Episode 302

You’re Not Getting Enough Client Reviews with Ben Pickard

In this episode, Ben Pickard joins me to talk about how you’re not getting enough client reviews.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, I’m back with fellow BFU coach Ben, and we’re talking about how to get more consistent client Google reviews. Google reviews are so critical to your ability to show up on search. And mostly, I always talk to gyms all the time who are just not good at consistently getting those Google reviews.

And so we talk about why it matters. And if you stick around to the end of the episode, I’ll teach you how to get access to our Google reviews script. To be able to ask more effectively and efficiently for those Google reviews. So stick around to the end. We’ll give you that fun tool. But if you want to level up your ability to get client reviews, keep on listening, my friend, it’s a great episode for you.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Keeler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert [00:01:00] insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to unlock your potential.

And become a real unicorn in the fitness industry. Let’s begin.

Hello, fitness, business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the business unicorns podcast. And today I’m back again with Ben. What’s up, my friend? How are you? Hello. I’m great. Thank you for going so far. Honestly, it’s going amazing. Just before this call, you were talking about how business is good and you’re feeling good.

So congrats and any. Tips to the new year for our listeners. Yeah. It’s been three years figuring out what you needed to manage or hire a head hunter to find the right person and then train the shit out of that person and support them to the end of your days. Simple. We’ll circle back into their podcast and tease that out a little bit more, but I’m glad that you’re, you’re the leadership at your gym is going well.

So Bravo, before we get into today’s episode, I just want to give a quick little reminder to you all out there. So all of you, gym [00:02:00] owners, we’re currently running a gym. You can work with us. If you want more of the tips and tricks and strategies that you get on this podcast on a regular basis, come see if you’re the right fit for our Unicorn Society.

We, you can go to our website, pacificunicorns. com, click on Unicorn Society, and all that does is trigger a conversation with Ben. And it’s a low stakes, not high pressure conversation to see if we’re a good fit for you. You’re a good fit for us. And if we are, we’ll keep talking and we’ll see if we can actually work together.

But our Unicorn Society members are having such great wins these days. And a lot of it comes from strategies and conversations like the ones we have on this podcast and go book that conversation with Ben and see if we can work together. Cause we’d love to help you grow your gym. Anything you would add to that, Ben.

Yeah, the call legitimately is a no pressure call if for the right fit, I’ll tell you why I think so and what’s included and how we could work together. And if we’re not the good fit for right now or forever, I’ll tell you that make sure that you still walk away with a few next steps like it’s. One of the highlights my [00:03:00] days is doing these calls and I would love to talk to more people who are interested in making an impact in their community.

I love that. Come talk to us. Ben’s not scary. And, and you’ll always walk into the conversation with some value. So hope to hear from you soon. Let’s dive into today’s topic, which is our client reviews playbook. So as you’ll know, we’ve playbook for unicorns, any members, and one of the things that we, one of the playbooks in there is one for how to get.

Client reviews, and I’ll just start by saying why I think this matters so much and why I think all of you should really care about getting regular, consistent, specifically Google reviews is because your search, the search algorithm on Google cares a lot about it. So, The engagement of your Google profile, right?

If your Google profile is consistently getting more views, more reviews, if your Google profile has regular pictures, attitude, if your Google profile has your business address and a website, everything up to date, right? If your Google profile is active and actively managed. Google cares about that and you will perform [00:04:00] better in search because of it.

And reviews weigh really heavily in how well you shop in Google search. So getting regular high quality, hopefully five star reviews is really critical. But what else would you add to this Ben? Why else is client reviews really important? Aside from everything you mentioned with it going deeper into the SEO stuff, I find it to be a really valuable way.

to remind yourself and your team, how good a job you’re doing, especially when you might be having some clients who might be pushing some of your buttons and it can be really frustrating. And I know what it feels like when you’ve got, let’s just say for easy math, say a hundred clients at one person is unhappy because they’re speaking the loudest.

