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.
Good post – AMEN.
One of the most liberating moments in my career came when I opened my studio and had my own location. It made life so much easier.
The one exception I make is with my corporate accounts. I have trainers go to the companies to perform boot camps…and it’s quite lucrative.
Great point made. The more in control you are of your business the better. I also love when you say trainers need to “get more aggressive, more selfish, and feel more deserving.” So true. We do so much to change lifes, why cant we be respected with the right situation (especially if we are quality trainers).
Great article, Kaiser.
I did in home/in office training when I first started outside of the corporate gym environment. My biggest issue was the lack of CONTROL.
Now that I have my own facility, I control everything from the music and lighting all the way to what equipment is available.
And the more in control of the environment you are, the more in control of your clients you are.
It all adds up to:
– More Fun
– Better (and consistent) Results
– More Money
– Easier Life
Haha I think i was one of those trainers, lift weights and compete in bodybuilding, but since i found super trainer i think i got better in sales and marketing which is the most important in this business.
Hopefully before the end of 2010, i open my studio for private personal training in my home, i’m going to start with the basic equipment, resistance bands, steps, jump rows and trx bands may be some weights and medicine balls, most of the people don’t care about the equipment as long as we provide a good service, and a good training session, is what matters…
I forget, right now, i work in a big gym with more than 25 trainers, i like this place because we don’t have to bring a number every month also i feel like i have too much freedom, this gym has a lot of machines and i’m surprise because most of the trainers only use a few machines, the workouts are more like cardio, (jump rows) steps, plyometrics, medicine balls, and some weights) This gym sell more image than anything also is located in a good location.
I couldn’t agree more – I started with doing on location work, and I realized it wasn’t for me. I got a home base just like you taught, and let the clients come to me.
I think that’s a much smarter business model than going all over town, going to your clients homes. You don’t have any power doing that.
Great post Kaiser, and great advise for trainers. Spoken like a true insider. Keep it up.
Great post Kaiser! This is something that every trainer starting out needs to read.
I spent 2 years going to clients houses, and it was a big waste of time. I started to believe in myself more once I found your site, put an end to it, and I’ve never been happier. I’m now doing exclusively groups and make it a rule to work no more than 10 hours a week – when I as dong houses, I always worked more than 40 (it was all because of the commuting, not the training).
The bottom line is that you don’t have to see clients in their houses – it’s probably the worst way to make money. There’s a lot of money you can make in this business if you set your own rules.
This was another great one Kaiser/ Right now, I’m only seeing two of my clients in home – the rest come to my gym. But you’re right, the two in home guys are the ones I like to trainer the least. I’m going to see what I can do about that right away.
Yeah, I did the in home thing for 8 years. I can’t tell you how miserable I was. Now I have my own studio and i’m not looking back.
(Hey Kaiser – I picked up the new course today – I just saw the emails from last week – was out of the country – let me know if I’m too late on the bonuses – thanks.)
Ha – this was a great post! Really needed for any trainer starting out.
Just like everyone else above, I did my time going house to house. While I think it might have been neccesary, I see now that maybe I didn’t need to do it for as long as I did.
This post should be a wake up call and reminder to everyone to get serious about this business. This is a real career and you need to treat it like one.
Great job – loved everything you said here. I did homes for a while and would never go back to it again.
Hey Kaiser! I’ve been away from the site from a few days and I see I missed some great things!
I totally loved this post – this is exactly where I’m at with my business. I was doing ALL of my sessions in my clients homes after I left the gym last year.
I liked it in the beggining, mainly because like you say, I was making more money right away. But it got a little boring after a while.
Now I am doing some group sessions with a business I made a deal with, and have only a few in home clients – it saves you a lot of time.
(p.s. your program has helped me so much lately, I can’t thank you enough. Your first manual was lifechanging, and this course is even more so.)
So this article came at the right time for me, and I hope all of the trainers reading it take it to heart. You really need to put yourself first – that’s the only way you can help others.
Thank you so much for everything and for what you’re doing for all of us!
This needs to be said. I gave up seeing clients in their homes after 8 years of doing it. Wish I saw this back then.
Ha – looks like this one hit a never – it had to be said –