Hey gang! Hope your holiday weekend was good. If you haven’t heard we got absolutely buried by a snow storm here on the east coast. To make things worse, there was a lot of wind that caused snow drifts, and like an idiot I parked my car in the street, so right now it’s covered in an igloo.
Until I dig it out, I’ll have some good info to share with you here on the site. But for now, I have something I wrote a few weeks ago for my column on Fit-Pro Magazine. It has to do with understanding the CONTINUITY aspect of fitness services.
Understanding this part of the business can be a game changer. It’s the fact that once clients start, they tend not to stop if you’re doing your job right. That completely changes how you should look at your billing practices, and how you calculate what your customer’s lifetime value is. Keeping that in mind, you may find you have way more money to spend on advertising your training business than you thought you did. And managing the balance between your customer value and advertising dollars will unleash your training business, as we’ve talked about recently.
It’s all covered in the article. If you didn’t catch it yet on PFP, here it is:
Harnessing Continuity Income
Issue Date: December 2010 Web Features, Posted On: 12/22/2010
What do Katy Perry, Catherine Zeta Jones, and a gecko lizard have in common? Before your mind jumps to some perverted fantasy, let me tell you what I’m getting at:
All three of them are spokespeople for continuity products; Proactiv Solution, T-Mobile, and Geico Insurance, respectively. It’s hard not to see at least one of these products being sold during every single commercial break of any show you watch on television.
Have you ever asked yourself how they can possibly afford to advertise so much? It’s because of the continuity billing nature of these products, and once you learn to harness that same billing and product structure for your business, you’ll be able to advertise and profit just as aggressively.
If you’ve been in the fitness business for any length of time, what you know already is that once a client starts with you, they tend not to stop. They may stay for six months, or they may still be going with no end in sight, assuming you’re doing the job of consistently delivering a WOW service.
The first part of making your fitness service a continuity product is to implement continuity billing. You need to get your clients on a regular, monthly payment schedule like any of the monthly billing plans you see for other continuity products I mentioned. Simply calculate the average amount a client pays for a two or three times weekly program, and put the client on this payment schedule in an automated fashion.
When you are making this transition for the first time, you can bring it up to your clients like this:
“Hi Mrs. Jones — to make things more convenient for both you and me, I’ve created an automated billing program for all my clients. This will make it much easier and faster for us to handle your billing every month. And in case you happen to miss any sessions in a particular month, we’ll just roll them over in the next month to catch up. How does that sound?”
When you state the new billing system as being in the benefit of the client, you will get their approval in nearly every case.
The next part of truly harnessing the power of continuity income is to implement some form of group training into your practice. What this allows you to do is add new clients to your programs without raising the raw cost of servicing these clients. A boot camp business model or small group training model is perfect for this. In that case, new customers can be added to a class without raising the cost of that class to you.
Putting both of these factors together, you can then create an estimate of a customer’s value to your business. What you may find is that any new client is worth anywhere from $1,000-2,000 or more per year to your business, or at least $500 in a three-month period. This now gives you a solid estimate of how much you can spend to attract a new client.
Putting this math to work will allow you to dominate the advertising in your area, because it will tell you exactly how much you can afford to spend to attract a client. If a particular advertisement costs you $500, you know that it should bring you at least one client to pay for itself in three months. If it costs $2000, it should bring you four. If you value your time at $150 an hour and spend an hour speaking at a company, this should bring you at least 1/3 of a client — you get the picture.
The group model also allows you to give away free months of training as offers to new clients and referrals, which gives you much stronger bait to put on the hook for any advertising you do. Just like Proactiv Solution or the cell phone plans, a great deal up front takes away the risk of getting started. And once someone starts, they’ll stay a customer for life.
Putting this billing and program structure into effect in your business can allow you to benefit from some of the most powerful marketing weapons out there. Maybe it will be your services spamming the airwaves during every commercial break soon too!
Hope you got some good info you can use out of that one. If you noticed, I tried to get a little edgy with my tone of it, especially in the introduction. I’ll try to crank it up a bit more every month, and maybe I’ll have PFP sounding like this site real soon.