Some of you reading this might be a littletoo young to remember, but there was a comedian back in the '80s when I wasgrowing up named Rodney Dangerfield. He's the guy that used tocomplain about how he couldn't get any respect.
You know why he was so successful? Because alot of people have that same complaint: they feel they're just not gettingenough respect. And from being in this industry for as long as I have, I'velearned trainers are no different.
How do I know? I have a habit of staying intouch with a lot of my readers and program owners. I keep my finger on thepulse of what they're facing, which is the reason why I'm able to hit the marka lot of times with the answers. And personally, I've probably been throughmore"hard knocks" on my way to the top than any trainer alive, so I candefinitely relate to the problems trainers at all levels are going through.
If you fall in the "I get no respect" crowd,realize that there are reasons for it and that you can change it; andfurthermore, I'm going to show you how. There are just a whole lot of thingstrainers do wrong that contribute to them having a low self-image and lowperceived authority in the minds of their customers. These problems aresometimes perceived as being part of the game in this business, but I'm goingto show you how to be different.
The place where all of this negative conditioninghas its origins is from the big-box gym training environment. This is and willalways be a service business, but in the big gym they confuse service withbeing a servant. The result is that trainers end up getting "trained" with tonsof bad habits.
We're trained to show up whenever our clientswant us to show up. If they want to show up early in the day and late at night,we're trained to spend the whole day there and just sit around and wait forthem. We're trained to have most of our income taken by management. We'reforced to do things like prospect and sell, which take away our ability toemphasize the quality of our training product.
We also have to train every client that's placedin front of us, whether it's a child or a senior citizen; someone trying to gainmuscle mass or somebody morbidly obese. In this kind of training environment,even the most talented and assertive trainer can end up "broken." We're taughta negative way to view ourselves. And that's not even the worst part...
What we also learn is an extremely flawedbusiness model. You see, even the trainers that break out on their ownand start their own businesses carry a lot of the same bad habits they learnedfrom the big box gym. They follow the same broken business model and translatethat to their private practice.
Even though they're out of the gym, nothinghas changed. The billing practices, the scheduling practices and the self imagehaven't changed. All in all, after a while working for yourself ends up reallybeing not much better than working at the big gym.
A low self image in this business can lead toa lack of energy and just a draining feeling that will leave you dissatisfiedand limit what you can accomplish in your career. As an entrepreneur, you're incharge of your own world. But this is impossible when you feel drained,unmotivated and uninspired. All of that comes from carrying the bad habits andflawed business model of the big box gym.
That's why it is going to take a new way toperceive yourself and a new business model to succeed. You need to perceiveyourself as a high-end consultant. You have a specialized body of knowledgethat is in demand. And the next step to that is adopting a business model thatfits your new self image.
What are some of theways that this flawed business model and self image can creep into a privatepractice? Let's take a look:
1. Going to clients' homes. I've talked aboutthis in previous columns; trainers driving forty five minutes to an hour justto see one client? This works out to be no better than what you were making atthe big box gym. In general, this is not a business model with long-termpotential. It's not something you can leverage with the help of employees. Andit's not the basis of a strong business with greater future growth.
2. Bending to clients' schedules. By nature,trainers have to see our clients at times that are convenient for their clients.This may be early in the morning and late at night. But doing both willeventually leave any trainer burnt out. And not only that, but at a certainpoint your clients will stop respecting you. What they're going to startthinking is that you're desperate for the money. Being a consultant thatcommands high rates and desperation are two things that cannot coexist. What atrainer needs to realize is their schedule should be something that they are incharge of, and that clients have to work with at times. That might mean havingthem train on weekends or share you with another client during peak times.
3. Not charging enough. When you work for abig gym, you generally charge above the industry norms, and clients willinglypay for it. Then why don't trainers charge more once they go solo? It onlymakes sense, considering you're now an in-demand individual. But what you'llfind is most trainers end up charging less. By reflex, this causes clients toview your services as being inferior.
No matter what level you're at in your career,I'm sure you could see a little of yourself in some of the points I justmentioned. But don't worry, I'm not just going to point out the negativeswithout giving you a solution. Here are some new habits you can embraceimmediately to seriously step your game up:
1. Specializing. If you stay aone-size-fits-all trainer, it's hard to get clients to do anything you wantthem to do. It's hard to get them to work with your schedule, pay you whatyou're worth, or show up where you want them to. Being nice is not a businessmodel -- pick a specialty and let everyone know about it. Pick the area ofexpertise where you're confident and proud to say that you're number one. Then,put that on all of your marketing materials and website and live and breathe itevery day. Once you do, you'll be shocked by how your clients bend to yourwill, adhere to your business practices, and flock to you. People will go outof their way and do whatever it takes to train with number one.
2. Have a growth model. Most trainers don'thave a business model that gives them a chance for any sort of future. And ifsomeone was in a career that had little potential for growth or a future, howmuch respect would you give to that person? Not much at all. That explains whya lot of trainers don't respect themselves and don't get it from their clients --because the way their businesses are currently set up will have them doingexactly the same thing ten years from now. The only way for them to grow theirbusiness is to add more clients and add more working hours. That's not going towork long term. To really grow the business, you need to have higheraspirations and a business model that will give you potential to leverageyourself.
3. Billing. Trainers shoot themselves in thefoot with this all the time. You only get paid for the hours that you work, soif a client fails to show up for two of their sessions in a week, you'll findthat a big chunk of the income you get from that client has just disappeared.With this model, losing a client also carries dire consequences.
The solution is to switch to a fixed monthlyprice that's billed automatically. This puts the onus on the client to not only "bring it" during their sessions but also to adhere to their programs. Thiswill get them much better results and greatly stabilize your income.
That's an extremely short list of ways to increaseyour self-worth in this business. But if you haven't put any of them intoeffect yet, don't overlook them.
A low self-image or lack of respect isn'tsomething that you need to accept. Realize that a lot of times those habitsweren't even your fault. But if you decide to hold on to them, that is yourfault, so it's all up to you.
Kaiser Serajuddin is the writer of the popular personal training blog, Super-Trainer.com. He guides personal trainers through the challenging period of starting their personal training businesses and helps them on the road to six figures. For more information, you can download his special report, The Six-Figure Formula, at www.super-trainer.com.