You Can, But Should You?

In the thirty-eight years that I have been a personal trainer and in health club management, I have acquired many skills. I have designed club websites, done the advertising, marketing programs, social media, written newsletters, created employee training manuals, trained staff, taught CPR to all of the staff, created new programs, yada, yada, yada. This is a great thing and… it’s also a potential problem. The great aspect is obvious. It means that I don’t have to outsource to others and can keep my expenses down, as well as get things done when and how I want them done. Sounds good, right? How could there be a down side?

Untitled design (3)Well here’s the problem, when you can do most everything, you feel like you should, and if you spend all of that time working IN your business, where are you going to find the time to work ON your business? If you hope to grow your business, then you must spend time on being the big picture person. You have to get away from the little stuff and focus on the things that will have long-lasting impact on the success of your business. There are endless systems out there to help you decide what to focus on. Here are two that I like using.

The first is the Four D’s of Time Management. Here you filter whatever task is in front of you into one of four categories. These include Do it (no question, you need to do it now), Delay it (OK, maybe you need to or choose to do it, but not right now), Delegate it (if someone else can do it, and this may mean hiring someone, have them do it), and Drop it (just as it implies, take it off your list).

The second tool is Stephen Covey’s time management grid. In this one, you can overlap tasks with the four D’s.

covey grid (1)

Stephen Covey‘s Time Management Grid (paraphrased)

Square 1, urgent and important, means that the task desires immediate action and it is important to you and your business. This could be fire alarm going off in your facility or a financial decision that needs an answer now (Do It or, if you can, Delegate It).

Square 2, not urgent, but important, means that while it doesn’t need to be done right now, it is essential to do in order to build a successful business. These are the big picture decisions about your business, such as who your target market is or what your mission statement is (this needs to be you, Do It!).

Square 3, urgent, but not important, means that it desires to be done immediately, but is really not important for you to do. Here are the daily “fires” that need to be put out and often eat up your time.  You might put items like the bathroom being out of toilet paper or “spill in aisle one” on this (Delegate It).

Square 4, not urgent and not important. This serves no real need. Imagine one of the many salespeople that will come calling on you to sell you something you don’t need or want as an example. (just Drop It!).

All this said, whether it is because we lack the staff or luck of funds to hire out, we may still have to do some of the tasks that would ideally be dealt with by someone else. Using a previous example, if you’re a one person show and the bathroom is out of toilet paper, you are going to have to step up and do it yourself. However, you should still start with your current to do list and filter the items on it through these tools. Then, when something new comes up, run it through to see where it falls and if you need to be attending to it. We are so easily caught up in things we can do, when we should, as much as possible, stick to only those that we should or must do.

Advertisements

Let Me Entertain You. Let Me Make You Smile.

Much of the time, fitness is either marketed by using high intensity, sweaty, sexy bodies and promises that you too can have a hot body, or, it is portrayed as a science-based health solution that makes you want to take a nap because it’s so dull. What is often missed is the point that people are more likely to start a fitness program if they think that it’s going to be fun, and, if they are having fun, they are also much more likely to stick with it.

Untitled design (6)

The idea of entertaining your clients while working with them is not new. Richard Simmons has been entertaining fitness audiences since the 1970’s. But, even before it

richard-simmons-07

Richard Simmons

was used to promote fitness, the idea of using entertainment to educate has been around for a long time. “Learning through entertainment dates at least to Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, which amused and instructed colonists with its mix of maxims, weather forecasts, math lessons and puzzles.” according to Greg Beato’s New York Times article, Turning to Education for Fun. More recently, programs that combine these two elements have been dubbed “edutainment”.

While still being a source of entertainment, another variation is taking tasks and turning them into games… not unlike Mary Poppins did. “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap, the job’s a game” This adding of game elements is now dubbed “gamification”.

Fitness-Marshall-Dance-Cardio-Videos-2016

For some dance fitness entertainment, check out The Fitness Marshall

So, does this mean that you should always try to entertain your clients and that workouts always have to be fun? No, of course not, but adding a little levity and fun elements to workouts can make the difference between drudgery and something they can look forward to. Imagine if your clients consistently leave workouts in a better mood than when they came in. What a great reinforcement for coming back for the next one.

