To develop your successful Pilates business you need a repeat and consistent customer base. And to develop that strong customer base you need to get on with everyone, right? Obviously, you need to be a extrovert and capable of striking up conversation with anyone.
….. Well, no, not really.
So just what are all the successful teachers doing that makes it easy for them to charge healthy prices and sustain a vast customer base and following?
CAN YOU CRACK THE CODE of uber successful teachers?
You can read a posture like a book… but can you read the non verbals?
If you’d like MORE customers…or would you like to RETAIN the ones you’ve got and not have to seek new ones on a regular basis then read on with an open mind. This is definitely ‘More than Pilates’! And I think I can shed some light on why some people find it easy to maintain their customers.
My goal is to help you identify and develop the KEY professional skills to enhance your business – by using an approach we are ALL naturally experts in.
So what do I need to do?
- CAN YOU imagine being able to get on with everyone you meet?
- What would it be like for every client to feel totally at ease with you?
- Imagine being able to establish strong trust in the very first session with a client.
Well you CAN… But do you know HOW to do it?
Following on from my previous blogs on Pilates cueing and growing your Pilates client base here’s the ‘wrap around’ skill that will open doors, build your success AND make people love your company in life and business.
What’s this VITAL KEY INGREDIENT to a strong and repeat customer base?
RAPPORT is not something we can touch; but it is something we can see and feel. Rapport is that ‘state’ where things feel in flow with someone – as if you’ve known them for years. It’s familiar, easy, natural.
You only have to observe a group of friends out for a drink to see natural rapport in action. You’ll see their body language is matched. People laugh at the same time or shortly after each other like an echo; they lift their drinks at the same time; they follow each others movements and gestures. You will be watching mirrored movement. The thing is… we like people who are like us… and we like to be like people we like. So when we are with friends it’s easy. We just mirror without effort. Rapport is being like someone else enough for them to feel similar to you and at ease.
Conversely when people are out of rapport or break rapport their movement shifts out of sync. The mirroring stops; the pace changes and they mismatch each other; or they alter their voice and shift the energy / pace so the other person senses something is about to change.… there’s an end coming to the conversation.
So if rapport is what tells people we are like them and they can like us / trust us back… how can we create it ON PURPOSE and more often?
There are 3 KEY things you can match to build rapport with someone
1. IF OUR VALUES ARE SIMILAR WE’LL LIKE EACH OTHER
It’s starts with the phone call or initial chat. ‘Hi, have you got any spaces.. I’d like to book a class?’.
This is a golden opportunity to find out more about them. When someone calls me I usually say ‘tell me more about you’… or ‘what are your needs – what’s important to you about doing pilates / yoga’? These questions are fantastic. Firstly you are discovering what drives someone, what their motivation is, their values. You need to know this to establish rapport and make sure your solution (classes / teaching) will give them what they need. Use their words back to them. ‘So it sounds like it’s important that you…’ (stay safe / feel you can modify / are appropriately pushed / etc)
Matching the words / language we use accounts for only 7% impact in terms of successful communication and rapport. So if we are going to match words.. then make sure it’s the persons values. These are the most important thing to them, so if you’ve listened to what they’ve said, showing them you have will be impactful and reassuring.
TOP TIP: ask questions about what’s important to them to match their values. Use their language.
2. IF WE SOUND THE SAME WE MUST BE SIMILAR
That initial chat also gives you another key opportunity. By giving them air time you can also listen in to their intonation, timbre, volume, speed of speaking etc… When you match this voice tonality, sub-consciously the client feels you ‘get’ them – and are like them. Don’t believe me? Put a person who is fast thinking, clipped and pacey in a room with a very thoughtful and slowly speaking person and watch them drive each other nuts!
Voice matching accounts for 38% impact in terms of successful rapport and effective communication. This is big.. and goes up to about 46% when on the phone.
TOP TIP: practise speaking with similar voice tonality, speed and volume as your family and friends.. or even easier, when on the phone. See how well you can match the way they are speaking with you. Don’t mimic accents of course….. or you might cause offence! It’s about being similar not exactly the same. Key moments to match a voice are the initial hello and first sentence you say. This gets you onto a good footing with excellent rapport.