We’re like, Oh my God, we’re failing our community. Like we need to overhaul this business. We are the worst. And when you’re getting a consistent ish flow of positive reviews, it’s a really good reminder of the impact you’re making in people’s lives. And. Like I just find it incredibly motivating, particularly if you’re in sales.

Yeah. [00:05:00] 100%. I’ll add two more that regular reviews are a primary way that people decide whether or not to even reach out to you. So when you’re trying to generate more leads, I don’t work with hardly any business these days where I don’t go and check the reviews first or buy any product or I’m not checking the reviews first.

So you gotta have really good reviews. It’s really critical. Uh, and the, the other thing I’ll say is that. Asking people to give you a positive review in the first few weeks of them engaging with you helps also reinforce for them their purchase decision, right? So we all know that people often regret spending big amounts of money like the amount they spend on gyms, and you can combat that kind of buyer’s remorse by Getting them to connect with and tell a story about their wins over the first few weeks.

So a well timed client review ask can also be beneficial to the client to help them feel good about their purchase. Yeah, and often it’s comment we hear that, oh, we need to get them to their goals. [00:06:00] So then they’ll write us the review and it’s like it’s too soon to ask if it’s two weeks in. I don’t know, maybe.

But also maybe not, and it was going to, it’s exactly as you said, it’s going to be a tool to help them reminding there, the engaging in the process. And as long as they stay with you, they’re going to get to their goals. So the more things that stay with them, the more likely they succeed to succeed. And I’m happy, especially for a place like MFF, I’m happy to have a million reviews that just say, I just finished my first two weeks.

I feel welcomed. I feel like I’m making new friends. I’m trying new things. I’ve shown up more in the last two weeks than I have in the last. Three months, right? Like I’m happy for the review to be about, I’m off to a great start because so often that’s what people who are reading these reviews care about, especially for MFF.

So he might have a different avatar, but for us, well, the biggest barrier for our clients is just walking in the door, just showing up. So refuse to not need to be about, I’ve been here for five years and I’ve lost 50 pounds or I’ve been here for three years and I can deadlift three times my body weight.

I. Those are nice and those will [00:07:00] come as well, but it’s also okay to have reviews that are about just finished my first week. That’s also valuable to some readers. Let’s dive in. I know we have a lot to say about reviews. We’re going to try and cram it into the next 10, 15 minutes, but we’re not going to go through all of our playbook for getting client reviews.

We’re going to go through like the five major steps and then I’ll ask you just to walk through them. But step number one in our kind of playbook for getting client reviews is to brainstorm all the times and places that you team. Can ask for reviews. So walk us through this, Ben. Yeah, if you’re going to be consistent with reviews, you need to know when you’re going to ask for them.

And it’s not just randomly when a client feels good about it, which you’ll still get some, but not enough to move the needle probably. So we’ve got some suggestions to this and it’s not meant to be an exhaustive list by any stretch, but at point of sale, particularly at conversion from a low barrier offer or trial to a membership.

It’s very likely if they’re going to continue and spend more money with you, they’re very happy, ask them to write you a review. [00:08:00] If you do any member feedback surveys, and it’s like rate our gym on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. Anyone who says a 10 or a perfect score, or even a nine out of 10 is worthwhile.

Hey, but you said it was so awesome. Would you be okay writing that in a review? Obviously with a well structured client feedback survey, you could take some of that information but as a testimony on your website, but you can’t write the Google review for them. Of course, during member nurture emails, full transparency.

I’m not sure. Remember onboarding emails are quite as powerful as they used to be like seven or eight years ago, but considering it’s all done with automation, it costs you nothing. We get a reviewer to a month out of that. And if nothing else, it’s set it and forget it. Yeah. I mean, what a month for like literally no effort is so worth it.

Yeah, exactly. Um, definitely when a member hits a major milestone or they hit their goal, um, it’s worthwhile being like, Hey, We’re going to talk, actually, I was just going to reveal the script. We’ll talk about the [00:09:00] script in a minute, but you can train your team on how to celebrate that goal with a member and ask for a review that isn’t done in like a sleazy way.

