7 Steps To Go Independent And Finally Quit Your Job
Guest post by Greg Crawford
Right now as I write this article, I’m on an airplane headed to the Fitness Business Summit. This will be my second one, but last year I was still a broke burnt out trainer working for a corporate gym. Today I’m a fitness business owner working fewer hours but making more money. First let me say, guys like Kaiser, Bedros, Big Chris and Steve Hochman and their blogs played an integral role in my going independent. So if you’re reading this you’re already doing something very smart.
Ok, so let me dive right into the meat and potatoes of this article: My 7 step process that took me from broke, over worked trainer that had to cancel an appointment because I didn’t have money to put gas in my car (true story by the way) to becoming an independent and financially secure personal training company.
Step 1: Find A Place For Your Business.
First thing you’re going to want to do is search Google for gyms and fitness centers in close proximity to where you are now. Make a list of all the gyms in the area that are privately owned. Forget about any chain or franchise gyms to bring clients. Because what you want to do next is contact the owners of these gyms and set up a time to meet and discuss a rental fee if you bring your clients to train at their gym. Typically in the beginning, you want to pay per session, this way you only lay out what you actually bring in. I ended up paying the owner where I’m at $10 per session for 60 minutes and $5 for 30 minute sessions. That’s pretty reasonable, plus if you build rapport with the owner over time, you can later negotiate a lower monthly fee when you’re busy.
Step 2: Transferring Your Core Clients To Your Business And Quit The Gym.
This will be the most difficult thing you will do. What worked for me was over the course of a few weeks, I started planting the seed in my clients’ head about leaving the gym and going out on my own. Now you can start to get a feel from your clients who you think will actually leave and continue with them. Keep in mind, however, that there will be a couple that you think will stick with you and a few you that won’t.
Here’s another place where things can gets tricky…most likely you signed a non-compete clause with your gym, so don’t tell anyone else of your plans and where you’re going. There are a lot of haters out there! Now…I’m not one to steal clients, but these big corporate gyms only see you as a number and will probably not even feel it if you take a few clients, so I don’t feel bad at all! Use it for what it is…your stepping stone. Do not do this step if you currently work for a privately owned gym, because that’s wrong!
Here are a couple of tips to help transfer clients of to your business:
• Offer those who stick with you an incentive like a discount on training. You’re not giving the 50% cut to the gym anymore!
• Before you quit the gym, have your core clients meet you at the new gym for a workout to let them try it out.
• Explain to your clients that if they stick with you that they will receive even a better service than you already give and it will allow you to over deliver.
Step 3: Get A Website/Blog
You need a place to communicate with your prospects and clients. Also a place where people can go and check out what it is exactly that you offer and what you’re about. I call it my “home base”. A website also sets you up as being professional and an expert trainer. Make sure you have a lot of good pictures and some video, after all people are very visual. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a good quality website and blog but just make sure you get a good webmaster. My recommendation that worked great for me and was very affordable is The Super-Trainer Licensing Program.
Step 4: Create Systems And Make Folders
You’ve heard it before; create a system for every aspect of your business. Everything from client consultations, referral system, billing, online marketing, offline marketing, agreements and assessments, sales and phone scripts, craigslist ads, workouts.
Make a folder on your computer labeled systems and then inside that folder make folders for each system and label them.
Step 5: Get EFT
Your goal is to get all your clients credit cards and implement automatic billing when their sessions need to be replenished. Make your clients sign contracts, preferably longer commitments. I don’t offer anything less than 3 months. Trust me; collecting checks every time their sessions are up is a pain in the ass. You can also keep and track your sessions with this type of software system. I use Shape.net. It’s a good company and they are always available to help you if you’re confused.
Step 6: Send Out Welcome Packages
I did this for all my existing clients that stayed with me and for all new business that signs up with my company. My welcome package consists of:
• Nutrition plan
• Meal plans
• Welcome letter on nice custom paper
• Referral reward info
• Referral sheet for names, numbers and emails for the clients to fill out, also I add a stamped envelope with my address already on it. Make it easy for them to just write some friends and family names down and throw it in the mailbox. Tell them exactly what to do.
• Mindset tactics
Step 7: Network With Local Businesses That Compliment Your Business
• Get low cost post cards made from vista print which shows you’re giving something away on your website like meal plans, weight loss nutrition plan, weight loss tips, or a workout. Don’t try to sell training off the postcard, just get them to go to your site. Your website should sell your training.
• Google all the local chiropractors, massage therapists, wedding boutiques, supplement stores, health food stores, nutritionists, tanning salons. Try to get as many of your postcards in these places as possible. First ask them if they would be willing to give you a coupon for their services that you want to put the coupons in your welcome packages. Most likely they will like that for their own promotion that they’ll let you leave postcards behind.
Well hope this helped a little for those either thinking about going independent or those ready to make the jump. I will tell you this; it will be scary and very hard to do in the beginning. But as long as you stay focused and have a clear vision of where you see yourself going, everything will work out and you’ll never look back!
Thanks Greg for that awesome post. I’m always thoroughly impressed by how aggressively trainers like you take action, and how quickly you’re able to get on your feet and become profitable. That’s living out the American dream. And what’s even more impressive is the fear and uncertainty you have to overcome in order to take this action. With hundreds of millions of people living in J.O.B. (just over broke) hell in our society, stepping out on your own is something very special and unique – if it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it (because heaven knows they wish they could). You actually had the guts to do it, do it quickly, and make it work, and for that you deserve heavy, heavy praise.
What Greg was talking about that gave him the website and all of the materials he needed to go solo was the SUPER-TRAINER LICENSING PROGRAM. The LICENSING PROGRAM goes off the market at it’s current low price on Friday, May 14th at midnight sharp PST, no exceptions. To make it easier to jump on board, we’re offering a three payment option. To get all of the info, just click here.