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Winning Back ‘Lost Sheep’ Clients with a ‘Puffy Mailer’


PuffyMailerIt’s January, and at a personal training studio, that means a bounty of new clients with resolutions to get in shape and lose weight. At my Fitness Together studios, we can always bank on getting busier this time of the year, with the addition of new clients. But, we also know that January is the best month to win back our “Lost Sheep.” These are our past clients who have become inactive for one reason or another. January is the time of year when our Lost Sheep are most likely to be feeling guilty because they’ve fallen off the workout wagon. Therefore, it is the ideal time to win them back!

We win back our Lost Sheep with a secret weapon called the “Puffy Mailer.” To execute the Puffy Mailer, we gather up, and sort through the files of our inactive clients from the prior year. We pick out the clients that we want to win back to the studio, focusing on the clients who were fun to work with, worked out at least eight times per month and paid on time. We mail them their old folder, filled with all of their past workouts, fitness assessments and goals, along with a letter encouraging them to come back to us. Our file folders are legal size, so we use 12-by-18 inch padded mailing envelopes to mail the files back — hence the term Puffy Mailer. It costs about $6 in postage to mail each one, but the results are well worth it.

As stated, the Puffy Mailer includes a personalized letter (see sample letter below). We hand write on each letter the date the client was last in the studio, how many sessions, if any, they have left with us and a personal signature. We also hand address every envelope!

I am positive that every Lost Sheep that receives one of our Puffy Mailers opens it to see what’s inside. There is no way that these get tossed in the trash!

The secret to our success is following up with each former client. We mail around five to 10 folders per week, instead of sending them all at once. This provides us time to call those five to 10 clients for follow up. We call until we get each past client on the phone, to ask if they received their old folder, and to see if they want to take us up on our offer. It often takes five or more calls to reach each past client, so we limit the number of folders we mail each week to ensure that we can keep up with the volume of calls.

Once you get them on the phone, your only goal is to get them back into your facility. From there, I’m sure you’ll provide them great customer service, and ensure that they renew and purchase more sessions of personal training.

Sample Letter:

Dear ___,

I wanted to return your workout file from (your club’s name).

You haven’t been to us since ___!

Of course, I am hoping that I can get you started with us again. Maybe you left because your schedule got too busy, or maybe you just weren’t enjoying the workouts.

Whatever the reason, I am hoping now is a good time to ask you to reconsider.

As an incentive to get you back in so I prove to you that we are running a tighter operation than ever before, I will give you 3 FREE SESSIONS on me.

And if you decide to keep going, you still have ___ sessions left on your old package.

Please call us at ___ to schedule your first session back with us.


P.S. If you aren’t interested in returning, I hope the contents of your folder will help you continue your new fitness routine!

Jonathan Slain is a fitness business consultant and owns and operates franchises of Fitness Together in Cleveland, Ohio. He can be reached at JonathanSlain@FitnessTogether.com, 877-FIT-OHIO, or www.FitnessTogether.com/ohio. Email him if you’d like to request a copy of the Puffy Mailer letter to use in your business!

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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