When you hear the words potential client, does your mouth water? If it doesn't, it should. Clients equal money, and more clients mean more money and a better lifestyle. If you wish to be successful, you have to be hungry. You must always be thinking about how to get more clients, as well as how to keep the clients you already have. Do not expect your club to simply hand you clients. While this may happen to a small degree, you as a trainer must go out and sell yourself.
Obtaining New Clients
Members won't generally hire trainers they don't know. It's rare for someone to simply walk in off the street, sign up as a member, and ask for a personal trainer. This does occasionally happen, but you cannot build a successful business by relying on that scenario. People must know and trust you before they invest their time and money in you. Visibility is important. Let members get to know you (and you them) by walking around the fitness center and talking to people during your desk hours and/or between appointments.
How do I approach a potential client to sell my services as a personal trainer?
Establish a relationship by learning his name and finding things you have in common. Do not try to close a sale the first time you meet someone. The next time you see him working out, remember his name and explain what you do. You may have several conversations with someone before they feel comfortable enough to make an appointment with you.
There is one situation where you are more likely to sell an appointment to someone you have just met. When a new member joins a club, they are typically entitled to at least one free appointment with a trainer. You should use this as an opportunity to make your presentation and sell your personal training services. You have thirty to sixty minutes during the free appointment to get to know this person and to help them get to know you. During this time, you should be evaluating their strengths and weaknesses and using that information to show them how they need you. You have a captive audience. Consider it a soft sell, as they came to you for help. Bear in mind that while many people cannot afford a personal trainer weekly, many like to make appointments once a month to obtain a new program, monitor progress, and stay motivated. Be sure to offer this as an option if someone says that personal training does not fit into his budget.
Word of mouth or referrals will be a great tool for developing and growing your client base. People feel more comfortable hiring someone with whom a friend or colleague already has a relationship. Do not be afraid to ask your clients if they feel comfortable giving you referrals.
If at the end of your initial consultation you have not sold a personal training package or session, make it easy for them to approach you in the future. Give them your business card, tell them you're available to address any questions or concerns, and that you hope you can work together in the future. If that person likes you and feels comfortable with you, they may refer a friend to you because you were professional and courteous.
Follow up is vastly important when you're selling anything. During a new member appointment, you can gather a great deal of information that will make following up easier and more effective. Most clubs have their members fill out a form or questionnaire during their first appointment. This form should at least include the member's name, phone number, e-mail address, occupation, fitness experiences, and hobbies and interests. There may be more information on the form, but these basics are all you need. From this information, you can develop a call list to generate personal training leads. You can make index cards, a computer list, or enter the information into a PDA. Send out an e-mail or handwritten note within a few days of your meeting. Tell the member you enjoyed meeting him or her and reiterate your offer to answer any questions that may arise. You may also choose to take this one step further and send out monthly e-mails with tips and information on areas of fitness such as weight training, nutrition, or stretching. This will keep you and your services at the front of people's minds and may help you acquire new clients.
One of the biggest challenges you'll face as a trainer is scheduling clients. The primetime hours are before and after work, and this is a finite amount of time. Most personal training takes place from 6–9 A.M. and 4–8 P.M., Monday through Friday. Depending on your particular place of employment, you may be scheduling your own clients, or the club may be doing it for you. Either way, it would be wise to work during either or both of these peak times.
Be cautious of new clients who want to work with you five days per week. Most clients begin with the best of intentions. They are motivated and positive, but don't realize what a big commitment they're making. If they lose their motivation and stop exercising as quickly as they started, you'll have five time slots to fill.
Discovering what your potential client does for a living is quite helpful in determining if and where they will fit into your schedule, and you into theirs. If they work a nine-to-five job, obviously they'll have less flexibility — they'll need to train either during peak hours or on the weekend. If they're self-employed, work from home, or are a stay-at-home parent, they may have more flexibility to train during off-peak hours. It is helpful to have clients with a variety of occupations, so you don't have a large gap in your schedule midday.
The most important factor in signing up a new client is whether they fit comfortably into your schedule. It isn't wise to rearrange your schedule for a new client who has not proven to be consistent and reliable.
The people who can afford to hire trainers multiple times per week are often business owners and executives and their spouses. These people are a great asset because they understand the importance of making and keeping appointments, as well as the value of your time. The drawback is that they tend to travel a great deal for business and vacations, which can leave you with several empty time slots if they are on the road for a week or more. Last minute cancellations can also occur due to unforeseen airline difficulties, extended business trips, and fatigue from traveling. This group of people will be your bread and butter and it is prudent to be flexible with them, within reason.