Have you ever become friends with one or more of your clients?
I once had a trainer tell me about a fall out among her clients when she invited some to her wedding and not others. Apparently, some of those clients not invited thought they were closer with this trainer than they were.
It’s a really tough area of running a business that involves a relationship with the client. It’s not completely black and white but there are certainly good ways to handle it and bad ways.
Last week, I shared a story about how kindness can be used with customers without getting personally friendly.
This week I have a story about how not to handle this arena.
Christmas party for some
When I made the leap from part time to working full time as a trainer, I operated out of two different personal training studios to make ends meet.
One studio was much more high end, catering to the more affluent (yet mostly lovely) people of that area.
Every year, just before Christmas, the owner of the studio, who was a big fan of distance running, would put on a big party at the French restaurant across the road. Essentially it was the studio’s Christmas party.
Everyone would bring a bottle of wine and we’d have a good night comparing notes.
Sounds like fun right?
The only thing was, I was never invited.
Why? Because I didn’t meet one crucial rule. To be invited to this celebration you must have completed a marathon or half-marathon over the past year.
So anyone who was unable to or didn’t have an interest running in marathons was excluded (I run about 100m and that’s it).
The studio was small and many clients trained at once, the party was discussed among those attending so the clients that weren’t invited were very aware. They voiced their feelings of hurt at not being included to me but when I passed them on to the owner they were dismissed.
I believe the intention of the whole thing was good. Reward those that have trained hard with something special. But not at the expense of other clients, many who also showed up and trained hard for their level of fitness.
A better way to do this would be to invite all of your clients and then take a moment during the night to celebrate and toast those that had completed a marathon or half-marathon. And while you’re at it celebrate the clients who never missed a session. And those that made great improvements over the year.
No need to alienate some to recognise others.
Next Friday I’ll be back with one final story, about when friendship and community can be the very best of things for a fitness business.
Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He ran a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his wife and find new ways to make bootcamps even better.