As personal trainers, we always want to focus on “how the hell do I market my PT business,” because it is usually foreign territory. There are hundreds of books out there that you can read and learn how to launch an online business or even run weekend group exercise classes. But are those efforts really going to help you increase new leads and retain current clients? Doubtful.
Worrying about the newest trend to make a million dollars as a trainer is nothing but a waste of your time and money. So how else can you maximize your client base and build a community of loyal followers?
Developing a strategy to turn your current personal training business into a premium consultancy is actually very easy.
It starts with an audit. A close inventory of all things you are doing on a day to day, week to week, month to month, and yearly basis will help you understand what areas are lacking attention or detail and what can be left as is.
It ends with automating everything you possibly can whether it be tracking your client progress or generating new leads. The less time you spend on repeatable tasks that doesn’t need a personal touch, the more time you have for your clients or even yourself.
That said, we audited ourselves and came up with the following plan that helped us move our monotonous training sessions into a scalable business. Check it out.
Standardize your sessions
Structure your time and set expectations for every single one of your clients. Not knowing what you are going to be working on with your client until five minutes before they show up is a recipe for your demise. No one wants to feel as though they are not a priority, and it doesn’t take a genius to realize you are unprepared.
Chances are, you have some sort of structure for training cycles and workouts. For instance a general workout guideline could be one movement for the hip, knee, pull, push, and core. 5 exercises total.
But do you have a similar structure for the entire session? Instead of thinking about beating the hell out of each of your clients as you see “fit”, set some expectations around the entire 60 minutes you have with them.
This is the structure for our training sessions:
- Follow up: 2-5 minutes
- Assessments: 2-5 minutes
- Exercise: 30-40 minutes (teaching/practicing new exercises)
- Prescription: 10-20 minutes (weekly training plan)
This helps our client’s understand that every session we will talk about last week’s progress, analyze key performance indicators, work hard for at least a half hour, and prepare for the remaining week.
This method can be used for client’s that train one day/week or six days/week. It doesn’t matter if they are a pro athlete or a rehabilitating senior citizen. This is an easy miss because a training session is only an hour out of the day but human beings love routine so do it.
Diversify your business and pricing model
One of the hardest things to accomplish as a personal trainer is increasing session frequency and retaining clients. However it can easily be fixed by adjusting your current offering. Think about the large group of potential clients that can only afford training once a week and just wants you to program for them?
Leverage these people, they probably can’t afford the high cost of training but need your help.
Crossfit does a great job at this. Trainers run group classes and charge high monthly membership rates. This means you receive structured workouts and can train every hour they are open for a flat monthly rate (i.e. $200).
Now add personal training services on top of that.
Let’s say your new client Jack really needs to work with you 1-on-1, twice a week for the first month, and once a week thereafter. The problem is:
- You don’t want to Jack to cut back to once a week because you lose out on $400/month ($100/session X 4 sessions/month), and
- Jack can only afford $600/month after the initial month.
You make a deal with Jack that he can train with you 1-on-1 once a week if he comes to at least three of your small group training classes every week, for a sweet price of $600/month total.
The result: you are making $200 more than you would if Jack didn’t buy into group training, and Jack is working harder on a weekly basis in your group training classes versus by himself.
If you can get someone to buy-into this model of training, you will keep them around for longer than you originally expected. Not to mention you will most likely increase your overall revenue.
Establish your brand
Once you have a defined your sessions and made some adjustments to your service offering, it might be the right time to look at how you’re presenting yourself. I’m not talking about what clothes you wear to work or if you need a haircut, rather the awareness of your brand. A quick way to get some insight into your presence is by simply Googling your name or business. What shows up?
No one will take you seriously if they can’t find your services online. It’s okay if you don’t have a dedicated website with some sort of branding or logo, this is another easy fix.
A website is more than just a digital business card, it’s a foundation for promotion. A site gives you the chance to display client testimonials, share best practices, and have a place for anyone to contact you.
An quick way to get started is to hire someone to design and produce the entire website. If you are running on a lean budget and are fairly self motivated, you can always watch some WordPress tutorials and build a website on your own. Be prepared to spend at least 100 hours on this if you have little to no experience.
