So I am going to get straight to the point and make a sweeping statement about PT in the UK…. The vast majority of PTs have a fundamentally flawed business model. We have more PTs today than ever with near 22,000 people in the UK holding a level three personal training qualification with the quality ranging from sport scientists with 15 years’ experience to someone who has just completed their 4 week home learning course.
I have tried to summarise the two extremes we have within the spectrum of quality in the UK by creating these two personas…
Worried William is a new personal trainer who has recently qualified. He is worried about how he can get into a new industry after spending all his savings on his PT course. Worried William will be searching the internet and social media regularly as he has plenty of time on his hands and he is keen to learn and find new opportunities. Worried William is motivated by the hunger to get into an industry that looks fun and glamorous however is scared by the daunting task of potentially setting up a business doing something he has never done before. Worried William will be looking for anything that he feels can help him get into this industry that he is so excited about being a part of but he is scared about the prospect of only having a premium rate product to sell when he has only just started his job. This proves to be a big issue with his sales model…. He is trying to meet loads of new people and deliver taster sessions to anyone who will spare him some time but is struggling to convert these sessions.
Experienced Ed has worked in the fitness industry for a few years now running his self-employed personal training business out of a local private gym. Experienced Ed sees lots of Worried Williams come and go and is always trying to make sure he stands out to new members of his gym as the ‘expert PT’. Experienced Ed trains 9 clients per day and makes a good living from his job, always coming to work with a smile on his face. However like Worried William he also has a problem with his business – Experienced Ed exchanges his time for money and he now has no more time to sell. Experienced Ed is a far better trainer than Worried William and has more demand for new business than he can take on. Experienced Ed is desperate to grow his business, he has looked into opening a studio but cannot finance it and has looked into going into management but does not want to take the pay cut. Experienced Ed is desperate for a way to generate income off all these people who want his help but whom he does not have the time to train and would love a way of making some money when he is not on the gym floor so he can finally have that trip to America that he has always wanted.
Do either of these personas sound like you? Yep we have all been there, taking that plunge from the employed role doing something you hate to working for yourself in a fun and exciting industry – scary but potentially life changing.
So to come back to my original sweeping statement that our business model is flawed I guess I should elaborate and try to justify such a negative comment, take what I am saying with a pinch of salt but hopefully the point will be clear….
Worried William is about to set up a business in an industry that he has no experience of, selling only a premium rate product. You can tart this up as much as you want but simply put this is surely business suicide? Don’t get me wrong it can work and it can work really well but I wouldn’t bet my mortgage on it happening.
Experienced Ed has a completely different problem that he is too busy to take on anymore clients and therefore can’t generate any more revenue. So some of you might think this is a good problem to have and yes it is defiantly better than having no clients, but experienced Ed is running himself into the ground, never gets time off work and has hit a glass ceiling in terms of his ability to increase his revenue – sound familiar? Again not a great business model.
So what issue do Ed and William have in common? They both exchange their time for money…. William therefore has to charge a premium for his services despite only just coming into the role and Ed has run out of product (his time) to sell.
Unfortunately the vast (and defiantly not all!!) majority of trainers share either Ed or Williams problems, however often the Williams amongst us leave the industry and the Eds of this world don’t see this problem until they get there.
So there is a simple answer to both problems…. Create a range of products that you can sell to all members of your gym or the general public. Not a mind-boggling concept but it is probably the timing of this that is more important than the concept itself. So first of all what products can you sell….?
Small group PT: 3 – 5 people who share a similar goal charged at 40% ish of your 1-2-1 price.
Large Group Bootcamp: Over 20 people doing a high intensity normally weight loss focused group exercise session.
Online PT: Exercise and meal plans sent to clients each week for them to do in their own time.
1-2-1 PT: Your premium rate ‘results guaranteed’ product.
So back to the timing of when to implement this sort of product list…. It is easy for William to think ‘I don’t care about £20 per month from online PT, I need bulk PT package sales to pay my wage next month!’ Yes that online PT client is not going to contribute a huge amount to your rent next month, but implementing this way of thinking as early as possible in your PT life is essential because of its potential success later on.
There is no better time than the start of a business to implement a multi- product model, you are never in your career going to interact with as many people as now, and with this approach you should be confident that everyone can and will, buy something off you. This will give you the confidence, experience and client list that you need to grow a true personal training business and have that job you love.
So why not wait till you need more revenue and focus at the start on 1-2-1 PT? Because Ed now has that problem… He has no time to walk the floor and generate leads for his other products nor does he have the time to deliver the bootcamps and small group. Yes Ed can still make this work but it would probably need a pay cut to go forward if he is going to take the time out of training people to build his secondary revenue streams, not impossible but surly experienced Ed is thinking if only he took this approach when he was in Worried Williams situation?