Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stay Busy so you can get Busy!

Think about the last time you were looking for a good restaurant. Let’s say you came across a restaurant that was empty. What are your first thoughts? Probably something like – “This restaurant can’t be that good. There’s no one there!” Typically, you’re more drawn to a restaurant that’s got a lot of people in it and the place looks like it’s buzzing. That’s always a good sign!

Well, it’s very similar for a Personal Trainer. One of the worst things is to see a trainer sitting around all day behind a desk or just hanging out talking to other staff. The perception to a potential client is “That trainer must not be that good since they don’t have any clients!”

So in order to get busy, you’ve got to LOOK BUSY! Here are some important tips:

1. If you’re just getting started, give away some FREE training. Did I actually say FREE! Yep, I did. But be selective about how you go about doing this and who you give this free training to because you don’t want to devalue your service. There’s got to be a method to your madness! You want to choose people who you know are movers and shakers in your community or high profile staff in your club. So in a club setting, maybe you give a few sessions to the top sales staff who will then be talking you up to all the new members. Or maybe give a few free sessions to the most popular group fitness instructors who also will rave about you to all their class participants. Or maybe you train a few of the customer service reps who also will share their experience with members. Maybe even offer some free training to the veteran trainers on your team who are popular but too full to take on any new clients so that when someone wants to train with them they can easily and comfortably refer that client to you. Or maybe you choose someone in your community – a radio talk show host, the mayor, an elite level athlete, a business owner with strong relationships with lots of people in your community, the mom who is the PTA president who everyone knows, loves and respects – and give them a number of sessions. The only rule with this is ask the person to not mention to anyone else that they are getting free personal training and also ask them in return for the free personal training to tell everyone they know and meet how great you are. Create an arrangement so that for each new client they bring you, you will continue to thank them with an additional personal training session. Now, you’ll look like you’ve got a lot of clients plus you’ll have a whole sales team selling your services!
2. Do Mini-sessions. There is absolutely nothing like face-to-face marketing! So if you don’t have any clients or long breaks in between clients and you want to fill your schedule, think of mini-sessions as the way to look busy and to develop relationships with potential clients. All you have to do is approach a member doing their own thing and say something like “Hey, Sally, I’ve got 20 minutes before my next client. I’d love to take you through a mini-workout.” Then find out what they’re working on and then take them through a little mini-session. Strut your stuff and show them the value that you can add to their exercise experience. I have found that 9 times out of 10, this type of connection opens up a dialogue about your services. For example, they might bring up “You know I’ve been thinking about seeing a trainer once a month to create a program for me” or “Tell me more about your Team Training. I’ve been meaning to ask someone how that works” or “Do you think seeing you just once a week would be beneficial because I think that’s all I can afford?!”.
3. Spot in a Group Fitness Class. Find out who are the most popular group fitness instructors in your club. Then suggest to them that you’d like to come to their class and provide some spotting and technique monitoring during the strength and/or abdominals sections. Any group fitness instructor would love to have this type of assistance. In return, ask the instructor to mention how great of a trainer you are and how you could offer them some solid accountability and help them reach their goals. Spotting in a group fitness class is a great way to connect with multiple people for the same amount of time – you might get to meet 20-50 people in 10-15 minutes.

This approach absolutely works! Trust me! Here’s a real life example. I was consulting with a club in Oregon. They had just hired a new trainer who in his first month generated $7000 in revenues. So I asked him what he was doing to fill his schedule so quickly. First, he told me he had given away 2 Personal Training sessions to every employee at the club and was even doing some partner and small group training with various staff members. He had created a buzz and everyone was talking about him!

Secondly, he was doing the mini-sessions I talked about above and let me tell you how valuable this is. One day I was in his club to do some training with the trainers. I saw him training one of the members. So once the session was over, I started talking with the member and asked her how it was going. Her response was “Oh, he’s an amazing trainer. You know I’ve been a member here 15 years and he’s the first trainer that has ever talked to me!” I thought this was very valuable information that I could share with the trainers to emphasize the importance of connecting and developing relationships with members. So I told the trainers what she said and they couldn’t believe it. There response was “That’s not true. We talk to her all the time. I say hi to her everyday!” So of course, I just had to get to the bottom of this. So I went back to the member and mentioned to her “I really want to help the other trainers here at the club so I want to clarify something. I told them what you had said and they didn’t understand because they felt that they all did have a relationship with you and said Hi to you everyday.” Her response was “Oh yeah. Of course, they all say hi to me and are very nice. But my trainer was the first one to ever approach me and take me through a little workout. He really showed me that I could take things to a whole other level by working with him so that’s why I started training with him.” So I went back to the trainers and told them what she said. Their response was “Well, she’s been a member with us for 15 years. She looks great and it looks like she really knows what she’s doing so we just assumed that she really wasn’t interested in training with a trainer!” My response was “Well, obviously, you were wrong because she’s now training three times per week and will probably be one of the best PT clients ever!” So never assume someone can’t benefit or isn’t interested in Personal Training. Even high level, highly motivated athletes like Lance Armstrong have a whole entourage of coaches and trainers. So if they can benefit from the services of a trainer, we all can! If you get the brush off from a few members, don’t let it detour you. Sometimes you have to experience a few rejections to find those awesome, life-long clients!

If you train in a club or you're a fitness director and manage a number of trainers in a club, have a discussion about some of these ideas. If you implement these initiatives and get the buy-in from your trainers, I guarantee your PT revenue will dramatically increase!

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