciated and valued for more than just the money they spend”. This means, that what we provide for our clients in, and out of our sessions must exceed the money spent on our services. 

This does not mean that we need to be cooking for them, shopping for them, or tending to their every whim. There are many other things we can be doing to provide ‘value’ to their training, many of which do not cost us a thing. Remember, to feel valued, connected, and heard are important human factors that we can apply to our business practices with our clients. Some suggestions on providing value include but are not limited to:

  • Reminder messages about upcoming sessions
  • Motivational messages
  • Suggested events our clients may enjoy that match their goal
  • Tips and hints on how to maintain consistency in training
  • Listening to our clients 
    • There is a massive amount of power in taking time to just sit and listen to someone
  • Providing some extra time 
    • This could be advice, a new stretch, or something that goes above and beyond their training session
  • Recovery tips and/or aides
  • Recovery treatments e.g. massage
  • Referrals for pain points 
    • This also shows it’s not just about fitness, but the whole picture!

The next time you are with a client, take 5 minutes to sit down with them prior to starting your session with them. Ask them about how their training is going. Ask them what roadblocks they are feeling. Discuss how their day-to-day life is. Really listen and reflect on their responses. This simple task will go a long way in motivating them to continually come back to you and engage with their programs. Take note of how your interactions change with them when you add just a little extra care at the start. 

Strategies for Client Engagement

It is in its name, Personal Trainer. We offer a personalised approach to our clients’ training, and this is where our focus needs to be. Clients want to be seen, heard, and effectively coached toward their goals. 

For personal training, clients expect a training session but it is all the things around that, the experience and our interactions with that client, that add to the value. 

A blog from Storyly [3] noted there are five important factors for implementing customer engagement strategies:

  1. It builds brand loyalty
  2. It increases revenue
  3. It improves the client experience
  4. It provides valuable feedback
  5. It helps build a community

Sourced from [3]

Letting our clients be heard, be seen, and be a part of our community creates a level of trust and belonging to the mix. Every client is different, so our approach to engaging them in our business practices also needs to be different. What works for one client, doesn’t always translate to another. 

Some strategies to increase client engagement in your PT business can include

  • Spending time with them
    • Taking some additional time outside of the normal screening, assessment, and training spaces can enhance our connection with our clients. 
    • Time is a precious resource that we can not get back, but it costs us nothing
    • Put some time aside each week to sit down with a client outside of their normal sessions just to ‘connect’ and ‘check in’. 
  • Use their names
    • This seems like a given, but often we get caught up in the process and before you know it, we are sending bulk communication with the title ‘dear client’ or ‘dear Sir/Madam’. This leads to disconnection
    • Your name is the best thing that can be heard, so use your client’s name whenever you can
  • Let them be seen
    • If our clients allow, sing their wins from the rooftop! Post about it, send them congratulations communications, celebrate their wins and milestones
    • Think about it. You have just got a new PB on a squat with your coach. How good would it feel if you got a text later that day from your Coach with a simple “Hey mate. That PB today was epic! It was definitely a highlight of my week! Catch you Thursday for another epic session.” – Feels good doesn’t it?
  • Understand their pain points
    • What is holding back our clients? What are their frustrations? Allow them space to voice these and allow for some motivational interviewing techniques to help guide them out of this ‘funk’. 
    • Show empathy towards their current situation and let them know they have been heard and you understand. Ask how you can best assist them at this time

Client engagement strategies don’t take much effort. All it takes is a little more care, some time to stop, and really think about how we are interacting with our clients and how this may cause long-term effects.

So the next time you interact with your clients, think about ‘How can I add value to this person’s experience? What small thing can I do today to enhance our relationship tomorrow?”


  1. Customer Acquisition Costs vs. Retention Costs. (n.d.). Optimove. Retrieved November 1, 2023, from
  2. The Ultimate Guide to Customer Engagement. (n.d.). Business News Daily. Retrieved November 1, 2023, from
  3. Uyanık, K. (2023, March 23). 10 Proven Ways to Increase Customer Engagement. Storyly. Retrieved November 1, 2023, from
Shaun Radford

Shaun Radford

Having worked and studied in the fitness industry in both New Zealand and Australia for over fourteen years, Shaun has held positions as a group exercise instructor, personal trainer, educator and mentor for personal trainers and training clients. With a passion for education and strong teams, Shaun revels in empowering future personal trainers and businesses to expand their minds and think differently. In recent years Shaun presents at conferences and for businesses on how to take their clients and teams to the next level, aiming for goals to be hit and client retention through inclusive practices and mental health support.

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Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness, Cert III/Cert 3, or Fitness Coach is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness, Cert IV/Cert 4, or Personal Trainer is mentioned, it refers to SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Program™ is mentioned, it refers to Fitness Essentials and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Plus+ Program™ is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42021 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage.