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.

 

Recommending vs Selling

In all of the years that I have been coaching personal trainers, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for them is getting a potential client to commit to a training program. This is often rooted in the trainer’s mindset about… “SELLING”. The act of selling, asking for people’s money, conjures up images of used car salesmen, telemarketers, and  late night infomercial pitchmen. How can an honest, idealistic trainer, who only wants to help others live healthier, happier lives stoop so low as to “SELL”?

recommendation value

 

This is where the mindset needs to change. Sales doesn’t need to be this evil thing. Selling is doing what is best for the person sitting in front of you. It’s recommending the best course of action for that person to reach their goals. Let’s see… You just greeted them in a warm, friendly way, went through their medical health history and lifestyle questionnaire, helped them clarify their goals, uncovered obstacles that have stopped them in the past, you may have done some health and/or fitness assessments on them. What do you do now? You’re the specialist. You’re the professional. So, you need to tell them what you believe is the best way for them to succeed. “Based on your goals and the information that we’ve gathered here, I recommend that you participate in the _________ program. It will teach you ______, take you through ______ step by step, and help you to pre-handle those obstacles that got in your way in the past (list the obstacles). How does that sound to you?” That’s it! That’s selling your service. The only time you need to discus price is when they are actually paying for it.

One last thought on this. What happens to them if you don’t get them to sign on? Do you think they will succeed as well as if they were working with you? They might not succeed at all if you don’t help them. Go forth now and make some heartfelt, professionally-based recommendations that will change people’s lives.