Episode 254

How to Conduct a Client Exit Interview with Mark Fisher

In this episode, Mark Fisher joins me to talk about how to conduct an exit interview for clients who want to terminate their memberships. We talk about why you want to have it, how to conduct it, and some pro tips.

[00:00:00] Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of The Business Unicorns podcast. Today I’m here with the man himself, Mark Fisher. Hello, sir. Hello. Good to talk to you, my friend. Before we dive into today’s episode, let’s give a quick shout out to our emails. We send out some amazing emails from business unicorns every single week that are full of fantastic content, and I wanna make sure our listeners can get in on it.

And so listeners, if you are not on our email list, What are you waiting for? Go click the link in our bio, join our email list. Mark, what are the, some of the contents little tidbits that they can expect week from week? I think the relatively newest addition to our emails are a Saturday digest. So I think at the very base what pro tip for you is if you don’t have a lot of time to read emails during the week because you’re so busy getting things done for your training gym you can wait till Saturday with a nice, warm, strong cup of coffee and you can.

Then check in on a digest and that’ll get you up to speed with the email content that had come [00:01:00] out that week, which we host is a blog on the website. You can see what podcast came out that week, what YouTube channels, YouTube videos were posted, and that will also allow you to, at a glance, dive into the content that you feel drawn to, so that way you are not too worried about paying attention as the week goes along, though certainly that’s the.

It tends to be the way I consume emails. But follow your heart. We now have a new option for you if you wanna do this in a way that’s a little bit more time efficient. For sure. So even if you just wanna join in for our Saturday recaps and digests, just go do that. Click the link in the bio, join our email newsletter, and you’ll be the first to know when podcasts, YouTube videos, et cetera are released.

Hope to see you there. Today’s topic was actually recommended and suggested by a listener. And the topic they wanted us to talk about was really how to conduct an exit interview. For clients, this is ideally something that all of you have in place, some way to connect with a client who is on their way out.

Maybe let’s start here. Fisher wouldn’t just talk a little bit about why we like this kind of [00:02:00] process when someone wants to terminate. Yeah. At the very least it adds in a little bit of friction actually, which is valuable ’cause it just makes it, they have to go through a process of, in a perfect world, having a conversation with a coach about, What else it is they’re doing and to make sure that we are doing our part to not allow them to Welch on what they had said, where they’re very important goals that they sign up in the first place.

Additionally, of an opportunity to, in some cases in this conversation, you can often save the termination, right? So in some situations they might not know about other options such as freezes or downgrades or packs, or any other number of options. That’s. You could offer them for them to stick around, they might just not know about.

And then of course, finally it is an opportunity to get feedback. Right now, this depends on the way the conversation goes. Interestingly enough perhaps very provocatively, there’s a conversation going on right now where, we’re looking, we’re considering, is there a world in which we could allow somebody [00:03:00] to.

Terminate. If there’s if there’s really nothing that they have to tell us and for something like they’re moving, we allow them to do so without having to get on the phone with us. It’d be interesting hear, maybe real time we can jump in on this. ’cause I have a feeling you’ll be like, no, don’t do it.

Mark Fisher Fitness, you’re my baby. Why would you consider this? I think there is a tension to be said for, not adding friction to the point that people perceive you as you’re an evil business. And I now have to call this phone number to. Cancel this, like I did this, like this is a random story to relates to this.

There was something for, I think one application I was doing for something it pretend when I was looking at financing options for the franchise I invested in and they made me sign up for this free thing. It was like some sort of free, I. Identity theft checking kind of thing. I was like, okay, whatever.

It’s online thing. Yep. So I signed up for it. I quit afterwards. Ah, you can’t quit. You have to call us on this phone number and have a conversation to quit. And I’m like, what? Now admittedly, this is a little bit different because this is I think it’s particularly bad form if you were an online thing that I can like one click opt into and now I have to [00:04:00] get on the phone in 2023 to opt out of it.

