EVEN in an economic slowdown, people will continue to be active in sports. Although potential customers may spend more time shopping for the right coach, they will still pay for coaching if they feel that the coach will provide them with professional service that is worth their money.

Here are some tips on how to run a successful business as a sports coach:

Choose the right clients

You may say that with the economy being so bad, how can coaches afford to be picky and choose the type of clients they want? The truth is that when you choose clients who know what they want in life, and how to go about achieving it, you will likely pick those who are already successful in their careers. These individuals will probably have a comfortable buffer zone to maintain their lifestyle. This is good for your business as they are likely to keep your services despite the downturn.

Offer value-added service

By giving clients little extras, they will appreciate you as their coach and enjoy their lessons more. For example, you can give the children you coach small prizes, trophies and certificates if they play well or complete a certain portion of their training.

Go the extra mile by organising a Christmas get-together for your clients at no extra charge! If you are a tennis coach, you can help your clients change broken racket strings or get them the new grips they need — you save them an extra trip to the sports shop and earn their goodwill.

You could also take the initiative to make bookings at sports facilities so your clients are ensured of their weekly workout. Besides, they may need some extra lessons from you too.

Personalise programmes

By understanding your clients’ individual strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to develop personalised training programmes that help them reach their goals.

Try to discover their likes and dislikes, aspirations, hobbies, lifestyle and sports background, so that you will know what makes them tick. You will connect better with them, and help them to enjoy their sport while coaching them to become competent in it.

Working with individuals from diverse backgrounds has its challenges. Sometimes, clients call at the last minute for extra lessons. Try your best to accommodate them. Many live hectic lives, and will appreciate your flexibility. Remember, engaging clients is key to keeping them.

Be on time, leave on time

As a professional, you should always manage your time efficiently. Clients generally pay by the hour, so it is common courtesy to ensure that you arrive early to set up the equipment needed and not eat into the duration of the lesson. By always being on time and leaving on time, you will not only keep your schedule running smoothly, you will demonstrate to your clients that you are a trustworthy professional.

Make the client feel special

If you become a mentor and friend to your clients, they will see you as much more than “just the coach”. Provide a listening ear if they are disappointed with their game or make kind gestures, such as escorting them to their car with an umbrella on rainy days — your clients will feel special. Such gestures go a long way. Not only will they stay loyal clients, they will recommend your services to their friends and other family members.

Show your personality

Be positive and energetic — your enthusiasm will spread to your clients and motivate them to learn more effectively. Even if you are not in the best of moods, remember that it is your job to keep the lesson upbeat for the clients’ enjoyment. Always be professional and keep your temper to yourself. Nobody likes a sour puss!