Personal training can have its ups and downs, you win a few clients, you lose a few, you find new clients to replace the old ones, and so on.
This cycle can make for a seriously unstable job where you can never pinpoint how much money you are going to make each month, so is personal training a stable job? And if not, what can you do to make sure you know exactly how much money you’ll be making each month?
In this article, I’m going to show you the process I went through with all my clients to make sure I kept them for months and sometimes years at a time.
As a general rule, a job as a personal trainer can be unstable due to unpredictable factors such as losing clients, monthly gym rents increasing, or additional competition. However, the fear of being made redundant is non-existent as long as your business is bringing in reliable income.
A couple of things really suck about being a PT or fitness instructor, losing clients, not knowing how much money you’ll make each month, and having to constantly find new clients to fill up your diary again.
What if I told you that there’s an incredibly simple way of keeping your clients for months or years on end, and best of all, you won’t have to keep selling personal training packages to them over and over again?
You’d know how much money was coming in each month so you could actually plan for your future and it’d take away a whole lot of stress and hassle.
That’d be pretty sweet right?
Ah, go on then, I’ll tell ya
It all has to do with your sales process
You’re probably used to selling personal training as packages right? Blocks of five, ten, or if you’re really lucky blocks of 20 sessions at a time.
This is how I’d say about 70-80% of fitness instructors or personal trainers sell their sessions. It’s common because it’s been done that way for years, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good way to do it, in fact, it’s terrible!
There are a lot of flaws with this method, including:
- Having to constantly re-sell packages after they run out
- Large packages (20+ sessions) being too expensive for most people
- Sessions running over from one month to another
- Difficult to enforce any rules to session usage
Sell monthly training packages (direct debits)
Here it is people, the holy grail of a stable personal training business, selling monthly direct debit sessions instead of outdated 10 or 20 session packages.
How it works
After a consultation session with a prospective client, you show your package options in the way you normally would. Now, you should have session blocks available, because this is what people are used to seeing, but the option you really want to point them to are your monthly direct debit sessions.
Make all your other options more expensive to make it very clear how much more convenient and beneficial it is to all parties if they sign up for direct debit sessions.
This is how I used to set up my training packages to entice people to go for the direct debit option every time.
You’ll see that the fewer sessions the prospect went for, the more expensive they were and they also had the least amount of additional extras.
The whole idea here is that we want to push people away from these types of session blocks, as they are likely to leave after doing just a few sessions with us.
When you look at package options like this, which one do you think most people would want to go for? The slightly cheaper option that doesn’t come with anything or 8 sessions a month at only £360?
People also read from left to right (in western countries) so this option should always be the last one they read.
Why are direct debit sessions more stable?
You don’t have to re-sell sessions – When a client sets up a direct debit amount with you, the money is taken automatically out of their account at the start of each month, then they have another full month of training with you. There’s no getting to an end of a block and having to have the awkward conversation about money again, so you only have to sell personal training once.
They make training affordable – Asking anyone to stump up £600 in one go isn’t easy, most people don’t have that kind of money just laying around, but £360 a month? That’s much more reasonable (especially for a premium product), and probably not much more than they are used to paying for other direct debits already coming out of their accounts each month.
You’ll have each client for at least 3 months – One of the stipulations to signing up to direct debit sessions is that there is a minimum contract of 3 months. This means once you have a client set up and paying, you don’t have to worry about them leaving you for a quarter of a year, and that’s pretty comforting.
You can enforce this option by saying that in order for them to get the cheaper session price that DD (direct debit) sessions offer, they need to have the commitment for at least three months.
People becoming comfortable with the monthly payment – This is by far the biggest benefit that brings stability to a personal trainer’s career. Once a client has paid one or two months’ worth of session costs, they kind of factor it into their lifestyle. They know that each month they are going to be paying £360 (or whatever you charge), so it doesn’t become a concern for them to pay it.
People are used to paying crazy amounts each month for their phones on contract these days, and having a PT is just another monthly expense they now have.
They forget they are even paying for training – In addition to the point above, your clients will get so used to paying and coming to your sessions that it just becomes part of their routine. So, a prospective client that may have initially only wanted a few training sessions is now totally comfortable with training with you in the long term because you made it affordable and convenient for them initially.
A few caveats
Of course, you’ll still have to sell your own skills as a trainer to a prospect in the first place to even get to this point, but when you do, there are a few important factors you need to let the client know before they sign up for direct debit sessions.
- There’s a minimum 3-month contract for direct debit sessions
- The client can cancel their direct debit sessions at any time
- The number of sessions agreed upon cannot be carried over into the following month. For example, if 4 sessions a month are agreed upon, then you cannot carry over a session into the following month, it must be used at another time or the session is lost.
A personal training career doesn’t have to be difficult
One of the great things about having a “regular” job is that you know what’s coming in each month. You can account for bills, mortgages, food costs and fingers crossed, even have a little to play with or save.
A lot of self-employed and even employed trainers don’t have this benefit, because they stick to the old ways of selling blocks of sessions that they’ve seen others doing for years. This really sucks because there’s no need for it, it’s pretty much the only thing that makes a personal training career unstable in terms of income.
Sure, you can still lose clients, people can get fired or made redundant and all the other reasons under the sun that they might need to cancel their training with you, but at least from the payments side of things, you can make it much more comfortable for both you and them, whilst making it more affordable, which will, in turn, land you more clients in the first place.
Other factors to consider
Ok, so not everything’s about money, but it’s just that this is what I know most trainers worry about. There are a few other factors I want to quickly address in a quickfire Q&A.
Q: What if the company I work for goes under?
A: It’s very unlikely to happen if you are working for a large commercial gym chain. These companies have been going for a long time and have strong branding and marketing behind them that keep them filled with new members all the time.
If you’re working for a very small gym chain or independent gym, this may be more of a factor.
Q: Am I likely to get fired?
A: Like any other job, you are no more likely to be fired or let go unless you do something fairly drastically wrong. If you are self-employed then you do of course work for yourself, but a gym can ask you to leave. Redundancy is really not a factor to worry about here though at all.
Q: Will I have a difficult boss or workmates?
A: In my own experience, I have never had a gym manager that I wasn’t totally fine with working with, and in terms of teams mates, there will always be a mixed bag of people working as trainers, some you’ll like, and some you may not, it’s the same as any other workplace in that regard.
Q: Will someone else take my job?
A: Nope, not unless the gym asks you to leave for any particular reason. Remember, if you are a successful trainer and you are making the gym money or paying them your rent consistently they have no reason to get someone in to replace you.
I was a trainer for nearly ten years, and I am so glad I learned about the benefits of getting people onto monthly direct debit sessions early on in my career. It’s so nice knowing that as soon as the first of the month rolls around, you get a nice big wad of payments from all your clients.
All your worries about monthly rent for the gym? gone! concerns over having to sell at the end of each block? gone! And most importantly, you can just focus on being a fantastic trainer and enjoy doing what you love.
I hope you’ve seen from this article that working as a personal trainer can be a stable career if you are careful with how you sell your sessions. The other factors that make most other jobs unstable don’t really apply to being a trainer, which I think we can all agree is a pretty great thing.
Go get ’em!
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