What to do when great personal training programs aren’t full

Right off the bat we have to agree that with the title of this blog I’m assuming. I’m assuming that your programs are great. I want to operate that way with this blog. So, I’m going to put it on you to have:

  • tested the actual program
  • analized evaluations
  • seen the results participants get

So in other words you know that if only you could double or triple (or whatever your goal) registration, every time you offered the session that you would be helping so many more people with a valuable program and making more revenue with this program you’ve created.

I also want you to know I created a podcast so very similar to this that you may want to listen to either to help drive in the message, or because you prefer to listen instead of read. Click here and listen.

This is the time of year to be doing this. You potentially have this very little lull in your programming. Vacation time for others can be the absolute best time to not just plan that last six months of the year so that it’s killer by reassessing your highest profit margin programs, killing the ones that are just on the schedule preventing better programs to go there, or breathing new life into them by filling the gaps I’m going to talk about here.

The answer is an audit. If you’ve ever had a tax audit that sounds awful. This isn’t quite so bad, in fact for someone who likes to write copy and knows the art of persuasion and copy that converts, this is a fun kind of puzzle. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about a literature geek who knows grammar – I’m talking about someone who loves marketing and knows why “you” instead of “a person” or “one” in copy and why the image selected makes a difference.

There is a HUGE difference between writing copy for a direct mail piece and an article written by a newspaper reporter. There is a HUGE difference between the article you write for your newsletter and one written for your college journalism course. The difference in both cases is the end objective. You want to give value and send a message in all instances. But in the direct mail piece and the newsletter article examples there is a call to action and a clear next step that your reader should take IMMEDIATELY.

If they don’t take the next step, you don’t fill your program. You’ve taken up prime real estate on something that a lot of people will see, if someone is writing with no clue about the what (a customer should do next) and the why (why I am I writing this piece?) and how (does it connect with specific relevance to the thing I want them to do next and the course I’m trying to sell?).

Most likely one, maybe more of these, is the reason your programs are not converting. You could also be reading this blog to make your current full programs do BETTER

By the way, if you’re thinking, you’re doing OK, but you’re revenue quotas always go up, they don’t go down, then these are still going to be ways for you to do even better. The status of programs everywhere – online, studios, boutiques, parks & rec, university rec centers – to compete with mean you want to keep getting better. And it takes the programs and people to do that even if you have a beautiful facility. I’ve seen poor facilities do an amazing business because of the programs, people, and the right path for the customer.

praying for personal training clients

Your Personal Training Audit

You want to look at every piece of marketing in your funnel for a specific program and find out why IT isn’t converting. Don’t look at the program for now, since that can’t be it if no one even walked in the door or too few have to evaluate.

If I say funnel and you say “what?” there’s probably a glaring, but easily solved, problem. You probably don’t have one.

Let’s say that you create a flyer and the flyer directs them to go to the front desk or URL to register.

Maybe you have a Facebook (or other social media) post that does the same.

If these sound familiar, then you’re missing the funnel. You’re cold calling, like we used to do (and hate) in the 80s. You would have a list, possibly even a phone book (if you’re too young to know what that is, sorry!), and you had a little script and would have to call and offer them something for free not even knowing if they were interested in what you had to offer.

If you just place your flyer, or post your Facebook post, or include an ad in your newsletter where anyone can see it, you’re essentially doing the same thing (as cold calling) but hiding behind social media not even having to use the phone. That’s like frozen calling, not even cold, when I think about it.

What if you add a phone number so they can call you? Unless you already have a relationship, that’s still a gap. If that’s a voice mail anyway and not a person answering the phone, chances are you won’t capture a very big percent of people this way.

Starting Your Personal Training Audit

What’s the entry point? What’s the first time someone hears about your program?

Analyze that.

  • Flyers
  • Posts on Facebook
  • Ads on Facebook
  • Ads in newspaper
  • Ads in direct mail
  • Ads in your own newsletter

You first want to look at how many people are you even reaching with each. That could be the problem. If no one sees your posts, you don’t target an audience or know how, you have no way to assess whether someone sees a flyer, you have a low open rate for your newsletter, you aren’t putting the specific people you want in your program on a specific email list so you increase the chance they see your program – these are numbers you potentially can’t track or are really low (Facebook or a specific list size and open rate).

That would be the first place to start. When I asked a personal training director why she didn’t thing her programs were full, her answer was that people didn’t know about it.

So, if that’s you, it’s time to take responsibility for that. It’s up to you – and it’s up to me – when I don’t sell enough to reach my quota, it’s me and something I’m doing or not doing around here to message, or ask more clearly.

