So often as a General Manager and Personal Training Manager in the largest commercial health club chain in the North East I saw very bright and enthusiastic personal trainers come through our doors, only to quit the profession in 6-12 months. I started to notice a trend, it wasn’t because they were not competent, or could not “build their business” . Their problem was that they couldn’t manage their business. Unfortunately as I look back on those days, I realize that the “company” education platform for being a successful personal trainer left out one vital detail:
So with this we want to examine how to effectively manage your time while meeting or at least working toward meeting the goals of your management. Most “big box” commercial clubs are looking for the average personal trainer to produce a minimum of 20 sessions per pay period just to stay out of trouble. However, if you work for a commercial club you would probably say that based on your pay rate that really won’t cut it, especially if being a personal trainer is a career choice and not a hobby.
I assume by reading this article you are foremost and not the later, so let’s look at how you become successful with out succumbing to the inevitable “burn out”. Why do personal trainers burn out? You would think that working out, and helping people work out would never get tiresome right? Well just as anyone in a “provider” profession, we soon realize what ever our job title is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The ï¬rst step to controlling your burn rate is understanding your value. From the trainer who just completed his ï¬rst recognized certiï¬cation or obtain his exercise science degree to the guy who has been working at the club for 10 years; both have a value to the individual consumer who’s knowledge of exercise are found in the pages of their favorite magazine. Unfortunately the consumer has no idea which authors of theses magazines are worth their weight in salt, so it is your job to provide logical and sensible information ( I will leave that to another team member to address). So, your value as a ï¬tness professional means that your time is valuable.
Rule # 1
You are a business – Therefore your time is valuable
So where do you start?
That’s easy, pick a day and run with it. For argument sake we will start Trainer X with a blank schedule. Let us assume he/she would like to work 4 days a week.
Now let’s assume Trainer X is willing to devote the “prime time” hours of these days to these days, and will even come in during lunch to see what he/she can get. Keep in mind a 4 day schedule is pretty ambitious, however you have to balance out your life commitments. More then likely if you are just starting in this business you have plenty, whether they are another job, school, family etc.
So let’s think about this for a second….if this is your part time job, you should proceed to step #2. If this is your full time job, you may have to re-think your strategy and add at least one more day to your schedule.
Why would I suggest more is better, forgetting the fact that people are allured to the “making your own schedule” and being in control lifestyle, you have to look at what the rest of your life is based on….a normal individual working 40 hours a week.
At only four days a week of work, your goal becomes 10 sessions a week not including preparation and follow up. As you progress in the industry and you can afford to not work the same number of hours because your average pay for personal trainer services per hour is higher than that is a different story.
So the #1 burn out reason is that personal trainers spend their entire day running around with a client driven schedule that has them at their health club or gym early in the morning and late at night with potential random sessions in between. This type of schedule precludes you from taking time for your self, whether that is personal development like school or just time to relax.
The rule I have taught many trainers with success is the 2-1 rule
First of all, ensure you have an accurate calendar system. In this day in age most use their phones or some electronic device. I am all for that, however I tend to lean toward a web based system, versus the calendar on my phone. I may put something in my phone, but update as soon as I have a chance. The reason is, if I loose or my phone gets damages so does my income!
So the 2-1 rule, really simple: Each prospective client is given only 2 choices on when you are available. Whether you have the entire day open or not. So for example let’s look at Trainer X. He/She has established that they want 2-3 clients in the morning and 2-3 clients in the evening on Mondays.
They meet prospect #1 who is interested in a training session, it happens to be 730am on Monday. So we know that this is a normal time for them, a bit of probing would be ideal:
“So Mr/Ms I would be glad to have an opportunity to work with you, I see you are here at 7:30 am, is this your normal time? Oh yeah, great! So what time do you have to be out of here to get to work?”
The answer is critical! It will give you the base line for your 2-1 rule. So the answer is ” Oh I could be in the gym until 9:00 if I wanted too, I just choose to come here now” So the proper response would be – ” Great, well I have 6:30 and 8:00 open, which would work better for you?”
This type of dialogue requires the prospect client to choose a time with in their comfort yet giving you the space to deï¬ne your schedule. The second prospect becomes the important conversation. Let’s say that prospect #1 chooses the 6:30 time, you would then think ï¬rst: is that the earliest I want to come in? If your answer is no, then you would offer prospect #2 5:00 or 8:00. This would result in a back to back clients, with a small break in between.
I recommend placing this break, not only to allow you to take a breather, but also to ensure you are delivering your best to each session. This means you have reset any emotional ties to the previous client, prepared the next program, completed any notes from your previous client. After Trainer X completed his morning clients he would then work on his evening clients, and then subsequent days. One day at a time, one session at a time.
The biggest mistake as a young trainer is to take each and every client at the time the tell you.
Most of the time the client is unaware of the stress they place on the trainer because most trainers ask the clients “when is good for you to come in” You are not doing your clients a favor, you are providing a professional service. It is better to have 5-6 sessions on one day, then to have those same clients spaced out through out the week in various times.
Remember, do not be afraid to ask, if you meet a prospect client on a Tuesday, but Monday is the day you are currently building then let them know….. “The day I have available right now is Monday at this time or this time” If you have built your value, established a relationship , they will come. Remember, 80% of people are non-confrontational, if they have already opened the door to train with you and you give them 2 options, they will choose one!
We will discuss in the future about how to build a value based sales tactic from day one soon at the PTDC, however this will help you build a solid schedule of clients versus your clients/prospect running you around.