Before you think I’m going to suggest you let your clients talk during the whole Pilates session let me just say that this is not about being a therapist or friend to your client. This post is about listening for key clues that help you teach them better, grow your business more and retain your clients for a lifetime. Rest assured you will not have to be the shoulder they cry on (although that can happen) or their dating advice expert. But, what you will hear when you are truly listening (and sometimes not with your ears) will be what sets you apart from the rest. Having good listening skills can be the difference between someone giving up Pilates when tough times hit. Good listening skills can mean client referrals and a healthy, thriving business vs one that is constantly trying to get more new clients to replace the ones that “got bored,” or “became too busy.” Think you listen well?
Yes, I am a Pilates business blogger. No, this blog post isn’t about your personal looks. But, I used to write dating blogs and give out dating advice. And, the truth is a lot of that advice crosses over to running your Pilates business. So, before you roll your eyes or think this isn’t the advice for you don’t swipe left just yet! Stay with me and see if any of these tips help your business get more looks, hits and if there was an app for finding a Pilates studio some swipe rights.
Recently my friend and Yoga Instructor were chatting about the famous excuse we often get “I’m not in shape enough for Pilates.” Well, she gets “I’m not flexible enough for yoga.” I say it’s famous because I know all of you instructors have heard the same phrase before too. “I’ll call you when I get more in shape, flexible, have more time and insert-latest-excuse-for-procrastination-here.”
I remember when I was a new instructor trying so hard to win them over and responding with all the ways that Pilates would help them get in shape, become more flexible, save them time at the gym, etc. Now, years later and a schedule so full of coaching and teaching I do not have the space for clients not begging for a slot I wish someone had told me a better way to respond to those “excuse filled potential clients.”
You know who I am talking about, those people that are soo busy! They have this and that. Then there are those who want to lose weight before they start. How about the ones that are going to do their own thing for a bit and when they are stronger they will come back? How are you supposed to respond to these clients? Should you? Do you beg? Do you begin listing all the bullet points and Pilates principles to get them to sign up? Do you shrug your shoulders and walk away?
None of the above! Seriously, you cannot convince anyone of anything with words. You’re not going to change their mind in a moment. They have made their minds up. All you can do is be an open and welcome space for when they are ready. Wait! Don’t click off this or roll your eyes at me just yet. I promise I have tips for you.
Try these tips:
1) Are your website and social channels an open and welcoming space showing what life as a Pilates client with you is like? If you have videos and images of clients like them doing Pilates, then your studio will speak for itself. If this client can see themselves in your studio, see inflexible students getting their Pilates on or, reading testimonials from clients who came super out of shape and now because of you are in their best shape. Maybe, they see a class schedule designed for the busy working client? Instead of telling them you can help them with their problem show them how you do that!
2) Understand but don’t agree You can totally empathize with them but you don’t have to agree with them. Just because I said you cannot talk this person into changing their mind doesn’t mean you agree. Take the time to get to know them a bit more and connect with them. Some people like to throw their excuses out there to “pre-reject” and protect themselves from possibly being humiliated or rejected. In their mind, you might not want to work with them because they are too insert reason for not starting Pilates here.
3) Play a little hard to get You know how in the dating world we all want the person who didn’t call us back? We pine for the person that isn’t paying attention to us. I’m not saying practice bad business and not return calls, emails or walk away from these excuse spewing potential Pilates clients. But, what if you heard what they have to say and understood what they had to say and then told them “when you’re ready to let me know. Hopefully, I’ll have a slot for you.” With your kindest smile and your genuine tone. This is not to be confused with passive-aggressive “I’ll show you” tone. After all, you do hope you have room for them when they are ready. And, you only want a client to contact you when they are willing. Be kind and supportive and then let them go. They’ll walk away wondering why in the world where everyone is trying to get anyone to do something you are not. You’re not begging for them to take Pilates from you.
Fear of not being good at something, fear of being rejected, fear of change and fear of no longer having the excuses we tell ourselves as reasons why we haven’t hit our goals is incredibly powerful. You know Pilates is the best thing for them. That Pilates is tailorable, and there is a Pilates practice for everybody out there at the level they are. But, for you (often a stranger) to be able to overpower what is in their head is tricky. You’ll leave the conversations frustrated for them and you. After all, you need to build your business. Make sure your website and handles all show the welcoming space you are for your ideal client and spend your time going after the clients who are open to change!
I know easier said than done. But, trust me it works!
