The awkward truth is that it’s normal for businesses to increase their prices periodically. I say awkward, because that’s how many feel about raising their personal trainer prices.
The Trap 8 out of 10 Personal Trainers Lock Themselves Into
You’re a middle class person from a middle class family, who have always earned middle class pay. $25-30/hr for a secure job sounds perfectly reasonable to you. So when you decided to become a personal trainer and heard that other trainers are charging twice that much, you became both excited and terrified. Excited about getting paid so much, and terrified of asking that much.
“Could I really be worth that much?” you think. “Will people really pay that much just for a workout?”
Then once you started working as a personal trainer, something really shocked you: that one guy in the gym who charges $150 for a session. You’re freaking out over one-third of that pay, while he’s charging an insanely high rate and seems completely unfazed by it all.
“What’s going on?” you ask.
You Really Can Be Worth That Much
If you’re struggling to believe that your services are worth $50/hr, then you’re really going to struggle with the reality that your charge out rate should be greater this year than it was last year. This is for three key reasons:
1. Prices should go up by about 3-4% per annum just to cover inflation (of course, inflation rates will vary depending on your location). So if you charged $60/hr this year, you should be charging about $62.50/hr next year just to get the same return on the time you give to your clients.
2. Experience also drives prices up. You found and keep coming back to thePTDC because you’re actively looking to get better. With experience comes knowledge and understanding, which leads to better results for your clients.
Remember, while your income may come in the package of hourly sessions, from a client’s perspective, they aren’t buying time or even workouts — they’re buying results. As a basic sum, results = value, so as you get better at delivering results, your value increases.
3. Demand for your service will increase because you’re working both in and on your business. When the demand for your service or product increases, I won’t say that your prices necessarily have to go up to reflect this, but they certainly could. After all, the market value of something is exactly what someone in his or her right mind is willing to pay for it.
Let’s run that through the calculator:
[rate] = [value] x [inflation]
[value] = [results] + [demand for service]
[results] are a function of [experience]
Therefore [rate] = [experience + demand for service] x [inflation]
So if you have more experience than you had a year ago, your demand has increased, and inflation has occurred, your prices should be increasing by more than 3-4% per annum over the long term. This should be expected.
The Reasons You Worry Are All In Your Head
Let’s get back to the original question. If you were to increase your prices right now, what would your clients think? There were a lot of trainers in the room that day. Can you guess what the array of answers to the original question looked like? Let’s break it down:
We recorded a total of 18 answers — 3 of them were neutral or positive — 15 were negative.
- “You’re greedy.”
- “You just want my money.”
- “I’m offended.”
- “I feel let down.”
- “It’s not worth it.”
- “What’s in it for me?”
- “I quit.”
Something to be clear about is that these objections do not reflect what the majority of your clients will think about you or your business if you increase your prices. These objections only reflect your own fears.
Not only that, when you increase your prices you need less clients to make the same amount of money. Recall Brett Jarman’s fantastic recent article on thePTDC helping you figure out whether you really want more clients. Here’s the link: theptdc.com/2014/02/getting-more-personal-training-clients
Increasing Your Price is a Good Thing
Of the 18 answers, here were the 3 responses that reflected a brighter picture:
- “That’s reasonable.”
- “That’s fair.”
- “It’s about time!”
(You get exactly three guesses to figure out which response was mine.)
90% of the time, these last three responses are much closer to what you’ll actually get. This is especially true if you use some tact while announcing the increase of your prices.
The 4 Steps to Increasing Your Prices
Following is a simple strategy to handle this effectively:
- Set a date 4-6 weeks in advance.
- Write a personal letter to each of your current clients.
- In this letter, tell each client that starting at the set date, all new members will be charged your new fee.
- Go on to say that because of their loyalty and commitment to training, your current clients’ fee will only increase to an amount that’s somewhere between their current fee and the new fee.
An Example Script to Use
Thank you for your commitment to ongoing training. I know it’s been a challenging journey for you, but it has been an absolute pleasure working with you, and I look forward to seeing you get down to 12% body fat for your sister’s wedding.
The reason for this letter is to inform you of some changes that are about to take place. Due to an increase in experience and demand for service over the last 12 months, on the first of April my charge out rate to all new clients will increase from the current rate of $60 per hour to $80 per hour.
However, because of your loyalty and commitment, for you this won’t be the case. For you, the new price will be $70 per hour. You’ll continue on at this reduced rate until the first of July.
If you have any questions or need to make any adjustments in light of this new payment scheme, please feel free to ask.
Here’s to your health and fitness,
By Doing It This Way, What Do You Achieve?
- Show personal respect and honour to your client.
- Explain the increase in your prices without being cocky about it.
- Give the client the opportunity to organise any changes they need to make (for example, the extra money probably isn’t a problem for them, but if it is, they may wish to revert to shorter sessions, or go from 3x per week to 2x per week).
- Give the client forewarning instead of hitting them with an unexpected price hike.
- Make the client feel special while still increasing their rate.
If you handle it this way, the majority of your clients will respond well. However, a small number of clients may still raise some of the objections listed above, or some other creative objections.
If you know that your new asking price is right (given the equation used earlier), often you can handle objections simply with confident diplomacy. But if someone does decide to stop training with you because of your new price — so what? I mean it.
So What If A Client Quits Because You Raised Your Price?
You raised your price because of increased experience and demand for service, didn’t you? That means that there’s someone in line waiting to pay the higher rate. But even if there isn’t someone keen to take an old client’s place, still, so what?
If you increase your price by 10% and 10% of your clients drop out, you’re now getting paid just as much for only 90% of the work. So even if you lose a client or two, you’re still in a better situation.
What You Can Do Right Now
Realise that there are always three factors driving an increase in the price of your time:
- Demand for service
Do not underestimate these factors. Expect the value of your services to increase, and be proactive in making that happen. Then charge accordingly.
Look at it this way: if you don’t increase your rates to meet the growing value that you provide, then you’re demeaning your business.
Your job today is to take some time to think about how long you’ve been training people and how you’ve changed as a trainer over the years. If there’s something you were teaching a year ago that you kick yourself for now, good! It means you’ve learned something and therefore are a better trainer now. And that means it’s time to plan how you’re going to charge more.
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