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Many independent fitness professionals, particularly new to the industry, have a difficult time pricing their services. When coming up with a fee schedule they often are conflicted by two things: how much to charge that is justified by experience (or lack thereof) and what the market dictates as a competitive rate.

Unfortunately, many professionals fail to factor in the actual costs of providing their service and then wonder why they aren't taking home as much money as they estimated. Unlike pricing a product, costs aren't always as direct or as obvious. In order to maximize your profit potential you need to track and scrutinize your costs - both direct and indirect - and be sure your costs are covered in your fees with your desired amount of profit built-in.

Let's look at personal training as an example. The typical approach is to look at what the local personal training market is charging and use that as the reference point.

The more responsible approach would look something like this:

1. Budget your direct costs required to deliver a personal training session including:
Overhead (your rent or commission split)
Travel costs (especially for in-home training, including gas/mileage, your car costs, insurance, etc.)
Merchant account fees (if you accept credit cards, you’re likely paying 2-5%)
Supplies & equipment (be sure to include cost of client binder, paper, fitness equipment, other client materials, etc.)

2. Track your indirect costs:
Education and continuing education (CECs, conferences, coaches/mentors)
Time investment beyond each session including preparing programs/workouts, travel time, etc. (i.e. the 60-minute session may be actually costing you 90 minutes of your total time) Taxes (have your accountant estimate how much you need to consider for taxes or tax planning)
Administrative time (sending invoices, business management, etc.)
Marketing (as you track marketing costs consistently, you will be able to assess how much it costs you to attain one client and where you get the most return on investment)

3. Decide how much money you want to take home.
How much you make and how much you take are two very different numbers.

Make sure that your rates balance between covering your direct and indirect costs and builds-in your profit. Having a firm grasp on your true costs early on will enable you to continually grow your business. Once you have your ideal rate schedule, your next challenge is to master the art of marketing and positioning your services to attract your ideal clientele that will pay you what you're worth!

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How much of your time would you estimate you spend growing your business?