It grinds my balls when I see personal trainers arguing on the internet about how ‘it’ should be, why the other guy is talking trash and why their way has been ‘proven’ to be the best.

This not only goes for training and nutrition methods but also how you should do business.

“Bro you gotta do bootcamps – you can make like a squillion pounds an hour.”

“No bro you should do semi-private groups and get the same money for fewer, better clients”

Meanwhile the guy that has done 121 training forever is also making a fortune.

If you read Fit Pro Advent Actions #1/24, you will know that it is very easy to succeed at what you don’t want by following someone else’s blueprint.

You ‘get there’ to find it still doesn’t fit the lifestyle you want.

Before you do anything, you should know exactly what lifestyle you want to create, what that lifestyle costs, and who you want to serve.

Now you can now be much more accurate in setting fees based on what you need to earn and how many hours you have available/want to exchange to earn that amount.

The more pieces there are to this jigsaw the more ways there are to arrive at this number.

In other words, if you only offer 1-2-1 personal training, it’s quite easy to calculate the required price you need to charge.

However, if you have other trainers in your team, then you add group fitness and you sell supplements, it all becomes more complex.

In these cases, you either need to make accurate ‘guess-timations’ or nail down what really moves you closer to the business you want and offer fewer services.

You don’t have to offer any every possible service, so keep asking…

“What best serves my Why and what is my preferred Way to get there?”

During this process you may find you can stop offering a particular service and still hit the numbers you need for your ideal lifestyle.

You’ll be able to truly master that one service and still live the life you want so it’s a win-win situation!

Quite often, my coaching clients end up dropping some services which were causing more stress and giving them more plates to spin!

You can make a lot of money from any ONE of personal training, semi-private, group fitness or online coaching.

You have to keep asking (and answering honestly) whether a certain business structure will move you closer to your Ideal Average Day in terms of who you serve, where you serve them, how you serve them, how often you serve them etc.

If working 1-2-1 with people makes you more excited about your work because you get to engage on a more personal level, then don’t feel forced into the idea that everyone in the fitness industry should teach large groups.

Similarly, it’s quite okay to admit that you’re a bit of a showman (or woman) and you need the excitement of being centre of attention by leading big classes on a daily basis.

Maybe personal training just doesn’t do it for you.

That’s totally fine and just because some ‘guru’ had success with a different way doesn’t mean it’s the only way!

Either way you need to have a firm grasp on the Income and Expenditure of your business so check out the example spreadsheet provided and make sure you understand how to manipulate the numbers to find what is going to make all this happen.

Now we can go into your business and start to work on how you are going to generate that amount.

For the sake of example, we will assume the figure you need for the lifestyle you want is £10,000 per month.

What is needed in terms of business structure, clients and fees to generate that money?

This calculation can be a little more complex because you need a good grasp of your indirect costs plus any increases in direct costs that will come with a particular type of business.

Your indirect costs (or overheads) are those costs that must be paid no matter how much business you do.

These include things like receptionist wages, rent, rates and insurance.

Your direct costs are those that increase or decrease with the number of ‘units’ your business produces.

For instance, if you double the amount of classes you run at the local leisure centre, your rental costs will double.

If you add ten more personal training clients you will have extra costs in free t-shirts, support calls and anything else you offer to each new client.

If you are going for total geographical freedom, your business costs may be little more than a new laptop each year, email/shopping cart systems and online advertising costs.

If however, you want a gym with five hundred members, you need to be as accurate as you can in calculating overheads (in the same way as your lifestyle costing earlier) and any additional direct costs that come with servicing each new member.

There are infinite ways to structure your business combining personal training, small groups, large groups, online coaching supplement sales etc.

Only you can answer what combination fits with your Ideal Average Day and lifestyle costing then do your business calculations from there.

Remember, if you want a large gym but only want to be working 3-4 hours per day, you must consider the employee costs required to enable that.

For instance, to take home £5,000 per month, you may need to generate £10,000 per month in gym revenue because of rent, gym instructor wages, receptionist wages, monthly marketing budget, tax, business reserves etc.

The best way to do this is to create a spreadsheet where the income and expenses automatically change as you manipulate the numbers of gym members, PT clients, online clients etc.

The game is to create a business structure that brings up that magic £5,000.

For instance, if we need to create £10,000 per month in profit from your PT studio to walk away with £5,000 ‘in the pocket’ after expenses, tax and national insurance, and we want to work 8 hours per day, Monday to Friday.

