Most personal trainers don't have a natural affinity for running a business, or maybe that was just me. Well, if you're like me I'm sure you can appreciate the frustration of what, at times, feels like an endless circle. You freak out a bit because your really need more clients in an effort to become profitable (or hopefully more profitable); then you are either discouraged because whatever you're doing to attracting clients isn't working that well (and is usually costing you money) or you're overwhelmed trying to maintain a high level of service because there are so many people. Each of these situations leads into the next and leaves you with a revolving headache and a craving for Advil.
It took me a long time to realize that this, in many ways, was because everything in my business was being controlled emotionally or the "feeling" I had of what was going on in the business each day. (That and I was fortunate enough that a few things worked pretty well and we grew so rapidly that I had to figure out ways to ensure people were kept happy or how to predict how much staff to hire and a multitude of other things.)
In this column, however, I want to focus on just one critical component of this; sadly, it's also one of the last things I addressed in my business and would have been so much easier had I done this sooner. Thankfully, I get to share this with you so the same thing doesn't happen.
I don't think it matters where you are in the world, we can all agree that our industry is somewhat cyclical. We're always busy in January with the "clean slate" New Year's resolutions and almost equally as busy in September, which, for most, is the beginning of the new school year. In between there are all kinds of highs and lows, most of which can be influenced by you.
One of the best things I've ever done for my business was to chart out a plan for attracting new clients. For some reason it feels like this really difficult or complicated thing but once you do it, it's actually super easy. The best part is that it allows you to be prepared well in advance. You can think situational, tailor things to your audience and the best part when the "I need more clients" emotion hits all you need to do is pull the trigger and execute.
Here's what you do to start:
1. I use a spreadsheet and in one column I lay out each month as four weeks. (see the diagram below.)
2. Beside the list of weeks in each column I block off weeks where I think I will run certain promotions. So for instance the first column might be email promotion as this is very popular with many trainers. I'd highly recommend you start each January and September with a fitness challenge -- these "kick in the pants" programs often really appeal to our audience and what they are feeling at the time. Little did I know last year that re-packaging my multi-week challenge at Easter and calling it the "Post Easter Bunny Apocalypse 6-Week Challenge" was going to be so successful, but I did have "spring challenge" recorded in my marketing calendar.
3. Over time you’ll likely want to test or begin using new mediums like direct mail, addressed mail, or print ads. Add these columns and schedule the weeks you think you would most likely benefit from these campaigns and start preparing for them.
4. Now when the time comes you just need to decide whether to pull the trigger or adjust the scheduling.
5. Additionally, as things run record them; if you used different dates adjust them to actual; record details of the results like: number of prospects, conversion, completions. Imagine the value of this next year.
I promise spending 20 minutes now to guess at a few promotion dates and then working to prepare the next couple scheduled promotions in the coming weeks will save you so much stress your business will catapult forward. If you did that now just imagine how much easier next year will be, or the potential to eventually hire staff that could execute these pre-prepared campaigns for you or even how you could automate all kinds of promotions at times when:
- You might be gone for a few days.
- When you know you're going to need new people.
- To launch new group times or fill hard-to-fill scheduling gaps.
If you're like me you'll try this and it won't feel right at first; it will feel hard because the reality is you're totally guessing at when to run what, but I once remember internet marketer Craig Balantyne saying, "write down any reason you can think of to have a sale, even your dog's birthday."
Truth is Craig was right. First off, people love the goofy reasons to get a deal. Second, imperfect action today will scale mountains tomorrow. And third, as you develop historical data the value of this increases 10 fold, but you need to do it in the first place for that to happen.
After struggling for eight years as a Personal Trainer, Cabel McElderry challenged the typical gym setup and created quite a reputation for himself. His 7 figure studio now five years old has won multiple awards for business excellence. Cabel has been recognized as one of the top 100 fitness entrepreneurs in North America and is currently one of 50 nominees for Optimum Nutrition's Canadian Trainer of the Year. He now mentors fitness professionals worldwide in an effort to help them achieve similar or better results than his own. Cabel's advice and writing can be found amougst some of the biggest blogs online and he is constantly called upon to offer his advice and strategies at some the largest fitness events worldwide.www.ProfitablePersonalTrainer.com