Hiring Star Power

I just read an article on the Club Industry site, Should Your Fitness Studio Be Dependent on Personalities or Programs?, and thought that it is an issue worth discussing. Who should we be seeking out as new employees? Should it be a local “star” or an unknown?Star trainer

Let’s check out some pros and cons of hiring a star.

Pros:

  1. They are a known entity. They have a proven track record of success.
  2. They may bring in their own clients from another facility (which means more revenue for your facility).
  3. Their fans (clients/members) will tell others how good they are and help build their classes or programs (more revenue).
  4.  They may bring a special talent or skill that you do not yet have at your facility (potentially more revenue).

Cons:

  1. I’ve seen trainer and instructor rock stars from one facility completely flop in another setting. Their star power may not transfer.
  2. If they brought their client’s with them to your facility, what’s to say they won’t turn around and take them out of your facility along some of your regulars?
  3. They may expect higher pay than others which, if you pay it, can create bad team feelings if others were to ever find out.
  4. They may feel that they are above the standard policies and procedures of your facility. Noncompliance is a recipe for team disaster.

SuperStar_2013_logoI believe that the answer is not a simple yes or no. Here are my thoughts/recommendations on hiring a “star”:

  • Don’t hire anyone that isn’t excited about being part of your mission. Everyone from the cleaning people to the superstar trainers need to have the passion to work as part of a team that can create or provide something special.
  • Treat all of your employees like superstars. Pay everyone well and consistent for the position that they hold (everyone that has the same position receives the same benefits and pay). Give everyone the respect and kindness that we all deserve.
  • All employees are held to the same rules. Inconsistencies in how rules are enforced will create questions and confusion. Not enforcing rules is condoning the breaking of rules.

The question of whether or not to hire a superstar employee should be less about the star power that they may bring (although it can certainly an added bonus), and more about if they are a star fit into your company.

Payoff; a Book Review

While I did a quick Facebook review on this book, I thought it deserved a more formal review. Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations by Dan Ariely is a great book for business owners and managers. In it, Ariely explores what truly motivates people’s actions, particularly when it comes to getting the commitment and loyalty from

payoff book

employees. It’s a quick easy read (just 128 pages) from TED Books. However, don’t judge a book by its number of pages. Payoff has just that, a big payoff in its insight into how various reward systems effect the productivity of others (hint: it’s not money). Along the motivation lines, another book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink, also delivers great research data on the science of motivation.

This book can help you create an enthusiastic, productive team that will stay with you as you grow your company.

*If you like the Dan Ariely title, you may also like Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. It’s also a fascinating read.

What is Your Client’s Experience?

When what you sell is a commodity (let’s use the classic example of selling widgets), your widget is comparable to someone else’s widget. They do their widget thing. Nobody is wowed or disappointed. It’s just a widget, and being just a widget, the lowest price wins.

However, if you want your product (i.e. your club, studio, personal training, or classes) to be more than a commodity, then you need to differentiate yourself from others. Yes, having great great equipment is one thing, but is that enough? Other clubs can have great equipment. How about certified personal trainers? That too can be similar to other clubs. What will ultimately make you stand out from the crowd is the experience that you give to your members/clients.

2016_Principles-of-a-Great-Customer-Experience

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou  When we talk about people’s experience with your business, we’re talking about just that, how you made them feel. The experience encompasses everything they come in contact with from the parking lot to the bathrooms to the service desk staff. It should also be representative of your own particular brand. Here are a few thoughts.

The facility –

Not only should everything be cared for and functioning (no potholes in the parking lot, no stains or tears in the carpet), it should be clean (one of the most common reasons for women quitting a club is that it isn’t clean), smell fresh, and be attractively decorated.

Sound is also an important part of the experience. There are now businesses that will customize music for your business such as Soundtrack Your Brand. The volume and acoustics in your facility should also managed.

The people –

From smiling at members/clients across the room to having deep conversations, the whole staff (trainers, teachers, cleaning staff, management, etc.) need to understand that their job is to make people’s days better. How they are dressed, how they interact, even how they smell is part of the experience. Staff cannot bring their personal problems to work with them. It’s showtime from the moment they step out of their car coming to work. At Disney, no employee can be seen out of character and, to deliver an optimal experience, neither should any staff member at your facility.

best_3a878719229bc786eee3_cizeThe equipment –

Simply put, all equipment should be clean, up to date, and functioning perfectly.

The member’s/client’s experience is what they see, hear, smell, and feel, and, in creating a positive experience, all of these factors need to be considered and made consistent with the essence of your brand. Setting the experience is a well-crafted and ongoing task.

Canva, My Choice for a Cool Tool

Visual tools should be an integral part of marketing your business. The saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” could never be truer in this day and age. Facebook understands this and has even gone so far as to make words seem more like pictures, and feel more important, with the newer color background posting feature. (I do get a little annoyed by it because it does grab your attention even though the post may be completely trivial.) FB Post color

A better choice for making an impact on your target market is an online tool (and app) that I have been using for years now. It is called Canva, and it allows me to create perfectly sized graphics for all of my social media sites, print ads, flyers, business cards, and pretty much anything else I can think of.

