Tricks of the Trade
I use flash sales, which consistently help me attract new clients. Offering a deep discount through a flash sale for customers who sign up within 48 hours always encourages even the most intimidated client. I normally hold a sale whenever I have space for a new person. The discounted price lasts for varying lengths of time (1 month, 3 months, 6 months, etc.). I advertise on my website, Craigslist and Facebook and even in “old-fashioned” fliers. This promotion hasn’t failed me yet; if anything, I have too many new clients. You definitely have to know when your caseload is full. Quality is always better then quantity.
I sometimes run a “Buy four sessions and get the fifth one free” promotion. I use this offer at major holidays (I include an appropriate message—e.g., New Year, Improved You) or when I happen to have some turnover and want to fill a few spots. The promotion usually runs for 1–2 weeks, depending on my current need and the time of year.
As a sole proprietor and small-business owner, I do not have a tremendous advertising budget. Also, I am not looking to add dozens of clients at one time, except when I am running the promotion for small-group classes. I use local-media vehicles for little to no cost—and they target my geographical area. I have obtained many clients and referrals from the IDEA FitnessConnect directory, using the monthly newsletter and the bio listing to my advantage. In addition, many of my local clients were referred to me by the TRX® Directory and the ACE Directory.
However, when I run a specific promotion, Facebook and other social networks (including word of mouth) work well. For these local promotions, I do not pay for an ad on Facebook. I tried paying to run an ad but with very little success. Plus, I am not looking for a huge fan base, but, rather, for a fan base that is targeted, dedicated, interactive and local, so clients and I can mutually benefit. I post the promotional offer on my fan page, my business-friend page and my personal page. Inevitably, I gain at least one or two clients per promotion. I also tell my existing clients about the promotions; if a current client refers a new client to me under this promotion or at any other time, the current client gets a free session—so everyone benefits! The costs for this promotion on Facebook are zero, and I get the right number of clients from it.
What I love about this promotion is its flexibility. I can
- reduce or enlarge the number of sessions/packages;
- run the offer at any time for any reason (generic or time-specific);
- extend the offer; and
- apply the offer to private or small-group sessions (I love to use the promotion when I have earned a new specialty certification, designed a great new training format or obtained a new piece of equipment).
I make sure I let potential clients know the terms and conditions of the offer. For example, the offer
- is good only for new clients and must be their first package;
- can be purchased as a gift certificate with an expiration of 6 months from date of issue (all sessions must be booked within 6 months);
- must include a package of at least four 60-minute or 30-minute sessions;
- must be paid for in full;
- includes an initial assessment and consultation; and
- can be renewed at the full price of five sessions.
Nancy Matican Bock
L.A.S.T. Lifestyle and Sports Training
Melbourne Beach, Florida
Over the years at Real Life Fitness, we have conducted a number of promotions to attract new clientele. Most promotions include some sort of giveaway in he form of a donation of personal training or small-group classes to a nonprofit organization. This arrangement creates a win for the new client, the nonprofit and our business. Many nonprofits conduct events with silent or live auctions. By donating a package of our services, we encourage a potential new client to purchase the package as a benefit to the nonprofit. We are now seen as philanthropic (which we are) and can often entice a new client to try our services when all the proceeds go to a local nonprofit.
During the holidays, we often partner with our local radio station by participating in their “20 Days of Christmas” contest. People sign up at 20 different businesses (all participants in the promo- tion), and names are drawn from those locations. The winners are announced on the air, and there’s a new winner on each of the 20 days before Christmas. Winner #1 receives a gift from vendor #1. Winner #2 receives gifts from vendors #1 and #2, and so on. We have been in position #5 for 10 years, so we give 16 gift certificates away each holiday season—often resulting in two or three new clients.
Finally, we often swap gift certificates with other business owners. Doing so allows us to give a special gift to our clients (something that isn’t personal training) while promoting our business friends and vice versa. This is an easy way to find new clients and support other professionals in the community.
Scott Jackson, CSCS, MES
Barbi Jackson, NSCA, CPT
Owners, Real Life Fitness
Nevada City, California
This time of year we use social media a lot to drive new business into the club. We use Valentine’s Day and spring break to entice our clients to refer friends or to register for prizes we are raffling off on Facebook and other social media sites.
For Valentine’s Day, we sell (in the club) a discounted three-pack of personal training sessions that a member can purchase as a gift. We offer a similar program on our Facebook page, but we position the offer in a register-to-win format. We award a couple of three-session packages, and the promotion increases the number of our Facebook friends.
For spring break, we focus on changing body composition. We combine personal training with metabolic testing and a follow-up session with one of our registered dietitians. The goal is to have a lower-cost entry point, but we hope clients see enough value in what we offer to continue after spring break. We have marketed this program internally via Constant Contact® emails and postings in the club. We have also mailed this offer to residents within a 5-mile radius of our facility.
Dale Huff, CSCS
Co-Owner, NutriFormance-Fitness, Therapy and Performance