How to Say Goodbye (For Now)

A boomerang leaves a hand and flies into the sky full of white clouds with the words "See You Later."

“It’s not you; it’s me.”

Cancellations in your gym are hard to take. When you build a career around caring for 150 clients, you form tight emotional bonds. As Greg Glassman wrote in 2006:
“You’ll find me at my clients’ parties, weddings and family gatherings. Indeed, I am a personal friend to nearly every one of my clients.”
As much as we try to stay objective, it still hurts when a client says goodbye.
Here’s how to respond to that “Dear John” letter saying “I want to cancel my membership.”

1. Express Your Concern With Specific Details

“Oh Sally, I’m sorry to hear that—especially right after your recent weight loss! We’re just getting momentum!”
And leave it at that. Don’t include a “but I understand” or easy way out of the conversation.

2. Remind Them What They’re Losing

The fear of losing something you have is far greater than the promise of getting something good. That’s why you see all those “don’t miss out!” deals on Facebook: You don’t want to have things taken away from you.
For example:
When you cancel your membership, you’ll lose access to our:
– 1:1 coaches
– Nutrition accountability program
– Goal-setting meetings
– Workout-tracking app
– Private members’ Facebook group
And so on. Fill out your own list, starting with the most valuable part of your service.
Surprisingly, I’ve had clients say, “Oh, I’ll be back in a month and don’t want to lose my data on SugarWOD. Just keep the membership going.”
There’s far more value to your program than the classes you teach. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much.
So remind them.

3. Make It Easy for Them to Come Back

Asking the question “when do you think you’ll be back?” can help the client create a clear picture in his or her mind.
If you can book a goal-setting appointment with the person in the future, that’s a huge win.
For example: “OK, Robin! I know you love spending time at your cottage in the summer! I want to make sure you don’t lose too much of your hard-earned fitness while you’re away. What will you do for exercise while you’re away? Can we schedule an appointment for September 7 to restart your fitness progress?”
Even if you can’t, make sure the client knows he or she will be welcomed back. Fear of an awkward “what are YOU doing here?” actually stops many people from trying new things.

4. Keep the Conversation Alive

We want a record of a client’s cancellation. We want to remind him or her of our cancellation policies. But more than anything else, we want the client back!
In the Incubator and Growth programs, we teach gym owners how to build a cancellation page.
Clients fill out the form on our site to cancel.
The form reminds the client of our policies. Then it adds him or to our email “recapture” list: a slow drip series of emails designed to bring the client back.

(Two-Brain Clients get the form design and email sequence in Growth Stage.)
Every quarter, we’ll also send the client something personal, like a text or video. We follow a 10-word email format (and also provide it to our clients in Growth Stage).
Exit interviews would be great: You’d learn how to improve your service and possibly talk a client into staying. But very few clients will do an exit interview. Honestly: If your hairdresser asked you to make a trip across town to have a heavy talk about your feelings, would you do it?
And while we want to keep every client forever, it’s likely that a departing member will only remember the last interaction with you. If it was awkward or painful, he or she won’t be back.
Most importantly, try to remember: The client probably isn’t gone forever. Just gone for now.
Treat your separation as temporary and you’ll sleep easier.
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One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.