What’s the cost? If I use my own photos, it’s free. But, if I want to use any of their thousands of photos (like the cover photo for this blog site), it is only $1 per photo.

canva

Just some of the pre-sized options at Canva

I don’t own stock in the company and I’m not even an affiliate. I just wanted to pass on this to help you save time and marketing dollars.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

Know Your ROI

ROI, Return On Investment, is a measure of success. Did what you put into something produce a profit or benefit, and if so, how much? Was it worth it? More often than not, when we are talking about ROI, we’re talking about money and profit. However, it could also mean time and effort put into a project. The point of looking at the ROI is to determine if it makes sense to do it again.

Businessman drawing ROI (return on investment)

As an example, let’s look at running an advertisement in a local magazine. Say the ad cost you $650 and will run for a month. First, how are you going to know if it worked? You should always ask new clients/members how they heard about you. This is your effectiveness tracker. From this ad, you get only one new client. Was it worth it? Before you get all “What? I placed this ad and only got one new client??? That’s not worth it.”, think about what one new client is worth. If a client trains with you once a week (staying somewhat conservative) for a year and you charge $65/session, that means that just for that first year that client is worth (let’s see… $65 x 52 weeks = $3380) $3380. What was the ROI on that ad? One way to figure that out is to subtract the investment (or cost) from the gross income which gives you your net income or profit. Then divide the net income by the cost, in this case $3380 – $650 = $2730 divided by $650 which + 4.2 or 420% ROI. This, at least in my books, is a worthwhile investment.

jack-of-all-tradesThat was a straight financial example. Sometimes your investment is your time in putting together or creating a project or program. Because I’m good at a lot of things (you know, jack of all trades, master of.. well, a couple) this is where I often find myself. I could do it myself, but… is that where my time best spent? To find the ROI on a project or program you need to look at the cost of spending your (or someone else’s) time compared to what kind of return you will get. If a project is going to take you 10 hours and your hourly rate is $65, that’s a $650 investment. Estimate what you believe your return will be and then calculate the ROI for the project. Is it worth you spending your time to do it? Could you get a better ROI by having someone else do the work? This is an important exercise to go through.

Now, of course, not everything has to have a profit to be worth undertaking. Maybe you spend time or money on something where the only return will be the self-satisfaction of having done something good for someone else. This can include hosting or supporting some benefit event. Here, you simply need to ask, “Can I afford to do it?” and “Is it important enough to me, for me to invest in it?”

Understanding the ROI on your investments is crucial to building and maintaining a healthy business. Make sure you track the successes and, yes, failures by looking at the ROI of your efforts.

Are You an Imposter?

The real question I want to ask is, do you feel like an imposter? Imposter syndrome is a feeling, despite finding success and/or respect from others, that you are somehow fooling them and that one of these days they’re going to find out that you’re not that smart, or gifted, or talented. It often occurs when someone is brought up with the pressure of achieving excellence, whether that is in academics, sports, art or whatever. This pressure impostermay have come from parents, teachers, coaches, or can even be self-imposed. It’s also that the individual knows that there is still so much more they could know. As Einstein said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” (Unfortunately, those who think they know it all, don’t suffer from imposter syndrome.) It is also associated with those that are perfectionists, people who are always seeking to be better/do better. The syndrome creates anxiety in the person experiencing it which can hold them back from achieving even more (not to mention how constant anxiety can be detrimental to your health).

Let me be frank with you (arrgh, see, already an imposter)… Let me be Mark with you. 😉 Seriously, though, I’ve felt like an imposter off and on throughout my life. One example that stands out in my mind is when I served on a national personal trainer exam committee and, while I am very knowledgable in many areas of our industry, much of what I know has been self-taught. I only hold a BS in physical education/kinesiology, whereas my peers on this committee held either a MS or a PhD. I would always work extra hard to prove to myself that I earned my place on the committee. I know that not having my Masters degree has always made me feel a little sub-standard when I compare myself to my peers. I also continually ask myself, with so much to know, how can I possibly know enough?”

The imposter syndrome is not a rational feeling. Most of those that are effected by this have worked very hard to get to where they are and, more often than not, are well deserving of their achievements and acclaim. Celebrated author, poet, activist, Maya Angelou once said: “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”imposter2

So, how do we overcome feeling like an imposter? Here are some possible ideas on it.

  1. Own your success. Even those people who did get a “lucky” break worked hard to put themselves in the position to be available for that opportunity. Tell yourself that you deserve your success. You don’t have to repeat daily affirmations like Stuart Smalley, “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!” (unless, of course, that helps), but know that you have done the work to bring yourself to where you are.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others. Often, when we compare, we look at our weaknesses compared to others’ strengths. Not fair. *side note, did you know that the top colleges have high drop out rates. That’s because, even though everyone has to be exceptional just to get in, the smart people are comparing themselves to the super smart people and then feel inferior, like they don’t belong there.
  3. Let go of the perfectionism. Maybe you don’t have all of the answers. You don’t need to. Ask yourself instead, do you have enough to deliver value?
  4. Continue to put yourself out there and accept new challenges. Realize that very few people are as driven as you can be, which means that you have the capacity to make someone’s world (or maybe the world) a better place. Keep on keeping on.

