How To Get A Good Character Reference Or Testimonial From Your Clients
A big part of drumming up new business is to have positive recommendations and testimonials from existing clients. If you are doing a great job then your clients may recommend your services to their friends, but sometimes you will also want to get a formal character reference from your clients that you can use to help market your services.
Perhaps you will include them in an information pack, use them as you discuss the goals of new clients, post testimonials to social media, or maybe you have a small website (or a bio on the gym's website). In any case, a good reference can help to build your business, and will help support your sales proposition.
The Value Of Testimonials
A testimonial is a track record of your success through the words of your past and current clients. While you can talk up your services all you like, a testimonial is proof of the quality of your service, and as such is a highly valuable way to expand your business and take on new clients. In addition to this, showing or discussing testimonials with future clients may even have the effect of increasing the client's belief that they can achieve their goals (if others are, why can’t I?) and can help them to accelerate their performance once they start training with you by setting them up mentally to achieve.
In an initial consultation, it won’t hurt to refer to existing or past clients which you have worked with, giving concrete examples of how you helped them to achieve their goals and the types of strategies that you may be able to apply to the new client. Of course, you should only mention the examples which are the most relevant to your new client, using examples from testimonials to illustrate a point - not as the sole focus of the discussion.
The value of testimonials is clear - they can build confidence and trust in your services, even before you begin training.
How To Ask Clients For A Testimonial Or Character Reference
Now comes the tricky part - actually collecting the references. Don’t ask for a reference one week into training with a new client. It’s better to wait for two or three months before approaching them.
Make sure that they are happy with your services, and seek out any advice on how you could improve your existing services. It’s best if you can do this during a friendly chat initially, and follow it up with a short survey. Make sure that the client feels relaxed, and welcome any honest feedback.
It’s best if you can take this opportunity to also take any negative feedback, as it will help you improve your business in the long run. Start a conversation about their training, how they think they are going and explain that it is usually around this time (the 2-3 month mark) that you like to seek a little more formal feedback from your clients.
Make sure that your client knows that they can always provide verbal feedback, and that you will always be happy for this feedback, whether good or bad.
Get It In Writing With A Short Survey
Once you have laid the groundwork, present your client with a one page survey and explain that you welcome both positive and negative feedback, but also mention that you often use certain sections for promotional purposes, testimonials and character references. Be sure to include a checkbox and a place to sign that clearly acknowledges this. Explain to your client that if they don’t wish to provide consent for promotional purposes, you still welcome their feedback.
It’s a good idea to include a few specific questions on your survey. For example, ask:
- What would you like you to start (and stop) doing?
- What is your favourite aspect of training with them?
- How has your Trainer helped you overcome any reservations that you might have had about training?
- How has your Trainer helped you meet your goals.
It is a good idea to provide a small caption on one specific part of the survey to signal to your client that this section is frequently used for testimonials and character references, as well as outline where these would be used e.g. on your website, social media. This may help shape the tone of the answer for that specific question. Also provide a space for ‘any other comments’.
Provide Scaffolding To Get A Better Testimonial
Some clients may want to provide you with a high quality testimonial, but not know where to start. In this case you could also provide them with a rough template of how they could structure a testimonial. Be careful though, as dumping a survey, template and conversation requesting feedback all at once can be a little overwhelming.
Another option is to break it up into a few steps. Start with a conversation, follow it up with a brief and basic survey and then, if the client is satisfied with your services, request a testimonial and ask them to sign and acknowledge that it may be used for promotional purposes.
In any case, a bit of scaffolding can help your clients to provide higher quality testimonials. Provide a rough outline that your clients can choose to adopt if they wish. For example:
‘[Name]...[has been been my trainer for]...[I have achieved]...[I have met these goals]...[What I like about him/her]...[final remark]’.
Taking the time to get feedback from clients will only help you to get better, and getting references and testimonials will help you to take on new clients, will provide you with material that you can use in advertising, and will give you material for discussions with prospective clients.
So set a reminder in your calendar for each new client you take on. Follow up with them, focus on delivering results and grow your business.