Running an online training business takes a lot more than just creating programs and sending them to clients. It’s important to pay attention to all areas of your business such as customer service and ensure that your clients are getting the best possible service.
The better the experience you provide to your personal training clients the more likely they are going to be satisfied with their training, successful with their training, and also tell all of their friends and family how amazing you are and how they should train with you too! (At least, that’s the plan, right?)
Sometimes, though, you will come across unhappy customers. As they say, you can’t always please everyone, and whether or not these clients are being irrational, you need to offer them the best possible service you can and that means professionally and respectfully addressing their requests—even if they’re asking for their money back.
Being asked for a refund by a personal training client can be some of the toughest client/customer interactions you have to deal with, and it’s up to you how you choose to handle these requests. There is no one-size-fits-all response, and whether or not you issue a refund will depend on a number of factors.
That’s why, before you find yourself in one of these tricky situations, it’s a good idea to plan ahead: try to think of different situations that could possibly come up where clients might want refunds, consider your possible responses to these situations, and then put into place the tools and tactics you need to make these client interactions professional. This can mean anything from updating your service contracts to creating pre-written scripts to respond to upset client emails.
Let’s walk through some of the ways you can prepare for and respond to client requests for refunds.
1. Lay out the rules from the very beginning
It is very important to lay out the rules of your refund policy (whatever you decide it might be) from the very beginning. If you have the option for potential clients to purchase services directly off of your website, it wouldn’t hurt to ensure there is a “no refund” policy made obvious prior to a client even making the purchase.
Your purchase and refund policy should be extremely clear and easy to understand, and it should include language that protects you from doing a large amount of work only to have someone ask for their money back. For extra transparency with your clients, you can also include additional language outlining how your training and/or nutrition services are delivered, what they include, and how they are billed. This is a documented way to set up client expectations.
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2. Use trial periods to weed out potential problems
As a business owner and professional, you will, over your career come across at least a handful of clients who simply cannot be pleased. As hard as try and as far as you bend over backward to meet their needs and requests, they just aren’t happy.
Luckily, that’s a minority, but it doesn’t hurt to plan for these “impossible” clients. A great way to make sure your potential clients are ready to put in the work and respect the business that you run is to offer a free trial prior to starting training. Give clients a little preview of what it’s like to use Trainerize and the kind of service they will receive if they sign up for online training with you. This will prevent them from coming back saying “it wasn’t what I thought it would be” or “I don’t like using the app.”
3. Know when to stand your ground and when to be flexible on your terms and conditions
This is where you get to decide, based on the circumstances, how you want to approach each individual situation. Once you have your rules laid out from the beginning that your clients are well aware of prior to starting training, you can have the flexibility to bend the rules as you see fit on a client-by-client basis.
One thing I can advise is to never let anyone take advantage of you! Yes, we love our clients and just want to help—that’s probably why you got into the business to being with!—but sometimes people can take advantage of your kindness and willingness to help them. Remind yourself that you are still in business to make money, which clients sometimes tend to forget, and make the decision that is best for you and your business security.
One problem you might come across frequently is that people want a refund because they didn’t get the results they wanted. Now, maybe they didn’t follow your program 100%, maybe they were lying about what they were eating or the workouts they were completed, or maybe they expected more results than they actually got. Whatever the case, that responsibility sits with them, and we all know there are no sure-thing, 100%, iron-clad guarantees in this industry. I would decide in advance how you want to handle these situations and develop some pre-written scripts to use when responding to these clients. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground!
Seek legal help if necessary
If you are unsure about the validity of the terms and conditions of your contract, have a lawyer help you draw up your training contract. This would be good for both your refund policy and liability waiver too.
Be sure to have clients read and sign your contract prior to starting training (remember you can send documents and collect signatures in Trainerize using Zapier). Having these documents signed becomes really important should you ever have a client emailing to ask for a refund. You can refer back to the contract that they signed prior to starting training and they shouldn’t really have much of an argument after that.
I hope this helps you set up the terms and conditions of your online training and prevents you from being taken advantage of in your training business. Remember to always do what’s right for your business and don’t be afraid to stand your ground! Happy training!