Welcoming a new client into your online personal training business is always exciting. They're eager to get started, but those first few weeks of bringing them into the programme can be pivotal. They're likely to be feeling keen to get started and maybe a little apprehensive about what they can expect.
Onboarding new clients properly can be highly individual and depend on your business model. The outline suggested below is just a guide and could be customised to be more or less detailed as needed for your online fitness services.
Step 1. Welcome VideoHaving a welcome video for your new client is a professional touch. It's precious in an online fitness business where they may never get to meet you face to face. You can record a video for each of your services and host it in your welcome pack or even send a personal message to your new clients if they join a high-end programme.
This video could outline your excitement at having them on board, welcome them into your business, and give them an idea of what they should expect next. Don't be tempted to provide new clients with all of the information at once as this can be overwhelming. Simply outline the next step.
Step 2. Welcome EmailIn the welcome email, you have got an opportunity to provide them with some links and information that they may need, such as their login details or a reminder of the goals they outlined to you before coming on board.
Remember to personalise this email, use their name and regularly refer to their goals to anchor all the behaviours you're asking them to do explicitly to the results they want to achieve. If you need your clients to fill any forms, like PARQ, informed consent, agreements or anything else, the welcome email is a great place to let clients know.
Step 3. Welcome Gift or GuideAn onboarding package could include physical items, like branded water bottles and physical welcome cards in the post. It can also be virtual items, such as a personalised .pdf bundle. When a graphic designer professionally designs these, they look impressive and can deal with some of the more common questions your new client may have.
Giving out these packs can make a great first impression, indicate that you value this client, and reduce churn out of your business. Inside your virtual onboarding package, you could include an FAQ section so that the client can get answers to common questions early on. This reassures them that whatever uncertainty they have is normal and anticipated.
Step 4. Support Options EmailThe following email could outline how clients can get in touch if they get stuck or have questions they need to ask you. It might outline how frequently they can expect to hear from you or your preferred channels of communication.
For example, PT Distinction has a self-contained 2-way messaging system built into the software so that you can centralise all client communication and deal with them in one place.
Step 5. Schedule Strategy / Assessment CallConnecting with your clients on a call can be one way you could set goals and agree on how you'll measure progress. You'd probably have had a sales call with your client to bring them into the business, but this call is more about planning and evaluating.
An online assessment video call will provide you with valuable information on how you should be programming for a 1:1 online coaching client's unique needs. You can perform movement assessments, goal setting and discuss any other topics that will be relevant for your client's success.
Step 6. Let's Connect EmailAn email exchanging social media and community information can be useful, particularly for clients that have come into your business through another avenue, such as a client referral.
Having your clients as your followers on social media is an excellent opportunity to build relationships and celebrate their progress publicly - a powerful marketing tool.
If you have a community spirit to your online coaching, it's worth capitalising on that. It's a hugely valuable component of someone's fitness journey. Whether that's done on group chat, Facebook, WhatsApp or some other medium, it can make your life easier as the trainer because your clients start to support each other. Groups with a strong sense of community also seem to be more robust than those without.
Step 7. Recap Of The Outcomes Of The Strategy CallOnce you have clear goals set and a clear timeline in which you'll achieve them agreed, you could send an email or video to recap these details.
Here's where you can talk about their plans, including nutrition, lifestyle habits and workouts. If you're using online coaching software like PT Distinction, ensure you add instructions on how they can access the system.
Step 8. Let's Get StartedThe final step in the onboarding process is encouraging your client to get started. This stage aims to get the client excited to get started and get some quick wins under their belt.
At the beginning of your relationship with your client, they may need more support than at other times in the programme. Don't be afraid to reach out and check in with them regularly, and make sure they're comfortable with what they're doing. This might include more frequent messages in their first week or two.
ConclusionMany of the mentioned onboarding elements can be pre-recorded (like the video), prepared ahead of time (like the virtual welcome guide and email sequence) and automated using PT Distinction. If you don't have any of these elements in place at the moment, don't worry. You can work on developing and fine-tuning your onboarding system over time.
Like with client success, there's no one size fits all approach on how online trainers should set up their onboarding workflow. A shorter sequence that lasts a couple of days is suitable for some businesses, whereas a longer process lasting a couple of weeks will be best for others. Which is best for you will depend on the length of your online programme, the features of the package you create and on your niche. Feel free to experiment and tweak when needed and be mindful of your ideal clients' tech skills.
Onboarding is a way to give your client the information they need without overwhelming them. It makes them feel like they're part of your online personal training business, and they're clear about what's expected of them. It can reduce churn and improve client retention because they understand your expectations and how long it takes to get results. It can be a potent tool when automated as a welcome pack to save you from repeating yourself answering the same questions from new clients. Having systems in place can help you serve existing clients more efficiently.