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How Trainers Can Get Better With Referrals

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Michael GelfgotMichael Gelfgot

All studios and gyms know that referrals, word-of-mouth advertising, is the way to go. In fact, according to the Association of Fitness Studios (AFS), up to 70% of studio business comes from referrals. All studios and gyms also realize that, in order for there to be a referral, bottom line, clients MUST be moving in the right direction; they MUST be seeing results. And, in order for there to be results, any great coach knows that they must set goals with each client then review, interpret and put forth a new plan every eight weeks if the client is not on track.

It's the interpretation and the plan that most coaches are not so good at. Almost all coaches take initial measurements and do some baseline evaluations of movement and performance. Very few coaches, when redoing the evaluations, know how to tactfully have a conversation with their client in such a way to have them realize and verbalize that the reason why there was no weight loss is because the client didn't follow through with their nutritional obligations agreed upon eight weeks earlier (or whenever the client had their first fitness evaluation).

So, next time there is a fitness evaluation and the client didn't progress like he was supposed to, try using The Feedback Model to have the right conversation:

Step 1 | Ask permission to speak freely - Before you have a difficult conversation with your clients, ask permission to speak freely, candidly, about the situation at hand. Make sure your client first hears about your intentions. Make sure the client knows and is reminded where your hearts lies, meaning, tell the client how much he truly means to you and how much you genuinely care for them as a person before you drop the hammer. In order for relationships to form, there must be trust; there must be a certain level of vulnerability which is how one individual forms a trusting relationship with another. In order for anyone to be vulnerable with you, he MUST know your intentions, and he MUST understand your heart.

Step 2 | State the problem very clearly and project the problem out over the next six months - Only after Step 1, once you get permission to speak freely, can you be specific, stating the problem very clearly. Be very direct and very specific. It's important to project this no more than six months because most people have a hard time grasping more than that. Most people are more motivated to avoid pain than to be in pleasure. Pain is a very effective way to help people change behavior. Here are a few examples:

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