If you don’t know what to put in your marketing emails, you should always have a PS with some sort of sales related thing. And if you’re segmenting your list and you’re not sure what to ask them, you’re not trying to get them to do anything specific PS. If you haven’t written us a review recently, please go do that.

That’d be amazing. Obviously you can do dedicated review email campaigns on email and social media. If you use a member Facebook group, you can post it in there on a regular basis. And this is a weird one because it doesn’t seem that obvious initially, but if you have a member who’s leaving your gym, let’s say they’re like moving to another city or something and had an amazing time with you.

Make the final ask. Hey, it would mean so much to us if you could tell others about your experience here. Now, they might have a lot of things going on if they’re moving to another city. I can think of a specific example in my gym where this happened. I followed up three or four times with a client named Stacy.

And she wrote us the best fucking review ever. Yeah. I had to be on her. [00:10:00] Every time she agreed. And it was a really powerful review. I think that’s such a important one because when people are leaving and especially they’re leaving on good terms because they got a new job or they’re moving to another city or those are people who are going to are so sad, right?

That, that they’re already are missing what they loved about your place. And often those can be really compelling reviews because they’re writing from that kind of emotional place of, damn, I’m not going to have this anymore. So I think that’s a great list then, but dear listeners, this is the first of five steps to getting good client reviews.

Just sit down with your team. And brainstorm. What is your list of all the places that you can regularly, consistently, systematically ask for reviews, both in person and by text and by email and all the, all of the above. And that list is a good starting point that brings us to step two, which is when you have that list of all the places you’re going to make the ask, you want to integrate it.

into your existing SOPs and communications. Ben already gave an example of this, which is if you have an onboarding email series, [00:11:00] your clients get cool integrated into that. Where else, how else do you think about integrating this kind of referral review ask into SOPs? Like, where else do you do this in your business, Ben?

Definitely during the termination interviews and the sales process, because Option one is I’m going to write an SOP for Previews, and it’s a second. Oh my goodness. Separate document. Thank you. That has all the places you’re going to ask, but it never gets referenced because it’s not part of your daily workflow.

So point of sale for conversion meetings in the exit interviews, in the feedback surveys, like there’s already probably some stuff you’re sending that you could add it to that for an easy one. If you write weekly or regular weekly emails on a regular basis. Put a prompt in the SOP for how you write those emails to be like, by default, if there’s nothing else, put PS, here’s the direct link to write us a Google or Facebook review.

Yeah. Like just make it as easy as possible to remember this stuff. 100%. Cause here’s the thing is there’s a lot of kind of [00:12:00] spontaneous. Reasons to ask for review, right? When someone hits a PR or someone has some other win on the training floor, or you get the idea. Those are all things you can’t really predict, right?

But your team should be trained up. And we’ll talk about that in a second about asking for those, but there are plenty of things that you do systematically. With your clients the onboarding sending them certain feedback surveys exit interviews all the ones been mentioned So when you do have a systematic thing you do repeatedly for every client always Those are the systems you want to embed this review ask in right?

And those are the things that are gonna happen Every single time for every client come hell or high water and then on top of that we’ll talk more about it They’re gonna be those things that are spontaneous That are driven by behavior driven by a situation or a moment and those are not going to be as systemized You’re gonna practice them as we’ll talk about but those are less systemized But this step two is really about integrating in all the places you can regular consistent automated reminders Or communications to ask for reviews.

It’s got to [00:13:00] be embedded in as much as it can be Awesome, so that’s step two step three. This is where we talk about all the in person So for step three, you’re creating a script For how you and your team actually make a verbal ask face to face in person, or this could be over the phone if we’re talking about it over a consultation or something.

