Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales?

I was recently asked by another fitness professional what kinds of discounts I was going offer for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday. My answer was, “None.” I’ve always held the belief that I would never discount our personal training or group fitness programs. Discounting has been a debated issue in the industry for a long time and, while many facilities do offer sales and discounts, I stick to the belief that you don’t discount health services. You also don’t want people putting off starting until you have a sale (let’s face it, we all do that for certain products.)Untitled design (60)Now that isn’t to say that I don’t promote during these sales times. In fact, while people are in the shopping frenzy, it’s the perfect time to remind them that they can give the gift that can change people’s lives. Create a marketing campaign to promote/highlight a specific program for beginners, or for skiers, or for the new year. Make the program the attraction, not the discount.

While hitting sales is on people’s minds, so is getting the right present for those they love and that takes priority over whether something is on sale or not. So, promote the gift, the program, and don’t get sucked into thinking you need to discount.

 

Considerations in Pricing Personal Training

I know I’ve posted about pricing in a previous post, but, as it is part of a presentation I will be doing (Fitness Sales: Strategically Price and Sell Your Services) at Club Industry Show in October, I thought I would revisit this important topic. Pricing your service is not simply choosing what you think the going rate is. There are a lot of factors that go into intelligently setting your prices. Here are a few of them.

Target Market: First, let’s start with who your target market is? This may or may not set a limit on what you can charge. If you are out to help low-income families become healthier and more fit, you will be limited by what they are able to afford (unless you are seeking grant money or sponsorship to subsidize). On the other end of the spectrum, if your target market is the rich and famous, you have the ability to charge much more.

Your Competition: You don’t need to charge what your competition does, but what they charge tells you two things. It tells you what your lowest price should be (If you believe yourself to be as good as they are, why would you charge less?). It also let’s you know what the market’s perceived value will be. You can certainly charge more, but you will need to sell your value and why you are worth more.

Your Time: What is your time worth? Now, this is often times a big problem with service providers. They think that because they book sessions by the hour, that they have to fit some expectation of hourly rate. One of my favorite stories (and I can’t remember it verbatim so here’s my paraphrasing of it) is one where Picasso was painting on the sidewalks of Paris. A woman walks up to him and, impressed with his work, asks if he would paint her portrait. He agrees. 10 minutes later, he shows her the finished piece and she is thrilled. “How much do I owe you?” she asked. Picasso replied, “5000 francs.” She was exasperated. “But it only took you 10 minutes.” “No…” said Picasso, “it took my entire life.” The point is that you are giving more than time. You are giving the sum of all of your education, practice and experience.

price.valueYour Operating Expenses: Do you have operating expenses (most of us do)? Maybe it’s travel expenses (this should include travel time), or marketing, or booking software, or whatever else there might be. These expenses need to be paid and you need to make enough to cover them.

Income Needs: Above covering expenses, you also need to think about what you need to make a living. If, after you pay expenses and hold out your payroll fees, you are not making enough money to make the kind of living that you want, you are charging too little.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into setting prices and there’s no one answer that fits everyone. It is an art. Take into consideration all of the above, choose a price that you believe in, and then test it out for a set period of time and see the reaction. Then come back to the table and reevaluate it. Does it satisfy your needs and are you able to build your clientele?

Let me know if you have any questions or insights that you’d like to share.

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.

What’s Smarketing?

I read the term in an email newsletter today, Smarketing, is a coming together of a business’s sales and marketing teams. According to the article, these two teams are often at odds, blaming each other when sales quotas aren’t achieved. The article then goes on to suggest ways to get the teams to communicate and cooperate. I have to say that I believe there is a bigger disconnect when this situation occurs.

Sales + Marketing =Smarketing, sales and marketing teams (and, in fact, all teams) working successfully together, should be happening from the start. In the mission, the mantra, the “Why” of the company it should be clearly communicated what the company is trying to accomplish and why that is important to the owners, employees, the community, and even the world. All employees should be working toward that bigger picture and not “for the money”. If these often commission-based teams are at odds, it’s because the management or ownership has set it up that way. If the marketing team is penalized when the sales team doesn’t make their quota, of course they might be upset or even resentful.

As I write this, my mind gets pulled toward research on types of rewards that motivate employees (that’s my excuse for the “stream of thought” direction this is taking). For most employees, money is the least motivating tool and, when used as the primary reward, the job becomes about the money and not being part of the company’s mission. On the other hand, if the reward is public appreciation (saying “great job” in front of others) or providing lunch for the team (maybe including the public praise), the response is to work even harder at furthering the mission of the company. Isn’t that what we all really want from our employees?

So….. my point…. the problem of animosity or the “us against them” between teams is an owner/manager issue. You either hired people that are not believers in your mission, you didn’t make your mission clear, or you’ve set up your compensation in a way that can put your teams at odds with one another. This is not about just trying to help them get along. That’s just treating a symptom and not the underlying problem. This requires a fundamental change that may be difficult for all involved, but will ultimately eliminate the problem and unify the company.

 

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.

 

TOP 10 TRAITS OF SUCCESSFUL PERSONAL TRAINERS: #3

#3 Successful Personal Trainers Love to Sell.

It’s interesting how many Personal Trainers hate to “sell”. When talking about sales, what typically comes to mind is the sleazy car salesman who will say anything to get a sale. I, myself, as a club manager in the early ’80s, went through a sales training program that emphasized selling multi- year membership contracts and hoping that they wouldn’t show up. There were club salespeople that would sell memberships for classes that we didn’t even offer. Needless to say, I resigned shortly thereafter with a stong dislike for anything to do with sales. It wasn’t until years later when a friend pointed out to me that I was the biggest salesperson around, that I was able to re-define my ideas of what “selling” really was. My “selling”, that my friend pointed out, was my enthusiasm for fitness and my belief that I could help make others’ lives better.

In essence, that’s what selling is for us. used-car-salesman When we sit down with a potential client, we use our motivational interviewing techniques to uncover what their needs, wants, and what obstacles they have. Then, not unlike a doctor or physical therapist, we make an honest recommendation as to what we believe is the best course of action for them to reach their goals safely and effectively. The financial aspect, at this point, shouldn’t even come into play. This recommendation is our best case scenario for them. It may sound something like this, “Based on what you’ve told me, that you’ve had difficulty sticking with a program, become easily bored, and tend to get injured when working out on your own, I recommend that we work together ___ times per week. That way we can build your initial program, gradually ramp up the intensity while constantly monitoring your form for safety, and change it up before you get bored. It’ll keep you accountable and help you stick with the program, not to mention get you the results you want faster. Does that sound like something you’d be interested in?” That’s the idea. Specifically address their situation, make an honest recommendation, relate specifically how your recommendation will address their issues and get them to their goal, and ask if they’d like to have your help in changing their health/fitness.

Successful Personal Trainers love “selling” because it is offering the potential client their best chance at success. Wouldn’t you love giving everyone that chance? Embrace that moment and make them the offer that can change their lives.

Check out the full series.

Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #1
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #2
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #3
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #4
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #5
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #6
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #7
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #8
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #9
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #10

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