There are just so many traps, bad habits, and status quo behavior that fitness trainers can fall into, that this job can just downright suck at times. That’s one of the reasons why you’ll find most trainers burning out faster than a bike at 11,000 RPMs with the front wheel on brake.
On of the culprits is ON LOCATION TRAINING: training clients in their homes and going to their locations. This is a very common practice for trainers, and a very common business model for them. Why not? This is a service business so you should be eager to serve, right?
But this practice will shoot you in the foot ever time, and I’m going to come on right here and very publicly tell all trainers to put an end it to it (even if you long since dropped this practice, and have your own fitness training studio or home base, you’ll still get some value out of this).
Now if you’re a long time follower of this blog, you’ll know I’ve talked about on-location training before. I talked about strategies to make it work and how I’ve done it in the past. So you might be asking now, why would I do a complete 180?
Well first off, in those articles, I wanted to provide business info that you could use right now, whoever you are and wherever you are in your training business. But what I realize now is that all I was doing was showing you how to make the best of a bad situation. If on-location is your exclusive business model for your private practice, you’re limiting yourself and setting yourself up for failure.
On location is a model I would never go back to, no matter what the price, so you’d have to say I’m a bit of hypocrite for teaching it previously. In fact, I would never sell my time for money in coaching in any way (although I do give it away for free on occasion – buy something from me and get on my customer list to find out).
Even when I was doing on-location (with Wall Street and super-model types in Manhattan), it wasn’t as lucrative as you might think. When you consider prep time and commuting, a $250 session isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. All things considered it turns into nearly three hours, which brings the hourly to less than $100 an hour. The “in-home” aspect of it turns what should be an ideal situation to something not much better than average.
Now there have been other occasions, when I used to visit the mansion community of Brookville Long Island, where I had 3-4 on location sessions back to back, some of them double booked. This will make one on location visit worth more than $500 for a few hours, but even in this situation (the best of the best possibilities for high priced, on location private training) things still aren’t as good as they could get. There’s just so much more potential for you as a trainer, that I’m going to tell you to give it up. Let the rookie trainers that want to schlep their equipment all over the place have those clients; I recommend you find a different business model.
(And that fact is that even with the jet set, they’ll go out of their way to get the best, specialized services, no matter what the trouble or the price. As long as you communicate your specialty and pre-imenince at it properly, you DO NOT have to be at their beck and call, nor should you.)
If you just got started being an independent trainer and are doing on-location to up your cash flow, here’s what you should do:
Find a home base; establish your specialty; and make everyone come to you. Sure some people will say no. But if you’re afraid of that, then you’re not doing your job right.
Setting boundaries to how you do business gives you power and credibility. As consultants and business owners, you become more in demand by the standards and boundaries you set.
Opening a studio can be a big part of getting that credibility In terms of flipping the script and putting the power back on your side, it really has too many benefits to mention. That will be too long a discussion to get into in this post, but if you’re looking for a real fitness career with real sustainability, this is one business model you might want to take a hard look at.
(And if for whatever reason, you think opening your own facility is prohibitively difficult or expensive, I have some news on that front I’ll share with you later this week.)
The more advanced and specialized the consultant you’re dealing with, the more hoops you have to jump through to work with them. For example, if you had some rare illness, you’d probably fly half way around the world to find the right specialist, wouldn’t you?
When it comes to IN HOME training, what’s wrong with clients coming to YOUR place instead of you going to theirs? That’s really flipping the script, and is something to think about …
Making them come to you is the first part of you getting the compliance for all of the other things you need to make your business viable. Everything from setting your hours, administering your fitness program, and getting clients to adhere to your automated billing (EFT) plan all depend on you getting compliance from your clients.
If this doesn’t sound like the usual “service” emphasis put on training (which we talked about just last week), I don’t mean to confuse you. Service is still what this business is about. The irony is that MOST trainers go so far off the deep end, into being wishy washy and soft, that I think they take the whole SERVICE thing way too far, all the way into being SERVANTS.
If you know me, I always push for trainers to get more aggressive, more selfish, and feel more deserving. Most trainers are viscous animals pumping serious weights, competing in sports, or training with a look to kill on theirr faces, but when it comes to selling, marketing, and putting in the standards to make your business highly profitable, these same trainers will run and hide. That’s why I’m always going to encourage trainers toward the harder end.
If you’re an IN HOME trainer, and feel I’ve just maliciously attacked your entire business model, I didn’t mean to offend you (ok, maybe a little). Not many people are really talking about the business side of this industry, so how could you possible know that there’s better out there for you? But now that you do, you’ve got no excuses.
NOTE: I know a great many, even the majority of trainers might be offended by my editorial here. That’s fine. These are merely my observations from a potent career in this business and working with many of the industry’s movers and shakers. If they’re not for you, no hard feelings, and I wish you well on your way.
So are you ready to step up? Are you ready to draw the line in the sand? To make this a real career?
Then make them come to you. Find your home base, choose your specialty, and don’t do business the same way ever again.