Retaining Your Clients in the Off-Season

BY Mike Ricci

The challenge of any small business owner is to keep revenue coming into the business in the slowest parts of the year and for an endurance coach, this time of the year is rapidly approaching: the off-season.

The challenge of any small business owner is to keep revenue coming into the business in the slowest parts of the year and for an endurance coach, this time of the year is rapidly approaching: the off-season. You should already be brainstorming ideas about how to help your athletes stay fit during the downtime, but also how to help your business maintain enough revenue to keep going strong.

About this time of the year I’ll send out an email to those athletes who are close to finishing up their season, and give them some ideas on why and how they should be training in the winter. First and foremost, as athletes peak late in the season and they experience their best fitness levels of the year, downtime is certainly recommended and encouraged, but one shouldn’t let all that fitness just fade away. Taking three months off from training and then starting over from scratch makes your job as a coach tough and has the athlete working all season to get back to where they were, with very little chance of improving on the season before. Impress upon your athletes all the hard work they’ve put in and that if they take too much time off, all that hard work will be gone. It may take more than one phone call, one conversation or one email for them to hear this message, but it’s an important one.

Here are a few ideas that you can use to maintain your athlete base in the off-season.

1. Have your athletes list their goals for next season.

With goal setting comes objectives and planning. Any goal is great, but without a plan, it’s just a “wish”. Encourage your athletes to commit to the plan and let them know that taking too much time off will most likely prohibit them from reaching that goal. Consistency is always the most common factor with athletes who reach their goals.

2. Show an example.

Show them an example of an athlete you coach who is successful and who trains consistently throughout the year. Giving them a real-world case study is probably the easiest way to convince them that they need guidance all 12 months of the year, not just when they’re racing.

3. Offer a free month of coaching!

Yes, create a pre-built off season plan that’s not related to swim, bike or run (ok, maybe a little) and drop that into their TrainingPeaks account. If your athletes are used to a schedule, most likely they’ll follow it and instead of taking a month off, really what they are doing is re-charging and getting motivated to get back to swim, bike, and/or run.

4. Offer an off-season plan.

Offer your athletes an off-season plan at a lower than normal cost and throw in a free swim lesson or run critique. If you have access to bike fitting you could offer that up as well. Be creative!

5. Work on strength, flexibility and mobility exercises.

As part of your athletes’ objectives for next season, have them work on strength, flexibility and mobility exercises. This will give them something fresh to work on and provide new motivation and challenge.

6. Set a Deadline

Offer your athletes a deadline to get back on board. If their last race is at the end of September, let them know you’ll hold a spot for them until November 1st and after that you’ll put them on a “wait list”. If your athlete is happy with you as his/her coach then they won’t want to be on a “wait list”.

7. Inspire

Show your athletes a sneak peek into next year’s workouts – what new workouts they’ll be using or what the annual plan looks like. Building out an Annual Training Plan using TrainingPeaks creates excitement and motivation to get back on the training plan.

8. Create pricing options.

Lastly, you could come up with a creative option for annual pricing for your athletes. For example if your athlete pre-pays for one year of coaching then you’ll give them a free month of coaching or maybe a discount for the overall year.

These are just a few ideas that have worked for coaches over the years and I’m sure there are many more options. Talk to other coaches you know and trust, discuss ideas and find out how they retain athletes in the off-season. With some creativity you’ll be able to maintain your revenue through the off-season and keep your athletes going strong for the upcoming season. Best of luck to you and your business this off-season!

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About Mike Ricci

Mike Ricci, USAT Coach of the Year, USAT Level 3 Elite Coach and a Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach.  He is the owner and founder of the D3 Multisport coaching group, through which he coaches all levels of athletes from beginner to elite. One of their key coaching philosophies is no junk miles.  They help athletes utilize their time effectively as they pursue their goals.  Mike’s credentials include the University of Colorado Triathlon Team and guiding them as the Head Coach to four consecutive collegiate National Championship titles from 2010-2013. Mike has written training plans for Team USA several times, was the USAT World Team Coach in 2017, and has helped many athletes to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona. You + D3 = Success (Learn More!).

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