“Shut up!” Those two words enter my brain and fight to come out of my mouth whenever a trainer tells me he “can’t” make any more money than he (or she) is making right now. I usually fight the urge to blurt out the words, and instead begin to probe as to why the belief of “can’t” is so deeply ingrained.
The answers I receive are varied, but have an underlying sameness. Here are a few examples:
- “I’m charging the most that the trainers in my area are charging. I can’t raise my fees. No one will pay more.”
- “There aren’t any more hours left in my day.”
- “I’m burned out on training. I do as much as I can handle.”
Before I explain why those drive me to the “shut up” thought, let me use an analogy that might make my point a bit clearer.
Suppose you meet with Donald, a sedentary 42-year-old man with a 38 inch waist, a BMI in the risk ranges and a love for cheeseburgers and wine. You outline the path by explaining how simple modifications in his nutrition and exercise can move Donald toward the 32 inch waist he’d love to have. You design a program and feel as if you’ve empowered him. The following week, you unexpectedly run into him at a restaurant. He’s feasting on cheeseburgers and guzzling wine. You approach and politely ask, “How’s the program going?,” to which he responds, “I can’t get in shape.”
I know what you’d say. If you’re a competent professional trainer, you won’t hear the word “can’t.” You’ll explain that if he continues indulging the desire for burgers and wine, and he neglects the exercise you prescribed, his “can’t get in shape” idea becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’ll recognize that there’s a little voice inside his head, a voice we refer to as “self talk,” and a prerequisite to getting to his ideal reflection in the mirror involves stifling that negative voice. In other words, tell that little discouraging gremlin of an inner voice to, well, shut up! Of course, while Donald might have some psychological obstacles that are limiting his belief that change is possible, the idea that he “can’t get in shape” must be replaced by the idea that he “can get in shape, he just hasn’t consistently applied a positive technology of physical change yet.” You know if he applies at least a portion of the information you outlined for him, he’s going to begin to see improvement. His brain is stuck in “can’t,” but your brain is fully aware that “can’t” translates to “haven’t taken the necessary steps yet.”
Let’s carry that scenario over to the trainer who “can’t make any more money.” As long as that thought process prevails, the trainer’s mind will remain closed to possibility. Stifle that negative self-talk, ask it to “shut up,” and the possibilities are limitless. So, if you believe you can’t make any more than you’re making now, quiet the distracting little voice and open up to the three ways to increase profitability.
This is not the first time you’ll be exposed to this information. It’s actually a fundamental of business and marketing. I’ll spell out the three ways of increasing profits, and then I’ll provide you with a new perspective on a familiar theme. I’ll provide real numbers that will illustrate how you, as the creator and entrepreneur behind your personal training business, can give yourself a raise that amounts to tens of thousands of dollars per year!
First things first. Here are the three ways:
- Get more clients
- Get more money for each client session
- Get more sessions per client
Sure, there are other methods of supplementing your income, but these fundamental goals are absolutes that can result in a direct increase in profits, even if you never choose to step outside the box, to integrate other synergistic businesses into yours.
The first one, “get more clients,” is self explanatory, but interestingly, it's probably the least valuable of the three concepts for high-level trainers with busy schedules. If such trainers believe the most effective way to increase profitability is to go after more clients, more clients, and more clients, burnout is virtually a guarantee. Personally, I find trainers max out at about five to seven sessions per day, four to six days per week. Beyond that, while they can handle the hours, their enthusiasm drops and so does the quality of their training.
If you do want more clients, that's fine. It's just finite in its ability to continuously spark your growth. You’re limited by the number of hours in a day and the number of days in a week.
I encourage trainers who are looking to add more clients to make a concerted effort to, in some form or another, contact four prospective clients a day. How? By applying any and all of the marketing ideas that you’ve read about at PT on the Net! The options are limitless. Network. Speak. Appear. Promote. Whatever you have to do, do what it takes to make four new contacts daily. That discipline will put you in touch with 20 prospective clients in each five-day week. That amounts to 1,000 per year! If you were personally to contact 1,000 people per year, how many could you recruit as clients? If I were to ask you to contact 1,000 people that would sound overwhelming, but four people per day? That’s simple!
