10 Rules for Personal Training Business Success

1. Know your personal training business customers better than anyone

Your personal training business serves customers. You think you already know them. If you haven’t interviewed anyone recently (had a third party, not a staff member), you’re guessing. The customer of today is not the one that you trained or sold 10 years ago or even 2. What they know, what they think they know, what confuses them is quite different. Definitely what they value about your service is different than what you think your value is and the only way to gather the real information is ask.

  • Interview them – third party (not you)
  • Survey them
  • Get regular feedback

2. Design programs based on those interviews

One of the biggest errors trainers make in their personal training business is deciding what they want to offer and offering it without regard to the customer. You have to remember if you go into business choosing a target market that your job is to listen to what they want. You have to attract, deliver, and pivot based on that. It’s not a matter of what excites you to offer and teach if you hope to stay in business for the long haul. Your business is committed to the customer.

Customers don’t want “crossfit” or “Pilates” or “hot yoga.” They want results. The motivation for customers is the transformation they want. If you remember that and write copy and market to that you can sell any program. Benefits not features sell programs. Group fitness directors and instructors get excited by shiny object syndrome – the newest toys or tools or class. When what really sells a customer is the excitement, evidence of results, you can sell what they need wrapped in what they want. You don’t even have to build it before they buy it. Let your customers tell you what they want along the way.

3. Know your personal training business’s staff member’s key motivations

  • Interview them
  • Survey them
  • Get their client’s feedback

4. Let staff member’s strengths shine

Your personal training business has staff members who love certain tasks. But you have to distinguish between a desire to do something and liking something and skill at it (e.g. everyone likes marketing). Establish criteria and tracking, constant education (for something like marketing, if you’re doing what you did two years ago it’s not working any longer, social media requires constant education).

I’ve been marketing fitness programs since 1987 and I spent more than 30 hours in the first half of 2017 on updating my knowledge, skills, and my own practices. You need to know not just the science of attraction and influence, but copy writing for various platforms, email marketing, launch design, social media, campaign structure, content marketing, and unique platforms. That’s just the overarching information, then you’ve got to know who your customer is and the market research about them (see #1) and know how to gather and interpret that information. Everyone needs fitness. That is not enough to attract customers in 2017.

Find out if you have staff members who are already good at the following areas, or who have interest in them and support growth. By all means don’t be afraid to tell someone their skill set is not ideal and they are better suited for something else.

  • Programming
  • Marketing
  • Presenting
  • Education
  • Data tracking and details

5. Recruit for your personal training business with clear skills, traits, and expectations

  • Skills candidates must have to apply…
  • Qualifications candidates must have to apply…
  • This job is perfect for someone who…
  • This job is wrong for someone who…

checklist for personal training business

6. Provide personal training business evaluation criteria for employees to self-evaluate and report

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Annually

7. Provide feedback frequently tied to the mission of the personal training business

In a personal training business communication is key since trainers work with clients daily but may not interact with other staff daily. It doesn’t matter if staff members are Gen X, Y, or boomers, everyone wants to know they’re an important part of the mission statement. You’ve got to help them see it in a big way. If they take ownership of their job they will do a better job and they’ll be more loyal.

8. Provide praise consistently

They want to talk to you but most of all they want to know they’re doing a good job. They have to be rewarded for effort, for results, and for ideas, regularly. Be careful not to give misguided praise if you have high effort without high results, you’ve got to deliver a rerouting message too.

9. Create Systems and Standard Operating Policies for your personal training business growth

Those tasks that get done (or should) regularly should be systems with checklists and criteria for evaluation. Especially with monthly, or quarterly and annual items that you may forget, unless you have a simple at-a-glance process to revisit, you’ll rob yourself of time and energy to recreate it. How often do you re-evaluate your company handbook? How often do you re-evaluate your hiring process?

  • every activity repeated daily, weekly, monthly
  • marketing campaigns
  • phone scripts, consultations, scheduling, cancellations
  • customer lifecycle: contact, service, follow up, long term nurture
  • staff hiring, continuing education, recertification requirements, evaluation

10. Establish customer service with staff standards

If you treat your internal customers (your staff) well and you’ve hired to have the right butts in the seats, you’ll be showing them how to treat your customers. I have an addiction to The Profit with Marcus Lemons. It’s an insightful look at other businesses and what’s wrong that provides some introspection for your business. Sure, it’s a reality show, but there is a lot you’ll identify with if you’re running a business.

But one thing that sticks out is the “Customer is Always Right” is not Marcus’ philosophy. He opts for the Staff is always right. That leaves the choice of the staff, the evaluation, and quick pivot if necessary in your hands. If you have the right individuals there, and you’re clear about performance and their care, the customer care will take care of itself. If you have internal friction you will never have good customer care.

Do not allow meetings go occur followed by staff members coming to you individually. Create a safe environment where everyone – even the one with the least confidence and desire to avoid criticism – can speak up. Make it clear that THIS is the time and place to voice opinions that are in the best interest of the business mission. Don’t tolerate private meetings. Create a culture where it’s clear that everyone has a voice and it’s safe to express an opinion that is different.

  • Show vs. tell the staff
  • Set expectations and rewards
  • Stop poor behavior quickly
  • Reward good behavior more quickly
  • Embody transparency

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