(Yes, BTW, the title is a quote from the musical, “Gypsy”. I can’t help it. It’s little things like that, that makes me tick.)

My Profile Picture, My Brand

Your brand, as a personal trainer and fitness professional, is what people think about you. Their perception of you and your business, is created by everything you do and all of the content you put out. This includes all of your social media posts and even your profile picture.

trainer quad

I admit that I’m going on a little bit of a rant here, but, I think I need to at least make you aware of the issue. I would bet that at least half of the personal trainers out there use some kind of self body shot for their profile picture. I’m sure that the prevailing thought is that, “I worked hard, got into great shape, and I want people to know that I can do that for them.” Well…. yea for you. No, seriously, congratulations. However, I have a couple of issues with your posting that picture.

  1. You are perpetuating the idea that if you look good, you must know what you’re doing. We all should be able to admit that we know that’s not true. So, why play into that illusion.
  2. As much as you think you are attracting clients by showing off your body, you are intimidating many potential clients as well. The more you show off your perfect or near perfect body, the worse “normal” people feel about their own.
  3. Body shots, in general, also make it very difficult to make out your facial features and, when clients and/or potential clients are trying to connect with you, you want to make it easy for them to recognize you. (This is the same reason that you shouldn’t use a picture of your dog as your profile pic.)

marknuttingc.jpgSo, what is the best profile picture? In my humble opinion, I would choose a tightly cropped headshot, professionally taken (or at least very clear), that portrays what you want your brand to be. Choose a warm and welcoming headshot that gives the air of professionalism and makes it easy to know that it is, indeed, you.

Pre-Mortem: Know How You Failed Before You Start

Most of us know what a post-mortem examination is, an autopsy, finding out the causes of a person’s death. Few of us, however, know what a pre-mortem is. In a pre-mortem,

post-mortem-1200x624

project planners (maybe that’s a team or just one person) imagine that the project has already been launched and it either failed or, at least, failed to deliver as anticipated. Then, you dig into why that might have occurred.

Say you have created a new weight loss program. Before you launch it, sit down with your team and imagine that, in six months time, the program has not taken off and you’re sitting there having to look back on what could have gone wrong. Maybe your marketing was not reaching your target market. Maybe the market you focussed on was the wrong market. Maybe you weren’t clear about how it would benefit the consumer. Maybe it was launched at the wrong time of year. Maybe, maybe, maybe…

The point is to think about potential weaknesses and pre-think the solutions. By diminishing or even eliminating the weaknesses, your project will have a much greater chance at success. So, before you launch your next program or product, imagine it died and then find the reasons (and solutions) in a pre-mortem.

PS. This can also help clients succeed in their programs. Take them through a pre-mortem, find their obstacles and pre-think the solutions.

The Secret Life of a Business Card

This last December, I was asked to present at the NSCA Japan conference. Prior to the trip, I was coached on some cultural differences that I should be aware of. One of the differences that was stressed, was how the Japanese people treat the exchange of business cards. The giver holds the top 2 corners as he/she hands the card and the receiver then grasps the card by the bottom 2 corners. Upon receipt, the receiver then takes a moment, reads the card, looks up and thanks the giver and then may place the card in a place of respect (breast pocket, wallet, etc.). Don’t just take it and shove it in your back pocket. The business card is a representation of the giver and, as with the person themselves, should be treated with respect.

China business cardsThis was an interesting lesson for me and the kickoff for a point that I want to make about how most business people (this includes personal trainers) misuse the business card.

When starting with a new company or starting your own business, most people will run out and get their new business cards, because, if you have business cards, you must be in business. There’s nothing wrong with this. The business card, as in Japan, is a representation of you and your business and should be here as well. If only we would treat it as such. We don’t, of course. We will order 500-1000 cards and hand them out like they are flyers. I’ve even seen presenters at conferences walk around the venue before their session and put a business card on each of the seats. Most attendees didn’t even pick them up. They just sat on them. They were not given with respect and were not received with respect.