Another step toward "more clients" asks you to simply form one new affiliation that puts you in front of a group once or twice per month. This can be a relationship with a medical office, a supermarket, a health food store, or a corporation.
Still another marketing method of attracting "more clients" involves referral gifts. I discourage you from giving free sessions, but you can give your clients, who will of course be your best sales people, rewards to show your appreciation for their referrals. I've used approaches such as "FREE Heart Rate Monitor for referral of a new client series - only applicable after five paid sessions," and "$25 gift certificate to Armadillo Cafe (any restaurant) for referral of one paid consultation.” I actually sent these offers out by mail to my clients, and it worked well for me. Extremely well. In fact, if I remember correctly, it led to my having to hire my first trainer. Here’s my promise. I don’t have any gifts or talents beyond those you possess. If it worked for me, it can work for you, but it only “works” if you’re willing to take the necessary actions to stimulate success (remember Donald?).
The next way to increase profitability is "more money per client session." The first thing you might look at is the amount of money you're giving away. No, I don’t mean money you’re donating to charities. That’s noble. I’m referring to money you’re literally flushing down the toilet.
I find many trainers are still caught up in selling “packages.” (I know many of you have wisely switched over to a “series,” where the sessions are recurring and on-going, and I congratulate you for making the highly profitable shift). If you are one of those “package deal” trainers, and you generate $40 per session by selling 10 sessions for $400, switching over to the “series” method of training can better protect your perceived value, and a 25 percent increase over the discounted “package” price is justifiable.
If you presently collect what amounts to $40 per session, and you just switch over to a series that nets you $50 per session, with 25 client sessions per week you will have instantly given yourself a raise of $12,000 per year. Without training any additional hours!
Another example of a mistake that can be resolved financially by generating more money per client session is the all-too-common practice of offering FREE orientations. If for example, a trainer conducts five FREE orientations per week, which is common in our industry, and switches over to a $20 paid orientation, averaging five attendees in three groups per week, annual income increases another $15,000. Those two simple actions can lead to giving yourself an almost $30,000 raise.
How else can you increase money per session? Make a post workout recovery drink a part of the routine and sell it just as you would in a health club. Bring it with you, one per workout. The first time you simply say, "Here, after the workout this will help with your recovery. If you like it, I can bring one with me each workout for $3.” If you buy even moderate quantity, you can get the standard post workout drinks for 50 percent off retail, which can allow you to net an additional $1.50 per client session. That might seem trivial, but if only 10 of your client sessions per week involved a drink purchase, you might get your telephone bill paid! Again, without any additional hours.
You can sell videos periodically, cassette tapes or meal replacement packets. You can sell stability balls and elastic tubing. When something tangible changes hands, the clients will be 100 percent understanding that there is an additional charge.
The third and final way to increase profitability is "more client sessions per week." If at $50 per client session, you manage to get two clients to sign up for twice a week instead of once a week, or four times instead of three, you'll put an extra $400 per month in your bank account. If you manage to get four extra client sessions per week, which for most trainers simply involves the suggestion with a hint toward recommendation (i.e. "Margaret, based on the progress you've made, I believe you'll see even greater benefit if you kick things up to four times per week"), that's nearly $10,000 in new annual income.
Many trainers I've worked with have applied all three principles simultaneously to increase income by over $40,000 per year. By telling you about the three ways to increase profits, I hope I've given you a bit of insight to come up with your own ideas related to more clients, more money per client session and more sessions per client.
And if that little voice ever shows up inside your head, you can get away with shouting out those words that I manage to swallow. “Shut up!” You can then follow it with, “I can earn all of the money I desire and deserve. It just takes some knowledge and focused effort." I’ve provided you the knowledge. The rest is up to you.