Would you buy from you?

Bernadette Schwerdt reveals six strategies that every fitness business can use to increase trust and boost the bottom line.

One of the biggest reasons why businesses fail, especially new ones, is because the business owner fails to position the business as a trusted authority; to instil a sense of security in the buyer. When it comes to matters of health and fitness, those most personal of subjects, then trust becomes even more important. In a global economy where a competitor is just one click away, trust is a currency that must be built before anyone will do business with you – online, or off.

The good news is there are lots of ways to achieve this. Here are six strategies that any business, large or small, could implement. Most are inexpensive, within your control and can be achieved quite quickly.

6 ways to build trust with customers

1. Keep everything clean

Whether you’re a gym owner, personal trainer, naturopath or spray tanner, this may sound self-evident but nothing leaches a customer’s trust more than a stray hair in the basin, glistening sweat on the seat, a discarded sock or a pool of liquid from an indeterminate source… If you like repeat business, creating systems that guarantee cleanliness must be your number one priority. The survival of your business rests on it.

2. Keep signage fresh and up-to-date

Nothing undermines trust in a health and fitness company more than old, dusty or cracked signage, inside and out. ‘If they can’t even keep their signs in shape, how will they keep my body in shape?’ is the unspoken dialogue jangling in prospects’ minds. Replace or repaint torn, dirty or faded signs quickly and fix missing letters in signs too: ‘Lad..s Changeroom’ is not a sign you want showing on your female members’ bathroom door. That goes for typos too. ‘Arse the Manager’ instead of ‘Ask the Manager’ can slip through spell-check undetected. Don’t ask me how I know…

3. Apply for awards

If you’re in an industry where people compare based on price – and you are – awards are the masterstroke that helps you take price off the table as a source of measurement. Nothing builds trust faster than winning awards.

When Tony Nash, founder of online book retailer Booktopia, put the Telstra Business Award logo on the site’s homepage, sales increased by a percentage that equated to an extra $800,000 in annual revenue. Awards work: if you’ve got ‘em, display ‘em!

4. Make it easier for members to change their minds

It may sound counter-intuitive, but it actually makes sense to make it easier for members to downgrade, or get out of their contract without asking too many questions or giving them a hard time. In an age where ‘customer is king’ try to ease up on the onerous terms and conditions that place us at odds with upset customers. Jodie Fox, co-founder of online shoe designer Shoes of Prey, offers her customers a 365-day money-back guarantee if the shoe doesn’t fit or if they just don’t like it. Being truly customer-focused sounds easy, but it can be hard and expensive to implement. However, by eliminating brand-damaging stories and rumours of disgruntled patrons stuck in contracts, you can enhance trust in your business. And, of course, if you are delivering service worthy of the membership fees you charge, very few members will ever take advantage of the easy-exit policy.

5. Source testimonials

Testimonials won’t make people buy something they don’t want, but if they’re tossing up between you and another retailer and you have credible testimonials, people will choose you over the others.  People trust other people more than they trust what you say about yourself. Written testimonials are great, but you can’t beat video testimonials.

6. Streamline your online checkout page

While many people will visit your facility’s website or social media pages before physically visiting and signing up in-person, some will join up online. More people abandon their purchase at the checkout page than at any other time on the site. Here’s why:

  • a slow-loading page
  • onerous terms and conditions
  • requests to log in
  • requests to create a password.

Eliminate barriers to buying by addressing these issues before prospects get to the checkout page.

Trust can be manufactured

Attracting new customers and keeping existing customers happy are the lifeblood of any business and creating a sense of trust that makes them feel secure helps achieve that. You don’t have to apply all these strategies at once, but pick the ones that are the quickest and easiest to implement and start with those. Believe it or not, trust can be manufactured.


Bernadette Schwerdt is the director of the Australian School of Copywriting, an online marketing strategist and the author of Secrets of Online Entrepreneurs (How Australia’s Online Mavericks, Innovators and Disruptors Built Their Businesses…And How You Can Too.) To download a sample chapter and access free resources on how to build an online business, go to BernadetteSchwerdt.com.au