Running a Personal Training Studio is a hairy business. Even though I’m all for trainers starting their own training practices, that DOESN’T always mean opening a training studio.
Training studios are a completely different animal, with their own set of rules and circumstances that can BREAK a trainer that isn’t prepared for them.
But on the bright side, if you know training inside and out, opening a training studio can be a good type of business for you to start. Since you’re already very familiar with the “product”, it’s make-up, and it’s consumption, all that’s left for you to do is market and sell the friggin’ thing!
I’ve written about the “reality check” side of this numerous times on the blog, for other publications, and in the SIX-FIGURE TRAINER MANUAL. But I got to thinking about the subject again recently because of a question I got from a reader, who seems to be facing challenges with this across the board:
Kaiser, I own a private personal training studio in an elite area of Dallas/Ft.Worth Texas. I am wanting to get about 4 good, motivated trainers in here to take advantage of the amazing facility I have put my neck on the line for. I have read a ton about how to get into a place like I have, but how do I do the opposite? Get the trainers in here? I have one guy, but he doesn’t seem too motivated. He currently trains 4 sessions a week! Would love some advice. Thank you.
Hey Kyle – yeah, you’ve got a good point; we’re always talking about how trainers should find a good place to train out of – but you don’t have anyone that wants to use your place!
In either case, you’ve got a marketing issue – you need to get the word out – but here’s the problem …
If your business DEPENDS on finding motivated, entrepreneurial trainers that want to go out there, get business, and service it out of your place and pay you to do it, you may be setting yourself up for trouble.
Although I know trainers that do this, you’re making yourself dependent on outside factors, that being the marketing ability of other trainers. And that’s not a group I would count on.
The fact is that the majority of trainers today are not motivated and entrepreneurial. That’s one of the reasons why people that actually do have a clue, like the readers of this blog, can pick up and start doing so well immediately.
That being said, it’s going to be up to you do bring the booties into the building. You can then simply find good, honest trainers that are looking for an opportunity to service them. Your business should not rely on the skills of your trainers.
And it should not rely on you training the clients either …
It should rely on you attracting high quality leads, converting them into long term clients, and making sure they’re serviced in a high quality way that ensure their retention and referrals.
This is hard work, but this puts the ball totally in your court. It makes every step of the success dependent on you, which gives you much more control. If you get the right things done, the money will start to pour up.
So the first thing to understand is that you are now an operator and marketer, not a trainer anymore. If you do any training at all, it should be large group sessions with the help of assistants, during your peak hours. I would look to fill your gym with 10 clients paying top rates during each of these hours. Then you and the four other trainers can service these ten clients. One of the clients rates should cover the salary for your entire staff. That leaves the other 9 clients as profit.
That is the only way you should conduct your sessions. This will also give you the opportunity to train your staff to your methods. You can then allow them to train clients during off peak times. As long as they are honest and positive people, you can teach them on the rest.
Remember to view training as your PRODUCT now. One guy that I know that does this extremely well is Dave Parise, who runs a very successful training business. Dave constantly looks after the quality of his product, ie. the training, but this is still a “business” move.
Just one thing to make sure of when you are screening new employees is that they are NON-ENTREPRENEURIAL. The first hint that you get that they are entrepreneurial, let them go, since you’ll essentially be training your competition, and someone that will be stealing away your members (this is the opposite of trainers that you’d want to rent space from you, who you would need to be highly entrepreneurial).
And the rest of your time should be spent on public relations and marketing. Become the face of your business and become active in the local media. Start with the small time local papers and work your way up to the big ones, as well as television.
Work to actively get referrals from existing clients. And use the traditional advertising vehicles and the internet to advertise your services. If your business is set up properly, you will be able to “spend” on advertising, since every new client that comes in will add to the net.
Now if you wanted to open a trainer’s gym, which it sounds like from your question, that’s a little different, but it’s still a marketing problem. You’d have to get the word out to all of the local trainers that your place was a good place to train their clients out of. You may still be able to make this another income channel for your business, even if you’re doing your own marketing and running your own staff.
Hope that gave you a little perspective Kyle. Like I said, this is a deep issue and a hairy business, but once you realize that it is BUSINESS and not about training anymore, you’re already a long way toward making it work (the irony is that TRAINING is the business – HAIRY).
And here’s a link to an article I wrote for PFP magazine not too long ago about the economics of running a training business:
Welcome To Personal Finance 101: Are Your Bringing In The Money That You Deserve?
by Kaiser Serajuddin
Want more articles on running a training business? Then check these out:
Jessica’s Storm’s Personal Training Business
Billy Polson’s Personal Training Business
Mike Boyle’s Personal Training Business
And what did you think? Leave your comments below:
Interesting post Kaiser. Especially the part about hiring non entrepreneur employees. Some may look at that being selfish but an “entrepreneur” would look at that as a win-win for both parties. For the employee it is an win because everything from a business/marketing aspect is already taken care of, so they can focus 100% on training. For the business owner it is a win because their focus and energy is geared towards working on their business, not necessarily in it, which equals being your own boss, owning a business not a job and generating passive income. I might be in a position in the near future to run a studio and I am really trying to decide to run the studio if it presents itself or just continuing to rent the space and hire a coupe of assistants to train with me while still calling all the shots w/o the high overhead. Well see……..
I agree with Kaiser that you should build a studio around what YOU have to offer and not around other trainers. This doesnt mean you have to do all the training but your probably only gonna be able to fill your studio if people come because they love what you and your place has to offer and that comes down to you the owner.
I do feel however, hiring good entrepreneurial trainers is good. Could add value to your place with top trainers, just as long as you understand that because they are real good, chances are they may leave you one day. Thats part of the business. Also what about protecting yourself with non-compete clauses Kaiser?.
Good point. Even though you were speaking to Kaiser, I definitely am not saying don’t hire entrepreneurial trainers, but as a entrepenuer yourself, you will also benefit from knowing that most of your employees/1099’s will be with you for a while.
Yeah Greg – you do want employees that are self starters, motivated, and bring value to the business –
But I think that as an independent studio owner, you’re putting yourself in a tough position if you’re depending on sales and marketing focused trainers, the way that a big-gym forces their employees to be –
You don’t want to have that headache of trying to fire them up to make their sales and hit their quotas – and for the most part, these trainers don’t want that headache – there are many quality trainers that want to show up every day, master their craft, and rely on a dependable paycheck – I would even say these trainers outnumber the entrepreneurial types – these are the best people to plug into your business –
It puts more responsibility on your shoulders, but is much more reliable than the situation where Kyle is find himself –
I ran a training business both ways – dependent on trainers “hustling” and getting their own clients, and the other way where I got all the clients, and the trainers helped to train them – things were always much more positive, people were more happy, and there was much less stress all around when I handled the job of client acquisition.
This made me realize that most people will accept less page for greater security – that’s fine, and that’s actually a big positive because as entrepreneurs, we depend on it.
Good point Kaiser,
Would you say maybe your best bet would to get a younger aspiring trainer thats new and train him to be a good trainer for you?
Yeah – if you’re getting the hang of running a business and managing a staff yourself, this is a good way to go about it – even though you’re the boss, you’re doing a lot of learning at this stage yourself!