3. IF I HOLD MYSELF AND MOVE THE SAME WAY AS YOU WE MUST BE SIMILAR
Matching the body language of your clients is fun and totally relevant in our line of work. In my view this is a vital teaching style anyway. Sometimes people struggle to develop their consciousness of where their body is in space and how they are holding themselves. That spatial awareness comes with time (or never in the odd case!) and may occasionally need hands on placement. But for the most part you can ‘mirror’ what someone is doing with their shoulders, pelvis, feet…. and by slightly exaggerating it they can use you as their physical ‘mirror’. When they see themselves echoed back they often perceive the difference between where they thought they were and where they need to be and can make change in their own placement to ‘feel’ the difference. Whilst you are sort of mimicking their poor posture – if you laugh and say you are deliberately exaggerating what you see in them you can gain their permission. For example, you might say ‘Deliberately shrug your shoulders up round your ears’ (do it with them to build rapport and gain permission)..and then say ‘feel how hunched that is… that’s what you DON’T want.’ Then correct your own posture and say ‘Now draw them right down your back and slide your shoulder blades down into your back pockets’ (do it with them)… ‘keeping your heart open and your chest lifted… notice how that feels now’ (do it with them).
I’ve found over the many years that this really helps those with poor spatial awareness.
When not in teaching mode…. matching of body language is subtle. It’s moving your arms as they do. It’s head nodding or tilting as they do. It’s hanging on one hip in standing as they do (not just holding your perfect Pilates / Yoga posture and mismatching them). Matching body language has 58% impact in terms of successful communication and rapport.
TOP TIP: practice matching the body language of someone who isn’t even aware… shop assistants, someone on the bus / train. You’ll find they look at you and smile / connect.. because you are demonstrating signs of being like them. It’s amazing and can have a really positive impact on others. Then you can move on to matching the body language of your students.
CAN I DO IT?
Why not transfer this life kill to her areas of your life? In corporate career you can build a fabulous relationship with clients, your boss and your team – by matching an mirroring their language, nice and actions. At home you can gain rapport with your kids by altering your vice to match theirs… or matching their body language, even when they don’t want to engage with you!
Is it hard? No, not hard. But you’ve got to WANT to do it. You’ve got to be willing to be in rapport with the world! If you don’t get on with someone or like them instinctively it can feel a bit odd at first.
What’s even weirder.. is that as you deliberately get into rapport with someone you’re not keen on you end up breaking down barriers and quite liking them. Cool eh?!
THE BOTTOM LINE
The EXCITING news?
- We all like people who are like us
- We buy things (good, services, ideas) from people we like
- Your customers will come AND stay if they think/ feel you are like them
Will this enhance your business? You bet!
My business is called ‘More than Pilates’ for a reason… I know that I do far more than teach movement! For 18 years I’ve had pretty much a consistent customer base and a word of mouth reputation that doesn’t need promoting. I don’t think my teaching is any better than anyone else… but I do think I have worked on my communication sills. And rapport is the glue that holds thermal together.
I truly hope this helps you prosper in your work and home life.
Lindsey has been teaching fitness for 28 years, Pilates for 18 and is qualified in yoga and sports massage. She is the producer of 4 Pilates DVD’s. ‘Pilates in Pregnancy’ was the world’s first Pilates DVD for pregnant women and is physio approved. Subsequently she produced ‘Pilates for Mums’, ‘Pilates Essentials’ and ‘Pilates for Men’. She is a Master Practitioner in NLP and a business coach in her growing health and wellness company, where she supports other like minded individuals to create a residual income alongside their current jobs. She is married, has 2 boys and a cute labradoodle. Connect with Lindsey through her Facebook Page or her Business Page.
Lindsey coaches people who want to improve their business and their income. To book a free 20 minute consultation to explore how you can develop a significant income alongside your current teaching and to get the most from your business contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.