Looking for feedback on if your website and social channels, coaching on your business contact me here. I save a few coaching slots each month for Pilates consultation. Lastly, Summer Session of Business webinars will be announced next week!! But, before I go live with the schedule you still have time to give your input. Click here and give your feedback.
I don’t know about you but I hate cold calls, I hate people trying to sell me stuff, I hate flyers on my car, shoved in my hands or even in my mailbox. I despise people trying to talk to me as I am going into Whole Foods. Ok, maybe hate and despise are strong words. But, I don’t want people trying to bug me about things I don’t want. But, if you and I bump into each other in Whole Foods, if you and I are standing in a long line together at Starbucks, airport security or any line you can pretty much bet we are going to chat, have a laugh, and you will know I teach Pilates.
Not only will you know I teach Pilates but you will know where I teach and what it is to do Pilates with me. I know, you’re thinking “LL you are kind of a hypocrite.” Nope, not at all. See, when people invade my space or litter their advertisements on my car that is annoying. I don’t know who you are. Ok, great you have a product or business you want to tell me about. But, you’re not there when I get to my car. Also, most often you’re trying to tell me about your new restaurant and I’m gluten and dairy free so how do you know I am even your customer. It’s a waste of paper, their time and money.
But, in a store when you and I are in line and you say “fun pants” and I say “thanks! I love them too. I mean, if I have to wear workout clothes for a living they should be cute!” and then you say “oh, yeah, what do you do?” Well, then I’m not pushing my business on you. You invited me into the conversation. I just found a way to bring up that I wear workout clothes for a living. When I tell you “I teach Pilates down the street across from the Starbucks. Do you know it?” I’m not pressuring you, I am just answering your question and asking you one back. My question about if they have been to my studio will get me a couple answers: 1) have they been to the studio where I work 2) if they have done Pilates ( I know I didn’t ask that but they’ll probably answer that hidden question) and given that LA is so neighborhood-based I’ll know if that is even convenient for them.
Based on their response I have a couple options. If I am enjoying the vibe and they haven’t closed the door I can then tell them how awesome Pilates is there, invite them to come and get their card to give them the info. I can give them mine ( I prefer to take theirs so I can follow up with them). Or, I can keep the conversation going. Maybe they need more info about Pilates. Maybe they have some misguided impressions, maybe they are just visiting. The point is until my time is up I am connecting with them about what I do, where I do it and how we can do it together. It’s my mini elevator speech sans an elevator!
My most favorite workshop and role-play to do is my elevator speech workshop. See, the thing is in Pilates many teachers spend a lot of time trying to get heard among the noise on the world-wide-web. Or, they go super old school and do flyers and word of mouth (nothing wrong with this!!! You just don’t have that much control over it). But, you do have control over whom you talk to and what you say and how you say.
- What do you do?
- Where do you do it?
- Why do you love it?
- Why should they do it with you?
- How can they contact you or more importantly you contact them?
Best part this whole convo cost you nothing! No marketing dollars. You were just out doing your thing!
I know you think easier said than done. But, you can totally do this too! I will tell you how on April 27th in my next webinar (think Workshop on the web). Register here. If you can’t do the time or the date have no fear. I know some of you are live halfway around the globe from me and will be asleep. Some of you are down the street teaching. That’s the beauty of a “replay.” Register anyway and you’ll get an email to watch the replay (it will be up for a few days). You can send in your questions ahead of time at email@example.com
I get it; you want Pilates to sell itself. You want people to walk into the studio take a session and hand you their credit card. But, you are not getting a lot of new clients in, or you are, and they are not committing. I’ve heard all the reasons (excuses why). Ditch them. They are not serving you. Yes, there are lots of studios, lots of teachers and many are doing deals that are unheard of.
In my many years coaching Pilates teachers I have seen instructors leave great studios because they don’t want to “sell.” Well, I hate to burst your Pilates-doesn’t-require-sales-bubble but it doesn’t matter where you teach Pilates you have to “sell” Pilates with YOU to stay in business. Continue reading
Welcome back to another challenge in Client Referrals. Several of you have emailed me on your progress. Client referrals do not happen over night. Once you let yourself off the hook on the pressure to get those referrals “yesterday” you can start planting the seeds of referrals today. Continue reading
How do I get more clients? How can I get more people to know my studio exists? What’s the best way to get client referrals? These questions are in my inbox, brought up on phone meetings and asked at my workshops. Whether you are a Pilates Instructor or Studio Owner, an inflow of clients is necessary for building your business and for maintaining consistent business. Continue reading