So, I’m in the midst of writing a chapter on creating your business plan, and I realize that you should really have a name for your company picked out by now. But, it’s not as simple as you may think. Choosing a name should take some careful consideration.

nametagThere are a couple of different ways of naming your business:

Using your name in the business name. I could name my club Nutting’s Gym. There are many examples of this in the fitness world, from classics of Gold’s Gym, and Vince’s Gym, to the more contemporary Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning, and Parisi Speed School. When your name is part of your business name, it is a constant reflection of you personally, so you must live your philosophy. You should also consider that if you want to sell your business, the buyers will most likely want to continue to use your business name and the reputation that it carries. If your end game is to build a business to then sell, how will you feel about selling your name?

Name by location. Whether it’s 72nd St. Fitness or the 92nd St. Y, these names make it easier to locate them. Easier to find is always a good thing. However, what if you need to move or add other locations? All of the name recognition that you’ve built will be lost if you change your name, and you would want to change your name. 72nd St. Fitness now on 34th St. would be very confusing.

Choose a name that says what you are. For me, this is the best bet. Come up with a business name that speaks to your target market. i.e. if you are targeting the baby boomers, you may choose “Forever Fit” or “Fit Again”. Or, you could name it based on your training philosophy as in “Full Function Fitness” or “Hard Core Lifting Club”. Of course you want something that is unique. Watch out for existing names or one’s that are very similar.

Once you choose a name, claim it as a web domain and register it with your county clerk or with your state.

I’d love to hear what you’ve named your business. Write your business name in the comments section below. Happy naming!

Starting to work out, eating better, or taking better care of yourself are all personal resolutions you hear proclaimed every year. Let’s put them aside for now and talk about your business. What resolutions have you made for it? We should be going into the new year with changes in mind to better our business.

2015resolutions

Not unlike personal resolutions, these should not be a simple wish list, but a list of what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Hmmn? Kinda sounds like creating a S.M.A.R.T. list of goals, doesn’t it? That’s really the key in a nutshell with the added layer of how you’re going to accomplish them.

Just like any goal, these need to be defined as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound. So let’s take a goal that you may have. Let’s say you want to increase the profitability of your boot camps. Let’s define that

Specific: Increase the profitability of your boot camps by 25%

Measurable: Through use of a Profit/Loss worksheet

Attainable: Yes (let’s assume)

Realistic: Yes (again, let’s assume)

Time bound: By the end of the first quarter, March 31st, 2015

This is where the real work begins. We’ve defined our goal. We know precisely what it is, but how, again specifically, are you going to get there?

Can you define the reasons your boot camps are not doing as well as you’d like? It could be lack of space, equipment, or instructors. Let’s, for the sake of an exercise, say its lack of space. Your class is at capacity for the size of the room. What options do you have to increase profitability?

1) Charge participants more for the class

2) Reduce the overhead:

-what you pay for the space

-what you pay the instructor for the class

-what you pay for the equipment used

3) Increase the capacity of the class so you can take more participants by:

-Be more efficient in the use of the space that you have

-Rent a larger space

-Take it outside in a park

Which of these suggestions or combination of suggestions can you implement that will get you to your profitability goal? If you choose to increase rates for participants by $2/class, negotiate a lower facility rental agreement, and increase capacity by using activities that require less space, would that get you there? When will you implement by to reach your goal?

profit

This is the process to create real resolutions vs a simple wish list. It is your game plan for building your business for the upcoming year. Spend time on this.

I’d love to hear what the top resolution is for your business in 2015. Please share what it is in the comments below.

