When a personal trainer is just getting started, it sometimes makes sense to offer discounts, mainly to get experience. After a certain point, however, experienced personal trainers who still offer discounts for their services are telling the world:
“The level of service I provide isn’t actually worth X amount. It’s worth a much smaller percent of that.”
If that’s you, that’s unfortunate. It sounds harsh, but I won’t be the first to tell you it’s not a sustainable business approach. In my experience, there’s only one painful reason that you would consider undercutting yourself:
You’re afraid to lose the potential sale.
I was, too, so I and many other trainers get it, really. Making money as a fitness professional isn’t easy. It's this fear of losing the sale that, ironically, holds you from making a proper sale. The fear may stem from the nagging feeling that you’re not good enough. Many of us know this all too familiar feeling as “imposter syndrome.” It plants seeds of doubt in the back of your mind as a potential client asks you for advice; it holds you back from taking that leap. Whatever kind of fear and doubt you face, you feel them because you constantly compare yourself to other coaches in the industry, as if they’re the ones who want to hire you, and you think they know exactly what they’re doing.
But that’s not the case: none of us knows what we’re doing.
To get over imposter syndrome myself, I first had to change my perspective and realize that a prospect already saw me as a qualified fitness professional. She demonstrated this by taking time out of her day to come to the facility and inquire about how I can help her achieve her goals. Having known this, I then asked myself two questions:
* Am I qualified to get this client to her goal, or should I refer her to someone else?
* Does my price reflect the value this client will receive?
When the answers to both of those questions are yes, the confidence will follow.
Discounts just aren’t worth the hassle or an unmotivated client.
New fitness professionals often fail to see months or years into the future. They neglect to see the value of their clients framed within the long term. They just want the short-term gain of a quick buck, but when I say value, I don’t mean just monetary value. There’s value in forging a powerful relationship that often leads to referrals to their friends and family, and more and more referrals.
Clients who are given a discount, however, tend to be less committed to the process. They tend to fail to extract as much value as possible from our services. Unlike my clients who have been with me for a long time (initially without a discount), they lacked the drive to use me as a resource.
Dean Somerset, coach and writer at deansomerset.com, says:
“Some business is worth having, and some isn't. By discounting your services, you set a precedent where everyone who pays full price would want a discount as well. It shows how little you value your own time.”
Dr. John Rusin, who has worked with NFL and MLB athletes, agrees:
“My pricing model reflects what my time is worth on an hourly basis. I do not discount our services, and truly, people who are seeking ‘discounts’ are not going to be the type of quality long-term clientele we are looking to target anyway. Every person will have a specific niche and demographic for their services, and mine happens to be people who value what we do. When you add value that is above and beyond what people expect out of your service, you can stand firm on your pricing model and structure. It's those who don't value themselves that will try to barter and discount.”
The clients who have never asked for a discount are the ones who extract as much value as they can from me. They don’t take my services or their money for granted. They email me for programs when they’re traveling, text me when they have a question, and are frequently in the gym doing the provided program on their own.
In short, we value the things with higher price tags. That’s just basic human psychology, which brings us to the main point of this article.
Add so much value that a client can’t wait to pay you, no matter the price.
It’s also possible that when someone doesn’t want to pay for my services, it might simply be that I didn’t do a good job of selling my services and conveying their value. Instead of lowering the price, I’d redouble my efforts to build more value.
This is something I realized after reading Pat Rigsby’s book Personal Training Sales. Rigsby wrote that “value” is the difference between anticipated price and actual price. Basically, if the prospect believes your services are worth $20 per session and you charge $75, you won’t be getting that prospect to become a client.
The way to turn this around is to flip the idea of discounting services on its head. Instead of subtracting monetary value, add service value and build it. Make your services so awesome that clients just want to throw their money at you. You don’t have to go as far as tucking your client in every night, as there are many ways you can add value to your client’s experience without telling them bedtime stories.
At my last company, we had a phrase:
“Going beyond the 60.”
That means we continued coaching outside of the 60 minutes of the session. We went above and beyond. Rigsby calls this “over-delivering.” According to Rigsby, the easiest and most effective way to grow your business is to look internally instead of externally and maximize the value of each client. By looking externally, you’re looking at getting more leads and new clients. By looking internally, you’re looking at how you can over-deliver to your current roster of clients.
For example, send emails and texts to congratulate, thank, or encourage your clients. If they’re working on a new habit, help them stay accountable by reminding them with a short text. Or send out a personal email once a month with snippets of info that might add to a conversation you had during a session or a goal they’re working on. I put aside 10-15 minutes and send out all my reminders and emails at once, every other day. Some clients prefer to get them only once a week so make sure to ask so you’re not bombarding them.
Provide them with programs to do on their off days. If they’re traveling and have a hard time making choices that align with their goals, help them pick foods from menus at restaurants in their vicinity. I encourage my clients to update me on their travels and ask for workouts and meal recommendations whenever they need one.
In essence, give them an awesome experience every time.
Some prospects might take offense to you not offering discounts. That’s okay, they’re not right for you anyway. This isn’t to say that you should start charging $150, especially if you don’t have the experience or track record for providing results. Rather, if you truly really believe in the level of service and care that you provide, don’t settle for less than what you think you’re worth. Spend that time working on attracting the right client, or better yet, spend that time taking care of your existing clients.
Because your existing clients are the most important clients, not your future ones.
Rely less on using discounts to attract new customers and spend more time on respecting yourself, raising the level of service you provide, and over-delivering.