Marketing – Are the client’s ready to change?

During this week’s branch management meeting, we continued to explore the work of Steve and Stephanie Barlow’s readiness to change model.  In particular two important aspects of client’s ready to change, importance of trust and balance in the lives of our clients

Trust – Are the clients open and will to accept help from others

A majority of our clients are long term clients (have been with us for more than 12 months). In particular, in our field of rehabilitation, to see real change, most programs will take at least 3 months (for normal muscle adaptation and growth). Unfortunately, although we can have a few short term wins (reduce some immediate pain), to get an actual benefit for the client, they have to be willing to trust us and go on the journey for at least 3 months to see the outcome of their work.

When the client has only met you for an initial assessment, how do you build such trust that they are willing to put their faith in your expertise for at least the next 3 months, if not longer, when there are so many conflicting messages from social media and other channels?

Although I don’t have all the answers, my approach has been to build layers of expertise and trust along the journey so that by the time they start, we have built enough credibility to allow them to be vulnerable and accept our help.

It starts with the website and our blog articles. I aim to make it as transparent as possible. Give the client a great idea of what to expect and realistically, what journey they will go through. Quite recently, the team and I did a major revision of our website. Not because it wasn’t “pretty enough”, but because it really didn’t reflect the client’s journey well enough.

Since the change, it is amazing how much more informed the clients are when they attend their initial appointment. In addition, the clients who do approach us are a better “fit” to our ideal client and who we can really help.

This is one of a number of steps that helps build trust and credibility, including:

• Informed and trained reception staff who can answer the client’s questions simply and clearly.
• A clear written outline of the treatment plan and expected approach by the clinician after the client’s initial assessment
• Follow-up e-mails to the client explaining the next step and what to expect from each stage

What can you do in your business to help establish trust and credibility with the client to accept your help?

When we can’t build trust – client’s ready to change takes a backseat

It is very clear when we don’t build that trust, the client is not willing to be vulnerable and accept help, the outcome is a disaster.

Recently, I had a client who I just couldn’t create that trust relationship with early enough. Her expectations from the initial consultation were quite unrealistic and despite pointing out what could and couldn’t be achieved in the desired time frame, the client and I were just not on the same page.

Although I performed follow-up phone calls, spoke to her other health professional providers, the vulnerability-based trust was not established.

As a result, her attendance was erratic and inconsistent. Although we got some improvement in 2 months, she began her other sporting activities far earlier than when she was physically ready and pain returned quite quickly.

She attended a couple more sessions with me, but we both knew we weren’t getting anywhere and walked away frustrated.

The failure to create trust led to a closed view, where the client would not allow herself to be vulnerable and accept professional advice, resulting in a bad outcome, no glowing stories of “how great the service was” and a bad feeling all-round.

Since, then we have, as a team, worked to find ways to identify when vulnerability based trust hasn’t been established and flag it early with client for
• A better outcome OR
• Both parties to walk away earlier rather than later because the professional relationship is just not working

Do you have ways to determine when trust is not established and have early intervention mechanisms in place to know when it is time to walk away?

Balance – Are they just doing too much?

One of the biggest issues we see with clients is that they just do too much. There is too little time between exercise sessions to recover, adapt and receive the full benefit of the program.

A major problem with the lack of recovery time is that their workouts are not at the right intensity/load to actually make change, so again, they end up going around in circles and not making the change they desire.

More is not always better, sometimes, it’s just more.

Helping the clients find the balance between load, rest and recover is a fine, but very important balancing act to achieve the client outcomes.

This is sometimes easier said than done, because battling a general worldview that more is better and sweating and “working hard” means results is difficult. In particular, when exercise is closely tied in with the client’s mental health. I have often encountered when clients use exercise as a coping strategy for anxiety, rather than dealing with the source of anxiety. As a result, there is fear and real reluctance in letting go of an unrealistic and unhealthy exercise routine compared to a balanced, results focused program.

Is there a healthy balance in your client’s exercise balance that you can work towards, even if it takes time to get there?

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