|If you've been in business since the early 90's, then you probably know what a recession can do to a personal training business. Many personal trainers went out of business in the last recession along with other small business owners. Whether the economy is in a recession or not, smart personal trainers will take the time to recession-proof their businesses anyway.
Why? Well, not only do national or global economic recessions consistently occur about every 10 years, with the last one hitting hard in 1992, but we can also experience personal recessions at any time.. unexpected personal financial crises that can paralyze a personal training business. Whether it is our own physical injuries and illnesses or some other personal catastrophe, our incomes are directly affected. To make matters worse, our clients can experience their own personal recessions, which ultimately impacts our personal training incomes as well.
During my first three years as a personal trainer, I struggled with the lack of control I had over my business and my income. I was frustrated with client cancellations, clients vying over the choice hours, downtime in the middle of the day, loss of income from my own illnesses and injuries and the inability to generate new clients as old ones quit.
Before one more year came and went, I knew I had to find a way to protect the longevity of my career as a fitness professional. It was this pressure that helped me develop a personal training system that greatly reduced the risk of a personal recession; a personal training system that would keep me afloat when the next national or global recession hit rather than drowning in the economic abyss with everyone else. In a minute, I will share how this personal training system recession-proofs a personal training business along with some other recession-proofing tools. But first, let's take a look to see whether you are vulnerable to a recession or not.
"It's Better to Get $1 from 1,000 People than to Make $1000 From One"
Take the following five-question quiz to determine if you need some recession-proofing in your business. Honestly answer "yes" or "no" to each of the following questions:
1. If you lost one or two clients this month, would your personal income be significantly impacted?
2. Do you have other streams of income in the fitness field, with lower price points, in addition to your one-on-one, in person, personal training services?
3. Do you have a proven marketing strategy that you implement consistently, regardless of how many clients you have (or don't have)?
4. Do you have alternative, revenue-producing methods of training people who are out of town?
5. Are you a part of a community of successful fitness professionals who you respect, who work together to solve marketing and personal training issues...to bounce ideas off of and to be mentored by?
Calculate Your Score
1. If you answered "No", give yourself two points.
2. If you answered "Yes", give yourself two points.
3. If you answered "Yes" give yourself three points.
4. If you answered "Yes" give yourself two points.
5. If you answered "Yes" give yourself two points?
If you scored 0-4 points, you are in danger of experiencing a serious financial catastrophe at any time, regardless of the national economy. Read on to find out how you can reduce your risk and implement a successful strategy immediately.
If you scored 5-9 points, you probably have avoided most personal crises and client losses, but if a major economic recession hits and lasts as long as the last one did, you may be in danger of losing your business. Read on to get the tools to armor your business.
If you scored 10-11 points, Congratulations! You have a sound, recession-proofed business. When we do have a major recession, you will probably come out of it wealthier than when it started. Read on to find out why!
A Personal Trainer's Story
Here is a scenario you can probably relate to. Personal trainer Jane Moore started her personal training business three years ago. She has seven clients that make up 90% of her revenue. They train with her 3 times a week and have been with her almost the entire time she has had her personal training business. Jane gets a referral here and there which supplements her income. Sometimes she is lucky when one of the referrals becomes a consistent, long term client. But most new clients work with her for a few months and then have some personal reason for quitting. Or, they don't actually quit, but they cancel every other appointment because their "schedules are so hectic".
Earlier this year, Jane caught a horrible strain of the flu and it took her 6 weeks to get back to working regularly. During this period, she lost one of her clients who found another trainer. Then, last week, one of her long-term clients announced that her daughter is having a baby and she is flying to Wyoming to help her daughter out for the first three months after the delivery. Obviously, this client will not be able to train with Jane during that period. Worse, another one of Jane's long-term clients just lost her job and told Jane she can't afford personal training any longer.
I've talked to too many trainers to know that this scenario is not unusual. When it rains it pours, right? Most fitness professionals live life on a tightrope, hoping that none of these situations will happen to them. If you are serious about having a future as a fitness professional, isn't it time to start recession-proofing your business right now?
Whether you've heard this cliché before or not....if you're like the personal trainer in the example above, you are depending on a very small number of clients in a limited neighborhood to earn 100% of your income. If you lose one or two clients, you lose a significant percentage of your gross revenue, right?
This is a serious mistake in any business and brings up several issues to consider in recession-proofing your business: marketing issues; price point issues; solitary service vs. multiple services issues; geographical boundary issues; and support issues.
In 1995, I made a decision to create a personal training and marketing system called Fitness by Phone. It would curtail most of the problems personal trainers face, not only economically but from a "professional satisfaction" point of view.
I knew that if I were to have a future as a fitness professional for decades to come, I would need more control over my revenue as well as personal growth and personal freedom. In the remainder of this article, I will share the 6 critical steps to recession-proofing your business and will cite tools that can assist in recession-proofing your personal training business along with why hundreds of personal trainers have used Fitness by Phone to recession-proof their businesses.
STEP 1: Become a "Fitness Motivation Marketer" FIRST, "Personal Trainer", SECOND
Most trainers don't do any serious marketing because they say they already have a full schedule or because they don't have enough client revenue to justify spending the money. These are two serious mistakes. In either case, it is important to keep the pipeline of new clients flowing.
If you are a successful personal trainer with a full client load, you will pay the price for complacency, I promise. If you think you are too busy to spend time marketing your business, re-think how you are running your business. You would be better off training less people and spending more time marketing. As your marketing manifests a continuous flow of new clients, create a waiting list and charge more for your services (supply and demand).
If you think you don't have enough client revenue to justify the expense to market your business, you are just creating an excuse for yourself. The most effective marketing tools like networking, public speaking and follow-up phone calls cost very little. And, if your marketing strategy requires a financial investment, get a loan!! It will pay for itself many times over.
Just as you would expect your clients to exercise consistently every week in order to see results, you should treat your marketing just the same. Your marketing plan should be consistently carried out, week after week, and it should progress over time. An inconsistent, non-progressive commitment to your marketing implementation is like a client who is inconsistent and non-progressive with his exercise commitment. Both produce frustration from lack of results.
Fitness by Phone Coaches are armed with proven, ready to go marketing strategies like a specific networking protocol; carefully crafted press releases; ready-to-go public speaking presentations; FBP Coach Client newsletter subscriptions; effective web sites and much more. FBP coaches have learned to become "Fitness Motivation Marketers" first, "Coaches" second, thus insuring a constant flow of new clients over time, regardless of the economic climate.
There are many marketing systems available today to personal trainers. Eric Ruth's 101 Secrets to a Six Figure Income is one of my favorites in that it really aims to teach fitness professionals to become marketers. Beth Rothenberg is an industry-renowned, veteran personal trainer and business coach who helps fitness professionals get focused on their marketing and business choices. Laurie Borsh of Fit Basics, assists personal trainers in creating newsletters and phone marketing. When attending conferences and other continuing education courses, emphasize course selections that focus on marketing.
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