Successfully promoting personal training with integrity and profit is about retaining the value of the service while still providing a strong call to action and sense of urgency. This article demonstrates the damage of discounts, specials and sales and provides solutions for exchanging sale to sell with ease not sleaze.
- Identify the short and long-term damage of a discount sale.
- Create promotions that elevate the value of personal training and are irresistible offers.
- Plan the long-term profitability and stability of your program with regular planned promotions.
- Identify partnership potential with others who add value to your service.
It’s month-end and you’re behind on your quota.
You aren’t filling your personal training spots and need to create income now.
The holidays have slowed traffic so that both renewals and new sales are plummeting.
If any of these situations are familiar, then you know the temptation to have a sale for a quick fix can be strong. Like any quick fix though, the long-term damage can far outweigh the fast benefits.
Trainers and managers often justify discounted pricing based on how many trainers’ schedules aren’t full or have no clients at all because at least they will be earning something. The hope is that clients who get started at a sale rate will renew and continue at regular rate. This theory backfires as you condition customers to expect discounts. Trainers who aren’t comfortable with asking for the sale will struggle to make full fee sales.
This article presents the short-term and long-term damage of a discount sale that can set you back for months, if not years. The what-to-avoid and what-to-do-instead presentation will help you create buying incentives that keep your fitness business strong.
Avoid the Discount
In this example, a 20-session package that regularly sells at $1000.00 sells for a 10% reduced price of $900.00. For the purposes of this example, the trainer’s commission is 50%.
Regularly each session is $50.00 making the trainer’s commission $25.00.
With the discount, each session is $45.00 and the trainer’s commission is $22.50.
That’s a total loss of $50.00 per 20-session package, just in the trainer’s commission. Let’s say this trainer has multiple clients who take advantage of this offer. With five clients training twice a week each, those 10 sessions create a loss for that week of $25.00 and an annual loss of $1250.00 for the trainer.
Do an Immediate Cash Back Sale Instead
Assess your past six months of unique sales. Determine the average customer purchase. One way to increase your revenue without constantly trying to increase traffic in the door is to increase the amount each customer spends.
If you know that your average customer spends $500.00. Then give $50.00 off a purchase of $550.00 or more.
The amount you gift back has to be relevant to the purchase amount. A $10.00 off a purchase of $500.00 won’t do it. Ten percent is as low as you would want to go in order for this to appeal to a customer.
Some factors to test:
- Test your offer presentation. Customers usually prefer a dollar off savings compared to a percentage off. Test your market to be sure that’s true for you. Give the money back at the point of sale.
- Test whether giving a dollar off months of training, number of sessions, or dollars spent works best.
Avoid a Flash Sale
A flash sale is simply that: a right now, surprise sale, that’s going to end after a brief time. It’s intended to bring you a flood of new sales fast.
If you sell training sessions at one standard rate, without a discount, regardless of how many sessions are purchased, then this flash sale isn’t terribly devastating; but, if you have a single session rate, discount larger packages daily and then offer flash sales that further discount your lowest rate, you do the greatest harm to your long-term success.
In effort to increase immediate sales dramatically by encouraging large spends by customers, the overall loss of revenue is huge. It’s a short-term fix that creates a long-term problem. The trainers hurt most by this are those with long-term clients who already see the value in paying for training but who are, of course, going to take advantage of a sale. Take the following case study for example:
Club ABC offers a single session at $65.00 an hour and reduces the rate on each package of 5, 10 sessions and so on, with the largest session package offering the largest savings. The 35-session package sells at $53.00 per session. The club chooses major holidays to hold sales of these packages, often for weeks at a time.
Selling the 35-session package at an additional 20% off means that the rate per session falls from $53.00 per session to $42.40 per session. At 50% commission, that’s only $21.20 for the trainer per session before taxes. Yet this problem is bigger than at first glance, since it’s reasonable to believe that clients who buy large packages are training most frequently. If this client trains three times a week, it would result in a weekly loss of $15.90 for the trainer from that single client. A popular trainer is likely to have several of these clients who consistently train at a high frequency. Let’s say the trainer working at our 50% commission has five clients who train three times a week and that they all take advantage of the sales of these 35-session packages. The trainer’s loss is $79.50 weekly, $318.00 monthly and $3816.00 annually. It hurts your established, in-demand trainers most. In this situation, your greatest revenue generators can’t generate the greatest possible revenue.
