Five areas of focus: building a personal training business

Time Benjamin, Fitness Space founder

Fitness Space founder Tim Benjamin outlines his five areas of focus for building a personal training business.

One of the biggest challenges I come across in the leisure industry is the ability to grow and retain a personal training client base or business. Whether as an owner, operator, employed or freelance personal trainer, so many struggle to effectively scale personal training as a revenue stream – whether as part of a wider fitness operation or a standalone business.

Having been involved in the leisure industry in a number of capacities from personal training, facility management, owner, consultant and franchisor, I have seen these challenges first-hand and developed a strategic approach that allows personal training to be scaled as a business and additional revenue stream.

Based on this experience, I believe there are five areas of focus that could make a significant difference in growing a personal training business.

1. Define your value proposition

What are you going to do for your customer? What problem are you going to solve? How will it change their life? How will it make them feel when they get a result?

We are in the business of getting people a result and changing their lives in a positive way. We are not selling used cars, we are selling life transformation! It is crucial that you translate this to your prospective client. Explain how you are going to get them a result, the timeframe, the commitment required from them, how it is going to solve their problem and most importantly, how they are going to feel once they have achieved their goal.

2. Market your offering effectively and ask for commitment!

Once you have defined your value proposition, tell people about it! Make sure your marketing is simple and talks to the problem you are going to solve for your clients.

There are multiple marketing channels to use – from digital, social, referral, ex member/clients, blogging, local press article writing, corporate outreach events, sponsorship of local sports teams, livered vehicle, H2H flyering and gym floor walking. The trick is to explore and measure which channels work most effectively for reaching your target audience. Once you can narrow down what works best, place more efforts and energies into those vehicles.

Think about how you can make the customer journey to becoming your next client as easy as possible – whether that’s online or face-to-face. Remove as many barriers as possible to signing up even down to additional clicks or actions on the customer.

Your existing clients are your most powerful marketing asset. Testimonials and client stories provides a wealth of content and validation that will help grow your client base.

Most importantly, ask for commitment! It never fails to surprise me how many trainers are afraid to ask for commitment. Hours of studying, thousands of pounds invested, and when it comes to asking for business, trainers find themselves fumbling over their words. Create an open question that you will remember, and that will stimulate conversation around becoming a client. Then ask it on as many occasions as possible. My favourite is “What are your thoughts about making some radical changes and seeing me more frequently?”.

3. Create a curriculum

Don’t try to become all things to all people. Establish your niche. Become an expert in your field. Everyone in your local area needs to know you specialise and own this facet of personal training. Whether it be body transformation, pre/post-natal, sports specific, rehab or rehab, master your trade and create a framework for success that you stick by and evolve as your experience grows. Don’t be afraid to talk about your methodology; it adds credibility to you as a trainer and clearly demonstrates that you have put serious thought behind your programming.

4. Consider small group training

Whether an individual or facility, personal training can be an extremely lucrative revenue stream. At one of my clubs, personal training accounts for over 30% of revenue, way above national average. However, there is a ceiling unless careful thought is placed behind scaling. There are only so many hours in the day for each trainer, creating a natural cap on delivery. Consider creating your curriculum to cater for groups of individuals, rather than one-on-one. By reducing the hourly session rate slightly, but increasing the numbers in each session, ultimately increases yield per hour. People enjoy working out with like-minded individuals, which in turn aids utilisation, accountability and retention. Make sure you keep the energy suckers away. We have all had them, but seriously consider their inclusion in small group training sessions as they are kryptonite to your buzz!

5. Deliver on your promise

This point links back to point 3, create your curriculum, refine your craft, but also deliver all aspects of your service with the upmost professionalism. Be early, have your sessions planned and visible, carry a stop watch, leave your phone locked away (unless using for integrated tech offering), demonstrate silently and verbally, observe accurately, provide feedback both positive and developmental, follow up after each session, speak with energy, keep hands out of pockets, and most of all, don’t become a rep counter! Remember, all eyes are on you, including your next potential client.

Commit to developing the above and I can assure you clients will come and stay. Executed in an effective manner, trainers should deliver double figure revenue each month. Anything less, and you need to evaluate whether you are truly hitting all five of these areas.

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