A new client suprised me by bringing a friend to her 2nd session wanting me to train them together.
The session was challenging for me as one client was at a beginners level and the other more advanced. I charged them both my customary hourly fee. I understand that some trainers offer discounted prices for training 2 people together. Should I feel obligated to offer a "special rate" in order to keep these clients? I got the impression that they thought they would be getting a discounted rate.
you do not need to feel obligated to do anything. However, most trainers will charge a different rate when two clients train together within one hour of your time since you have more preparation work for two. That rate is often 50% above your hourly rate.
I am surprised, though, that you trained them together when you were caught off guard like that. I never had that happen to me but I am pretty sure that I would not have agreed to do so.
Has happened to me many times and I'm almost always say yes. However, the newer person needs to be a similar ability level as I am left with no time to prepare for different approaches (very comfortable with two varying levels if I know ahead of time). I also take a couple minutes to get general information for the newer person before saying okay. There is a danger here of the clients not understanding the work that goes into planning and that you are not just giving them an "exercise session." This is a personalized experience focused on their specific goals and specific physical limitations and needs.
In terms of pricing, I usually charge each person less, and Karin is right, typically that approaches a total of 50% higher (i.e normal rate of $80 each person is charged $60 for tandem).
You should never feel obligated to do anything. Your worth is your worth. If you establish what you've worth and charge accordingly then you are operating a business. IF you feel you need to offer a discounted rate in order to keep their business make them commit to a package.
I hope this helps, if I can clarify anything please let me know.
I do not do a ton of private sessions these days, and I do not remember an occasion when someone brought a friend, but I would say after years working with lots of people that every once in a while you will find someone who will make the most amazing assumptions. If we use a groupon that specifically says 'new clients only' there are always one or two that will try to use it more than once.
You might want to amend your agreement to train document to detail your policy on this. You could also send out an email to your contact list (or put it in your newsletter if you do one) to say something like "A question came up recently about shared training sessions. I thought I would just let everyone know how I handle this." If you tell everyone upfront what the policy is, well some people will either forget, or will try to get you to do something anyway, but you can always point to the signed document and the sent email.
It might be reasonable to say that a shared session is a total that is equal to half off the second person, but is not billed individually (less accounting for you), that sharing a session can only be done with prior consent from you (due to the preparation work), And that if a new client wishes to come in with an existing one to share sessions they must book at least one private first so you have a chance to get to know them and their needs.
Your focus is split in half and the primary client actually is giving up what they initially paid for.
I would most certainly use part of the time to assess this new person, you are as liable for their safety as you are for the primary client. After a waiver has been signed and payment has been made I would have conducted a workout with the remaining time allotted.
If you don't want this to happen you can always put it in your contract.
Establish your policies and procedures now and you won't have problems in the future.
If it does, I always have them sign a waiver, get their contact and emergency contact information and a quick health history. I want to be sure it is safe to train them. Then I have them do the same workout as the other client with modifications if necessary. If they would like to continue to train together, I let them know how that would work and schedule things accordingly. Most of the time, its the case of someone visiting or a spouse having the day off.
Since this is only the second time you've trained this client, you need to be clear upfront with how the session will work. If you choose to train them both together, you need to set the expectation as to how those sessions will go. Being clear in your communication and then having a policy to prevent this type of situation in the future, will help you immensely.