Your Business and the Economic Slowdown

Leadership: Consider these tips to help you plan ahead to survive and thrive.

Just as you’re starting to get a little momentum in your career, a “bigger than usual” obstacle has been placed on your road to success. Thousands of trainers are being challenged by clients who have either cut back or stopped their training sessions altogether as a direct result of the tightening economy.

Across the board everyone is looking for ways to reduce expenses and stay afloat. With more clients taking a break from training “for a while,” it’s common for trainers to get frustrated as their client list dwindles. Do you have a plan in place and the confidence to weather the economic storm, or will you be looking for a “real job” in 6 months?

On the supposition that you want to stick with personal training through thick and thin, here are some tips and suggestions that can help you to survive and thrive in the softer economy.

Truly Believe in the Value of What You Do and How Well You Do It. If your clients are not convinced of the value of your services, they may see what you have to offer as a luxury item, which means training will be the first item on their budgetary chopping block. You must have the confidence to help them understand otherwise.

Don’t Accept a Pink Slip From Your Clients—That’s a Cop-Out. When clients cite purely economic reasons for discontinuing your services, it’s no different than when they make all the other excuses that prevent them from achieving their objectives. Your job as their coach is to help them reframe the situation and see your services as more important in these stressful times than ever before. Help them identify less important “luxuries” that they can cut back on—for example, dining out, shopping for clothes, going to the movies, buying daily lattes or even purchasing a new car. In other words, don’t give up easily and don’t allow clients to give up either.

Map Out a Financial Game Plan Right Now. You need to know exactly how much money you need every month and what it is going to take to cover those mandatory expenses. Ignorance is not bliss, nor will it attract success. Create a budget and see where you can cut expenses. You do not want to live on the financial edge simply because you must have a $5 latte every day—that’s 150 bucks at the end of the month that could have been saved or invested!

Be Proactive. Identify in advance those clients who may be struggling financially, and sit down with them to discuss options before they make a hasty decision on their own. Suggest clients cut back by a few days per month; lower your per-session rate by a few dollars; or pair them up with someone else who is struggling. It’s a whole lot easier to bump clients back up later than it is to get them back.

Renegotiate Current Terms. Lay the groundwork now for renegotiating your agreement with the club or studio owner, or find a better deal elsewhere. If you’re an independent trainer paying a monthly fee to use someone else’s studio, sit down and talk about the challenges you are experiencing or anticipating. Suggest a temporary rate reduction based on several factors, including the fact that you’ve had to drop your fees and cut back on client training hours. Don’t make any demands; just talk reality.

Start Creating Other Outside Studio Training Options. If you’re not already doing so, it may be time to start offering in-home training. This can help you keep costs down, as there are no fees to pay a studio or club. Let your clients know that in-home training helps them better budget their time and save on gas. Boot camps are an example of an unbeatable way of leveraging your time, reducing your fuel costs and helping your clients stretch their training dollars.

Start a Small Specialized Group Training Class of Three to Five People. Group training has been growing in popularity, but many trainers have not yet embraced it. Putting together a small group for ski conditioning, prenatal exercise or swimsuit-season prep is another great way to leverage your time and guarantee income for an 8- to 12-week training period. Remember to announce upcoming programs and sign up participants long before current programs end, in order to avoid downtime.

Start Creating Passive Income Sources Now. Put together a three- or four-part in-home training program and offer a manual or videos with teleseminar or webinar support; do some mentoring; or create an online training program that allows you to reach hundreds of potential clients. Online coaching is a great way to reach more people and leverage your time and money.

Remember the old adage, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” Don’t sit back and wait to see what’s going to happen. The key to success is being proactive and confident about your career. Even in these tough times you can continue to find ways to serve others at a high level. Together, you and your clients can weather the economic storm.

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Tom Terwilliger

IDEA Author/Presenter
Tom Terwilliger is the founder and CEO of Coaching Leadership Excellence in Denver, Colorado. He is ... more less
February 2009

© 2009 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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