Some of the most successful people in every field have suffered from imposter syndrome, so you are in good company. But, you have to learn to overcome that self-doubt if want to enjoy your success (and life) more.

 

Create a Business Referral Network

A huge part of building your business is getting referrals from your existing clients and/or members. Referrals don’t stop there, though. You should be creating a network of other professionals that you can refer your clients to.

referral boardThe reasons for this are twofold. First, when you refer a client to another professional that can further enhance your client’s health and/or wellness, they get even better results and will appreciate you all the more.

Second, when another professional receives a referral from you, they will feel compelled to reciprocate (as long as you are good at what you do). These professional referrals are a low-cost way to get qualified (someone that’s already interested) leads.

Start by finding other professionals that don’t offer what you do, but complement it. Look for them in the areas of health (medical doctors, physical therapists), fitness (maybe yoga or a swim coach), nutrition (RDs, personal chefs), bodywork (chiropractors, massage therapists), beauty (hair, nails), etc. Meet with them and explain what you do and that you are looking for other professionals that you can refer your clients to. Ask about their qualifications, philosophies, and references to make sure you feel confident in referring to them.

Refer your clients when appropriate and review their experience afterward. Their experience will either support your use of this professional or let you know to look for someone else. The right professional referral network will benefit everyone involved.

 

Where is the Growth Potential in the Fitness Industry?

Most personal trainers love working with athletes and exercise enthusiasts. They’re excited to be there, willing to do almost anything, and they work hard. What’s not to love? Oh, except the fact that they are often self sufficient and are less likely to hire a personal trainer. And, while progressing someone from fit to more fit is fun, it’s not nearly as rewarding (at least for me) as the change you can make in someone’s life by taking them from unable to able. From a potential market point of view, the unfit, unable, far out number the fit. Here’s a few statistics.

According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition,

  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day
  • only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
  • Only 35 – 44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.
  • More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

overweight3So, consider this. If you want to build a thriving business and significantly change people’s lives for the better, focus on the unfit market. Create programs that will make them feel safe to start. Market how you can ease them into a new lifestyle. Teach these fitness newcomers that movement can be fun and that fitness doesn’t need to be intimidating.

Be Slump Proof: Never Stop Prospecting

If you’ve been a personal trainer for more than a couple of years, you have experienced a slump. These are those times when everything seemed to be going ok. Your schedule was full and life was beautiful. Then, all of a sudden, that couple that you were training 3 times per week (each) move out of town, another client gets injured doing yard work, and still another finds they can’t afford to train with you anymore. Now you find yourself with a third of your schedule open and feeling the financial pinch of making less money. Top that off with the fact that you can’t seem to pick up any new clients. You start to feel panicky and anxious. Life no longer seems beautiful. What happened?

Well, when you began as a personal trainer, you knew you had to hustle, talking to everyone, making connections, creating opportunities to sit down with potential clients and transitioning them into paying customers. This builds your schedule to the point where you are comfortable with the number of people you are helping and the money you are making. And guess what? You stop hustling. You sit back and go about your day-to-day training and everything is fine… until it’s not. 

The key is to never stop prospecting, never stop hustling. You know from having built your schedule the first time that gaining clients is not an overnight thing. It can take days, weeks, and sometimes months before a potential client decides it’s time to start.  That slump can last for months and that’s not fun. On the other hand, if you keep hustling, keep working it, what’s the worst that could happen? You could take on a few more clients than you had planned on, or maybe you pair them up with another client with similar goals (creating a small group), OR, you could pass these new clients on to another trainer, which helps more people, helps the other trainer, build good will, and keeps you in the game. 

Losing clients is inevitable. Having that loss send you into a slump, is not. Keep hustling and you’ll keep busy.

The Art of Pricing Personal Training

I know one personal trainer that charges $300/hour. I know others that charge $15/hr. Fifteen years ago in NYC I charged $125/hr, now, in my new home in Easton, PA, I charge $65/hr. Pricing is not simply making up a number in your head that you want to charge (or at least shouldn’t be). price-is-rightThere are some important variables that should be considered when you are determining your price(s).

  1. Who is your target market? If my target market are the rich and famous, my prices will be higher than if I am seeking to address the needs of a low-income community.
  2. What weekly income do you need achieve and how many hours do you intend on working? Obviously, you need to price yourself so that you can make a living and still have time for a life.
  3. What value do you place on your time? Actually, let’s not think about time, based on all of your training and experience, what do you believe the value of your service is?
  4. What does the competition charge? While you can charge more than the competition (assuming you are worth it), it does play into how the public perceives the value.
  5. What is the perceived value by your target market? If their perception is that you are expensive and you still want to charge the premium price, you may have to educate your market why it’s worth what it is (and that will be more effective if you can show them vs tell them).

How you make your decision is very individual. This is the “art” of pricing. Some of the considerations will weigh more heavily than others based on your situation. The important thing is to consider each of the factors that play into deciding on a price. Determine your price, implement it, and, based on the response, re-evaluate it in six months.