In the third of our article series providing legal guidance for those in the fitness industry, we’re sharing more advice from Scott McKenzie from Mills Oakley. This time he’s focusing on how to minimise the chance of your PTs stealing clients from the club.
The key points to consider here are:
- A carefully drafted employment contract can help to prevent personal trainers from soliciting your clients after their employment is terminated.
- Social media can make it very easy for personal trainers to solicit their former clients and induce them to change gyms.
Let’s take a look at a case study: Planet Fitness versus Brooke Dunlop
In this case, a personal trainer entered into agreement to provide personal training services to members of Planet Fitness. Their agreement made no provision for the trainer to provide services exclusively to Planet Fitness.
The personal trainer subsequently moved to Genesis and posted messages on her Facebook offering reduced rates for her former Planet Fitness clients. She posted that any of her former Planet Fitness clients would be able to train at Genesis at a reduced rate for the remaining periods of their contracts with Planet Fitness.
An injunction application was brought by Planet Fitness to restrain Genesis from employing her, or alternatively, to restrain her from providing personal training services to her previous Planet Fitness clients.
The Court found there was a strong case that the personal trainer had solicited her previous clients from Planet Fitness, and the Facebook evidence was very compelling in this regard.
The Court refused to grant an injunction to restrain her from working with her new employer or providing services to her former clients. The Court found that it was more appropriate to continue restraining her from posting any new or additional messages on her Facebook page or from otherwise actively soliciting Planet Fitness clients.
In summary, discouraging PTs from poaching their former clients is like trying to hit a personal best without a warmup. You are going to need some assistance. Thankfully, a well drafted employment contract is the best helping hand that you can get and it will do most of the heavy lifting for you.
To read previously published articles in this series click the links below:
- Article 1: Membership contracts: How to protect your club
- Article 2: 12 tips and traps to buying or selling a gym