How to Keep Clients When Instructors Go
Trainers and instructors are close with clients, helping them with personal goals during one-on-one time. School-aged clients, in particular, look up to their instructors and can get very attached. So, it is essential to think about how to keep client retention.
Unfortunately, most instructors will eventually leave your academy at some point, and it’s common for departing instructors to try to take regular clients with them when they go. That can have a devastating effect on your business, particularly if they’re taking clients that you’ve spent time and money to attract.
Owners and managers of sports facilities must be prepared. It’s essential to take the following steps to protect your business from the threat of departing instructors.
An Employee Agreement
The most obvious way to prevent employees from taking clients with them is to make them agree not to do so in writing. Require new employees, especially instructors, to sign a non-compete agreement or include language in a signed staff handbook or work agreement.
Non-compete laws vary across the country. Some states don’t allow them at all! You’ll need to consult a local lawyer to find the best way to protect your business. The agreement’s language must be reasonable to your staff if it is to be upheld in court.
Vet candidates during the hiring process to determine if they’ve burned any past employers. Check records by verifying as many references as possible and look at employment length on the resume.
Some former employers, however, may only answer “yes or no” questions regarding their former employees due to legal concerns about defamation. Many will limit answers to whether someone is eligible for rehire and confirming dates of employment.
You may not get much information if you only do a reference check. Use your local sports community’s network to get a good sense of a trainer’s background.
Turnover is a common problem for sports facilities because young, inexperienced people are attracted to these types of jobs. eSoft Planner’s team of industry experts has worked with facilities just like yours and learned the best practices for how to keep instructors longer. Gain information from each departure to make your facility better. Conduct exit interviews with discussions about reasons for leaving and follow-ups.
We’ve also learned that your best employees are less likely to look for opportunities elsewhere if they have great incentives to stay. Offer a combination of competitive pay and benefits as well as less tangible perks. Create a fun working environment with flexibility and a clear path for advancement.
Spend time trying to improve this issue. It directly impacts your available resources and financial bottom line.
Control of Scheduling
Some academies let their instructors handle their own scheduling for lessons and clinics. This is a mistake! It cuts you out of the communications loop and makes it even easier for instructors to take clients with them when they leave. It can also put your facility at risk for liability issues.
You should always have a record of who was on your property for insurance purposes and what they were doing at any given time. Make sure that anyone who practices in your facility has a signed waiver as well as updated emergency contacts on file. eSoft Planner’s centralized scheduling program can help you stay on top of all these moving pieces.
Scheduling also means that you keep valuable marketing data for each of your clients. You collect contact information as well as information about their activities, interests, and abilities. Use that data to tailor your marketing campaigns later. You’ll have a chance to draw clients back to your facility — even if they’ve followed an instructor elsewhere.
A Secure Client Database
Your client list is more valuable than any single physical thing your business owns. It could seriously undermine your business if it falls into the wrong hands.
Your clients trust you to keep their information safe and private. Our recommended practice to keep your client database close, not providing it to everyone at your facility, and track every time it is downloaded it.
eSoft Planner’s complete sports facility solution does the heavy lifting for you with capabilities to set different access/permissions for each employee. For example, you may want instructors to see only specific pages such as scheduling, but your membership managers may need to see different pages to update memberships, etc. Your staff should always be able to access the client information they need easily and without the need to download the entire database.
A Consistent Exit Procedure
Use a standardized checklist every time a staff member quits or is terminated. Checklists should include the following tasks:
- Removing the departing employee’s access to scheduling software
- Changing their passwords to social media and other company accounts
- Collecting keys and equipment, such as a company cell phone or computer
For More Information
When an instructor leaves your facility, always take the high road. You’ve got a business to run — don’t take it personally. The best owners learn from their experiences and keep moving forward.