What is your opinion on whether or not you should charge a client for not showing up for their session? Have you been charging them or do you let it slide? Does it matter if they are a new client? What if they called 15 minutes in advance? What about an hour? Is there a magic amount of notice time that needs to be given? Have you tried to enforce the famous 24 hour notice rule? Just so you know, there aren’t many industries in the world that have a rule like this is in place. If you don’t show up for your doctor appointment or for the dentist or for a haircut, whatever, it’s pretty doubtful that they’ll charge you. How can you as a personal trainer do it then?
As I have said before, building good relationships with your clients is a key ingredient to keeping them paying you for a long time. Yes, be their friend. Go out to eat with them, send them Christmas cards, and so on. If you start charging people for missed sessions, it will be pretty darn hard to build any relationship. You want your clients to feel obligated to pay you month after month, but this will never happen if you make them suffer for missing a session or two. If my clients need to cancel their session last minute they usually feel guilty and pay for it without me ever saying a word. Why? We have a good relationship and they like me. If your clients like you it means that you are a big part of their life. If you are a big part of their life they will do their best to not miss sessions. So, make them like you!
This is a little bit contradictory, but clients missing sessions is just part of the job. I understand how frustrating it can be, especially if you only average a few sessions per day. If a client calls you to cancel and you know they won’t pay for their mistake, make sure to reschedule their session before you end the phone conversation or are done texting them. Missed sessions are not a big deal if you can make them up. Yes you lost time, but NEVER lose money if you can help it.
Of course if a client starts missing sessions on a regular basis, you are going to have to address the situation. You cannot continue to lose money during their scheduled time slot. If they don’t respect you enough to realize that personal training is your job and your source of income, not a hobby, then let them go. Move on. The occasional check from them does not outweigh the headaches they cause you. Sometimes no matter what you do or how you act, you are not going to mesh with some clients. It has happened to all of us. It is such a relief when that type of client is finally out of your life.
So in review, it is bad business to try to charge people for missed sessions. It ends up putting people off right from the beginning. The last thing you need to be doing is making threats from the get go. Build a strong relationship based on respect and trust and things will usually work out. Clients will not blow off sessions with a trainer they like and respect. If they do make a mistake and forget about a scheduled session or have to cancel at the last minute, they will probably just pay you. Thanks so much for reading, talk soon.
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