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4 Costly Mistakes: How to Profit from the 4 Lessons Learned as Personal Trainers turned Fitness Business Owners

Appearances can be deceiving. Just take a look at Tinder!

If you’re a regular follower of this blog or have encountered the personal trainers we’ve helped grow, you’d assume we all have our shit completely together.

That’s true. But it must be said, not only are they still a work-in-progress, I am still! I’ve made a lot of costly mistakes over the years as a personal trainer, gym owner and human being. I sucked at life. It’s probably why I can help the personal trainers at Core Collective as I can offer my unique point of view, I can be objective and offer a different perspective they may otherwise not receive elsewhere.

Luckily, my epic stuff-ups didn’t cause any collateral damage. Rather than explode, I mostly imploded, so my mistakes only affected my fitness business, so it was me that lost money, me that lost time, and me who suffered hardships.

So, I guess, in theory, if you keep reading, you’ll either explode nor implode, but thrive. Heck, you may even come out of this feeling clairvoyant, able to see the future of you and your fitness business. It’s my version of The Secret, Visualise it, and it will come, they say.

Easier, I reckon, to manifest your success if you know what to visualise. I mean, if you are a shitty human being like I was, you are kinda limited. You visualise crap because that is all you know.

Frankly, I don’t care if you are a convict or Mother Teresa. I’m not here to judge. Leave that to the robes and politicians. Rather, I’m here to empower you. And one way to do that is to paint a vivid picture of how I dropped the damn ball, so you can visualise what not to do, and instead crack on faster with your epic plans for fitness world domination.

I could list a thousand mistakes. I’m not kidding. For today, though, I’ve selected the 4 biggest and most costly ones.

Mistake #1: Offering ‘workouts’ made up on the spot

As a personal trainer, it is far too easy to think our clients hire us just for the workouts. In hindsight, this kind of thinking was sheer laziness, and kind of stupid.
I genuinely didn’t notice or care about what a client’s real interests were. I blindly followed what more or less every other trainer did.

Having my client warm up on a piece of cardio equipment with or without me didn’t really matter. During this time, I was either daydreaming (“when will the session be finished”) or trying to slap together a workout plan, which, if I am being honest, was whatever machine or piece of equipment was available. Lazy.

Do you know what’s wrong with this? Apart from looking like a little cheerleader counting backwards from 10 to 1, you’ll continue to charge by the hour (at a very minimal rate), and the chances of that client ever showing up again is very unlikely.

Your shoddy practices and the lazy thinking ends up lighting up someone else's bank account because whatever your commercial gym boss charges the client, you only get a tiny cut off from that. Petite. Might as well wear a pleated skirt.

So, avoid doing trial workouts or “taster sessions” because this isn’t really what we’re trying to sell, or what the client wants. These trials and tasters work against you (and your bank account) because they are suggesting to your clients that this is the most important element of your service offering. So you can only charge based on that.  

Mistake #2: Competing with a number of clients I had with other trainers

Growing a number of clients that you serve is fine, but it is not where you should focus your valuable attention.

Having more clients than any other personal trainer doesn’t necessarily make you the better trainer. It only means you have more clients. What good does having 100 clients notched on your belt do when you’re exhausted and broke?

Seriously, would you rather have 50 clients, making you $25,000 per month or 25 clients making you $25,000 per month? That’s 50% fewer clients, resulting in fewer hours and actually earning the same per month.

Training as many clients as you humanly can can be a good idea to begin if you are going through the ‘apprenticeship’ phase. You are learning your trade and figuring out which clients you help best, and these sorts of insights come faster if you see more people. This is okay, but have your eye on the real vision: earning more money per client per session.

Go into your apprenticeship phase with the mindset that you are already the kind of person who can command higher fees. Then, when you are ready to fully step into your power, get after it.

Mistake #3: Not tracking the all-important numbers

When I was a lot dumber, meaning, I only focused on working out and what I was eating next, there would have been times that if you were to ask me how many enquiries hot leads I had that month, I would have shrugged my oversized shoulders.

If you would have asked how many of those leads set up a consultation appointment, or how many of those consultations appointments showed up, or how many of those converted to actual sales, or what the average income made per client was, I would have stared at you like a baby deer in headlights, thinking "why are you asking me this?".  

Again, we’re talking about laziness here. It is all too easy to treat your personal training services as something other than a business. Even waiters and waitresses understand they are running a miniature business, but sadly not most PTs.

Even if you are still working for someone else, it will do you absolutely no harm to keep a track on your own numbers. See your energy within their business as a proto-version of your own business and eventual fitness empire.

Know your numbers: the number of sessions you complete, the number of no-shows, the number of clients you have, and the number of free sessions converted. Anything that can be measured, measure it.

Knowing these numbers in-and-out provides you killer insights. You’ll know your weaknesses before it’s too late; that is before you find yourself jammed in at the end of the month, with a few days to spare, panicking how you will find new clients and make up the shortage in income this month from the previous.

Support to Personal Trainers 

In our pursuit to provide our Fitness Professionals with the very best in business support for their growth, we hold monthly business development meetings.

These help our trainers prioritize what steps to take next in creating a roadmap that makes sense for where their business is today and where they want to go.

It offers that additional support, guidance and coach that otherwise wouldn’t be available at their previous gyms, helping them to create change to become the leader their business needs to succeed.

Mistake #4: Know how much a client is worth

If you still need convincing about tracking your numbers, then this might just be it. It was for me.

How much is a client worth to you?

Lets say a client is worth anything from $10,400 - $15,600 a year.

Okay, let’s play around with the lowest fee from above.  On average, a client stays with you for 3 years.

$10,400 per year x 3 years = $31,200 LTV (Lifetime Value)

Total = $31,200

Wait, that’s not all…

The average referral or recommendation a new client would send your way could be between 1-2 in the whole 3 years.

Take the “total number” and multiply that by another 2 = $62,400.

This then becomes perpetual, which means a never-ending cycle, because if 1 client refers 2, and then those 2 refer 2 more, that’s 4, and 4 refers 2 more, then that’s 8 new clients or referrals, assuming you have a really good referral system in place.

Knowing a new prospect is potentially worth $31,200 to your business, you’d be a fool not to operate in a whole new way.

So, if you had 10 leads, and only 2 showed up to their initial consultation, there are 8 prospects equivalent to $249,600 (A QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS) that you’ve missed out on.

Using these numbers, it would tell me you are only converting at only 20%. That’s good for website opt-ins, but bad for fitness.

To be the best, you should be aiming for 80%. Knowing that number will tell you where to focus your efforts next month for upskilling yourself and whom you might need to surround yourself with to help grow your business.

When I first learned about the power of these numbers, I combed back through old spreadsheets of prospects; I had 1000s that got in touch with me, but for whatever reason didn't sign. I could have made more money, saved more, grew quicker and helped more people.

I enjoyed putting this together, think I will share another 4 mistakes with you next month. Perhaps touch on why you should be careful who you date, why saving money is critical, how neglecting yourself will ruin everything, and much more. To avoid missing this instalment, sign up to receive our monthly newsletter here.

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