If you look at what’s happening in fitness industry, you’d be hard pressed not to have noticed the “cult-like” following that surrounds some brands such as CrossFit and Zumba.

crossfit1

CrossFit is “Forging Elite Fitness” though constantly varied, high intensity activities that includes everything from Olympic Lifts to kipping pull-ups. Zumba, on the other hand, wants you to “Ditch the Workout and Join the Party” a Latin dance based workout system. Could these two styles of training be further apart? While they are very different (and Crossfitters even make fun of Zumba participants), what they have in common is the blind devotion of their followers. How does that happen?

zumba1

In The Power of Cult Branding authors Matthew W. Ragas and Bolivar J. Bueno present the Seven Golden Rules of Cult Branding:
1. Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different.
2. Cult brand inventors show daring and determination.
3. Cult brands sell lifestyles.
4. Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists.
5. Cult brands always create customer communities.
6. Cult brands are inclusive.
7. Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from enemies

Think about CrossFit and Zumba.
1. They are very different than other modes of exercise.
2. The creators were committed to their way of training.
3. They are absolutely selling a lifestyle through various branded products, and shared experiences. Zumba even has a magazine called Z-Life.
4. The participants feel a part of the organization, feel like they are appreciated and are encouraged to spread the gospel.
5. Crossfitters and Zumba enthusiasts are all about their community. This may include their own language (WODs, poods, and ”Uncle Pukie” in CrossFit) or outfits, bags, and other apparel as can be found in the Zumba store.
6. Both are inclusive. Everyone is welcome to drink the Kool-Aid, including kids and seniors.
7. Both CrossFit facilities and Zumba classes are as different as the instructors. They are free to structure them as the individual instructors see fit. Differentiation from the competition is often an integral part of the marketing plan. “We are not…”

This type of community can be yours too with whatever type program you offer. Think about how you can utilize these rules to create your own fitness cult.

The 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto principle, states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Whole books have been written on this. It’s applied to every conceivable scenario and the concept is simple. We all waste a lot of time and effort on things that are unproductive. If we can focus on those few things that create the greatest results, we will achieve so much more in less time. A couple of tools I find useful are as follows: In his book, “First Things First”, Steven Covey describes a grid of four boxes. In one box are those things that are urgent and important (must be handled now and is important for reaching my goal). In a second box are things that are urgent and unimportant (the typical things that pop up day-to-day that, because of it’s urgency, we feel like it must be important, but it won’t help us reach our goals) You’ll be amazed how many actually fall into this category. These are the real life-suckers that can leave us too fatigued to do the meaningful stuff. A third… not urgent, but important (envisioning your future and how to attain it or maybe planning/taking some down time to recharge your inner batteries). A fourth… not urgent and unimportant (wasting time).

Quadrant

Write out your list of things to do and label them as fitting into one of these boxes. Then stick to the two “important” boxes and either delegate or toss out the rest. (I love this exercise.)

Take that one step further with a tip from “The 4-Hour Workweek”, by Tim Ferris. It discusses the inefficient use of our time and how multi-tasking helps us work at many things and finish none of them. Ferries believes in locking yourself away from distractions and working on only one task at a time until that task is finished. (I’m a big believer in this one.)

Now go to your lists in the important boxes and prioritize them. Gather all of the information or things you will need for the first project and lock yourself away until it’s done. If you can’t get it all done in one sitting, then schedule a meeting with yourself each day until you do finish. If we can set our minds to attacking and completing the 20% of things on our list that are really important , we’ll attain the results we’re seeking sooner than we could have imagined.

Good luck, Mark

I know that many trainers get certified and head out into the world believing that they have all of the answers. They may see other trainers as competition and choose to keep whatever knowledge/information they have to themselves for fear of giving away something that will give others a business advantage.

islandThis is a trap that will hold you back from becoming the best trainer that you could be. The times change, the science changes, and you need to change and grow with them.

I have been a personal trainer and in club management for 35 years. I have acquired a great deal of information over the years and have much to share. That said, every time I get a chance to talk with other professionals in the field, I come away with new insight. Sometimes it’s something completely new and sometimes it’s an affirmation that I am on the right track. I example, I just got back from an executive roundtable for fitness directors. Everyone on the roundtable disclosed everything from financials to best practices and I believe I speak for the group in saying that we all came away with new ideas and a better understanding of how to become more successful.

