There are simply too many loyal readers and students of my various programs to send separate holiday cards to, too many to say ‘thanks’ to individually, so this will have to do.
I have some degree of personal relationship with several hundred of my students. While I will not send each a personal greeting, I want you to know that I very much appreciate your purchases, involvement, participation, feedback, and compliments. I count many of you as friends but there are too many of you to extend holiday greetings to individually.
During my struggle years I hated Santa Claus, and viewed the holiday season as one of the worst problems faced all year. It is only in the last handful of years or so that I’ve actually been free to really enjoy the holidays.
These days though, I cringe at the expansion of Santa Claus’ grip on the calendar for a different reason; I think the season is too long to have meaning or be enjoyed. Christmas music at the mall was welcome the day after Thanksgiving; the day after Halloween it’s a annoying.
And I don’t think there’s any way to shove Santa back inside a reasonably sized box. The only thing for you to do is to capitalize on it.
While the entire world is spending money, make sure they’re spending some of that with you. While they’re giving gifts, make sure your services are one of those gifts. And while they’re over feeding themselves, make sure that you’re providing the solution.
You should never need a reason to promote or get more money out of your fitness business. But having an excuse just makes things way, way easier :-).
Now before we get into some promotional ideas, let’s put a stopgap on one of the things that hurts trainers more than any other during this season – it’s clients going on vacation, or just plain training more infrequently due to travel, holidays, and other commitments. Or if you are a business of one, and want to go away or take some time off and enjoy the holidays but don’t want to take a hit income, you’ll be able to make tremendous use of this strategy as well.
This is one of the things that made me dread this season. Even if you are implementing EFT (which you should be) you still aren’t immune. Rather than show up for only two sessions in the month, an overly festive client may just ask you to hold their billing for two weeks or a month, which does you no favors.
To put a stop this, you have a few options. One of them is to extend the roll over period on missed sessions. You may normally allow a rollover of a month for missed sessions; but if your clients are missing a lot more sessions this month, allow them to roll the sessions over for as much as two months.
You can frame this as an opportunity to ramp up their post new year’s training, which is in their benefit. So continue to bill them but offer them greater flexibility in cashing in the unused sessions. Whether you’re a private trainer or facility owner, this trick will put a stop on any drops in frequency during this season.
(However truth be told, most clients won’t end up using these missed sessions; but giving them the option makes them feel better about missing them.)
Another option is for you to do some sort of email coaching while they’re away. You can frame this as:
“Hey Mrs. Jones, I know you’ll be away for the holidays. Well what I’m doing for December for my clients that are traveling is a special online coaching program. I’ll follow up with you and your workouts by email. This will keep you focused on your program even during the most treacherous month of the year for your body. How does that sound?”
Now all you have to do is write up a brief program for them and find some videos on youtube to back them up. Use this together with the extended roll-over strategy to keep clients on your billing cycle even if their frequency drops. This goes for you if you’re currently a one person operation, and need the time off yourself, but don’t want to lose out on your income during this part of the year.
Whatever the case, you should never accept a drop in income during this periods. The biggest holiday of they year is a big opportunity for you to think creatively in of ways to sustain and grow your business. And that brings us to the biggest benefit the holiday season can have for you …
It’s a great excuse to run promotions and make offers!
You see, the biggest problem with any incentive or price-promo on a service is that they tend to make you look desperate. The solution is to have AN EXCUSE for why you are lowering your prices, giving a big trial offer, or giving away free training (for group training).
Without an excuse, you’ll get a lower response to your ad. And not only that, but if the customer comes in only because of lower price, it sets a tone for you to have less control over them (control over prices, payment terms like EFT, training frequency, sticking to your routines, etc.). Control in any service relationship is vital -once you’ve lost it, you’ve lost the customer.
But the holidays are a great excuse for you roll out every possible offer and incentive to get new clients that you can possible imagine. Here are a few of them:
– Referral gift cards: this is a great time to allow clients to give ONE FREE MONTH cards for group training services, or discounted pre-paid gift cards for private services as presents to others. And let your clients know that you’ll reward them with a card themselves for any new clients they bring in.
– New free or low price promotions: during this season, two things are a given – people are eating two much, and money’s tight. So having great offers out there in your advertising with the holidays as an excuse is a great way to bring in new leads, even if they’re currently cash strapped.
– Low price “stocking-stuffers” promo packs: let your clients give the gift of fitness, and make it very easy for them to do so. Have gift cards or coupons made up just for this season, and give them out to everyone, even if they don’t ask for them. You want to make it as easy possible for people to refer to you during this season, when they will be doing more giving and networking than at any other time of the year.
– Pay-in-full incentive: give your current clients the break of a nice price break by allowing them to pay in full for next year NOW, at a lower price then if they paid in installments. Just write up a new sample contract that explains the pricing structure and how they save, and offer the new payment arrangement to everyone. This is great for long term clients, since they will be with you anyway for the new year. You can typically expect a 10-20% success rate with something like this, which is more than enough to bring you a huge balloon of cash to spend on advertising and new initiatives to kick off the new year (okay, go blow some of it at the mall).
That’s just a few ideas everyone can use – if you really think about it, the list is potentially endless. Feel free to think even bigger, whatever works for your area, your target market, and your services. And be sure to hold on to all of new marketing pieces and materials you produce, so you can effortlessly roll out the same promo plus a few more next year.
As a side note, remember any holiday is an excuse to run a promo. So is the birth of a child, your birthday, a child’s birthday – anything. If you have an excuse, run a promo (see the last article for more info on this.)
And one more reason to look forward to the holidays? Because you have new year’s just around the corner. Think about all the new business that will be open then? Just get in front of it and cash in.
Besides all of this, I hope you find time this month to take a breather and truly enjoy the holidays with family and friends. It is a good time for reflection, for re-establishing or strengthening important relationships, for gratitude, for forgiveness, and for celebration.
This week I’m launching the beta group for the brand new SUPER-TRAINER LICENSING PROGRAM. Beyond a website, branding, and marketing pieces, this version of the LICENSING PROGRAM will involve heavy a offline marketing component, promotional materials, referrals pieces, operational tools, and an advanced licensees manual, just for starters.
The new LICENSING PROGRAM will start at a price of $2,000, but beta members will get in for the old licensing price of $757 (2-pay option available). This beta group is only available to existing Super-Trainer Program owners.
To get on board and have the opportunity to hit ground running in the new year (and if you are an existing Super-Trainer program owner) send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Only 15 spots are available and acceptance ends on Friday, December 17, 2010.