But I, I would make the point, I think if I can make the argument for requiring an exit interview is, You, I hope your relationship is different. I hope your relationship is more substantive. And the people are willing to get on the phone with you because you really do have those three benefits I just mentioned and I haven’t figured out, unfortunately, a good way to really make sure that those all get checked off if people are just clicking a button to terminate.

So I think there’s a little bit of a yeah, conversation to be had there between making it client convenient, but also not missing out an opportunity to continue to help people that truly. Might stick around if you’re able to give them an offer they might not know exists. Yeah, I think these are all really great points.

And here’s the thing is that, at the end of the day, even if someone comes to you saying, I’m moving, I have to terminate. Ideally this conversation, as Mark said, is a chance for us to have closure. I. So some closure in our relationship. Having you leave with a really good taste in your mouth, that we care about you and we’re gonna miss you, and we’ve enjoyed our time together.

You’re out in the world saying good things about us. You’re giving us any [00:05:00] feedback, maybe even a testimonial of your great time. So even if there’s not much to be done in the conversation to change their mind, I. There’s still so much great value that can be squeeze out of an exit interview. So let’s do this.

Maybe I’ll give a format for how we think about organizing an exit interview, and then maybe you can dive in to each section a little deeper. So that kind of in the playbook that we have for this at Business Unicorns, there’s only kind of four parts of the conversation. Mark hints it at these already, but I’ll just give them to you in order.

So the first part of an exit interview is the stuff you do beforehand. So as the person who is conducting the interview, it’s your job to get into a service mindset, a coaching mindset, review information about this clients, make sure you know who they are, what they’ve been doing with you, all of that.

So some preparation needed before the conversation, and then the conversation happens in three parts. I think Mark illuminated at least two of these already. The first part is setting clear expectations. Which is something like, Hey Fisher, hey, mark, I’m so glad you got on the phone with me.

Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna have about 10, 15 minutes on this call together, max. The first thing I’m gonna do is offer you, ask you some questions about your [00:06:00] experience, what you’ve been up to, and why you’re leaving. Then I’m gonna ask you some feedback about your experience here and wrap things up with some next steps.

How’s that sound? I’m gonna set expectations right in the beginning of the conversation to let people know what we’re doing. Part one. Part two is asking ’em all those questions, peeling the onion, offering solutions for ’em to stay if you can. And we can dive more into that. And then part three is where we ask them for some feedback about their experience and wrap up.

And the wrap up is, is a fair farewell if they’re a fa farewell if they’re leaving. Or the wrap up could be next steps in downgrading their membership, pausing their membership. Those kind of things if you saved, if you quote saved the client. But those are the ways we think about it.

So first part is preparing before the call. Part one is setting the agenda. Part two is offering some solutions and asking questions. And part three is getting feedback and wrapping up. Let’s just go back to those. You probably don’t need to cover the first two, but let’s talk about that meaty part where we’re asking questions and offering solutions.

What are some kind of common questions or talking points you would have here Fisher? [00:07:00] Yeah, I mean I think broadly you’re looking to understand, at the simplest, I think formulation, you’re understanding why it is the person is terminating. Because in some situations you might have an option, right?

So as an example, if the reason I’m terminating is I just don’t have enough time to use this potentially a downgrade or if have a pack or some other option with a lower frequency than their current agreement. Might be a better fit, right? Same thing if I have had a change in my financial circumstances or for some reason I can no longer afford this price point.

Okay if you still want to be around here, there is an opportunity potentially to offer something that is smaller or in some situations if this is a temporary situation, perhaps it would be better to freeze than to terminate the membership and have to start all over again later. Let’s keep you in our arms.

Let’s keep you in our world. And I would note that all this goes best and is predicated on when the individual truly wants to stay, right? Because I think that’s another piece of this too. I think if the person is pretty committed to going at this point you do run the risk of [00:08:00] potentially a. Turning into an annoying kind of salesperson, like a desperate ex-boyfriend here be like no, but what if I do this?

