Consistently track your income and clients.
In the previous installment of this series, we worked on your scheduling policies and getting a better workweek ironed out so that you are working when you're at your best and when you actually want to work.
Now it's time to delve into getting better organized in the area of record keeping, in regard to both your income and your client records. To create and maintain a business edge regardless of the economic climate, it is vitally important to keep good client records and know your financial standing. This may sound like a lot of work, but in fact it's easy to get this area of your business under control. This project can be separated into two categories: Income and Clients.
In general, I find keeping weekly income records to be motivating. However, if you've experienced a drop in cash flow because of the recession, you may find this task less than fun. I believe, though, that you cannot deal with reality if you do not know where you stand. With this in mind, I keep two areas very organized with regard to income: client billing and statistics.
Several years ago, I changed from billing whenever a client owes me (i.e., for a 10-session package) to billing at the first of every month. As discussed in my previous article, I schedule all client sessions in advance for the next month and each client receives a monthly bill due on the first day of the month. Clients who have already paid in full for a 3-month coaching package will not be billed again unless they continue to receive coaching in month 4. This billing system is easy because I have to create and send bills only once a month, and clients know the fee is always due at the beginning of the month. Clients who pay by credit card receive a copy of their bill, and they know I will be charging their card on the first of every month.
I have really enjoyed keeping statistics on my business, perhaps because I love math. But I can also look at my records as far back as 1992 (when I started keeping them) and see how my business has progressed and adjusted through the years. Recording business statistics keeps me motivated and on track with my weekly, monthly and yearly goals. Following is the information that I keep on a regular basis:
- number of booked client hours for the week
- income for the week
- dates and times open during the week for a new client consult or session (if I have time available)
- monthly, semi-annual and annual figures:
- total client hours worked
- total hours canceled
- number of personal training hours
- number of coaching hours
- number of days off
- number of days worked
- average income per month
- average income per hour paid
- mileage driven (to in-home clients)
- percentage of cancellations that were paid
Keeping records like this helps me stay on track with my goals. By updating these numbers weekly, I can plan my year and anticipate changes by watching the trends and shifts in my schedule. If I know that I want to keep 15 hours per week full with clients, I record any open slots on a large Post-it® note and keep it handy so that I don’t have to scroll through my calendar every time I need to see what's available.
Maintaining good client records can seem like a chore, especially if you have a large number of clients. To keep sufficient client records, the first place to start is to have a file for each client. I have paper files (workout cards, detailed notes on every session together, assessments and forms) in separate folders for each client, as well as a file for each client on my computer. In the paper file folder, I write some very useful information on the inside front panel: phone number, mailing address, start date, birth date, names of spouse and/or children, goals, medical issues or surgeries (if applicable) and any other information I want to access quickly. For my computer files on each client, I use Fitness Analyst™ software by BSDI (www.bsdiweb.com) for my personal training clients, and I store all data there except some of the custom-designed client exercise programs.
I believe you should have a computer copy and a paper copy. You never know when you will not have electronic access to needed information. On most days I record everything the client and I do and discuss during a session. But occasionally, I don’t want to be chained to my notepad, so I make notes after our session is over. The important thing is to take thorough notes about each client session. How did the client feel? What did you discuss? What exercises, reps and weight did you use? Any new aches and pains? Any new problems? What is the homework? What are the client's goals for the week?
Obviously, it is critical to keep copies of every program you design for your personal training clients. As you progress, make notes of exercises they cannot do (irritates his knee, bothers her back, etc.) as well as exercises and activities they enjoy. For clients whom I see only monthly, these notes are invaluable for helping me remember the details about their lives and program needs. If I write everything down, I don’t have to worry about forgetting something later.
On the Record
If you learn to keep accurate and up-to-date records every week, you’ll be ahead of your competition. Staying diligent makes a difference. As you've heard before, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Let me go on the record as saying that the details always matter. You can’t run a successful, long-lasting business without consistently minding the details. Maintain accurate records of your hours and income, and keep detailed notes on your clients. These two skills will go a long way to giving your business the edge.
Client Management Checklist: Useful tool to stay organized with each client (Download File)
Wellness Checklist: Master sheet to keep up with basic fitness client data (Download File)
Vital Signs & Wellness Data: Simple form to keep each client’s assessment data by date (Download File)
Workout Card: Sample workout card to create clients’ resistance training workouts (Download File)
PT Session Plan: Advance planning for what you want to cover with clients during sessions (Download File)