Do you offer free training / workshops / lectures to your community?
Many people in fitness believe offering free services degrades the value of the profession. I have been one to hold such notions in the past. I'm re-thinking this idea and wonder if any independent trainers or business owners offer regular, non-binding free services to their community and how those services have affected their company?
For example, if you're trying to get exposure for your business, volunteering your time and talents through training, workshops, etc. are all good things.
On the other hand, when it comes to directly acquiring clients, I don't offer free fitness assessments or consultations. It's too easy for people to take advantage of that and it generally attracts the kind of client that is going to be difficult to work with anyway (the person who always wants more for less without regard to your value).
The truth of the matter is, you'd be surprised how much more buy-in you get from people when they have to spend a little bit of money (even if that's $20 for a workshop or seminar).
My philosophy is that people don't need to pay for something that they aren't sure about. By offering some free services, it gives people some time to think about whether or not personal training is right for them, and it gives people the opportunity to see what they'll be getting for their money. More often than not, you can't go wrong with offering some free services. It definitely gets you some great recommendations and leads!
I'm a big supporter of fitness education, getting paid is secondary.
I live by the fact that we are called to give of our talents and services. So far, the giving that I have done has been blessed. My last IE workshop had 21 people sign up for my next fitness camp that night. Just make sure that you don't overstretch your availability unless you want to become a professional volunteer! :) I have found that offering these services allows for much better name recognition throughout the community.
I used to do all sorts of free things, then i got tired of people not showing for free appointments and rescheduling at the last minute. I am all for educating those who want to be educated, but I have come to the understanding that a lot of people don't take anything that's free serious enough and my time is too valuable to be wasted like that. Now free eBooks or workouts that don't take away from my time are a something else entirely and can be used as marketing if done properly. I just place too much value on my very limited time.