Why did you become a Personal Trainer? Was it your passion for health and fitness and your desire to educate people and help them achieve their health and fitness goals? These are great answers and essential ingredients for success since no one ever built a successful career or business doing something they didn’t love. But what about the other goals you have for yourself in terms of the working life you desire, the income you aspire to have and the free time you want to do all those things you love to do? Every year thousands of individuals qualify successfully as personal trainers with aspirations of being independent and building a successful business. There is a real entrepreneurial spirit within many of the personal trainers I meet. The ideal is to do the thing you love whilst also controlling your time, your earnings and your hours. It is possible to have your ideal and in a moment I’m going to share with you 10 essential tips that will help to take you closer to creating that ideal.
Mistakenly, however, people believe that getting qualified is the only key to their success but there is much more to building a healthy business than being a great personal trainer. As with most professional training courses, you are investing in gaining the all essential qualification that enables you to start in a vocation you love. But you must remember that the personal training course itself primarily equips you with the skills and knowledge to become a competent personal trainer. Building a business out of this profession is a whole new challenge.
Whichever route you choose after qualifying, whether you choose to be employed or contracted to a gym or whether you decide to work outside of the club environment, there are a number of fundamental principles of business that need to be learnt and applied if you really want to make this profession work for you. As I said, getting qualified is just the start. No one ever built a career or a business just by getting qualified. You will need to acquire some new skills, some new resources and even new ways of thinking and behaving.
Here are 10 essential steps for building the foundations of a successful business out of personal training. I hope this gets you thinking about exactly what you want to aim for and also thinking about what you might need to do to start the process of creating the business you want from personal training.
Choose and define your target market
This is probably the singularly most important action on your list and yet so many personal trainers fail to do it. It means deciding exactly who you want to work with and specifically what you want to do with them. Why? The list of benefits is long but I’ll give you just a few. Believe it or not, the more specific you can be about exactly what you do and for whom, the more attractive you will be in the market place. It enables you to co-exist with all the other personal trainers out there because you are not all vying for the same customers. It helps you to make decisions about how you further develop your skills and knowledge and makes it possible for you to position yourself as an expert in your chosen area. It increases the opportunities to offer a range of relevant services and products to your chosen market beyond 1-1 training sessions and creates the foundation for building an enormous client base. These are all steps that contribute towards building a solid stream of clients which makes for a healthy business. It might take you a while to work out exactly what the right target market is for you. Some people know straightaway while others need to experience working as a personal trainer before they can make this decision. However, the earlier on in your career you get off the fence and make a commitment to serve a specific group of people the easier it will be for you to grow your business.
Become excellent and expert in what you do
Your initial qualification is just the beginning of the journey. There is more to learn and there always will be. Of course simply getting out there and applying what you’ve learnt by delivering 1-1 sessions will certainly help you to master and hone the new skills you’ve learnt. After a while of practising what you’ve learnt you’ll undoubtedly be a very different personal trainer than you were when you first qualified. You will also work out exactly what you enjoy doing most, which areas of personal training most interest you. However, you can’t be an expert in everything. This is why it is so important to identify your target market. This will make it much easier to decide how to further your professional development. Once you do this you really do have the opportunity to become an expert in an area of your profession and to become the “Go To” person in that specific area. Being an expert in a particular area will open up opportunities for you and your business and is a key to creating a steady stream of your ideal clients.
Raise your professional profile
It’s no good being an expert and knowing what you do if you don’t get out there and tell people. It is essential to step in to the light and let the world know who you are and what you do for people. Find ways to introduce and present yourself to as many people as possible both in and related to your target market so that they can get to know you and experience what you have to offer. Hiding behind business cards and leaflets doesn’t cut it in your profession. It doesn’t make you stand out from the crowd because it is no different to what the majority of personal trainers are doing.
Develop your own personal brand
Branding isn’t just for big companies. It is just as important for service professionals like you. Developing your own brand means working out what you stand for, creating a strong and compelling message and then communicating it and operating by that brand consistently. It is something that will distinguish you from your PT colleagues and help you to connect with the right customers for you. A strong brand helps to develop customer loyalty which is crucial in an industry where there are so many personal trainers offering very similar services.
Get to grips with technology
When I say this I mean that it’s a good idea to get to know what technology is out there as it will provide you with increasing options in terms of communicating with customers, operating your business and delivering your services. You can’t afford to ignore the power of the internet not least of all because it is very likely to be a tool that your clients and competitors are using. You don’t necessarily need to know the full details of working this technology for yourself but at least know its value to your business. Then you can get someone else to do it for you if it will serve your business.
Dispel a myth or two
The way you are currently thinking will absolutely influence your results. This is one giant topic in its own right but let’s just dispel a myth here and now to give you an idea of its importance.
“There are not enough clients for everyone”
This is a common belief amongst personal trainers but it is simply not the case. There are plenty of clients out there for you – just do the maths! Not only are there plenty of clients but there are plenty of clients who are willing and able to pay the rate you want at the times you want. If you are struggling to get clients at the rate and time that you want that does not mean that there are not enough – simply that what you are currently doing to get clients isn’t working and you need to try something else.
If you believe in the myth that there are not enough clients to go round then it is likely that you are behaving in ways that are proving this myth to be true. For example, you might be employing the “puddle” approach to marketing by going for everyone out there in the belief that if you make yourself available to everyone you will have the best chance of getting enough clients. The reality is that when you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one. You end up directly competing with every other personal trainer out there and so, in all likelihood, the idea that there aren’t enough clients becomes true for you.
It is critical to understand how your current thinking is affecting your results so that you can change your mindset to achieve the results you really want.
Think like a business owner
This means that you need to spend at least as much time working on your business as you do working in it. Once you become full with 1-1 clients, where is the time you will spend on developing the business and on planning its future? By all means get others to do the jobs you hate – most commonly accounts and book keeping, website design and maintenance, administration. But remember that you are the owner.
Define your business goals
What do you really want for your business? Writing clear goals will help you to then prepare that all essential business plan. Without clear goals it is very hard to make decisions about what to do, when to do it, the resources you need, the training you want and so on. When do you know you have written a great goal? When you feel compelled to take every action you need to make it happen. It becomes a question of when, not if.
Get good at promoting and selling your services
Marketing and sales skills are essential to succeed in the personal training business. Unfortunately many people have such a problem with marketing and sales people that they avoid doing it themselves. Maybe you think you’re not the sales type. Well, the great news is that there is no sales type. Sales and marketing are processes and you can learn those processes just as well as the next person. The second bit of great news is that, whether you realised it or not, you’ve been involved in selling virtually all of your life. Every communication you take part in is an attempt to persuade someone to do something or not to do something now or in the future. So get over your inhibitions and learn the processes so that you can get the clients and build the business you deserve.
No Pain No Gain!
No one said it would be an easy ride. Building a successful and enduring business is a big challenge. Just like your clients who face obstacles, reach sticking points and stumbling blocks when they are working towards their health and fitness goals, you are likely to do the same as you work towards your business goals. If you do your planning then you can anticipate these moments. You can prepare for them and get the resources and support you need to get you through the difficult times and be ready to do whatever it takes to keep going.
Here’s to your success.
Yvette Nevrkla – Founder of The PT Business Gym