High quality trainers are likely to be found actively bettering themselves to be able to guide others on the same mission. Words and phrases like passion, selfless, all-in, knowledgeable, motivating, and endlessly seeking to learn often describe them. The distinction between qualified and under-qualified trainers might not be obvious to the untrained eye. As a result, business goes both ways. However, under-qualified trainers are less likely to be all-in, often serving themselves first and their clients second. It is disheartening that the reality is that we are competing for business.

    Many variables differentiate a qualified trainer from an under-qualified trainer, but first we must wonder, how could anyone in our industry be content with being under-qualified? Second, how is it that we are competing with them? While we are attending conferences, earning higher education and certifications, and investing in our clients, our under-qualified competition seems to be filling their books.

    To know why this challenge exists, we need to know the mindset of the people who are being drawn to the under-qualified competition. They are clearly doing something right if they are getting the business. Who are their customers and what is it they are looking for?

    If we can answer these questions, we can begin to face and overcome the challenge of competing with under-qualified trainers to the point that a year from now, we will be saying, “What challenge?” Keep in mind, our struggles make us stronger. With this perspective, let’s thank the under-qualified trainers for the opportunity to better ourselves. Now let’s roll our sleeves up and get to work establishing why potential business should choose us over them.

    Differentiate by appealing to values
    For a behavior to stick, actions need to be congruent with values. For example, client “Susie” highly values family and health. She wants to keep up with her grandchildren for a long time. She also values time and money. She is working to pay off bills before retirement. She has an opportunity to spend money on herself and has decided to make health a priority after a disappointing medical exam.

    If a client values time, offer 30-minute sessions. If they value money, offer memberships that can be budgeted instead of big packages. If they value family, share testimonials of clients whose health has enhanced their family lives. This proactive practice of who you are and how you can help solve potential customers’ problems has to begin now and be done daily. Always be asking, “How can I help you?” actively listen, then deliver on your promise.

    Prospects need to know you before they need you
    For a prospect like Susie, fitness is not a part of her lifestyle, nor does she surround herself with others who engage in it. The only place she knows to go is the local gym. This is where our under-qualified trainer is ready and waiting for her. How many clients liked Susie are in your town, in your radius, down the street from you? To attract Susie and all the potential clients like her, we need to be attracting her to us before she even knows she needs us. This is where you are different. You are proactive in the content you deliver via email, through social media, on posters around town, and you are actively asking your current clients to spread the word of what you offer.

    Let your greatest investment payoff
    Fine-tooth-comb your notes from conferences, certifications and educational experiences. You will surprise yourself with the powerful information you already possess. Share this information with your clients, prospects and community. Information from the presentations you’ve attended. In your certification courses, sharable information is embedded in the material. Tap into your greatest investment - your education - and continually communicate why working with a qualified trainer matters. This creates the scenario that begs the question with a potential client, “How can they not train with you?”

    Practice exceeding expectations
    “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt. Simply, care more. Demonstrate it with acts of kindness, of empathy, of service. Get so good at the little things. Share books, share recipes, leave your clients with daily thoughts, funnies, meditations, greet them with a flower. And as Maya Angelou stated, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This will certainly differentiate you and your value of service.

    Anticipate your clients’ needs before they express them. Sense if they have a question they are uncomfortable asking. Sense if they need a change of scenery and sense when the kind of day they had is better served with a stretching or rehab session versus a power or lifting session. Act on your intuitions, perceive their needs and exceed their expectations.

    Keep taking steps to introduce yourself and your expertise to potential clients before they even know they need you. Continue to learn how to serve clients based on their values. Your reputation for caring more and being responsive to your clients’ needs before expressed is noticed and your education and ability to stay ahead of industry standards is a given. But the most important thing that is so simple it is often overlooked is this: consistency. People like to know you will be there next month, next year, five years from now. The truth is, this is more valuable than almost any other thing you can do. The difference between qualified and under-qualified is in showing up, not just when it is convenient, but every day.