Should You Be Social With Your Clients?

In most personal trainer educational circles and texts, it is often stated that personal trainers should keep their personal information out of any discussions with clients. Meeting a client socially outside of the gym environment would be frowned upon. I would like to say that I think that philosophy is dead wrong. Case in point, I had a client for 12 years who ultimately was my best man at my wedding.

add-as-friendHere’s the thing, and I’ve said this in the past, people hire those that they know, like and trust. If you don’t share some personal information, people won’t get a sense of who you are as a person. Sure, you can come off as a skilled professional, but without the personal relate-ability, why would they choose you above another skilled professional? “Oh, your kids are Boy Scouts, my kids are Boy Scouts!”
I connect with all of my clients and potential clients on social media. That said, you can’t be mindless about your posts. While the posts can share personal information, they should never show things that are not in line with your brand, or what you want to consciously convey to others.

What about going to a social event with clients? Again, with the opportunity to get to know you better, clients will potentially like  and trust you more. Tsocial-gatheringhese events could be activity related, like going for a hike together, or they could be a dinner party. It can bond them to you and your business that much more… as long as you act mindfully. In example, a number of my clients, that I really like as people, have opposing political views from me. I know that and I just avoid talking politics.

Now, not only do social interactions increase the bond between you, your business and your clients, but getting clients to socialize together is another way of increasing those ties. We just held a social/dance for clients and their friends. Germany_WidowsAlong with getting to know each other better, you can hear them talk about what classes they like, what exercises they think are really hard, when they are coming next, etc.

At this point you may think that this sounds really manipulative. Really, it’s no more so than anytime we’re trying to show others the best side of ourselves, and… when it comes down to it, I just really like my clients and enjoy spending more time with them.

Should You Be Selling Sessions, Packages, Memberships or Programs? 

As you begin your business or as you reevaluate your business model, you may wonder what the best way is to present and sell your personal training. In the old days (I can say that because I’ve been personal training since the dawn of time.) personal training was sold as a single session or in small to medium sized packages that were increasingly discounted the more you bought. The idea behind selling discounted packages was that the client would see the savings in the larger packages, purchase those and would be committed for a longer period of time. Since then, a number of problems and potential solutions have come to light.

pricesProblem #1: Larger packages, even with their discounts, could run thousands of dollars. This could put them out of reach for those that really needed the financial discount.

Solution #1: I know some clubs that sold nothing less than a 24 session package, but they offered a payment plan for the amount. This made it accessible to those who couldn’t afford the larger sum up front and got that commitment for a longer period of time.

Problem #2: Personal trainers saw the discounting of packages as a discounting of the value of their service.

Solution #2: Choose one, consistent session price and offer bigger packages as a convenience and/or a commitment, not a money saver. This is not a very popular model as many feel it can lead to clients paying session by session and the fear is that the more often the client has to make a financial decision, the more opportunities they have to decide it isn’t worth it. We happen to offer the pay-as-you-go/session by session because a) it doesn’t devalue by discounting the sessions, b) is an easy financial commitment for more people, and c) I believe that if the skill, the service, and the results are there, the client would have no reason stop. (i.e. I had one client that paid session by session, 6 times/wk for 12 years)

Problem #3: With any session by session package, clients can be inconsistent. This leaves the personal trainer and/or club with an ever fluctuating, unpredictable income.

Solution #3: Clubs and studios are now offering “memberships” (monthly agreements) that are generally priced with a session/wk assumption. (i.e. Members pay $x/month for 2 personal training sessions/wk) What makes this more predictable is that it is a monthly fee that is most often set up as an automatic charge to the member’s credit card or bank account. There is the potential for a secondary problem in that if a client needs to cancel and you allow them to make it up, you can build a backlog of sessions that the trainer will “owe” the client. I knew one trainer that, because the member had a difficult time making up the sessions, ended up owing her client over 30 sessions. One way to handle this would be to allow the client to make up the session within a week or it would be otherwise be forfeited.

Problem #4: Finally, there are clients that only want to commit for a certain amount of time and want the maximum results for that time. This means they have to know the expected outcome, be held accountable, and maybe need more than just the exercise sessions to get those results.