We now have 40 hours per week or (approximately) 160 hours per month to generate £10,000 in revenue.

£10,000 / 160 = £62.50

Now we are getting clear as to what is required.

You need to charge £62.50 per hour for your personal training.

However, you should also factor in holidays etc when you won’t get paid.

If you actually generate that income for say 90% of the year and you don’t have an employee who can cover you…

£62.50/0.90 = £70 (approximately)

This changes what you need to charge to account for down times when you don’t get paid because you can’t service the client or the client is ill or on holiday.

The questions then change to:

1) Should you change to a semi-private model charging two people £35 per person?

2) Do you need to up your skill level to be able to charge £70 per hour for 1-2-1 sessions?

3) If so, what skills/marketing do you need to justify this price?

(The Fitness Business Freedom Vault will provide an example Business Model spreadsheet)

This looks at a more complete example including paying another trainer, combining personal training and bootcamps, and selling supplements.

Get some help with automatic formulae in spreadsheets so it’s easy to see how changes to the services you offer and your pricing strategy will affect revenue and costs.

You can use the spreadsheet you built to manipulate what services you want to offer at what price to come out with the figure in your pocket that you need for a lifestyle based around your Ideal Average Day.

It’s crucial to understand which are fixed costs that must be paid no matter what, and which are direct costs that increase and decrease with the type and volume of services that you offer.

There is of course no upper limit to what you can charge but some people get uncomfortable asking for higher fees.

Whilst this should be explored to see why you have such beliefs, I like the ‘Mirror Pricing’ method to find your starting to point.

Look at yourself square in the mirror and say “I charge £100 per hour” (or per month etc).

How does that feel?

If you can’t say it without getting uncomfortable, looking away or running lots of ‘buts’ through your mind, reduce the amount and try again.

If you think that you deserve more than that amount, increase the number and try again.

Play this game bouncing back and forth until you find the amount that excites you and you would feel comfortable quoting to a prospective client or member and makes sure you hit your required bottom line.

The How’s

The How’s in your business bring your Why to life in a consistent manner using specific systems and processes.

Even if you offer ‘general’ fitness, you can still niche it and deliver it in a unique manner that people are willing to pay for, ignoring all other options.

You can niche to age ranges, genders or specific goals.

Offering ‘Strength and Conditioning’ classes is likely to leave you in competition with the likes of CrossFit or anything similar that comes at a lower rate.

We offered Model Fit classes in our facility, which was a strength and conditioning class for girls.

It was always sold out.

The difference? The name, the niche and the packaging.

Much of the training was similar to how I would train males wanting to get stronger and leaner.

You can give all your programs unique names and target the desires of various sub-markets.

My friend Matt Luxton trained a guy to break the world sheep-shearing world record and followed up with talks to other sheep-shearers!

There really are few boundaries!

Find out what is relevant to your target market and meet them where there head’s at, instead of trying to sell them what you think they should want.

A great book to read is Blue Ocean Strategy by Renee Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim in which they detail how to build a business that stands out.

Rather than looking at what currently exists in your market and trying to be ‘slightly better’, map out the key features and benefits ofyour services and then look at how you can be totally the opposite and ‘sail in your own ocean’.

For instance, if you own a gym you are going to be competing on such things as:

–       Quality of service

–       Number of people in each class

–       Difficulty of classes

–       Introduction sessions

–       Variety of classes

–       Price points

–       Cleanliness

–       Parking

–       Value added service

–       Social life

–       Music

Your job is to find a different combination of these features and benefits and create a new space in your market or niche.

Many CrossFit boxes for example, are not about shiny floors and perfect cleanliness, don’t offer showering facilities, have little equipment, play hardcore music and the sessions are difficult.

This would put off many people but Crossfit set their Blue Ocean Strategy in a way that attracted a lot of people.

At the other end of the spectrum, a gym may offer a really comfortable, ladies only environment with relaxing music, lots of cardio machines, nice friendly aerobics classes and a post-workout manicure.

Both can be very successful so the key is to find what works and fits in with this process of creating a business that serves you and your clients.

By drawing out the ‘business canvas’ for your business and key competitors, it helps you visualize how you can be different.

Simply score each feature/benefit out of ten and join the dots.

Once you can see the package on paper, you can look at how you can go in a different direction and serve different people.