This is the moment where you actually script out with talking points how you make the ask. So talk us briefly, we could spend the whole podcast on this Ben, but talk us through what matters here when you’re scripting this out. What matters here when you’re scripting this out? I’d say the most important thing is to make sure that you’re Your celebration of that client win isn’t undercut by the review ask.

It’s still about them. It has to be genuine. It has to be from. It has to be from the heart because it can ruin that moment and be like, great job with that thing, Michael. Can you write a review for me? Totally. You’re going to be like, is this person’s agenda my happiness or is their agenda they need another client or they’re going to [00:14:00] go out of business.

So it needs to be in a way where it’s really celebrating with them. And we’ll talk about that script in a second. I think the other part is making sure that it’s relatively easy for your team to follow. So if you’re anything like me and you have. A natural tendency to make things potentially a little bit overcomplicated.

Please fight that tendency for the benefit of your team and your business and try to keep it as simple as possible in a way that your team can also make it their own. If you make them memorize every word and they’re not good at like delivering speeches in high school, they’re probably going to have an equal delivery of this, but if you can create a framework for them, make sure they keep it genuine and then allow them to make it their own.

Like as long as they say it in the line with the alignment with the values and it’s getting to the outcome you want. The actual words don’t matter tremendously, but at the same time still give them some props. Yeah, 100%. I think the other thing that I think really matters here when you’re making a script here for how and when your team asks for client reviews, it’s important to include [00:15:00] both the when and the how.

Right? So this is when a client has a win, or a client mentions a friend, or a client gets a new job, right? There’s examples of the when it’s appropriate moment, ideal moment to ask for a review. And then the what do you say in that moment? So I think when you’re making this standard for your team, you got to include what are the triggers, when are the moments where they should be like, Oh, this is an opportunity to ask for a client review.

And then in that moment, what do I say? How do I seize the moment and the opportunity without squashing, as Ben said, our authentic celebration of them, if that’s what we’re celebrating. So I think that’s the next step here. And I know for many of you listeners, you and your teams shy away from the idea of creating scripts.

But I want to clarify here when we talk about creating scripts for your team, we’re talking about creating bullet points, talking points that serve as kind of communication standards. So we’re not trying to create robots where everyone asks for a review in the exact same way with every client we’re saying, this is generally the spirit of the ask.

This is when it [00:16:00] happens. This is our approach to having the conversation. And then as we talk about in step four, you got to practice it. It’s got to feel authentic and this is the hardest part. So let’s just dive into step four because I’m going to keep talking about it. But step four is then once you have a clear list of these are all the ways that we are, all the moments that are going to trigger a referral ask, and this is how we make the ask.

Then you got to train your team and delegate it. So everyone is responsible for learning how to have a competent, authentic, consistent referral ask. Say more about this, Ben. Yeah, the delegating is the easy part, the training them to meet the standards with. And consistent expectations is the hard part.

And I can speak from experience here that I am like the worst for, Hey, here’s the SOP. You’re good. All right. It doesn’t go quite that simple, but like everyone read it. Do you have any questions? Great. It’s now a system. I think it’s a system. They don’t think it’s a system. So as an example of how you could do this [00:17:00] right now, my GM is spending 30 minutes in the team meeting every single week with the coaches and they are role playing different scripts, testimonials, reviews.

All that type of stuff. And she’s then assigning them action steps. And then the next meeting, she’s talking about those action steps and assigning the next step. So we’re spending as a team, two hours a month, role playing stuff, which actually, as I say it out loud, doesn’t sound like that much tough, that much time, but it’s been instrumental in helping our retention’s gone up.

Everything is getting better because we’re allocating that time to do two hours is way more than zero hours. Just like it’s so much more from zero time spent on these kind of communication practices to two hours. That’s a lot. I think it’s a really great start just to, as an example, just carve out a little bit of time in every team meeting to practice having some of these conversations that are so important to the business, but maybe not natural for everyone to have.

