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Tips for Surviving in a Slow Economy

by Katie Donnelly

With lots of talk about recession in the news, many new personal trainers are worried about their businesses. Will their clients cut back? How do we keep growing the business in tough times?

I did some brainstorming and came up with a few tips. You can add your own tips and comments by following the links below.

1) Up Your Service Level

Give your existing clients something extra. It might be some meal planning assistance, a trip to the supermarket with them, or just email support throughout the week. Whatever you come up with should be extra value for your clients and cost them nothing.

What do you get? Ask them to refer you to a friend. If you make your clients feel special, they will talk about you.

2) Expand your Income Stream

If you have all your eggs in one basket, you are putting your business as risk. If you are not already doing it, try investing in online personal training. Just a few clients can make a big difference to your monthly income.

Or you can try reselling equipment, clothing, pedometers, sports drinks and snack bars. They won't make you rich but they can add 10-20% to your top line.

3) Don't Turn Away Price Sensitive Prospects

How many times has a prospect disappeared as soon as they hear your rates? It happens all the time. If your prospect has that look of sticker shock try getting them to join a group class for a reduced rate. Say something like "if that doesn't fit the budget, you should join us every Tuesday night at our group class."

4) Find a Partner

If you find yourself with some holes in your training calendar, spend the free time building up your referral network. Talk to doctors, chiropractors, cycling stores, sporting good stores and anybody else you can think of.

Okay, there are four ideas off the top of my head. What can you come up with? Add your comments below.

by Katie Donnelly

Comments for Tips for Surviving in a Slow Economy

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Nobody is spending money
by: Missy

I have been training at two places for 5 months now. I get a few clients through a "class" but then when it comes to renewing them or signing them up independently they balk at the price $35 per hour (I get 65%).Or because its summer they want to be outside.

It is frustrating as the more established trainers already have the clients who belong to the gym(s) and don't mind spending the money. I have tried offering a shorter time period, and even tried to get new members. But with gas prices so high, people don't want to spend the money.

I have a few base clients and they love how I train, even tried to get other friends to join as a buddy...people just don't want to spend anything right now.

I have tried hanging flyer around the one gym, after discussing it with the owner, but then found he took them down because they might ruin the paint. So, I stayed and discussed what I was doing with the members. Its a little more personal, but very time consuming on my part.
Anyone have some ideas?

Think out of the box
by: Linda

So think of how to find people that consider money non issue. The best place is finding the people who need to look fabulous in for an occasion. WEDDING EXPOS!!!!!

All these brides to be get to see all these great gowns for their wedding and they want to look just as great as the models that are selling them. Set up a table at local expos and have a wedding package in place and add discounts for full bridal parties!!!

Tips for Surviving in a Slow Economy
by: Anonymous

If you can swing it and are feeling the crunch, tell the clients you do have that, you will offer them a free session if the get a friend to sign up.

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Should I Quit?

by Tina
(Chesterfield, Michigan)

I am trying to make it as a personal trainer but all of the gyms in my area are 100% commission and are staffed with too many trainers all competing for clients. The economy here is Michigan is really bad right now and I don't know how much longer I can continue to put in hours at the gym without getting paid for it. I live alone and have a little bit of money in my savings to pay my mortgage and other bills but it is rapidly being depleted because I'm not making any money. Should I just get out this business and go back to my office job that paid a steady salary?

Comments for Should I Quit?

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Don't Quit Yet
by: Kerri Davis

Hi Tina, I got very frustrated working for gyms in my area too. Are you doing any outside advertising? I have been an in home trainer for one year now. I have found that there are a lot of women, especially new moms, who cannot make it to the gym and are willing to pay someone to come to them. I struggled to pick up new clients until I hired an IT person (about $500 investment) to get my website on the Google search engine. Within one month of being on the Google search I have picked up 3 new clients. The website has already paid for intself 5 times. My suggestion is find a niche market in your area and then target them as a "specialty trainer" to differentiate yourself from everyone else before you give up.

few suggestions that worked well for me
by: Doychin Karshovski

I would try advertising at the local grocery store, web site is good too. I am renting space in a local gym and it charges me 30% of what my clients pay to me. With my current rates a make 30-40$ per hour after the gym cut. You may want to ask around for renting space, some chiropractors have nice gyms to be rented too. Good luck! :) and forget about the office desk job...

Office Jobs Kill Your Personality
by: Retrobeast

Oh the days I used to dread working in an office....

What did you do in the office job? If it is a skill that you can freelance at then this could give you the best of both worlds!

I used to be a desktop support geek and trained part time. Now I do the opposite. I train almost full time then use free time to help client keep their computers running smoothly part time.

You are right, way too many trainers being screwed by greedy gyms.
All of the best job list put personal training on it so now every fool that has worked out thinks they can do what we do. They have not only saturated the market but have also brought training commissions way down just like other career fields including desk top support.

Create a specific type of training and clients will be created.

Don't Quit, Adapt!
by: Ian H

You may want to think about a different strategy. Working at a gym is a financial waste of time. You may develop some valuable skills but your stuck with the gyms pay structure. I've been doing mobile training and I make alot more per session than most trainers make in a couple of hours. I had to adapt to what I needed and I searched for a niche with demand that paid well. Create your own reality and get out of the struggle of a gym. Donate your time or whatever it takes to get started and your clients will bring you business leads. Nothing starts big and grows bigger. It always starts small so start today.

Look Into Creating Your Own Info Product
by: Adi

If you need another source of income, create your own fitness info product (e-book, audio course, etc..)

Sell it through clickbank, although it will take a lot of time and effort to create the e-book and set up your website. Once you do, it will be well worth it.

I train clients out of a private studio and after I pay my monthly rent and my other bills, I only break even at the end of the month.

So I decided to study internet marketing and create my own fitness e-book to sell online.

Im on track to make a few hundred dollars extra a month within the next few months and won't have to worry of im going to have enough money to pay my bills at the end of each month.

Get out of the gym!
by: Anonymous

Start your own bus. If you need to work part time at first, that's okay. Find your niche you enjoy working with. Find where they hang out and speak directly to them. Do your research. If you love training, don't quit, go in a different direction.

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