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Business Tips, Tricks and Q&A

Hey all,

As someone starting up a personal training / strength and conditioning service, I’m really struggling with running a business properly. I’m sure there are others here in a similar position.

I know there are some very good businessmen and businesswomen among us here, so I’d love to pick your brains.

Off the bat, I really need some help with:

  • Mastering the cold approach
  • Knowing how to price my service
  • Attracting sales with an introductory offer

I’d love if this thread could turn into an open forum for similar questions.

Cheers everyone

what do you offer and where/how? e.g. sessions at a specific gym / online focus / etc.

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I do two services:

  • Personal training at a gym
  • Sprint training at football fields

The majority of my personal training clients right now are 20-25, but I’m trying to get more clients aged over 30.

Sprint training service is brand-new, but I’m trying to aim that at people 18-25 who just finished and now miss High School sports

I met my ex-husband through the “sign up to win a free membership!” boxes gyms used to (still do?) place in other businesses. We gave everyone a free month, and a hard sell when they came in for the first time about signing up now and trading that month in for (I can’t remember). Easy cold calls, though. And easy membership sales, for that matter.

I would also say, based on the referral stream it’s been providing me as a psychotherapist, make your online presence count. I studied all of my area’s websites and psychology today profiles, then broadened to look at the sites of people successful enough to have podcasts, and searched things like “Manhattan therapists” to look at fancy people’s marketing of my product. Then I made sure mine is on point.

I definitely think I need to improve the quality of my website, although I like to think my IG is pretty on point.

Did you have any specific communication strategies for your cold calls?

Oh my goodness, it’s been like a million years ago. I’d go with something like “Hi, this is [you] with [business name if appropriate] and I’m calling to let you know that you’ve won three free personal training sessions.” The lead box will offer something more (a year of sessions, say) but you simply ignore that and present the three sessions as a win as well. Some people will see through it, some won’t. Some will come and squeeze the sessions out of you and then walk. But some will stay. (Don’t marry them!)

I have to say that I don’t necessarily feel good about the way we/I operated in the gym business. I feel very good about the awkward girls and divorcing people I helped feel good about themselves, but our business practices were pretty sketchy. OTOH, the lead box is a tried-and-true marketing strategy. If you wanted to (my bosses never did) you could even make it honest: “Three free sessions, then decide if you’d like to move forward.” You could jazz that up, of course.

I have no particular tips on selling, as I’ve never had to sell. I worked at a firm that sold me.

Then I got a reputation, and my clients and people I whipped sold me.

Which I understand is the best sales tool – third party people recommending your services.

I’d be tempted to go offer your services on the super cheap at a local country club (and these are your bread and butter people – rich active people who can afford your services – trophy wives and such). And they presumably have a nice green to go run on.

You take that base of clients to go start your business. (Or offer services T/R at the club and M/W/F/SU on your own)

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FWIW, after interacting with you here on the forums, I believe your selling point could (not going to say “should” as that depends more on what it is that you yourself want) be that you can train someone that has injuries.

Yesterday, in the gym, I was playing around with some KBs and I observed that there were angles I simply couldn’t push overhead without pain around my scalenes. It felt mechanically impossible. And, another KB highlight, I noticed my wrists were weaks as fuck while having a play with some bottoms up KB presses.

While there are PTs (personal trainers) around, they seem to have their services centered around helping people figure out how to train. Well, I know some stuff about training, and what I want is help training the way I want to train.

I imagine you might want to have two kinds of clientele, the people that want a more symbiotic relationship (price higher) and the ones you just tell what to do almost cookie-cutter-esque that demand very little effort on your part overall.

Tagging @danteism since he seems to have done quite well for himself.

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Probably a good idea. An a potential decent niche. Golf-swing hurting? Let me help you swing without pain.

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I agree. And stand by the web presence given the kind of work you do. If one of my well-heeled friends or clients mentioned a trainer, I’d next look them up.

I also agree with @Voxel about emphasizing injuries, but would go one step further and sell that you’re going to be very tuned in to limitations people may have, whether injury-related or to do with flexibility or whatever. Non-athlete things. I feel like I have a relationship with the most prominent nutritionist in my area because we have a great deal of overlap in patients. We’ve never met, but he’s a referral source. You could even offer to consult with clients’ providers (ortho, say) and really position yourself as not-just-another-meathead-trainer.

