Monday, May 6, 2013

Business Planning For Independent Personal Trainers

So I decided my next project is going to be a new website helping new trainers to make their business plan and have a chance in hell of actually making a living while helping people get healthier and happier. That's the dream, isn't it? Basically it's just going to be "well here's what I do" plus a couple of "well, maybe you could try this as well or instead" type ideas.

There's about a million people doing this already, selling business and marketing systems for trainers. Some of them are really really good, and some are just looking to exploit people. They might not even realise it, but that's what they're doing. Some are just MLM people looking for new recruits to resell their products, which I guess is fine except when you're targeting trainers with this brainwashing type "this is what you have to do to succeed, if you don't want to do it then you don't want to succeed" message... I think there needs to a system for the people who don't want to do any of that stuff and ACTUALLY want to be trainers working directly with clients and delivering results through sensible eating and strategic training. Like I say, there are some very good systems available made by legitimate fitness people, but there are far more that are put out by marketing people who completely miss the point that our primary motivation is that we actually want to be in the gym with clients... we're fitness people trying to become successful business people, not business & marketing people who realised there is money to be made in weight loss and fitness.

The other aspect is that there are a lot of traps and pitfalls that new trainers and especially the younger ones can fall into, so hopefully I can help some of the genuine and sincere people to be successful in business while actually helping their clients, and to avoid being exploited by greedy and unscrupulous business people.

The education / certification providers advertise that as soon as you graduate you'll have a lucrative career with a schedule that suits your lifestyle, making big bucks and loving every minute of it. In actual fact... well, you CAN have that... but most often that is not the case, as I'll describe a little later.

Why be independent though?

The hard part about being an independent trainer is finding a suitable location. If you can make an arrangement with a local gym to bring your clients there, that is the ideal situation. The benefit to the gym of course is that you are marketing on their behalf. You're going out and finding them new members, who'll pay fees, perhaps buy accessories, drinks, supplements and so on... perhaps they'll ask you for a small fee for each session.

The beauty in this arrangement is that you are free to run your business as you see fit, while having the use of a full gym facility. If you are fortunate enough to be able to make such an arrangement, honour it by paying your fees on time, tidying up after yourself, and finding other ways to show your appreciation. Even though you are bringing something to the table and contributing to the profitability of the gym; remember that you (probably) need them a lot more than they need to you to stay in business. Keep them happy!

In such an arrangement, you work for yourself. Working for other people usually sucks. If you can get a job with a good boss and fair conditions, all the better. More often than not though, working as a PT in someone else's business is rarely a good arrangement. You'll find yourself being expected to be available up to 16 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. You'll find yourself having sessions cancelled or rescheduled at a moment's notice, which you probably won't be compensated for. You'll find yourself having to kill time for an hour or two between sessions as well, and only being paid while you're actually with a client. You'll probably be expected to go out and market for new clients on your own time, just so you can receive maybe a 1/4 of what they are paying to the business owner in fees.

These are the sort of arrangements a young and enthusiastic trainer might find themselves in, being run into the ground for a fairly average pay day, and having all their energy and enthusiasm sucked out of them due to an unrealistic and exhausting schedule.

I might post a few horror stories from my own experiences as examples of what to avoid when you start as a trainer. The point though for now is that after being in business for a few years, avoiding some of the traps and falling into and then climbing out of the others, I now have an excellent marketing and business system that is allowing me to be successful on my own terms, while actually helping people and making a positive contribution to society. And the interesting part is that it is mostly due to doing everything that people told me I shouldn't do!

Watch this space for more.