What if I do this right? However, sometimes legitimately you can tell the person is sad, like they’re genuinely bummed about this. Yeah. They don’t want to be leaving. And if you don’t have this opportunity, you not only are you missing out on the revenue, but you’re missing on the opportunity to keep this person that clearly doesn’t want to go from leaving.

So I think those are just a couple of the examples. I think that’s exactly, I think, really at this section of this conversation, you’re trying to find out what is the one thing that’s keeping you from being here. And sometimes I think a good question to ask is there anything I can do to keep you?

Is there anything we can do to keep you coming? What can we offer? And I think all the things Mark mentioned a downgrade, even a discount, right? A, a pause of a membership. Like really, whatever you ag agree to have on the table is fair gain here to keep them. And if they want to stay, I.

They might take you up on some of that. If they really are committed to leaving for whatever reason, then you know, you might not save them. But that brings us to the kind of the [00:09:00] last part of the conversation where we hopefully get some feedback and wrap up the chat. What, how do you do this Fisher?

How do we do this at M F? Yeah, it’s funny I was mentioning to we, this is actually top of mind at a time of question ’cause we literally just did our. Review of this recent, I’m not, I don’t know off the top of my head what M’s. Exact question is. I suspect it’s something around, if there’s one thing, if you had a magic wand that you could change about Mark Fisher Fitness, what might that be?

That’s a great question. I dunno if that’s what we’re asking, but that would be a very good one. Something like that. Something I would encourage you to model, because I think as always, you’re dealing with the same dynamics when you’re asking for feedback for your team. It doesn’t go so well. If you’re like, oh, is your leader, please give me feedback.

Where am I? What are my weaknesses? No one wants to tell you that. No, but if you frame it as. I would love, I’m so excited for ideas and suggestions and ways I can get even better at this thing, so I think framing the question in such a way that people feel safe to be candid is important.

Now, are they always gonna be candid? No. No, they’re not going to because it’s hard to, particularly if there is difficult feedback to give, and [00:10:00] also some people, me among them, the other thing you’re gonna battle against is a lot of people don’t care. I don’t care. I’m never gonna give you feedback. Yeah I’d have to love you so much to even think about giving you feedback.

That’s hard. I’m deeply lazy, just constitutionally lazy person. I’m not gonna spend the time to think about giving you feedback. I’m busy. I have other things to do. Unless I really love your business. But even for someone like me, It’s gonna be easier for me to do that if it’s framed in that way.

And again, I’m not shy about giving direct feedback. I think it’s less a it’s less about a version of conflict and more about, I just don’t care that much. I’m a little lazy. So you’re gonna have to fight a little of, a bit of an uphill battle with that and realize that anytime anyone is giving you feedback, it is a gift.

And of course, you’re also gonna have the part of, I think why people dread these is of course, there’s also. One out of 30, you’re gonna have the person that’s just been waiting to tell you what’s going on. This is maybe less common in other places. M F is infamously notoriously and wonderfully place where people often have a lot of emotion, and in fact, [00:11:00] one thing we’re toying with here too is if we try to move to something where, if we play with there being an option of somebody not doing this call, right?

Because sometimes we’ve discovered that we don’t feel great about is when the person has, they’re like me, they have nothing to say. I’m so busy. I love you guys. I’m now annoyed because we did this is now a net negative because you made me do this thing, and then why did we just spend five minutes on this?

I couldn’t just, I couldn’t just click buttons on the email. But on the other hand, what we have to allow space for, and again, this might be more like that specific thing is as Keeler said, Some people need closure, even if they don’t have negative things to say. There’s something to be said for about this relationship has been very important to me and the thought of me just like disappearing into the ether is like not great.

We’ve also recently put into place some systems to create more clarity and this is, M F is a machine, admittedly, but I think you can steal this piece somehow. We put it in place is. Some systems to clarify if and when the people doing these calls escalate it, right? So if someone has been [00:12:00] around here for X amount of time, that in automatically means we wanna escalate it, right?

