How to Be More Professional Without Losing Your Fitness Clients
“You have to be more professional.”
“We have to be more professional in our conservative little area.”
“That’s not professional.”
Have you said any of these? Or had them said to you?
The title may have got you curious. This post is all about how to be more professional without it costing you clients.
Being stiff and formal is losing you clients today. It doesn’t matter if you live in the middle of the Midwest or you live in liberal California, business – especially fitness – is about relationships.
Why we do we hide behind “professionalism”?
- Imposter Syndrome
- Want to Appeal to Everyone
How to Be More Professional and More Profitable
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of the Midwest (an excuse I’ve heard from a consulting client about why they can’t be conversational) or anywhere with a more conservative clientele (another excuse). If you don’t communicate in your business relationships like you do in real life, you’re creating a real gap.
Your friends are your friends because you’re open and honest and vulnerable with each other. Well, if you want clients to be loyal and trust you, you’re going to have to have some level of that present in your business too.
Where else is that ever more important than in a business that’s built on knowing how someone is sleeping, digesting, eliminating, and what their stressors are? Those are all symptoms of improved health that you should if you’re not document! (Simply asking how much water or fiber someone consumes helps ZERO unless you measure the results. If you’re helping adults over 50, you better be asking!). You can’t be all stiff and “professional” and expect someone to share that information.
You don’t have to:
- Offend any one (a fitness owner told me about a member who joined who told him that she’d just left a class at a spinning studio where the instructor –the owner – was using the word “ass” during class to “motivate” participants: she left after class and joined a competing fitness center – if you use language like that in real life, you’ve got to draw some lines)
- Create “haters” (but they will come with a growth in business: you’re pretty small and catering to family and friends if you don’t have them)
You do filter out the people who want you vs. those who don’t. You should have some unsubscribes when you take a stance on something or dial up the frequency of emails to provide something your subscribers wanted when they joined. If they opt out, they were clearly never going to buy an answer from you and it’s better they go.
You do create relationships because you’re talking TO people not at them.
You don’t use stiff language when you’re talking to friends so don’t use it when you write or create a video.
Know what you sound like when you talk to friends.
Before you publish a blog or send an email, read it out loud. If it doesn’t sound like the way you’d tell a story to a friend, or relay exciting information about a study, it’s not ready yet.
Pretty much the worst decision you can make is to hire a journalist or English lit major to write for you. You’re not writing a thesis, or a grant proposal. No one, I repeat no one, not Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Huffington Post, the Washington Post, or The New York Times, sells content with stiff words.
If you don’t read other people’s content, you shouldn’t be writing.
Reading, contemporary books, popular blogs, podcast show notes and the newspaper will help you be a better conversationalist. Name any other professional that doesn’t need to read. The most successful people read voraciously. If you can’t pick up a book (maybe like me you get two or three pages done and then fall asleep) then start listening to audio books while you drive, walk, run, and cook.
The way not to be more professional is copy someone else’s voice.
Ever notice when you’re around a strong personality that influences you a great deal, you begin to sound like them? Or do you listen to a podcast regularly and then suddenly, you’re using some of the same expressions or tone of voice they have?
Find out who YOU are, and the voice of the business brand you are. If you’re the sole owner and you’re the face or the business, then YOU are the brand. But if you’re working as a department head you need to be asking these questions about the voice of the business so you can be both conversational and be more professional because that’s defined.
Stop using the statement “that’s not professional.”
That’s a catch all that doesn’t mean anything unless you can define what “be more professional” is for your business. What do you say and don’t you say? How do you say it and how don’t you?
In my style guide I have those things listed. They’re both listed by topics (these are things we talk about and share with our audience) and by grammar. I’ll share details like, when we write this (e.g. referring to an individual), we write it like this (she, her, you-still-got-it-girl, boomer babe). I sometimes use words that are our own-coined terms and sometimes slang things like awesomesauce or cra-cra (when someone is frankly just nuts in their thinking). Why? Because that’s how my customers talk!
I am sharing research from PubMed, I am not trying to BE PubMed. I’m trying to break it down into real words people get and can use in a way they’d talk about it with their besties at a wine party.
Remember that to be more professional, you have to have more customers. If it isn’t doing that, endearing you to more of the right people, making them want to chase you down by phone or seek you out, then potentially the way you’re being more professional may not be working really well for you.
The real solution though is easy. Be more yourself. Talk like you talk. Do what you do – relay complex information to people in easy to understand terms and fold it into stories. Be more authentic. Are you cold and formal? Are you warm and open?
Are you meek and pleasing to everyone? Do you have an opinion and stand for something specific you’re not afraid to say out loud?
Be willing to say something that shocks people. I don’t believe in calorie counting. I don’t believe (and might hate) memes that suggest we should all go through pain to get fit. I firmly believe burpees and WOD published online are NOT personal training: they’re both uncreative and suggest one-size-fits-all.
What about you? What do you believe? Share it.
I comment and share when something is good AND when I disagree strongly. I don’t “like” something and I don’t just leave it if it’s wrong and sending the wrong message.
What about you? Be more professional by being you ALL the time.
Whatever you’re doing now, the question is… How’s that working out for you? It shows up personally and professionally.