If you’re the club owner, the numbers are even worse. Say you have five in-demand trainers in this situation. Your net revenue loss from this sale alone is $9275.00, and that’s only the short-term loss. You now have your in-demand trainers training for less money for a long time. In the best case scenario at three times a week, a 35-session package will last 12 weeks. Training twice a week, it will last 17 weeks, and training once a week, it will last 35 weeks before new revenue can be generated from that customer again.
The customer then renews at regular rate. Or will they? The all-too-often question is, “When is the next sale?” They’ve been conditioned. That’s where your long-term damage sets in
Do a Dollar-Off Your Next Purchase Sale Instead
Reward a specific dollar sale with a gift card or promo code to use with the next purchase of a specific amount. You can do this at various levels to include different levels of buyers. Give $50.00 gift cards for purchases of $550.00 or more. Give $100.00 gift cards for purchases of $1200.00 or more.
This is similar to the first “Do an Immediate Cash Back Sale” example, but in this example the reward isn’t off the current sale. It’s not a guarantee but it provides a strong incentive for a future purchase. Remember to test your presentation. Match your offer to your existing best-selling offers of time, sessions, or dollars. You always want to do more of what’s working well already.
Avoid a New-Customer-Only Sale
This is a perfect way to alienate your current best customers. Think twice about doing this on an email blast to all your contacts or an in-house flyer where current clients also see this.
Do a Direct Message Only to New Customers Instead
If you do use the new-customer special, the place to message this is on a separate email list that only goes to your new prospects and leads. This can also happen at a membership point-of-sale or new member consultation.
This separate email list recommendation often reveals one of the biggest problems in fitness marketing and long-term nurture strategy: If you’ve made the error of adding every lead and customer into the same large email list, then you can’t have an effective conversation with anyone. You want to talk to your current training clients, your prior training clients, and your prospective clients who haven’t said yes but haven’t said no, all in quite different ways.
When you have your email marketing set up with unique lists you can provide the right special to the right customer. You can offer a special intro rate package to a never-before-training client if you choose. You can offer a, “we miss you” one month discounted training and a 6-month term training that begins following that first month.
Avoid a Buy X, Get Y Free Sale
This is still a discount of your services. The trainer takes a commission cut and the business takes a profit-margin cut. The presentation of this offer usually reveals the dollar or percent discount and that is counter-productive if you want to establish value for your service
Do a Value-Added Extra Sale Instead
Another tried and true way of avoiding the discount is to increase the value a customer receives; put a dollar amount on that.
- Add bonuses in the way of additional program options. Someone who purchases private training at once or twice a week gains access to a complimentary group program that increases their weekly contact with you (and if you are already doing the group program, there is no additional time investment).
- Create course content for nutrition, stretching, or stress reduction and offer that as a bonus.
- Partner with complimentary businesses for discounts on footwear, active wear, supplements, healthy restaurants. For new customers getting involved in exercise and healthy lifestyle changes, this connection will be a win-win for both customer and business. In order to gain discounts or gift cards with businesses, do a trade for the owner’s family or employees.
Use limiters when you set up your promotions. Always have a deadline for the “program” enrollment or the sale-end so there is a clear call-to-action and sense of urgency. Either have limited-time offers or a limited number of the specials. Have a limited time to get bonus content. Track results and test these variables so you know what works. Then rinse and repeat!
You can do any of these promotions at different times during the year as long as you don’t overdo them. Lay out your monthly promotions calendar thoughtfully. Track results. Tweak an offer and test again.
Fix the Real Leak
Assess your past discount sales damage. It can be an indication that, without a drop in rate, the trainer does not posses the sales confidence or see their value in order to close the sale at full rate. Remember sales damage:
- The sale mentality sets in for both the customer and the trainer.
- The customer expects a sale because you have them all too regularly and there’s never a reason to buy at regular rate.
- Neither the trainer nor the customer ever believes the service is worth full value.
It’s never too late to turn around a discount mentality. It is, however, easiest to never have one in the first place.
When you set up an annual promotions calendar, you can avoid painting yourself into a corner and make better projections of stable revenue generation for each week during year. You can focus on how to sell instead of needing to sale.