Because if someone’s leaving after five years, 10 years, it feels a little bit weird if they just disappear in tonight and there’s no acknowledgement that they are leaving. So that is another thing that we have rolled out recently that I think is going to be important because I do think it was a little bit of a missed opportunity to, now whether this rec necessitates an actual conversation or not, you can decide for your business, but at the very least there is something to be said for making sure your best long-term clients don’t disappear.

Because ultimately you’re looking to keep the relationship alive. Your worst case scenario is you have some closure on what was hopefully. Possibly a really important time of their life and important relationship, even if they never come back. And of course, again, you’re looking to make this a really great ending where they feel good about it, right?

It’s the only reason why for the first time in our history we’re considering, maybe we don’t mandate in-person conversation was like, oh, in conversations with Craig on our team who does these calls I’m pretty sure for some people [00:13:00] it’s leading to a negative taste in their mouth when they leave.

And listen, there’s something to be said for being like Okay. We will deal with that, the squeeze of this particular juice because the benefits of having a call, quite frankly, we haven’t figured out exactly how we’re gonna replicate with a form. So this is a realtime conversation. We’ll be sure to update you as you, as we learn more listener.

But yeah. Yeah, I’ll say Alex was very much the advocate for exactly what you said, killer. He’s yeah, but no, because a lot of people need closure. But I don’t know, I’d be curious to hear from listeners if this is true, if that’s like an M F thing where people have such relationships that. It feels utterly strange to end in such an unceremonious way where you’re just like, you’re gone now.

It feels unm, F to me. Yeah. I think, even those people who are in a rush, like you can go through this pretty fast. This doesn’t need to be more than five or 10 minutes. I don’t think this needs to be a burdensome step for people who are just truly moving out of town and have no feedback.

I think we probably could make it a smoother, easier process to get through, but I think going back to the original, Point here is that in this part of the conversation, you’re gonna ask for some feedback. And I [00:14:00] think to your point, Fisher, I think the point is to make it seem like we genuinely want it.

Hey, we really ask for feedback from people like yourself because we’ve loved working with you. We wanna make sure if there’s anything we could be doing different to keep you here longer, we could be doing it. And on a scale of one to 10, how likely are you to refer us to a friend?

Or if there’s one thing you would change to the gym. That really would’ve been meaningful to your experience? What would that have been? Or, any of those kind of questions I think are so valuable. And if they’re leaving on good terms and they give you really positive things, then that’s a perfect time to ask for a Google review.

Hey, I know you’re leaving and moving and this place was so important to you for the last 10 years. Yes. Do you mind before you head out of town? Clicking this link, I’m sending it to you right now and just leave us a review to tell your story because I wanna make sure it’s captured for other people in New York just like you.

Yes. It’s a great moment to do that. And I, I wanna just underscore that at its best, this conversation sets the stage for someone to return later. I. Yeah. At it’s best, even if we lose them and don’t change their mind in this conversation, that’s fine. We probably won’t change most people’s minds right At this [00:15:00] point.

At the very least, they leave feeling like seen and heard and cared about. And coming back here is a possibility. Like the doors always open. Our arms are always open. You’re not leaving here with shame. You’re not ninja out of here without a goodbye. And if you’ve been here for a long time, we’re gonna try and celebrate you on the way out.

You wanna celebrate the fact that you spent so long here. So I think, there’s so many reasons I think to have this, there might be a few to offer us alternative solution, but I think for most of our listeners, this should be the policy. This is the process that I think, creates the best ending for people who are choosing to leave.

Yeah, it’s very provocative, honestly, that we’re even discussing this all at M F ’cause I was so hard No. When it came up. And then yeah, I’ll offer three other micro pro tips within here. Two, which represent a new 1% better for us, and one which is something we’ve done. The one which we’ve been doing.

On this topic of feedback that we also do is we build in the automated funnel that once they fill this out, they get an email that we tell them about in advance. Hey, and if you want share things anonymously, you’re gonna get an email in [00:16:00] whatever it’s like a couple days or a week. I can’t remember what the time span is.