The example in the resources compares two facilities.

One is more focused on results and charges accordingly for those results, whereas the other is more focused on providing a nice, shiny facility and lots of equipment but there is little in the way of personal service and programming hence it has very little in the way of a reputation for great results.

Use this simple concept to compare where your business sits in your local area.

What is important to your target market and how could you alter your business canvas to provide a stand out offer?

You should repeat the process once or twice per year as others start sailing in your ocean and you have to find new ways to stand out.

For instance, now that many CrossFit boxes are available, those that offer better coaching and nicer surroundings may gain the advantage now that the target market has shifted slightly from the original one.

At first the hardcore ‘trainees’ who were there just for the intense training and challenges were fine with chalky, loud, basic boxes.

Much of that remains but the mass fitness market wants something a little different.

The moral of the story is that if your competitors go right, go left or you are likely to just end up in a price war.

On the business canvas, can you focus on other features and benefits that will appeal to a sector of the market not currently served properly?

If competitors ‘uplevel’ one element of the canvas as the reason to work with them, either go after those who don’t value that or make it ‘good enough’ in your business, then focus on another area as the reason to come to your facility instead.

For instance, a health club may sing from the rooftops about their shiny, chrome locker rooms, which is very important to some people.

However, you can make yours good enough by simply having enough space and making sure they are clean,then focus on having a much higher level of exercise coaching.

Copying Success Doesn’t Always Work

Blindly copying high performers and expecting it to work for you can be very misdirected as their How’s may come from a very different Why.

What they do might make perfect sense and excite because you think your business is about to explode…then it never really does.

There are better questions to ask:

What is currently restrictive or missing for the people you want to serve?

Where are the uncontested markets?

Are the current industry essentials really essential or are they simply adding to costs with no measurable benefit?

What non-industry factors can be added to give you a deeper, more attractive offering?

What are people simply putting up with because there isn’t a better option (yet)?

Benchmarking against others only results in nudges to improvements and in the end, price wars.

Are you just going after conventional buyer groups and climbing into a massive piranha pond?

It would be logical to then ask…

“Shall I just ask my customers what needs improving?”

Not necessarily.

Don’t rely solely on customers as the easy source feedback and suggestions.

Most of the time they just want more of what’s already offered and at a lower price!

Henry Ford famously commented…

“If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse!”

How can you innovate and disrupt the way things are done by introducing things your customers don’t even know about yet?

What haven’t they imagined that would dramatically improve the service and get them better results?

Everyone used to complain that taxis were too hard to get hold of and waiting times were too long.

Uber then came along and did it totally differently with the ability to track your ride and lower fares.

How can you be different?

Many gyms have always offered family rates.

These may be important but for many people, the gym is time to get away from family and to be with existing or new friends.

So what about a ‘friends’ rate rather than a family rate?

Some gyms now offer ‘instructor-free’ virtual reality classes.

Whilst it’s against my religion, their customers may be fine with it and it reduces certain issues that can come with employing humans!

Another way to look at how to set your offer up to stand out is to stop just thinking about the traditional Unique Selling Point and consider the Unique Combination you offer.

Think what happens before, during and after product use and how they all merge together into an amazing experience.

Here is an example from a Facebook post from a member of my old gym…

“When are you coming back? I’ve just been to the gym for the first time since I was last at Storm Force Fitness. No one danced with me, no kettlebells in sight, no decent tunes or allowing me to DJ.”

Take from that what you like about how the sessions went down at my place!

Make everything good enough then make one or two things outstanding and worthy of talking about.

What can you take below industry standard that isn’t important to your customers and is just the ‘done thing’?

An example of this is how many CrossFit boxes didn’t offer showers because the clientele didn’t really care.

However, as CrossFit became more mainstream this largely flipped back, as those who were used to showers in their GloboGyms but now wanted the CrossFit programming, changed the market.

These things constantly change so it’s important to go through these exercises regularly.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a successful business is about one great set up and launch!

Make time and money for what needs to be raised well above industry standard then make sure everything else is good enough.

For example, could you introduce a live chat link on your website for immediate “What do I do?” help when someone is out for a meal or in a hotel room with no gym?

What about an introductory manual to your facility which explains how best to use the gym and how best to structure a session instead of a one-off introduction to the machines and then leaving people to it?

What can you do that will leave the competition challenged to react because it would signal an invalidation of their current business models?