While this example is larger scale and you may not think it is applicable to you, it is. I have had similar discussions with fellow trainers in our club and even with trainers from competing clubs. The key is that almost 70% of the US population is overweight or obese. We sit too much. We eat too much. We are an unwell society. There is no shortage of potential clients.

So go talk to other trainers about their training and their business and talk to them about yours.

You cannot be your best if you isolate yourself.

Share, listen, learn, and repeat.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? It’s incredible to me how often I see people in the service industry that just don’t get it. How many times do you walk into a store or restaurant and can’t seem to get anyone’s attention or, if you do, you’re obviously interrupting something very important (like an inspection of their nail polish or a conversation they’re having with a co-worker) because they genuinely seemed ticked off that you’re there. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone cared enough to even fake caring?
For me, it’s like Roy Scheider’s portrayal of Bob Fosse in the movie “All That Jazz”. Fosse wakes every morning up after obvious hard nights, throws some Visine in his eyes, takes a couple of uppers, and says to himself in the mirror, “It’s show time, folks!” and puts on his I-must-deal-with-the-public face.

While that may be an extreme example, the point is that every interaction that you have can make or break someone’s day. It’s no different with Personal Trainers. I always talk about it being “show time”. You need to leave everything that’s bothering you outside of work. Remind yourself you have the power to create positive experiences for others and that’s a wonderful thing. Enjoy that power. Even if life is hard outside of work, you can choose to focus on the positive effects you have on others while at work.
So, smile and pass it on.

“Change is the only constant. Hanging on is the only sin.” – Denise McCluggage

Every once in a while I am astounded by certain people’s resistance to change. In any business or, in fact, any life, change is inevitable.

time_for_change

The world around us is changing so rapidly, how can we believe that we can, or should, escape it? I’m reminded of when my wife Heather and I first joined the corporate team of Town Sports International. We were immediately handed a copy of Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese”. The message of the book is simple, things change and if you don’t accept it and move on you’ll be left behind wondering where it all went and when is it coming back (which its not).

We can always improve how and what we do. How can we help more people? How can we have a greater impact? How can we improve the world? Change has it’s ups and downs but, the yin and yang of it is that without the downs there are no ups. Without the risk of failing, there’s no chance of improving, no growth.

We need to embrace change and go for that ride of what could be. With change the possibilities are endless.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston S. Churchill

 

I don’t know if you’re aware yet, but there’s a new social media site building interest and getting ready to launch. Ello! It is currently by invitation only and is still in beta version. Do we need another social media site? Who cares about one more site?

Ello

 

It’s ad free, does that make you want to join it? Maybe not, but as Facebook posts more and more ads in your news stream, you may change your mind. Ello likes to think of itself as anti-Facebook in that sense.

The marketing rule of thumb is go to where your market is. They’ve been on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Maybe Ello is the next stop for them. You can’t know yet. None of us can predict it. So, don’t wait. Join it when you can and explore it. Create a presence before your competition does. It may not pan out, but many didn’t think Twitter would either.

When you do join, connect with me at https://ello.co/marknutting Let’s get in there and figure Ello out together.Ello

In The Art of Prospecting for New Clients, Part 1, I discussed the most immediate return for invested time, individuals that are already at your facility trying to change their fitness level.
In this post we’ll address how you go about getting prospective clients into your facility. For the sake of brevity, I’m going keep this about-face to face meetings.
If you’re working at a personal training studio, do in-home training, or simply want to reach a greater audience than your club, you need to go to where your target market is. (determining who your target market is, is a topic for another time.)

relationships

Find out where they are. In example, if you’re seeking to connect with seniors you may want to go check out the senior center, senior college, local churches, or other groups for the older population. Get involved with these groups. You don’t need to be a senior. Volunteer. This could be your service as a presenter of health and fitness information or simply to help out with their day-to-day needs. The key is to become someone they know and trust. Note: Do not come to the group with your marketing guns a blazin’ or they will reject you. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Work on building relationships. Once people trust you, they will ask you, give you permission, to tell them more about how they might become more fit.
When you are asked, and this is true for any time you are asked (like at a party when someone finds our you are a trainer and they want to know how to lose “this” area.) proceed mindfully. Making recommendations without knowing all the important details is reckless and probably won’t get you the client. Your goal is to get them to come to your office or club so that you can sit down with them to find out all relevant information. This will allow you to make your best recommendation as to how to proceed from there.

