I am considering doing a sliding scale fee for my clients. I am doing this because there are so many people in my area who want to get fit but can’t afford a gym let alone a personal train or. I am doing research on this idea and wonder if there any thoughts regarding the issues surrounding this idea. Or any knowledge of others being successful working with clients on a sliding scale.
I provide a variety of classes and programs. Ranging from $1 per class and up. I generally ask clients what their budget is and then advise them of what I can provide for that budget. I might give a bit of extra time to clients who demonstrate the true desire and need for a bit of pro bono instruction. I also provide my services through community fitness initiatives and health fairs. No one has ever had an issue with how I choose to charge for my time. And even if someone did get offended or ruffled, life is too short to let it affect me.
It’s a slippery slope when you start charging people different rates. People talk & you don’t want that word getting out. I’d be lying though if I told you that all my clients pay the same rate. It’s close, but some of my long-term clients (15-20 years)get a little discount. The problem is, once you start discounting your hourly rate, that becomes your perceived value to everyone and that’s what you don’t want. I admire your compassion for people who can’t afford personal training, but it’s a business & not a charity. Here’s a thought – maybe you can offer a group training session to those who can’t afford your rates. Or simply set those people up with a program & meet up them once a month or so to check on things & make adjustments. I do that with several people. But once you start discounting your hourly rate, you de-value your worth as a trainer – don’t do it. Good luck Sarah – you’ll figure it out.
Why don’t you offer a small group training option? This way you will not be de-evaluating your services (actually you will be making more this way) and at the same time it will be more affordable for your clients/participants. You can offer a variety of options regarding time availability so people can have options if not everyone agrees on the time. Or you can offer the small group training only for those who can’t afford your services at your full price.
If you start offering sessions at much lower fee it would be very difficult for you to get away from that model, because more people would want to hire you for the lower price option.
I do not provide this option. This is not to say that I have never given clients a price break if they found themselves suddenly in difficult circumstances.
I have one rate per session but I provide material to clients that will allow them to work out on their own. That way, some clients only see me once a month.
I feel it is unfair to clients to have different rates for the same service. I hate to say it but you will be taken advantage of by those who ask for a discount wherever they go.
I do not have experience with this, but I find it admiral that you want to do this for others, and your heart is certainly in the right place (this concept may appeal to others–a pro). From a business standpoint, though, you need to consider how you would fairly identify who needs more financial assistance than others. How would you do this? (my educational background is college administration and I worked with students in financial aid and assessing their need, so my mind automatically goes there!) Seems like it would be difficult to make decisions on how to assess their needs without reviewing personal financial information such as tax documents, etc. (even that doesn’t always tell the full story). Just something to consider (as a con). Also, if you were to get really busy, then the demand would be there but the supply would not–and you would be charging different rates when you would want to stay on the higher end (con).
Another idea would be to offer lower priced introduction specials and packages. Or, just keep your training fees on a lower but reasonable flat scale for everyone. This may appeal to your target market without the additional stress of determining what cost to charge each client.
Hope some of these ideas help you. Good luck, and I’m interested in hearing what others have to say.