But before I discuss the "Funnel," a vital element in any fitness professional's ability to increase revenue and his or her impact, we need to identify the stages of professional development that are inevitable in the pursuit of growth.
Stage 1: The "Put It Out There and See What Sticks"
In this stage, the fitness professional is fueled by a high level of enthusiasm, and this enthusiasm is the fuel that allows novice marketing efforts to ultimately land some real clients. This professional often displays a low-to-modest level of confidence and a trial-and-error approach to securing clients.
Stage 2: The "It's Working"
As the fitness professional enters this stage, confidence is enhanced significantly. Here, it becomes relatively simple to acquire clients through word-of-mouth, and the professional begins to recognize that his or her value exceeds the "rate" clients are being charged. Although a distinctive itch for "more money" stains the end of this stage, this fitness professional maintains a comfortable client load and reasonable income. But eventually, a sense of "ceiling" emerges, as "the prime hours" are full and there's only so much time this professional has. This stage is usually the pinnacle for many, but if they stay in the field, doing what they do, one of the four options must follow.
Stage 3: Option 1 Complacency
A tired and frustrating awareness of stagnation is the overriding emotion if you unconsciously opt for the Complacency option. The desire for more money never meets up with the confidence needed in order to pull the trigger. A comfort level with existing clients turns "sessions" into dull, repeat performances, and the periodic new client is short-lived as the enthusiasm from stage one is diminished.
Stage 3: Option 2 The Success Creep
With this option, you will find a painfully slow climb. You will acquire two new clients; lose one; get a new lead; and another opportunity will fly out the window. You also increase your rates, a little at a time, from $50 to $60 a session, but you keep your existing clients at their old rates. The slight increases you wind up capturing from year to year fall below the cost of living index. Your growth is evident, but not gratifying.
Stage 3: Option 3 Burn Out!
This is often the most common of the four options. '
Fitness professionals are notorious for trying to work beyond their energy supply. These trainers fall into the pit where downtime gets traded for training time. "Having to pay the bills" becomes the prime motivator, and due to this fact, the most detrimental emotion associated with this stage is the undeserved resentment that ultimately gets directed toward their clients.
Is this all sounding cynical? It shouldn't. In fact, I'm an extreme optimist with a crystal-clear recognition of the power it takes to take charge of a life in motion. And in fact, I know that with the right motivation and your fitness passion, you need not go anywhere near the first three options for stage three. That, of course, suggests there's a fourth option, which is the one you want to explore.
Master the Funnel, and Grow Baby Grow!
The "Funnel" is the vehicle that allows you to generate a greater per-hour return on your time investment, and it's also the client trap the place where "I'm interested" turns into "I'm committed." It allows you to maximize your time, to help a greater number of people benefit from your knowledge and serves as the bridge between marketing and enhanced profitability.
In previous articles, I've discussed my orientation, which was one of the business-altering strategies I learned to employ that allowed me to secure a future in the fitness industry. I didn't have a name for it when I first developed it, but, in essence, the orientation was my "Funnel." In short, rather than offering free consultations (early in my career, I did far too many to count) and devoting one unpaid hour for the hope of getting one new client, I could take that same hour and generate $160-plus while acquiring up to eight new clients. How, you ask? When my marketing efforts led to interest, I invited the interested party to my next orientation a small group educational forum where I shared the secrets of achieving fat loss and performance improvement. This orientation was far more affordable than my one-on-one fees, so it become a filter to screen out those who weren't true prospects at all. If they weren't willing to pay the $20 orientation fee with the assuredness of an unconditional money-back guarantee, they weren't about to pay the one-on-one fees. Basically, if they attended the orientation, they were "hot."
I developed a structure where each week I guided a group of eight people through a one-hour explanation of the synergistic relationship between eating right, doing something to challenge muscle and taking care of the cardiorespiratory system. At the end of the presentation, I invited attendees to commit to training with me. My goal, in that one hour, was to spike their perception of the value of my services, and it worked like a charm. Roughly, 30 people a month would enter the top of the orientation Funnel, and with time and polishing, I was able to build a staff of trainers all able to conduct these same orientations. Thirty people became 120 people, and the ones who funneled through and said "yes" became clients. Paying clients. Clients committed to training on an ongoing basis. Soon, this structure led to an organization with 14 trainers, everyone doing orientations, everyone controlling client intake masterfully.
Your funnel need not be exactly the same as mine, but if you're going to control growth without nearing burn out, you have to find a way to give everyone you connect with through your Reach a "next step," and you have to find a way to increase the financial
return on your time. The Funnel concept, therefore, requires any type of forum, any type of event or any type of presentation that brings people together in a group to invest in your services with the
opportunity to commit ongoing. Consider that any one of the following can serve as your Funnel if you refine it into a paid session where you connect with a group and where people pay to be there.
Boot Camps: Boot camps are fun, trendy and timely, and if you have the spirit and skill to thrill people in an hour of movement, your client base grows with each successive boot camp offering.
Corporate Presentations: Don't think of corporations as Motorola or Hewlett Packard. Think of a corporation as any workplace where eight or more people sit in chairs for the better part of the day. If you carefully examine your present Reach, you'll find that you already know people who are connected with such workplaces, and a weekly presentation, targeting a new corporation each week, maximizes the value of the hour for you and for those in attendance.
Road Show: If you have a staff or allies, consider creating a one-hour presentation that's replicable a presentation that has energy, participation and a clear benefit. Every week, conduct this presentation at a different venue for a different group of people. Consider groups and organizations, hospitals, schools and marketplaces, and with some imagination, you can create a thrilling event that funnels people into your stable of happy clients.
In addition, seminars, meet-and-greet events, lunch-and-learns and clinics are all examples of vehicles that can be effectively used as client Funnels. So, how does this all translate to effortless prosperity? If you think of your Reach as "enjoying meeting new people all the time" and you make a mental note of the first three letters of the word Funnel, you'll realize that "work" can feel like play. Play with these concepts; make certain you value the financial worth of your own time, and effortless prosperity is certain to follow.
Phil Kaplan's newest program for personal trainers is "Change Your Mind, Change The World." Find info at www.philkaplan.com. And be sure to look for the final installment of the series next issue, concluding with the Spillover.