As a coach, sometimes it’s hard not to become consumed with the training program you’re writing for your clients—in creating the perfect program for each client’s goals and needs.
Because you know if they reach their goals, chances are they’ll want to keep being your client…
But long-time strength and conditioning coach and OPEX CEO Carl Hardwick explains getting clients results, and ultimately retaining their business, goes well beyond creating a perfect training program. In fact, a perfect training program doesn’t even really exist.
Five Ways to Increase Results and Retention:
1. Define the behaviors, not the outcome
This is the whole being focused on the journey versus the result concept.
As coaches, we spend time with our clients finding out their end game—their tangible goals—and then we create programs that work back from there. However, sometimes outcomes can be unpredictable: A client might have a goal of losing 30 pounds, and when she fails to do it in the designated amount of time, she’ll feel discouraged and as though she failed.
This is why it’s so important to define what we can control: The actions and behaviors required to reach the goal. And as Hardwick explained, this will also help you create a more efficient training program, as it helps you “get to the root, instead of wasting time with malaligned prescriptions. If the goals and outcomes are clear, the prescriptions can be targeted to get clients there,” Hardwick said.
2. Chase consistency, not intensity
We know the value of consistency, but do you ever spend time talking to your intensity-craving clients about the value of prioritizing consistency over intensity?
Hardwick explained why you should: “Intensity will get your better results next month. Consistency will allow you to keep getting results next year. We are more interested in the latter for more sustainable results over a longer period of time,” he said.
What this means is your prescriptions—from exercise prescriptions, to nutrition prescriptions, to lifestyle prescriptions—is that they might need to be taken back a notch so they’re prescriptions your clients can realistically keep up, not just for the first two months of the year, but for the entire year and beyond.
3. Connect them to their intention
One of the reasons OPEX coaches do monthly lifestyle consults with their clients is to help them figure out their intention, or their why.
Truth is, most people don’t really know why they’re there. They have just been told they should workout for better health and body composition. Others think it’s the ticket to them finally losing 20 pounds.
So we’re asking you to dig with your clients and figure out the real reason the person is there. Not the superficial ‘I need to lose 20 pounds’ reason. We want to find out the thing that’s eating them up inside—their fear of dying at 50 like their mother if they don’t take control of their health.
Getting a client to open up about their pain often takes time and requires trust, hence the importance of lifestyle consults, where that trust and relationship has a chance to develop. The concept of intention is covered at length in the OPEX Fitness Coaching Certificate Program (CCP).
The bottom line: For long-term success, this trust—and ultimately uncovering the true intention—is imperative. As Hardwick explained, “If your clients don’t know why they are doing what they are doing, disconnection will likely occur.”
4. Help them avoid making the second mistake
A common reason people fall off their diet or training programs is because they’re not sure what to do when they mess up. When they skip the gym for a week or fall off their diet for a day, all hell breaks loose, as one mistake leads to them making a second mistake, a third, a fourth, and all of a sudden it has snowballed into something else entirely.
Talk to your clients about using failure as nothing more than an opportunity for feedback to fix something in the future. This allows us to “step back” and take “an honest measurement or assessment of what worked and what has not,” Hardwick explained. From here, they can learn that one mistake doesn’t need to lead to that second mistake, nor does it have to put them on the path to burning the house down.
Hardwick added: “When we skip this process we cannot refine.”
5. Help them change their environment
What does this mean?
Well, let’s say you have a client who admits he stops at Taco Bell on the way home from work three times a week. Instead of telling him to just stop going to Taco Bell, ask him to drive a different way home from work so he doesn’t drive by Taco Bell. As the saying goes, it’s a lot easier to change your environment than it is to change yourself, the ultimate goal being to create an environment that lines our clients up for success because the new environment makes the healthier choice the easier one (human beings are creatures of convenience).
The idea here is to spend time digging into your clients’ environments to figure out what is hurting them that can be easily fixed with an environment tweak.
That being said, Hardwick explained that if the first three points are already locked in—meaning behaviors have been defined, consistency has been embraced, and their true intention has been uncovered–then environment becomes less of a concern in terms of throwing people off their path to change.
“Usually issues with environment are around motivation, consistency or compliance,” Hardwick said. So if the first three points are “identified, understood and agreed upon, then environment will not matter for motivation, consistency or compliance,” he said.
For more on increasing client compliance, check out this article.