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.

 

Pre-suasion; a Book Review

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini, PhD is a fascinating book on the science of how, what people experience before a message, influences their receptiveness to that message.

presuasionWhat it presents, in essence, is the use of priming techniques to get the consumer (whether it is a product or consuming information) to respond in a in a particular, predictable way.

I found this book to be enlightening as to how individuals and societies can be influenced and how, if you look for them, you can see pre-suasive techniques being used in the world around you. In example, it explains those endlessly long landing pages that show success stories, show successful images, use success terms, etc. before asking you to sign up and if you’re not ready, they continue priming you before they ask again. You can even see how this came into play in last year’s election if you look at the different campaigns.

Cialdini says that the hope for the book is that its information is to be used for good and not evil (OK, maybe those are my words, but it is his sentiment). But, obviously, when you set out to influence people, it could be for your own personal benefit or for theirs (hopefully both).

This book is well worth your time and, if you are intrigued by this topic, I encourage you to read his other book , Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s another book based in behavioral science of how we can be and are influenced.

Is That Music I Hear?

There’s quite a bit of research that touts the benefits of working out with music. It can make the experience more enjoyable, easier, and people tend to work harder. Naturally we want these benefits for our clients and members. But, there may be some legal issues that you may not have considered.

I think we are all pretty aware that we can’t record an artist’s music and resell it. That would be piracy. That also applies to playing it for customers. Recently, I had a conversation with my ASCAP rep (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and we discussed how they represent the artist and how any use of music of the artists that they represent, for the purpose of entertaining members, customers, or clients must also compensate the artist (even if you are simply playing a radio channel in the background). This is true for  fitness clubs and studios, as well as airlines, amusement parks, bars, restaurants & nightclubs, colleges & universities, concert presenters, music venues & clubs, convention & trade shows, hotels, local government entities, radio & television stations and networks, mobile entertainment, websites, retail stores and the list goes on.

ascaplogoWe, as business owners, compensate the artists by paying a licensing fee through their representative agency. ASCAP is one of those agencies and they have over 600,000 artists that they represent. But, they’re not the only agency in town. There’s also BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc) and SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, although they now handle all types of music). bmi_logoYou are required to pay the appropriate licensing fees to cover all artists music that you play in your space. This amounts to about $300/year to each of these organizations. Now, you could hand select music to play at your facility that is all from one agency, but that’s pretty labor intensive. My recommendation is to pay each of them and cover your bases.sesac-logo185

If you want to use music for projects other than within your facility, such as an online or streaming video, these organizations offer separate licensing agreements for that type of music usage.

As much as we may have music as a part of our lives, free of charge (for us) on the radio, Pandora, at stores, the gym, etc, it was produced by artists. Like any product that has value, they should be compensated for that. It is our responsibility to pay the appropriate fees to them via their agencies. Think of the licensing fees as a thank you to the artists for sharing their creativity and talent.

Meeting Your Target Market

In my last post, The Best Marketing Medium is Personal, I discussed the importance of getting out into your community to meet your target market (desired member or clientele). Of course you first have to define who that is. If you run a T-Shirt company, your market may be any organization or business that wants a fun way to create brand awareness. If you are running a senior fitness program, you should be seeking to connect with seniors that want to improve their quality of life (and let’s face it, that’s most seniors). Once you know who you want to reach, you can start to plan ways to connect with them.

My wife, Heather and I, moved to a new town a little over a year ago. We opened a private fitness facility that offers personal training and group fitness. With fitness, our market is anyone who isn’t already on a fitness program and even some who are. So, our goal is essentially to meet as many people as we can. Get to know them. Let them get to know us. Build a relationship so that they know, like, and trust us and, when they are ready to begin a fitness program, we will be the people they go to.

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For us, meeting people means getting involved in almost anything. We are probably more social than we have ever been. We go to local theater, concerts, benefits, gallery openings, belong to the local business association, volunteer for civic events. We’re out meeting people, helping people, and having a ball doing it. It’s a win/win scenario. At the same time, we also know that it helps in creating a positive feeling about us and our company.

What if your target market is seniors? Volunteer at the local senior center or another senior program. Maybe there are programs at your church that you could help with. Attend events that seniors may also attend and strike up conversations with them.

If you want to work with first responders, you could offer to volunteer at their events or offer to give a presentation on tactical fitness. You could create a challenge between the EMT/Paramedics, Police Officers, and Firefighters (i.e. fitness, weight loss, obstacle course).

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No matter who your target market is, you need to find the venues that will allow you to get to know them. The quick and simple guide is:

Locate and get out among them.

Volunteer with their various organizations.

Donate prizes to organization benefit events.

Create and/or host benefit events of your own.

Build relationships with them…

and when they are looking for the services that you offer, you will be the one they come to.

The Best Marketing Medium is Personal

At a conference last year, I was asked what I thought was the most effective marketing tool. Having presented at other conferences on social media marketing, I was pretty sure they wanted to know what the next hot social media app was and how to use it. My answer was probably a little surprising.

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If you are a business that relies on the local market, i.e. health clubs, personal training and/or group fitness studios, the best marketing is getting out and getting active in your community. Remember that what you are really marketing is you. Yes, this includes your expertise, but also your demeanor, your caring, your sense of humor, etc.

They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That is because the extra layer of sensory engagement that a picture offers tells us a lot more. Video gives us the ability to hear as well as see and creates even more engagement. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that real-time, face to face interactions give others the greatest sense of who you are and what you are about. When you meet someone in person, you note their eye contact (or lack thereof), their smile (or lack thereof), the grip of their handshake, the tone of their voice, all in an instant. Nothing is truer than that. Others will walk away feeling like they have a sense of the kind of person you are.

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Now, taking that meeting and turning it into acquisition of a client or customer requires more. You need to build a relationship first and that takes time. This is where social media apps can be particularly effective. After meeting someone in person (I’ll discuss how to seek out those opportunities in my next post.), immediately send an invitation to them to connect on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. This allows you to follow-up on any conversation that you were having, helps you remember them, and them remember you. With each additional verbal interaction, their initial face to face impression of you will be reinforced.

Of course you can still make initial contact and build a relationship through social media. However, it will rarely be as strong as meeting in person. If you first connected online, find an opportunity to meet in “the real world”. Your relationship will only become stronger because of it.

What’s In A Name?

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!

Making Resolutions for Your Business

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?

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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.

The Secret Sauce of a Fitness “Cult”

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.

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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?

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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.