I think asking for client reviews, just like asking for [00:18:00] testimonials or asking for a referral or asking for an upsell or asking for a renewal, like all of these are such critical conversations that often happen between trainers and clients and most trainers suck at it. Let’s try to suck at it because they just, they don’t know what the strategy is.

They haven’t been asked to practice. They haven’t been given a standard. And so I think Ben, your point here of just like use team meetings to practice. I think it’s brilliant. It’s a great place to start. I’ll go even while I’ll just add one onto that. I’ll guess and say, yeah, and one on one meetings. So team meetings where you can collectively practice, but even one on one meetings where you’re just sitting down and one on one with each of your trainers, spend five minutes, 10 minutes practicing those conversations together and give them direct feedback in the moment that all every minute you practice, I think goes a long way to improving your outcomes here.

That’s a great point. Cause even five or 10 minutes out of a team meeting for a script, that’s 15 to 20 seconds to say. You’d be able to get a half a dozen reps in no problem at all with asking a client for review [00:19:00] is not a 30 minute conversation. It’s like, it’s a 20 second ask like max, right? And so you can practice a lot in a few minutes.

Cool. So that’s step four, which is like really delegate this to your team, train them up. And then our final step here is to then like, what should we give them the script? Oh, sure. You want to, let’s do that. We have a script, an example, you mean like actually give them access to it. I just do it once a week.

Let’s talk it through once and see what that looks like in real life. I’m the client. Let’s just say that I just did, um, a great kind of, uh, PR because I’m so strong. And I just did my first, let’s just say it’s my first pull up. My first pull up. All right. Hey, Michael. Great job on that PR. I can’t believe you just hit your First pull up.

I remember six months ago when you said, this is the thing that you really wanted to do it, but it was a stretch goal. And I know you’ve got that bum shoulder from that sport. You played way back when, cause I know you’re so sports. It was baseball for I never thought I could do a pull up again after swinging all those bats.

Yeah. [00:20:00] Incredible. And that just really speaks to the consistency and effort you put in here. I just wanted to ask, there’s probably a lot of people out there who want to get stronger, but have some nagging aches and pains from previous injuries and don’t realize that they can get to their goals with an approach like ours.

Would you be comfortable writing a Google review to your share your experience and inspire some other people just like, yeah, I’m happy to share. I honestly didn’t think I was going to do what I did today. And I would love to share that. I came as I came in here as like a broken athlete and now I’m able to feel strong again.

So yeah, I’m happy to share, like, how do I do it? Why don’t I shoot you a text and an email as soon as the session is done, I’ll give you the exact link to Google. Um, and all you have to do is click on that link and pretty much just tell me the honest truth. Awesome. I’m happy to do it. Thanks, Ben. And pro tip, if you’re open to it.

Just copy and paste the same thing you wrote in Google into Facebook, because both are really important to us as a small business. Yeah, I can totally do that. I might like need a reminder, but that makes sense. Sounds great. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Awesome. Well done, Ben. Good role play. [00:21:00] See you got in some reps.

I hate role play, but I know it’s valuable. Listen, it’s just a little practice and, and, uh, just getting your trainers to do that a few times makes a big difference. Ben seemed natural to me. It seems like I didn’t feel like my celebration of my pull ups was diminished and I was happy to do it because I’m riding on the high of having some success here.

And so, yeah, thanks for doing that. Also say that we have a client review SOP that we actually are happy to give you all access to. So if you want to go over to Instagram and DM us the word review. We’ll send you a link to our client review SOP, which has a little bit of our talking points and scripts in it.

And you all can find a way to make it your own, but I think it’s a really valuable tool. So we’re happy to give it to you again, just go over to Instagram, DM us review the word review, and then we’ll send you back over the link for our client review. SOP so you can make it your own. Let’s dive in the last final step here.

So we talked about, and just go. Back, pick up the breadcrumb trails here. We’ve talked about brainstorming all the times and places you’re going to ask for reviews. We talked about step two, which was integrate all [00:22:00] of that asking into your systems and SOPs, automating as much as possible. Step three is make a script for how to make the ask in person again.