My own view on the use of a business card is that your focus, when looking to build your business and not simply using it as a way to stay in touch with an acquaintance or associate, should be to receive them not give them. When someone gives you their business card they are giving you the permission to contact them. With a potential client, this means that you have the permission to call and talk with them and, hopefully, set up a time to meet with them. Then, after receiving their card, you can present your card to them should they like to initiate a conversation or change an existing appointment. This way of using your business card, empowers you. Whereas, if you are just handing your cards out, all you can do is sit back and hope that someone calls you.

Business cards are not meant to be flyers. They are meant to be treated with respect and given more selectively. Remember that getting someone else’s contact information is far more beneficial than giving yours out.

 

 

Having Fun With Your Marketing

Marketing can sometimes be very dry and if your target audience is really looking hard for your service, maybe, just maybe, they will wade through boring copy for it. However, if you can add a little humor into your marketing, your audience will happily read what you have to say. The Instagram Untitled design (2)post shown is a simple, light Halloween post that got some great feedback. Many business folks will say that you need to have a serious “call to action” (and sure, I could have done that here. “Act now and get…”), but remember that just keeping your business in the consumer’s mind is important in and of itself. Plus, if you can throw a smile their way, that will increase their sense of connection with you. This, in conjunction with content that shows your expertise and builds trust (in the forms of blog posts, article links from reputable sources, etc.), will make you their choice when it comes to selecting a professional or business to help them reach their health and fitness goals.

Serious professions are great (and I’m not knocking the serious folks), but if your target market can get the technical skills AND have some fun, you can bet that they will choose the latter. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Deep Work: a Book Review

Entrepreneurs are masters of multi-tasking… or so we think. I have come to realize that I’m kidding myself. I’m not an effective multi-tasker, just a bit AD..squirrel! For those of us that need to get stuff done, Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport, discusses the research on our misbelief that we can successfully multi-task. It also offers some great insights on ways we can create more opportunities for the quality work that comes from getting into the zone. Deep WorkFrom creating a set time for your work that requires an uninterrupted, undistracted work, to taking time for moving meditation (letting your mind work on a specific problem while performing repetitive tasks such as walking the dog, biking to work, etc.), Deep work will help you start to change your daily routines so that you can achieve the quality work you are hoping for.

I have started to implement some of the techniques described in the book and it’s already helped me finish up a couple of projects that have been nagging at me. Definitely worth the read.

Deep Work

 

Customer Service and the Customer Experience

Last week I went to get my hair cut. I made an appointment. I arrived for my appointment 5 minutes early. There was nobody to check me in, so I dutifully sat in the waiting chairs, and sat, and sat as my appointment time came and went. I watched as the stylist that I had an appointment with worked on another client. 17 minutes after my appointment should have started (not that I was counting…) he gave me a nod to come over and sit. I sat down and he asked what kind of cut I wanted. I told him and for the next 20 minutes he didn’t say a word to me. Oh, he chatted it up with the stylist in the next station, but not with me. After he finished, he held up a mirror, spun me around, still not saying anything, I said it was fine, and we were done. A women showed up to take my money. I paid and left. That was not an experience that I enjoyed and I will not return. What’s wrong with this picture…?

Well, to start with, whenever anyone walks into an establishment, they should be greeted at the earliest opportunity. People want to feel welcome and it doesn’t take much to set the tone. That’s why many businesses have receptionists. If you don’t have a designated receptionist and you are otherwise engaged, simply look their way, smile while making eye contact and say, “I (or someone) will be with you shortly. Please feel free to walk around (or have a seat,  or whatever else is appropriate).”

Untitled design (4)

If you are running late, acknowledge it with the person that is waiting and apologize for the inconvenience. A sincere apology goes a long way to making the schedule glitch okay. You should also let them know how long you will be. You need to adjust their expectations. When you are ready for them, apologize again and put forth a supreme effort to over deliver on their experience. (you should always be trying to do this anyway)

Engage with them! Get to know them. Ask questions, make eye contact, nod, smile, care about what they are saying and, of course, give them great service on whatever they are coming to you for.

