Do our clients love or hate you?

The good news

More than likely your clients for the most part love you and I say that with good reason.

At the end of every one of our Challenges hundreds of entrants give us heaps of feedback about their PTs and every year I’d say 99% of that feedback is awesome with entrants going so far as to write us long and beautiful stories about the extent their PT went to support them on their journey and how successful they feel.

Bizarrely though, up until this point, and until we give this feedback to the PTs, many of those same PTs have been doubting how great they have been doing!  They think they should be doing more, blame themselves for their clients apparent lack of motivation and success and all sorts of stuff that can add up to do a PTs head in.

The not so good news

On the flip side, there are sometimes very small things a PTs is doing, that a client doesn’t like.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are ever enough for a client to hate a PT but therein to some extent lays the problem, i.e. the client may thinks these things are too small to bother telling their PT about.  That by mentioning them they would seem to be making a big to do about not a lot.

Alternatively,  they don’t want to upset their PT so they don’t say anything.

Eventually however, experience shows that the small things add up to the point that when that client is given a way out, they’ll take it.

Ask yourself, would you not mind smelling of Chanel or Lynx if you knew it mattered to a client?  Would you mind talking softer, or talking less, or more, or slower? Could you be less upbeat or more enthusiastic?  Would you mind doing a hands on stretch at the end, or not? Could you quit with the ball games?  Could you not talk about your partner or baby or dog or vegetable patch?  Could you not pair me up with certain people when we are doing sparring drills?

My answer would be ‘most definitely’ to all of those.  Changing would be the easy part. My challenge would have been finding out there was a problem with some of these things.

PTs are fab at asking their clients if they are happy with how things are rolling and I commend them for that, and I used to do the same,  but it actually just asking if someone is ‘happy with their training’ doesn’t cut the mustard.

PTs also often think their clients would tell them if they had a problem and while that may be true of some clients I can guarantee it won’t be the case for most of them.

Some PTs may just say, ‘that’s me, they can like it or lump it, I’m not changing for them’.  Let’s be clear, this is not about changing your religion or sexual orientation or other big stuff about you, this is about the talking louder or softer type stuff and if we ignore that option we will be settling for clients leaving us for all sorts of reasons that needn’t exist, which as we all knows means less people getting the help they need to become healthier and happier.

So how do we find out how we’re really doing?
And save clients before we lose them?

I’m all for setting up anonymous feedback forms to find out to what extent clients love or hate you, but for the most part these need to be done by a third party if clients are going to be able to trust in the process at least when doing this on a small scale with the likes of solo PTs.  (Clubs and larger entities usually have no problem getting tons of ‘constructive’ feedback without much asking)

Plus, and more importantly, those anonymous feedback forms don’t give PTs the ability to adjust things for the individual, based on their feedback, in real time,  there and then. And that’s where the magic happens.

Make the magic happen.

So here’s another option and while I’m sure plenty of you do have a better process this is heaps better than having none at all.

When you are next one to one with your client, with a bit of time, say during the warm up, ask some questions along the lines of the following:-

  1. What successes have you had this Challenge/ last week, month, with this programme, at the gym etc.

    This usually puts a smile on a PTs dial. Without you having to do any prompting they will come up with some areas they are making ground in, which may well be totally outside of what you were imagining.

  2. On a scale of 1-10 how are you going generally?

    1 being you want to give up.

    10 being you’re stoked and you’re going to win a category (the race you entered, smash your goals etc)

    If you’re not feeling like you are at a 10/10 what one thing could you do to bring your experience up one notch?  From a 6/10 to a 7/10 say.  

    I think this is an important one on so many levels. For starters, if PTs don’t ask this I find they default to thinking that whatever a client says isn’t going well is their (the PTs) fault.  It also gives us greater awareness about what they are struggling with and what they probably most want a few suggestions around.

  3. Finally, what is one thing I, your PT could do, to make this journey/our training more successful/better for you?

    This is one where I often have to prompt clients as often they won’t want to say something they think will upset you.

Key here throughout this final third step is to:-

  • Reassure them that you are up for changing.

    Recall an instance where you took some serious feedback and changed your approach for that person or generally and how appreciative you were that someone told you and it save your from losing a client.

  • Reassure them that little things add up to big things and you appreciate that.

    Talking too fast or too loud can get really grating for someone over a workout as can bad breath or always finishing a session late.

  • Give them some suggestions to get them started.

    Classics annoyances for clients from my experience would prompt me to suggest ‘ Do I talk too much about my personal life’, ‘Do I talk to much’,  ‘Am I too technical’,  ‘Are my sessions really boring’, ‘Do you hate the ball games we play’ etc etc.

  • Stay upbeat, positive and a grateful listener throughout.


  • Do magic.

    Put into practice whatever you can from what they have just shared with you.  They’ll be over the moon that you’re giving it a shot.  This is one of the key reasons why I like to have the conversation in the warm up phase, so I can show them immediately how easy it is.   As you’d probably guess, just be sure to end this conversation when their workout proper starts, promising to come back to it at the end i.e. don’t spend their whole workout talking about how you could improve your session.

  • Do magic again and again.

    Also, the conversation may catch a few people off guard and they still aren’t up for coming forward on this occasion.  Regardless of whether they contribute a lot or a little reassure them that you’d welcome having this conversation each month, or each week etc.

At the end of the Challenge we forward our PTs the written feedback from our entrants and without exception the PTs are so stoked with it.  It’s something I’d recommend every PT to figure out a way to do and I’d also encourage PTs to use these glowing testimonials on their websites and in promotional material as it reassures everyone yet to train with you that you’re doing a stellar job.

For all of you not doing our Challenge, why aren’t you, ha just kidding, but hey why wait for your pats on the back? Lessen the stress of wondering if you’re doing a great job and seek out some opportunities to do magic.