And again, this is all automated through the form that they’re filling out for their termination. That allows them to give anonymous feedback because yep, some people are gonna prefer to give that feedback if it is anonymous. Now, again, listen, full disclosure. Like the percentage uptake here is very low.

I think we get maybe. Maybe 3% conversion outta people to terminate that they’ll fill out the written feedback after it. But I don’t know, it’s still like 3%, right? It’s still like some more feedback to have than we otherwise would’ve had. And it doesn’t really have any operational drag on us, right?

Because just one more email that is automated. So that is another thing you could consider. Two other micro approach tips that we’ve added to Uplevel our existing system are, we have been pretty successfully asking for Google reviews when people are. Leaving. And it’s interesting again, because we have a pretty emotionally intelligent team, and the reality is if you ask ’em if they’ll leave a Google review, they’re always gonna say yes.

But there’s a difference between Sure. Or oh yeah. The problem is even when someone is oh yeah, oh my gosh, I absolutely, [00:17:00] they’re not gonna do it a lot of times. But if, they really committed to do it and the actual s o p is send it regardless, right? If the person you can tell, didn’t.

They’re not having a bad experience. You can just tell like they’re like, I’m not gonna do this. I’m not gonna take the time. Rather than just a single email follow-up, we’ve now built in 48 hours later, we’re gonna follow up again with a very gentle Hey, I noticed you didn’t get a chance to do it yet.

Thank you again for consideration. I know you said you’d be willing to do it, so I wanna make it easy for you. I’m sending it again. So we again, modest. Change here again, is this gonna change the business overnight? No, but it’s not a ton of work on our part, and I do think it’s gonna result in some more Google reviews, which again, all of the stuff compounds, right?

All these little 1% betters compound over the months and the years. The second thing, that is a new thing that we weren’t doing, which is a real missed opportunity, but it’s great that we’ll be doing it now, is when the individual says, specifically when they’re coming back, We make a note and that goes over to our growth squad, right?

So someone has to have a calendar invite. They say, yeah, I’m coming. I plan to come back in the [00:18:00] fall. The move is not to be like, okay, cool, I can’t wait. Hope I see you then no, the move is, that goes in someone’s calendar as an invite to follow up with them at that time and say I remember you said you’d be coming back on the fall.

Maybe there’s an offer, maybe there’s not. Maybe if you’re just reaching out and being like, we’d love to get you set up. Let me know when it’s a good time to chat, or if you have an idea of what type of membership you wanna do. That is a much more proactive way of approaching regaining these former clients.

Yeah, I think great pro tips. I think we, we said it all, I think for our listeners who came into this being like, why do I need an exit interview? Hopefully we’ve covered why you should have one, what it might look like and some extra pro tips I think make even more effective. Let’s leave it there my friend.

We can keep talking. So I think there’s probably a lot to say about this topic, but I think that we’ve covered all the basics. Anything else you wanna add? No, I think we, we did it, did this thoroughly. I hope there’s some good action steps here. Go and take this. Yeah. Get them back in. Yeah. If you have one.

The moment they’re leaving is the moment they’re coming back. Yeah, exactly. If you have one, if you have an [00:19:00] exit reviewer already, maybe you have some tips from today that’ll help you make it even a little better. If you don’t have one yet, now’s your chance to start with a shitty first draft and start weaving into your process because it really, I think, be a fantastic tool for, Saving some terminations or creating the conditions for which they’re more likely to return.

Yeah. Awesome. Thanks for the great chat Fisher listeners, if you love this, please leave us a review. Please leave us a review. Now we’re asking for your review anywhere you listen to this podcast. Leave us five stars, tell us, tell everyone why you love this podcast. We really appreciate it.

Helps us find other amazing Jim editors like you to be our listeners. And and then go enjoy your day. Have a kick ass day, Fisher. I’ll see you on the next one. Farewell. Bye.