1) Listen to what they are saying and acknowledge their concerns.

2) If you believe you can help them, tell them so.

3) Explain that in order to make a valid recommendation, you need to have time to sit down and learn more about them. (medical health history, lifestyle questionnaire, etc.)

4) If you can make an appointment now, do it. Then take their number so you can call and confirm. Give them yours in case they need to change times/days.

5) If you can’t make an appointment now, get an idea of what times and days are good for them. Then take their number so you can schedule the appointment. Give them yours in case they need to change times/days.

Remember to get out and meet your prospective clients where they spend time. Take time and build a relationship with them. Then, when they ask or you see an opportunity to help, invite them to sit and talk. Getting them to come in is the best way to be able to help them by gaining them as a client.

What groups do you connect with to find prospective clients? Please post them in the comments. I’d love to hear about it.

The Art of Prospecting on the Training Floor
While the point of sale (when an individual buys a club membership) is one place that personal training can be sold, it is not where the greatest potential for acquiring new clients is. One of the best places to engage these members is on the Training Floor.

Personal-Training
There are two main methods of gaining new clients on the Training Floor. Both options should take place within the time that you wish to gain clients (if they’re in the club when you are willing to work, your time schedules will likely mesh).
Walking the Floor in Uniform is a great opportunity to establish your presence as a personal trainer. Make an effort to introduce yourself and meet everyone on the floor.

Approach those performing exercises correctly. Introduce yourself. Complement them on their form and effort. You may ask where they learned the exercise. Then ask what their heath/fitness goals are and if they feel that they are achieving them. If they are, congratulate them and let them know that if they have any questions, that you are more than happy to be of service. If they are not achieving their goals, ask what they think may be holding them back. Listen to their response then let them know that you’d love to help and that you could schedule a half hour to sit down and have a more in-depth conversation after which you could offer more personalized suggestions.

Approach those that you believe are performing exercises in poor form. Introduce yourself. Positively note their effort, ask what they are trying to accomplish with that exercise, then, if appropriate* offer a correction to make the exercise more effective or offer a different exercise entirely. (*sometimes, hearing what they are trying to accomplish may justify the form they are using). Then proceed as with those performing exercises correctly, (sorry for the repetition, but this part is important.) ask what their heath/fitness goals are and if they feel that they are achieving them. If they are, congratulate them and let them know that if they have any questions, that you are more than happy to be of service. If they are not achieving their goals, ask what they think may be holding them back. Listen to their response then let them know that you’d love to help and that you could schedule a half hour to sit down and have a more in-depth conversation after which you could offer more personalized suggestions.

When helping members on the floor, a trainer should limit his/her time with each member. If the trainer is locked in conversation with one person, he/she can be perceived as inaccessible to other members. You can come back to that member after walking around, putting equipment back in place, and interacting with other members. Keep in mind, having extended, exclusive time with a trainer is why people purchase personal training.

Working out on the Training Floor creates a casual opportunity for members to approach you and you should capitalize on it. While the conversations on the floor may slow your workout down, trainers must weigh that with increasing the chance of gaining new clients. (Never wear headphones while working out. It sends the message that you are unavailable.) The conversations can proceed in the same progression as with Walking the Floor in Uniform. Note: I just picked up a new client this morning by being accessible while I was working out.

The members of your club are your greatest potential for new clients. Don’t let the opportunities slip by you.