I'm a great PT! Why don't I have any clients? [article]
As a self-employed personal trainer one of the biggest hurdles you’ll need to overcome early on is the development of your client base. Getting those first few clients to commit to spending money in exchange for your time and expertise can be daunting, but with the right focus and tools you’ll be on your way to building a continually growing following in no time.
Are you visible?
One of the most obvious ways of ensuring that potential clients are aware of your availability is ensuring they can see you. That’s right; they just need to know that you’re available by seeing you on the gym floor and ready to go. This means dressing the part and leaving hoodies and baseball-caps at the door. As a fitness professional, you need to look the part. If your workplace doesn’t supply a uniform, make one of your own and create your own brand.
Spending time on the gym floor getting to know the members is crucial to advertising your business. Shy potential clients are unlikely to approach you; so approach them! To look at how to approach and communicate with different people read How to win clients and Influence people. Not every contact you talk to will become a client, but every contact can become a fan and start referring others to you. Just because I have no need for personal trainer doesn’t mean I won’t recommend a great personal trainer to a friend when they mention they need one.
And remember, when you’re visible to the members they’ll assume you’re working whether it’s true or not. So hanging around the reception chatting, reading a magazine, or eating your lunch in view of members will be seen as poor performance. How others view you is their reality and it will determine whether they work with you.
Who is it that you would like to work with? Understanding who your ideal clients are, and then working out how to communicate with them will help you put a marketing strategy in place to bring in the clients you’re looking for. When are they in the club? Do they buy their coffee at the same place every day? If you teamed with your local café to make weekly ‘Approved by Joe Smith, PT’ meal suggestions, would that improve your profile?
Potential clients aren’t just inside the club; they lurk outside the doors too. If you know who your target market is (say; female, 30-50 years old, employed full-time) and what their typical activities are every day, then you’ll be able to talk directly to them in your marketing. Learn what they do every week (groceries? Beauty therapy?) and start talking their language. Start offering solutions to the problems you’ve identified for your target group. If time is an issue, offer express workouts. If they like to socialise, offer group workouts. If they’re short on time, and miss chatting to their girlfriends… you get the idea.
Local business groups and business that complement your services are ideal places to start networking. Take time to buy a business owner or manager a coffee, ask lots of questions about their job and company and what they do, and take time to explain who you are and what you do. Together, you can come up with a working relationship that works for both parties.
One of the easiest ways to start is simply by referring your clients to businesses that you feel they can benefit from. Have relationships with a good physiotherapist, nutritionist, and even sportswear shop. You can refer your clients to them and they can refer their customers to you. Word of warning, make sure you understand and believe in the business you are referring to since they’ll be representing you.
Consider offering a free health and fitness in the workplace seminar for those corporations in your target area. By going to the potential client and offering helpful tips on keeping fit while at work you’ll start to create the reputation as an expert.
Sales without the hard part! Once you’ve got those first few clients, don’t be afraid to ask if they would like to refer you to friends or family. Offering an incentive (like 10% off their next package of 5 or more sessions) to do so doesn’t cheapen you, but instead offers additional value for their loyalty. If your clients are happy with the service you provide, chances are they’ll do a great job of selling your service to another potential client.
If a client refers a new client to you, don’t forget to thank them. A free session, a bunch of flowers or something personal to them will ensure that they feel valued and that they’ll continue to tell everyone else how great you really are.
Finally, the real trick in making any of the above strategies work is to just try one at a time. Pick one this month and make it your mission to put it into action. Trying to put too many strategies into place at once will result in a lack-lustre effort - meaning that nothing gets the 100% attention that it deserves.