I'll admit that I'm not the most technologically savvy individual, but I was on the cutting edge with a custom-built MS-DOS computer software system for my personal training business in 1988. It was one of the first ever in the industry and I, unfortunately, held onto it way too long. I should've updated to a newer system long before I did. Though we are up to speed now, it could've been really bad had I not realized the necessity of stepping outside my safe zone and updating all of my business systems. Sometimes, you have to be willing to walk away from your "safe zone" with technology so you can run certain aspects of your business on autopilot.

    The reason for staying current with technology is that it enables you to focus your time, energy and thoughts on your real job -- relationship building. Today's tech systems can serve as a database for client info, contracts, invoicing and billing, appointment schedules, financial records, payroll, sales, marketing, attendance records, and equipment and inventory records.

    You can save a lot of time spent returning voicemails with online appointment scheduling for clients and trainers. All you need is a website that allows scheduling and cancellations, and automates session reminders by email. This will also help you reduce no-shows and eliminate face-to-face payment and collection activities with auto billing and credit card processing.

    Make sure you fully utilize your systems by pulling financial reports, attendance records, periodic client contact info updates and inventory reports that easily show you when it's time to reorder supplies.

    You can even use these databases to check your clients' stats -- weight, diet and fitness milestones, performance improvements -- so you make adjustments to sessions as necessary and more importantly, take note of client accomplishments and let them know how they are progressing with their overall program.

    You must have the motivation to overcome resistance to change and take the time and money to invest in new technology. It may be difficult at first, but in the long run you will certainly benefit. Take a look at where you're spending your time and you'll easily see what it means for you to have technology that will run certain business activities on autopilot. The key is for you to be able to build relationships and that takes face-to-face time.

    Technology allows us to automate all aspects of our business (non-client interaction) -- decreasing the time spent on overhead activities. So, you will be saving money and time while simultaneously improving customer service, increasing perceived value and boosting your professional reputation.

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