Should You Offer a Free Consultation?

Some clubs give free workouts with a personal trainer. I’ve seen as many as 8 sessions given away to new club members. Of course, the idea behind that is that the client will see the value and continue to train beyond that. I also see clubs and personal trainers that don’t believe in giving away anything for fear that it devalues the training. I have to admit that I fall into that category.

We, at Jiva Fitness, don’t discount anything. I do believe that it does, indeed, devalue the product. However, we do give free, 30 minute consultations. I know that seems counter to what I just said and I know that many fitness professionals will be quick to disagree with that policy, but let me explain.

People that are not fitness enthusiasts (and let’s face it, that most people) can be unsure about signing up for a gym, let alone personal training. The idea of paying a lot of money (the common perception) for a membership or training can be daunting. This is a barrier to entry, a barrier to signing up and getting started. The idea behind offering a free consultation is to remove that barrier. We want to allow them to feel that they can come in, sit down with a qualified professional, be heard and have their questions answered.

Our consultations consist of going through their medical health history, lifestyle questionnaire, and goal clarification and setting. Then, after gathering all of that information, we can make an informed recommendation as to what their next, best course of action should be. Maybe that’s one of our programs, maybe it’s not. Who knows going into this if we are the right fit for their needs?

Now, some may say that if you answer their questions they may just take that advice and go do it on their own. That’s possible, but not common. Usually, when you take that time and they feel that you have really listened to them, they feel special and that the recommendation that you make is made just for them. However, even if they don’t sign up with you, you have given them a great experience and they will tell others about it. (It’s still a win.)

Consider the free consultation and whether it may be right for you. If you are not getting enough new potential clients through your doors, it might be they are feeling that barrier to entry and a free consultation is one way to lower it.

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How Plateaus Happen in Business

We often talk about training plateaus, but plateaus can also happen in your business. Imagine your business growing steadily and then, all of a sudden, your growth stops. The number of clients or members that you have levels off and you’re left wondering, “What just happened.”

Sometimes these plateaus happen because you got comfortable with the amount of clients or members that you have and stopped actively seeking more. Maybe you decided to spend less money on marketing, or you went to fewer networking opportunities, or stopped asking for referrals. Those things that you did so diligently when you were trying to build your business have fallen by the wayside and… so has the growth of your business.

plateauOther times, you have continued marketing as you have always done and that’s the reason that business has slowed. If the public sees the same ad, picture, sign, or campaign, they can become blind to your marketing efforts. You can think of it as becoming desensitized to what your marketing is saying because they’ve seen it so many times before.

One more reason that you may have hit a plateau, is that something has changed in the market that you may not have noticed. This could be an economic downturn, seasonal change (this often catches new businesses by surprise), or maybe a new competitor opened in town.

These can all be avoided with some due diligence.

Never stop marketing. Even if you are currently comfortable, things change and it’s better to have too many people wanting your service and have a waiting list, than to have too few and leave yourself open to plateaus or downturns.

Always change up your marketing. Think of how often you change your clients’ programs (generally every 4-6 weeks). You can use that same kind of thinking when it comes to your marketing. You can literally periodize it. Plan out your macro, meso, and micro cycles for marketing.

Finally, pay attention to what’s going on in your community. What’s happening in the economy, what events are taking place, who’s new in town. Knowing what’s going on can not only prevent a loss in business, but can show you new opportunities for growth (what might you do if your realized a competitor was actually closing?).

This isn’t to say that you can prevent all plateaus, but these are some common reasons that they occur and some solid ways to prevent them.