As a personal trainer or therapist, you know you only have a certain income you can attain through hours worked. So if you want a pay raise, you have to work more hours, which only works until you run out of hours. Your next step may have to be to increase the price of your sessions. However, when you increase your prices, you run the risk of losing clients, which scares a lot of trainers away from this practice. If you are reading this now and you have not put your prices up for a year, effectively you have reduced your yearly wage. Would you take a job that guarantees you receive no raise in yearly wage unless you take on more hours? I am thinking probably not.
So how do you put your prices up without losing clients? Well, how you sell the invisible (your service) was a tough question when you first started, so how you raise the price of the invisible is just the next step!
If you have had the same branding for the last two years, or you are charging a low rate for your services, then it may be time for you to re-brand your whole business. With this re-brand, you can start to introduce a new range of products, creating additional streams of income, and you can raise your prices to reflect this new company brand and marketplace statement.
In order to get the most from your re-brand, you should identify your target market and then employ a designer in order to penetrate this market. (In future issues, I will go into the importance of getting a good, specific and well-designed brand in order to create and sustain a personal training business.)
During this time, you may want to consider rewarding your current clients with a price freeze for a certain amount of time. You can gradually increase their price as they become the minority part of your business and the new payers become the prime part of your business. Another way of breaking this price increase to your current clients is to promise to keep your prices the same for them until somebody wants their slot, at which time you can offer them the opportunity to pay full price for their slot and keep it or stay at their current price but move to another time slot that is not being used by a new higher paying client.
Branding and Expanding Your Service
A lot of companies have a logo and a company name, but their branding does not go through the full depth of the business, which will serve to protect and maintain the clientele and make replicating the service impossible. (Again, in future publications, branding will be covered in full depth and will help you understand the importance of brand in protecting your business.) To get some depth in your business and increase your prices, you need to put in a range of your specific services. These services can then act as a brand within a brand, adding to the strength of your service. For example, if you offer just personal training, then you are in competition with other trainers and their prices. If you offer the “Drive Your life” weekly PT program as part of the “Hardy Executive Personal Training Company," it is difficult to then price match it with Charlie's Personal Training Sessions. A comparison is perhaps when you price different cereal brands - there are many types of corn flakes, but why do you buy a certain brand that may not be the cheapest? When people buy personal training services, why do they stick to the same brand? Loyalty is what you want to attract.
By increasing the amount of quality services and add-ons (especially branded ones), you will improve your chances of retention. And with the correct design, you will give the initial aesthetics that ooze quality, a quality that demands a high price without question. This may also give you the option for new clients to ease in and take a cheaper option in order to dip their toe into personal training. An example program list maybe as follows:
- PERFORMANCE – 12 week program, including full assessment, a 12-week specific program (progressive and based on the latest program design science), 12 assisted stretches, 12 body part sports massages, a nutritional consultation, a T-shirt and water bottle.
- DE-STRESS - 12 week program, including an in-depth Range of Motion assessment and a progressive, science-based program of stretch, massage and postural strengthening exercises designed to get you into a de-stressed, tall, positive posture, while helping you unwind and relax. This package includes a nutritional assessment in order to help you avoid the needs for stimulants.
- MELT – 12 week program, including an in-depth nutrition review, an intense monitoring system, a high calorie burning, basal metabolic rate raising program that is body friendly and progressive in design. This program is the most weight loss specific course of its kind and will get you to a weight that is great for you, at a rate and in a style that will allow you to maintain it.
- MAINTENANCE (Continuous) - When you get to the body shape and fitness level you desire, your next step has to be to stay there and make your good work worthwhile. This is an on-going program that will continue to change and develop your workout as your body adapts to its previous training. If you are part of this program and you begin to slip, it will be spotted straight away and the damage will not be as great.
- LESSON PROGRAM(6 or 12 months) - 1-3 hours taken once a month, where each session is designed to teach you a new fitness skill in-depth in order to improve your training for that month. This is like the equivalent of a set of golf lessons, where each one is designed to add that little extra to your game.
- EXPERIENCE – Single session experience, including an assisted stretch, a full body or specific program and a relaxation back massage. An ideal introduction to personal training.
Plan In Advance to Add Value
When you plan your increase in price, you need to look at your current package and see what value you can add without increasing the costs of the session by a huge amount. Look at adding in a 30-minute back massage for the first set of sessions bought at the new price, add in full body assisted stretching or approach a local business and see if you can do a deal where you offer a talk or management stretch for a discount for your clients. Working with other therapists who may benefit your clients without taking them off of you is great as you can offer free hours to the therapist's clients in return for the equivalent back. Adding value should help you cushion the blow of the price increase.
Marketing to Make It an Advantage
By putting in the correct marketing, it is possible to gain an advantage and increase the volume of clients you have. Using your enquiry list (if you do not have one, this will be covered in future articles) and your local advertising, you can advertise the fact that you never put your prices up to your current clients (a good system for retention if you decide to take that route) or that this is your last chance to buy your PT block at such a discounted price. This should help you to create an urgency that should drive clients in and additional bookings from current clients. It may also increase the amount of referrals that you receive, again driving business in the right direction. It may be that you need to restrict the amount of clients that you allow to take this offer up, as you may want to leave some space in your schedule for a life!!!
Timing Is Everything
If you intend to put your prices up, it is important you consider how far you need to put up the prices in order to not have to touch them again for at least another year. One strategy is to check out your local competitors and pitch yourself at least $5 to $10 higher than all of them. As long as the quality of your services match, this will help you create the image of being the best trainer in the area. Also, if your sales drop too much, then you can always drop the price with special offers and discounts. If you walk past a shop with a coat that says $50, you probably would not look twice. However, if it says "Today Only - Down from $350 to $50," then you would stop at the window and maybe even pop in and buy it. An important rule is “It is easier to drop your price than put it up.
When you write your business plan for the year, the best times to plan your price increases are just after the major selling months. Normally the peak sales months are January or September, so you should have your marketing everywhere during these months, along with a special offer or two. If you decide to put your prices up for the following month, then you can advertise this month as the last chance to get booked in before the increase. This should help you get the thinking clients, who normally fall through the net, as they are not pushed to make that decision.
After the deadline, your next promotion could be to advertise the fact that you have five off-peak slots left, so book in quickly! This will help you get a good start in the month of February or October.
Summary of Steps
- Review your branding.
- Brand through your services or re-brand appropriately.
- Set up deals and plan in your added value items.
- Get your marketing in place, have it well-designed and make sure it gets out on time.
- Time your price increase in order to maximize the effectiveness of your promotions – pick your months wisely.
- As long as your service is one of quality, do not be afraid to over price and work on discounts and offers if you find yourself too high for the market.