The next step or the call to action

Two questions:

  1. Do you have one?
  2. Does it make sense?

Every single email should have a call to action. Every single email should have a single call to action. If you ask customers to click on 4 or 5 or more things…they either will … and never come back to commit to one, or they will abandon ship by deleting or thinking they’ll come back later. They won’t. Life will happen and they will never come back.

What typically does not work today is trying to get a Facebook fan from FB to a sales link to check out.

Or sending a customer from an email spammed at your entire list directly to a sales link to check out for a program for a small slice of your entire list.

There is a big gap there between starting the car and arriving at the destination across the country, right? You have to know which road, which lane to be in, which turn, detours. So does your customer. You need to give them step-by-step directions to follow. If you don’t have some emails, a live presentation, a series of videos between the first time they see your program and the buy button you want them to click, there’s no road map, no GPS, no Siri guiding the way.

Be Siri.

Your next step in the Personal Training Audit

Let’s say you do have emails that either share relevant blogs or have the content within them. Read your own emails, or better yet, have someone else do this audit. You’re (and I am) a terrible judge of your own stuff. It all makes sense to us because we created it.

Are you nurturing them?

You should have led a customer in with valuable free content. Then followed up with a few emails for a small purchase and more emails (5-8) for larger purchases, The emails are targeted at the problem, and provide solutions (yes, you give away good content that contains valuable solutions, that is NOT , “we have trainers to help.” By you offering some small tips they can implement, and then leaving the majority of the HOW out, they begin to see that you’re the solution. That is when you make a statement to the effect of, “If this was valuable/you liked this, then you’ll love my new program beginning xxxx.” Click here for details.

That’s when you take them to a sales page for details. THIS is also a missing piece in missing funnels. You take them to two or three sentences and a Buy Now button instead of a more full length description of benefits, who is ideal candidate, who it’s not for, and then you have an offer that includes some bonuses, and reasons why right now is the time. Limited space, rate is going up, bonuses are disappearing, for example are that sense of urgency someone needs to do it now.

Personal Training Audit reveals

If you’re still creating flyers to post inside your building or post somewhere else, unless it’s easy and fast for you, I highly recommend you analyze the time, energy, and cost of you or someone creating them. No one pays attention because there’s just too much noise and they don’t know you or you haven’t gotten their attention. If they didn’t put their hand up for the information they probably aren’t seeing it. One fix if that just made you panic and you think this is a good way to reach people – create a few newsletters with these programs that are laminated. Let people pick them up as they’re headed to cardio equipment. You’ve got a captive audience there for a period of time and so many people will grab a magazine or whatever might be available. It’s worth a try. You’ll want to track though. Cost goes up with lamination.

The whole purpose of the personal training audit is about determining if you are creating a relationship with your target customer with your marketing effort.

If you don’t have a relationship with them, they aren’t very likely to spend several days a week with you in a training session where they may feel intimidated or just really guarded with their time. No one is going to invest hours with you that they don’t feel they have anyway if they don’t know, like, and trust you. They won’t just leap from a flyer or single email to your buy button. They are much more likely to get advice from a friend on what to do and try – a good reason to be sure you always ask for referrals from your attendees you do have registered.

So what I really hope you got out of this post is the need to assess the simplest: what is full consistently and what is not. What is the profit margin of those programs? Surely, you don’t want a trainer to ever lose money doing a group program instead of doing a private session. Ideally, you want to have them at the very least double or triple their revenue. Your program capacity, your registration fees, and then the hustle you do creating the funnel to lead someone to buy should reflect that. Every possible step should exist to increase registration until the class is full and starts. All those pieces determine whether you improve.

Once you’re programs are full then you’ll have a new problem: a good problem. Do you offer a second program of the same type at a different time? Do you now create a new program? And even while you do either of those two choices, you are going to need to keep evolving the current program and keeping it exciting with more value, more reason to get their attention, bring them back every time (attendance will usually fall off during the last 4 weeks of an 8 week session). That’s because the honeymoon is over, baby. You have to start opening up incentives and give things away to people who participate, reward them. Plan on doing it (so you have the budget figured into expenses for the program when you figure the fee) and let them know you’re going to do it, but don’t let them know exactly what. They just need to know that after week 4 you start releasing bonuses to everyone with perfect attendance or who has missed less than x amount of times.

Those are good problems to be solving. You’ll have full sessions, higher profitability and revenue, and customers getting results and loving you.

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