8-week-fat-loss-program-for-busy-people-lose-weight-tone-up-build-lean-muscleSolution #4: The idea of creating goal specific small group programs (such as a preseason sports prep i.e. golf conditioning, a specific health concern focus i.e. healthy back program, or bundled offerings i.e. 2 small group training sessions + 1 nutritional coaching session each week), that have a defined start and end date can be a great alternative to other offerings. This could be a 4 week, 8 wk, 12 wk, etc. Do pre and post program assessments to gather data and then use that in setting program expectations, “In this program, the average participant achieved ….” This also assures the income, because clients sign up for the program, not individual sessions. I think the addition of various programs will be the biggest change in our industry in the near future.

These are not all of the issues and they are certainly not all of the possible solutions, but they are some of the most prevalent concerns. This post is meant to be food for thought. There is no wrong answer if your choice is working for you.

 

Presence; a Book Review

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy is probably classified as a self-help book, but it’s a lot more than that. In essence, social psychologist Cuddy, reveals the science behind creating personal power and presence and where and how that can be used in our lives. presense

A large part of that power and confidence can be controlled through our conscious attention to our body language. Cuddy discusses “power poses”, body positions that, when adopted, can leave us feeling empowered, confident and in the moment (present).

I’m sure that you, as do most of us, “read” people’s body language to gather insight into their personality. Hunched and averting direct eye contact may mean they are shy or wary. So, the emotional state creates the posture… unless it’s the other way around. Cuddy goes on to describe research that shows how changing your posture can also change how you feel, becoming happier, more open, more social.

I say that it’s a lot more than a self-help book because I can see how I can utilize some of the principles to help my clients. So many of the people we see have poor self images. If we can, through a few simple exercises, make others more confident and happier with themselves, wouldn’t that be a wonderful ability to have.

https://embed.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are

If this interests you, I highly recommend reading Presence. As a teaser, check out Ann Cuddy’s TED talk on the topic.

KPIs and the 80/20 Rule

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the business acronym, KPI, it stands for Key Performance Indicators. These are the numbers that you can track that tell you how your business is doing. kpiAs a personal trainer, these numbers could be how many sessions you have per week, how many phone inquiries you had, of those, how many came in for an initial consultation, how many initial consultations you had, how many of those consultations became clients, the average dollar amount spent by each client each week, month, year, and so on. You can track almost anything, but should you?

80-20-rule_The 80/20 Rule, or the Pareto principle, originally referred to the fact that 80% of the population’s wealth was held by 20% of that population. The principle has since gone on to represent almost any situation where a smaller number represents the greatest percent of another. In business it might be that 80% of your business’s income comes from 20% of your customers, or that 80% of your referrals comes from 20% of your clients.

Back to KPIs. Of all the numbers that you can track, you want to focus on the roughly 20% of them that will have the greatest impact on the success of your business. Which ones are those…? That… is the big question, there is no one answer to that as it depends on any number of factors.

When you have an initial consultation or meeting with a potential client, what percent of those actually sign up with you (that’s your closing ratio KPI)? If you are really good at this, the fastest way to build your business may be to simply get more people to sit down for a consultation with you. Track where your consultations come from (another KP). Are they referrals? Did they come from a conversation you had with them in the club? outside of the club? from a public presentation that you did? If you got most of them (it doesn’t have to be 80%, BTW) from presentations that you do… do more presentations. Right? Rather than spending your time trying to improve everything, focus on the KPI that gives you the greatest return.

Say you have plenty of people sitting down with you, but your closing ratio is not good. Worrying about getting more people to meet with you is a waste of time. Your focus should be on getting better at closing in the consultation. This means, get help, study, learn and keep tracking you closing ratio. If you are not improving that, you may find that the best way to build your business is to deliver amazing service, but hire someone else that is really good at it to convert clients for you.

I’ve hardly touched on the number of KPIs that you could track. The key (pun intended) is to narrow them down to the 20% (or thereabouts) that have the greatest effect and work at improving those numbers. As management expert, Peter Drucker, has said, “What gets measure gets managed.” If you don’t measure the variables, you won’t know what actions to take.