DM us on Instagram, the word review, we’ll send you example of ours. Step four is train and delegate your team. Make sure your team has practiced role play in team meetings, one on one meetings, make sure they’re good at making the ask. And then step five is really about running a review campaign. So once in a while, we think maybe once or twice a year, you want to run a review campaign to get excitement going about Google reviews and maybe provide some incentives to your clients to do it.

So what are some examples of incentives you might do, Ben? Yeah. I’ve got two. Specific ones that come to mind. The first one is from Halin. Shout out to Halin. He runs this play and it’s so effective. I can’t remember the numbers, but it’s like mind blowing amounts of reviews for a two week period. If you write a Google or Facebook review, each review counts as an entry in the ballot box and you win like a super fancy bottle of wine.

And [00:23:00] that fits. The learn here, do the wine thing that works with his fine talks. It’s primarily people 50 plus, but it’s like a bottle that they wouldn’t buy for themselves normally, like a hundred bucks. And I remember the numbers, but he must get 20 or 30 reviews every time he does this and does it like once or twice a year.

So. Offer them something that your ideal client would really want. That’s not crazy expensive. Incentivize it, put all your marketing efforts behind it. Your coaches talk about it in the sessions. You have a QR code at your front desk for them to scan. It’s in your emails with a link to it, make it as easy as possible and you’ll get a huge.

Surgery reviews. Honestly, if that’s like the only thing you did, honestly, find your version of a bottle of wine, right? It might be tickets to a sporting event. It might be an iPad, right? Like it depends on how baller you want to go here, but anything that your client really would value and using that as incentive to give some reviews.

I think it’s really so smart. Any others you wanted to mention? [00:24:00] Yeah, this one is, it’s not fitness related, but it just happened to me personally. Cause I wrote a review. So, I bought a sawmill a few months ago to cut down a tree, you mill it into boards, outdoorsy shit. And I got an email from them saying, hey, if you want to write us a review, and if you include a photo of your thing in action, We’ll send you a free hat and I’m like, I could use a hat when I’m sawmilling.

It’s not this hat, but I got this kick ass free sawmill hat for, I don’t know, something I would have said anyways, cause the sawmill is amazing. I’m enthusiastic about it, but it was a really just do this thing and we’ll give you a free thing. Now sawmill costs a lot more in the gym membership. You may not want to give out a hundred free hats, but there’s a version there that would probably work really well, but it wasn’t even like a specific, like, it wasn’t even that fancy.

It’s a hat. I can afford a hat. They sell the same hats online. I was just like, Ooh, free hat. I’m tempted. Click the button. Totally. That’s amazing. I think it’s a great example of keep it simple, but once in a while, I think it’s great to incentivize your clients. And that’s step [00:25:00] five is to provide some incentive once in a while to make those referral asks.

And, and I think if you follow those five steps on a regular basis, you’re going to get more referrals and we have a lot of gyms in unicorn society, whose primary lead generation strategy is referrals. They’re just really good at asking it all the times in multiple ways. There’s a whole nother episode we can do about other kinds, other ways to drive referrals that I won’t get into here, but you can also invite your clients.

To invite their friends in to events, host a workshop, host a party, host a wine tasting for your clients and let them bring their friends, their coworkers, their family. So not every ask needs to be give me someone’s name and phone number. The referral ask can also be invite all your friends and family to this barbecue or to this workshop on low back pain or to this workshop on.

Pickleball technique, whatever it is that your clients care about, that’s also a way to drive referrals is to get them to come into things that you’re hosting. So I’ll do another podcast about that because I think that’s really important one, but this is a great conversation, Ben. [00:26:00] Thank you so much. A reminder to all of you that if you go over to Instagram, DM us the word review, we’ll send you over a link to our client review SOP, which I think is really valuable and will help you get kickstart this process.

Thanks as always for a great conversation, my friend, and we’ll talk again soon. Thank you. Talk soon.