By Matt Cicci
Personal trainers are an eclectic bunch. Some of the most successful trainers are the most confident, cocky almost diva-like individuals. Clients like that. They like feeling as though their trainer is ‘the best’, it helps to justify the expenditure. Unlike any other staff, the personal trainer is a multi-functional member of the team. Through PT sales she generates measurable revenue. Her floor shift put her in direct daily contact with the club’s members. And her exercise science knowledge makes her the de facto fitness spokesperson for the entire organization. Thereby making the trainer a sales person, hospitality member and marketing representative all rolled up into one.
And while most trainers are armed with an impressive certification, a body made for a Zach Snyder film and a fairly comprehensive sports and/or athletic background, many are still lost when it comes to actually running their own business within the business. So here are a few skills that I have noticed over the years that most trainers need to develop in order to really start to see their sessions, and likewise the dollars, add up.
Let’s be honest here. A personal trainer without clients is as useful as a treadmill in a crossfit box. Yes, the club or studio is partially responsible for generating good quality leads for the PT team, but it’s also the trainer’s responsibility to sell herself and her services to develop her own book of business. Without learning the techniques and cues necessary to approach a potential client and discuss the fitness offerings you provide, your training career is going to last about as long as a 3-pack a day smoker in an Ironman.
So what should you do?
With your new-found sales skills comes a need to master ‘sales-math’. Any good trainer can calculate heart rate zones and figure out the micro-nutrient portions of a weight loss diet. But, knowing your sales ratios is a totally different ballgame. It’s real simple. Working backwards from the number of new clients you want to gain in a given month, let’s say you want four new clients. And, let’s assume that your particular success ratios indicate that for every five comp session you perform you gain one new client. Right there we know you need to complete a minimum of 20 great comps. That’s the easy math. Every trainer knows this...right?
So, how do you get those 20 comps? Assuming you are on your own with no help from sales, then you need to start approaching members. But how many? And this is where trainers fail. Not knowing how many actual conversations with a qualified member lead to a comp session. The number may be 25 or 17 or 50, but you need to know that ratio. Additionally, you need to continually monitor that ratio as your career evolves as well.
Ok, so ‘time management’ is the official term, but really it should read: Get Your Ass To the Club/Studio/Gym and Stay There!!! So many times I have seen good trainers fail to gain any traction simply because they are not present enough. And, yes, I know that trainers are splitting their time among several studios and various independent clients. But, if you commit to a facility, you need to be there. You need to workout there, you need to be there for the morning rush, you really need to be there for the after work crowd, you should be there on the weekends and you should definitely be there for any and all club events.
It’s real simple, if you’re not there then you’re not going to (and you don’t deserve to) get any love from the staff. Translation: the other guy is going to get all the hot leads and you get the woman in jeans who wants to ride the recumbent bike and read People magazine. Figure out your schedule and get to the club.
Here’s an easy, but deceptive one. Sure, you introduced yourself that first week to everyone on staff. Then, you forgot about them. The best thing a trainer can do (other than shower) is to throw a few complimentary training sessions to the hospitality and sales teams. They need to know what you can do and how it’s different/better/more inventive than what the other trainers on staff can do. These people will sell you, but only if they know what they are selling.
Too many times I have seen trainers start out making friends with everyone only to end up hanging out with other trainers by the end of the first month. Look, the other trainers are great for advice and knowledge and tips, but they are also your competition. And, by the way, they don’t want to buy sessions from you. Do yourself a favor: train the front desk girl, workout with the sales manager, go for a run with the AGM and talk about your training philosophy. The only wrong move is not to move.