(if you’re interested in website development and would like us to build your personal website, fill out this form and we will be in touch.)
To start with, your website should at least contain the following types of pages:
- Home: a quick snapshot of your services, client success, and the benefits of training with you
- Services: what type of personal training services do you offer and pricing
- Testimonials: real success stories from real clients
- About: who you are, what your experience is, and why should someone pay for your services
- Contact: where you are located and how they can contact you
It’s important to know that you will also need to have some imagery and copy on the website. Yes, that means you will have to get someone to take a decent photo of you and your space as well as write about 1,500 words specifically for the pages above.
The great thing is, after you launch your website you will only need to tweek it from time to time.
Build a community
After you have a website out there on the internet, spend some time creating social profiles on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc as these are mediums to share updates and content related to your business. Here are some examples of how you could use some of these social sites:
- Google +: verify business address and get pinned on Google Maps
- Instagram: share training advice and tutorials
- Facebook: promote your own content and influencer articles
- Twitter: share daily and weekly updates
Keeping up with posting on social accounts can be a little daunting at first. We highly recommend using a tool like Buffer so can schedule out posts weekly versus daily.
The most important thing you can do is to develop a mailing list. What does that mean? Think about all of the people you’ve met in the gym, fitness orientations that didn’t turn into new clients, current clients, and old clients.
Would it be valuable to you if you had a database full of all these people’s contact information, and at any point that you needed more clients you could blast off an email to your entire list offering a promotion? I’m not sure why you would even say “no” to that question.
There are free tools like out there like Mailchimp that you can integrate with your website and social profiles in order to capture leads without really trying. Just offer something for free like “The Desk Jockey Training Program” in exchange for an email address and watch new prospective clients roll in. That said, it is also vital that you enter all of your clients into a system like this.
After you have an email marketing system setup sending newsletters, promotions and discounts, or even birthday messages to everyone on your list is very straight forward. For example if you’re thinking about creating a weekly newsletter for all of your leads and clients here are some ideas you could fit into each email:
- Quote of the week
- Workout of the week
- Recipe of the week
- Top 3 Influencer articles of the week
The best part about this approach is that you are essentially sending everyone you know who cares about training free material that they can share with their friends. Not to mention the only thing on this list that you might have to create is the workout. But don’t you do that multiple times each day anyways?
Stay up to date on best practices
Always remember to check your “I don’t need to learn anything else” ego before starting your journey to consultant. If you really want to step up your game, you’re going to have to do more than adjusting your pricing structure and getting a website built.
Making sure you are constantly learning about the different fields of exercise science (applied fitness, biomechanics, exercise physiology, etc) will keep you as a professional in your client’s eyes. Even though you may not need to explain the importance of a sarcomere in a muscle contraction, if one of your clients asks you a question about these areas of study you should be able to generally answer it. If not, at least know where to look.
Staying up to date with personal training best practices is easier than ever with technology. Use a tool like Feedly to bookmark all of your favorite influencers, coaches, and organizations and it will automatically create a daily feed of articles that you can breeze through (yes, share these on your social profiles).
Another great way to quickly get up to speed with technical knowledge is to volunteer your time at clinic or organization. Even if its only for a few months, volunteer-ships or internships will allow you to get hands on experience with professionals that have been in the field for years.
Lastly try to regularly attend meet-ups, workshops, or conferences. Tons of trainers these days are speaking at local gyms or schools about specific areas of training. Getting involved in this ring of evangelists will not only help you promote your business but networking with self-driven peers will make you even more hungry to get your name out there.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been training for six months or six years, each of these five steps will help you transform your current personal training efforts into a legitimate fitness consultancy. If you are thinking to yourself that these pieces of the puzzle seem hard to manage, focus on one at a time.
Standardizing your sessions and adjusting your pricing structure are very simple tasks that should take less than half a day. Building a website and producing an online presence on the other hand may be a bit more time consuming depending on your budget and involvement. As mentioned earlier, we are here to help with that process.
The reason why you got into this industry in the first place should have something to do with wanting to help people as well as to be well-compensated for your efforts. These are the steps that helped us create an efficient and scalable personal training service that generates new business in our sleep.