Leave them with good feelings. As someone leaves your presence, make them feel good so they want to come back. “Great job today! I can’t wait to see you next time.” “Great having you here. I hope you come back again.” etc. This is their final impression and you want it to be a good one.

No matter what your service business is, from personal training to retail, the experience of the consumer will either build or kill your business. Mistakes will occasionally happen, but everyone understands that. It’s how you handle those situations that makes the difference. Always keep their experience in mind and plan for making it the best one possible.

What’s your biggest customer service pet peeve? I’d love to hear.

Becoming “The Resource”

In building our business, one of the best marketing tools is to become “the resource” or the go-to person for information that your target market is looking for. A friend of mine asked the question today about how you become that resource. It’s a good question and one that I thought I could address here. How does one become the resource for their clients?

brain-on-books

First and foremost, know your stuff! It’s tough to be a resource if you don’t. Now, that’s not to say you have to know all of the answers, but you have to start with a good base.

When you don’t have the answers, don’t pretend you do. Let people know you don’t have the answer, but that you will look into it and get back to them. This means, of course, you need to  know where to find those answers. Start gathering your own network of resources (journals, organizations, reputable news sources, knowledgable individuals, etc.) where you can find the information that you need.

Give this information out freely, any way you can. You can start with simply answering questions that come up in face-to-face encounters or in social media. Then, begin to write articles, blog, write white papers, create and host a group on Facebook or LinkedIn for people with similar interests, create informational videos, host talks, or any other venue that your target audience may be open to participating in.

Gradually, as people start to appreciate and trust the information you’re providing, they will also start to appreciate and trust you. As that trust builds, you will have become “the resource”, and, when it comes time for people to choose who they want to do business with, they will choose the individuals that they know, like, and trust.

Creating Passive Income Streams

As a personal trainer (or anyone that offers a service by time segment), we have limited hours in a day that we can work. If we want to make more money than we are currently making, we don’t have a lot of choices. You need to make more per hour, so, you could raise your prices, raise your hourly income by training more people within that time segment (small group training and/or larger boot camps), or you could take on management roles to increase your income, but, honestly, as someone that’s managed clubs for 37 years, that’s usually just more time for more money. Then, there’s the idea of passive income.

passive_income

Passive income is creating something someone will want to purchase, set up an auto fulfillment program, such as kickstartcart.com, then just sit back and watch the money roll in. Well, yes and no. It’s not quite that easy. First, you have to come up with the product idea, create it, and then market the heck out of it. Coming up with the idea may not take so long, but creating it certainly can. (I just finished a book, The Business of Personal Training for Human Kinetics to be released Feb 2018, that took me the better part of 3 years to complete.) Marketing doesn’t need to take a huge amount of time, but it is ongoing and never-ending, well… as long as you want to keep selling your product.

So, let’s look at some of the types of passive income that are out there.

Subscriptions – This could be newsletters, articles, or any other product that is an ongoing by nature. My friend, Brett Contreras has a Research Review subscription where he and Chris Beardsley create a Reader’s Digest version of the research, making it easy for you to keep up with the latest. An example of a physical product subscription is a wine club, where a new bottle(s) of wine is sent to you monthly.

Memberships – Memberships and membership sites, while very similar to subscription sites, typically offer more than just the once/month (or whatever time period) delivery. They may provide on ongoing library of videos, courses, or special discounts for members for events or products. Some options include Intelivideo and powhow.

New products – This could be everything from a white paper, a book, a new piece of fitness equipment, or anything that is a one-time purchase (unless someone wants more than one of something). You can, simply take orders via kickstartcart.com or you can also check out sites like shopify where you create an online storefront.

Passive income can allow you to increase your income beyond your hourly wage position. This, for many, makes it a very attractive idea. But, while you can make money through passive income, be forewarned that the creation of the product will take time, as will the set up and marketing. It’s never completely passive. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile pursuing, though. I just wanted to help set appropriate expectations.