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Rapport: Build that essential relationship with your client

Many of you probably have heard about ‘Rapport’. But what does it actually mean?! Wikipedia defines it as:

“Rapport is a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”

The question is, what does it mean in the real world. Some of you may have built a rapport with your clients without even realising it and without intention. To some of us it comes naturally but for others it is a real struggle.

In this post I will talk about how you can build relationships with your clients that will last by implementing some easy steps.

The first time you meet your client is normally during a consultation. But the rapport building starts earlier than that. People normally search the web for Personal Trainers or get recommendations from friends and family.

The first thing they do is try to get more information about you, therefore it is very important you have a strong web presence. You can build this through your website, facebook, linkedin and other social sites. The information you put on there about you is very important.

During this process the potential client is getting to you know a little better. When they contact you, it is because of a reason. They might like your outlook on life, your training methods, your story about yourself or because you specialise in something, for example: Suspension Training. Whatever it is, you need to find out by asking them during the consultation.

You could use this in your intro after the ‘Hi, how are you, how was your day?’. The questions could look a little like this: ‘So, how did you hear about me?’; to which they normally reply: ‘I found your website on the internet’; and your reply should be: ‘What was it about my website that made you contact me?’.

Whatever the reason, it’s the building block of your relationship. To further develop it you need to ask open questions in order to get to know your client better. Here are some examples:

  • “What do you like to do in your spare time?’
  • “What do you do for a living and what do you like about it?”
  • “What did you do on your last holiday?”
  • “What car do you drive and why?”
  • “What are your plans for this weekend?”

Most questions lead to more questions. The trick is to listen well and also remember to read their expressions. You can tell when someone is excited or passionate about a certain subject. It helps if you are knowledgeable about some of the subjects they are interested in, and it’s even better if you share the same passions.

I intentionally didn’t include anything related to health and fitness, because you are bound to be passionate about it, but the chances are a lot of your clients are not, which is the reason why they need a personal trainer. But you can try and combine their interests and passion with their training. For example, if a client loves the outdoors and has real passion for birds, you could take the client to a local pond for an outdoor training session or a jog. This allows you to get creative with your training and you never know they might just start enjoying it, too!

Try to remember the conversations you had with your clients. If they told you about a weekend getaway don’t forget to ask them how it was? This will engage them into a conversation where they mostly do the talking and you should do the listening. It is very important that you always do more listening than talking.

Please don’t get me wrong, I understand you are there to train your clients and not just have a chat. It is therefore very important you get the balance right. Coach them during the exercises and have a little chat during the rest periods. I find setting a countdown timer with an alarm for the rest times helps, this way they know when to continue with their exercise and I avoid interrupting them rudely by telling them to give me 10 more reps.

Avoid talking about politics, religion and sex. Those are very sensitive subjects and you can easily offend someone who doesn’t agree with your views.

Consider all these aspects and still be yourself in the process.

Stephan Konrad

Managing Director of www.directexercise.com