by Tyler Valencia, MS
A prevalent subject on the KIPS blog has been, and will be, business fundamentals as they relate to personal training. It’s not that other subjects such as exercise physiology or programming are not important, but rather business fundamentals are typically what help entry-level personal trainers stay in the industry. Are there outliers? There sure are! Every situation is different, and sometimes you come across a personal trainer with sub-par business fundamentals and a full training schedule. On the other end of the spectrum, you will also come across a personal trainer with sub-par exercise science fundamentals but superior business fundamentals and a full training schedule. It’s these anomalies that make health and fitness a growing and constantly evolving industry.
In this blog post we will focus on five tips that work, but may not be the most popular. These tips are not “popular” because they either take time or aren’t as elaborate as other tips made available on the Internet. Veteran personal trainers already do many of the tips listed in this blog post regularly, and hopefully this post brings a different perspective for those looking to build their personal training business.
- Be Patient.
As the old saying goes, “patience is a virtue.” In a work culture where instant gratification is on demand, or in growing pressure environments, being patient can be difficult. You could be in a situation where you’re posting on social media, offering free sessions and creating relationships with your fitness manager but are not seeing any results with your client session list. It’s not that the previous steps aren’t working, but they take time to reach potential clients. Today’s consumer base uses a variety tools to research a purchase, and will often need extra time to make an investment.
It’s important to remember that potential clients aren’t just buying training sessions with you, they are making an investment in you. How you act in public, on social media or when you’re working out are on display for everyone to see. Keeping a professional outward appearance online and in-person can ensure that potential clients want to invest in your personal training services, and more importantly keep coming back.
- Volunteer Your Time.
Building off the previous tip is volunteering your time. Depending on the type of volunteering you’re doing, the seeds that you plant will take time to grow into a fruitful business return. Volunteering can also be rewarding, especially if you are working with youth populations or those who may not be able to afford your services.
So how does volunteering your time benefit your personal training business? Often, volunteering your time is about the individuals that you meet while providing a beneficial service to those who may not have otherwise been able to afford your service. You never know who is going to be in attendance at a volunteering event, and you could run into someone who is looking for a personal trainer or someone who has a friend/family member that is in need of a personal trainer.
It is in my professional opinion that you should not be going into a volunteering opportunity expecting an immediate return or even thinking about your personal training business. The reason we volunteer is to give back. Volunteering is a selfless act, and is a task that should be given at 100% effort.
- Be Your Own Promotional Tool.
Turning our attention to the marketing activities of your business, being your own promotional tool is an opportunity to showcase your services. As previously mentioned, consumers will often research a product/service on multiple platforms before they invest their money. If you have sample videos showcasing your personal training services already on a variety of social media platforms, a consumer can view these videos and decide if you are the personal trainer they are looking for.
In a previous blog post the quality of social media posts was discussed, and how “posting just to post” isn’t necessarily the best mindset to have in a digital marketing era. Common types of posts you will see on social media are motivational quotes on top of an image or a witty exercise related image shared from another profile. While these types of posts can help create a consistent social media presence, they don’t give consumers an idea about your personal training philosophy or what they can expect during a session.
While I’m a firm believer that a cell phone should never be seen during a session, exceptions can be made. You might be videoing improvements with your clients or videoing your client so they can visually see what they look like during a certain exercise. With their permission, these videos can be used on various social media platforms and be a useful marketing tool.
- Focus on Client Retention.
In many personal training certification courses the information provided is centered on getting your first client. What’s just as important is retaining that client. As mentioned earlier in this blog post, your clients are investing their own money in their health, but also in you. If their feelings change after 2-3 weeks of training with you, your first client could easily move on and begin looking for a new personal trainer.
On top of creating a well-balanced program, I’m a firm believer that consistently doing the small things can help keep your client list full. These small things can be regularly asking your clients about their day and about plans they have throughout the week. I’ve often heard how personal training is often a way for clients to talk to someone about their stressful week. Even though you are paid to develop exercise related programs, the mental component is just as important and be just as rewarding for you and your client.
Some other useful client retention tips are sending seasonal cards to your clients, remembering special dates in their lives, and consistently look for ways to improve their program.
Enough cannot be said about the power of networking. Networking inside your gym and outside your gym creates multiple avenues that can lead to new clients. Inside the gym, if members know who you are and know you’re a quality personal trainer, they can recommend you to new members or when a family member is looking for some training advice. This tip is similar to the volunteering tip in that you never know who is going to be watching or looking for a personal trainer. You could strike up a conversation one day with your dentist and next week you have a new client. Dentists see a variety of populations throughout a week, and small talk usually happens with each of their sessions. If you have networked with your dentist and given them business cards to hand out should anybody asked, you have created a new potential avenue for clients.
Other popular businesses to network with include health stores, juice bars, and local youth club sports teams.
With every blog post or program that I write, I usually include a portion about how every situation is different. I mention this because gym-to-gym the culture will vary and demographics will dictate what business fundamentals you emphasize. Just like with coaching, some tools might be utilized more often than others but at least you have it in your coaching belt for when it’s needed. One week you might focus on networking your personal training business, and the next emphasizing your client retention skills.
Another important part of improving your business fundamentals is making them your own. What’s working for one personal trainer might not work for you. This might be due to a different niche market or your implementation is different. There’s no right or wrong in these situations, but there is a learning experience to be had. Staying flexible and able to adapt can help you evolve as a trainer and to solve problems through most situations.
Tyler Valencia is the President of KIPS. While working for a Southern California online education company he started his first business, Time 2 Train Fitness which specialized in bootcamp and personal training. Time 2 Train Fitness went on to receive the distinction of 3X Best Bootcamp and 2X Best Personal Trainer with the Long Beach Press Telegram. Before founding KIPS, Tyler was the Vice President of the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) & Smart Fitness.