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I think this could appeal to all ages. I don’t know how many of my clients have bought Martin Gibala’s sprint training book on my recommendation (I was all about it for like 6 months). I have a couple of college athletes on my caseload, but didn’t bother to talk about it with them. They already know. I talked about it with older clients who work out, but are stuck in LISS (as indicated by the frustrations they were sharing with me about weight).

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See if there’s anything you can piggyback off of geographically. There was an old rural town, used to be industry, where unemployment was through the rough. Suddenly some climbers found it to be a bouldering haven and despite looking like absolute dirtbags, it’s an expensive activity that a lot of high-income earners engage in. You might be surrounded by a similar kind of clientele that no one is catering to.

If someone around my area opened up shop specifically dedicated to climbing injuries they’d make a killing. It’s become one of the most popular sports around, but the health service isn’t super interested in helping out with your overused finger tendons as they are busy providing surgery to the folks that end up running their hand through a table saw.

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If you know athletics, why not try to market to parents of kids playing sports. I know a trainer who has a lot of HS and under athletes. Once you can get in and get a bit of a reputation, other parents will want you to train their kids as they don’t want their kids to be at a disadvantage. Maybe get in with a couple local coaches. Offer summer training for students.

I will say that it seems tough to get started in something like this. I think without a reputation, you will have to offer more in value than you are receiving in payment (maybe by a lot). Think of this as an investment in building your reputation and client base.

I think offering group lessons might be a good idea. Maybe offer them for free for a bit. I never wanted to do the one on one free training sessions offered to me, but a group one was less perceived pressure. If you offer a ton of value, I think you have a good chance of getting people to sign up.

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Especially, if they know how to treat tennis elbow. Almost all the good climbers I went with suffered tennis elbow.

Climber’s elbow, yes.

I was always fighting it when I was climbing a lot. Now it gets me on the squat and bench press.

This is it, absolutely. You want your stock in trade, whether working with kids, adults, or athletes, to be that you’re smart. That’s what sells.

One of my clients (who was NOT doing HIIT until we discussed it) said of her trainer, “He’s an idiot, but it helps me to have the schedule.” That guy’s not crushing it, lol.

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Off the top of my head, a couple of things I’ve learned as a PT:

Calling a potential new customer:
If they don’t answer, text them. Tell who you are and ask if you can call at a spesific time/timeframe again. After you’ve succesfully called them and set up a meeting either email or text them the details: adress, time etc. also mentiin that if the time needs to be changed they should inform you.

If you want to gather info beforehand, have them fill out a basic info form via Google forms. Having people put in some work seems to make them come in to the meeting and possibly buy more.

Do not Rush the consultation. Take your time, make notes. Tell them how you would approach the situation and what you’ll bring to the table. Use the stuff they told you to back yourself up. “Because your goals are x and y and you have z issue we could try this and that”.

Make stuff visual and easy to understand. You can draw them a timeline of how you think stuff would go, or you can say “well you work 8-16. How about you come in at 06 on these days and we train before work”

Remember that your prices are your prices. Don’t give random discounts. If someone doesn’t want to play you, they probably won’t be too motivated anyways. Offering a way to pay in multiple parts is a great way of mitigating the “I don’t have money” claim.

Of course a free session/15 minutes where you go over a movement can be a great selling point. Make the customer notice that you know your stuff. For example, I like to coach chins or deads to new people, as there are a lot of things they can do more efficiently in those movements.

That being said, don’t lie. If you don’t know something just say it. Making BS claims is an easy way to make Cash quick, but most likely it wont last.

When you do get a client, try to book a couple of sessions right away. Get them started on the right track. And always tell them to inform you at least 24 hours in advance if they know they can’t make it.

When booking sessions, you are the one to say “I have free slots on these days, at hese times”. This is where you can lie a bit. Nothing in you calender? You do not say that. You have a couple of slots, and if they don’t work you can “rearrange this day so we can train there”.

If you have a website, make sure it looks professional and has easy to find contract forms and all the neccessary info. Websites are rather easy to make nowadays and cost next to nothing to maintain. Highly recommended.

Apart from that, having exercise demo videos, info booklets, clean looking programs etc is always a good thing.

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Other than rich people, rich people’s kids are the demographic to pick.

All of my daughters (those that reached a certain age) had summer/off-season sprint coaches.

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I mentioned it, because I noticed he is getting a lot of clients that way. He tailors the training to individual sports, but includes sprint and strength training in all of the programs. I think both of those things help in almost any sport.

They aren’t usually very stubborn clients, and have a steady source of payment.

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