How to Step Selling Your Time as a Personal Trainer (and get your life back)

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One of the biggest problems with in-person personal training (the only type I believe in), is that you're selling your time. Which means when you or your clients go away, your income disappears. This makes it pretty damn difficult (read: virtually impossible) to effectively plan for the future. Which means sacrificed holidays, leisure/family time, events with friends and dinners etc all become secondary. No work, no pay.

Thing is, the traditional model of personal training being taught, which despite it being in neither you or your clients best interests, is to train (and charge) clients based on how many sessions or time they get with you as the main advantage or selling point.

The problem with this 'old school' approach is three fold:

1. If you're good...you'll quickly run out of time.
I've met trainers who can take 40 or 50 1-1 sessions per week. They tell me how they love it and enjoy being in front of the client. Which I get. I love coaching my clients too.

The challenge is, as you continue to get busier, where are you going to find time to write programs, deliver exceptional customer service, prepare your own meals, work on your marketing, develop new business, continue to learn, fit in your own training, have any sort of life, spend time with your partner etc?

As you know, time is finite and it's the fastest way to burnout. Yes, you CAN sustain it for a little while, but is it really how you (and your partner) see your future??

2. It's not in the clients' best interest.
Think about it. Knowing that it actually costs 4-5 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, means that ultimately the longer you can keep a client, the better it is for you. Eventually, however, for reasons that are often beyond your control, the client can sometimes feel like you're taking them for a ride. Whether that is true or not is another question, but as soon as they aren't seeing maximum value in your service, they start to grow skeptical and weigh up their options of spending their money elsewhere.

(Note: Yes you can still keep your best clients btw, I'll show you how below)

3. You eventually become resentful.
As you get better, more people will want your time. When you charge by the session only, you're not taking into account the additional work and costs associated with working with the client. Which means, every additional thing you do, comes at a cost...your cost. Because of this, you can become resentful due to having to take 30 minute phone calls if/when they break down, or that extra hour you need to write their next program is essentially done for free. I love providing exceptional value for my clients, but I also love being paid for that...and so should you.

Therefore, since it's not in anyone's best interest to run a personal training business this way. Below I wanted to share with you the exact steps and way you can do the opposite and actually be paid what you're worth rather than just for your time.

 

Here's what to do about it...

 

STEP 1: Discover The Desired Outcome(s)
The number 1 thing people want...outcomes. Very tangible and very real results to help with their problems. This means, your time is NOT valuable to them. It might be hard to hear, but it's the truth. What they want, is the knowledge, resources, and advice you have.

You need to be looking at how you can achieve the maximum result in the minimum amount of time. It's not lazy, it's in the best interest of both you and the client. Plus it means you'll get more time to work with new clients or spend time growing your business.

What you'll want to do, is sit down with your client and set some very clear goals for what they want to achieve. You can ask questions such as: "So what are some of the things you'd like to work on if we were to do this together?" or "In 12 months time, if everything went to plan, will you want to have achieved?"

This will give you a very clear picture for what success looks like. You may need to tweak/change/overhaul/go deeper, but this is a great starting point.

STEP 2: Reverse Engineer Success
OK, next up, we need to work out exactly what it would take to move this person from where they are now, to where they want to be. Things to think about:

Education (What do they need to learn both physically and mentally to shift their future?)

Resources (What do they need to get to their goals)

Tools (such as a gym, worksheets, phone calls, coaching etc)

Additional Help (that you personally cannot provide (massage, osteo, psychologist etc) that would add toward the end result.)

Take the time to sit down and think about all the things that would be required to achieve the desired result. Brainstorm them all out onto a big sheet of butchers paper or inside your journal and exhaust all options. The more the better. (We will give structure to it next).

(Notice I did not say time yet? That comes later in the process.)

STEP 3: Build the Plan (with the client)
Nothing gets done until a plan is created. There's a reason why Google Maps is consistently in the top 5 apps downloaded on any smartphone. Because it tells you exactly which turns you need to take to get to your destination as quickly as possible. You will now become the 'Google Maps' for your clients transformation, giving them the directions and route needed to help them get to their destination as quickly as possible. 

Outline the steps and phases the client will take with you (communication is king), and get their buy-in along the way. They'll need to be comfortable, educated, and understand exactly what this will take. This is going to help with adherence later on when things get hard (and they will get hard).

It's at this point you're finally going to talk timeframes. It's important to outline that this is an estimate (based off of what you've done with previous clients and from your own transformation). You'll also want to talk about the different phases and how long you will (ideally) spend at each one - pending they follow the plan.

STEP 4: Do the Work.
Now it's time to get to work. This is the 'fun' part...at least for you. Thing is, you'll also need to be there to help, assist, course correct, champion and challenge them along this journey. The reason they're coming to you is because they don't know the steps to get themselves in shape. This is (hopefully) your area of expertise.

During this time, things might not always go to plan. Do your best. Use your skills. Adapt (and learn) as you go, and you'll continue to grow (both as a coach and a leader).

Step 5: NEXT.
As you know, the bond between coach and client is quite special. You are the highlight of their day/week/life. Which means, they don't want to get rid of you.

To keep them as a client, you'll want to continue to anticipate the unmet, unsatisfied and unidentified needs of your client. That is, once they finish their first program, they're going to have new goals, dreams, and desires. It's your job to draw these out. Best of all, they know YOU can help them get there (because you've literally just done it).

I recommend at the 75-85% mark of their program, you have a conversation with the client about their new goals, their new ambitions and where they want to go next with their training. This will then make the basis of program 2...and program 3...and so on.

If there is one thing I know about humans, it's that we love working towards and achieving a goal we've set. As we transform our bodies, we transform as people too. By making sure the client is reaching beyond what they currently believe is possible for themselves, you give them the healthy push they need to make growth happen.

I know the above might be a little bit different to what you might've heard or seen before, but I promise you the above works.

The aim of the game is to always be one, two or three steps ahead of the client.

Remember the essentials: people buy outcomes (not time), you are in control, and you are the one that needs to help the client see and set new goals for themselves.

Let me know if you implement the above inside your fitness business, and how it goes.

Hayden