In this five-article series, we have covered the nuts and bolts of creating an in-home personal training business from scratch. First, it was critical to do all the background work to determine whether starting a business in your area was feasible and could support you full-time. Second, you created a business identity by looking at your core values, needs, vision, purpose and mission. Third, you outlined your financial needs and ideal work schedule and set 1-, 3- and 6-month goals. Fourth, you invested time and money in making your business “official” by creating a logo and business name and by printing marketing materials.
To complete the journey, this fifth and final article in the series will show you how to spread the word about your new in-home personal training business. Assuming you have finished the previous tasks, it is time to officially get the word out that you are “in business and ready to work!” With all of the foundational work behind you and all the kinks ironed out, you can feel truly confident, competent and ready to serve your new personal training clients.
Join a Proven Networking Group
When I started my personal training business in 1988, it was easy. I had been teaching group fitness classes at a popular health club for several years and had a huge following. My business started in the fitness center and remained there for 4 years until I made the leap to in-home personal training (out of necessity—the owner sold the club).
I soon discovered the downside of being an in-home personal trainer: I had lost my daily visibility and my access to dozens of potential new clients. Word-of-mouth referrals are the best way to attain new clients. To make that work, you must get your face out there and meet people. When people get to know you and like you, they become your sales force.
Networking groups can be helpful, though you should not join one until your business is officially up and running (more on this in “Choose a ‘Grand-Opening’ Date” below). The only networking group I have been a member of (I have witnessed personally that it works) is BNI, Business Networking International (www.bni.com). Find networking groups in your target area and visit them heavily in your first 2 months of business. Join a group that meets at least twice per month, preferably weekly, with a strong membership that could afford or be interested in your services.
Practice Your 60-Second Commercial
When people ask you what you do, you need a well-rehearsed, confident answer. Personal training is so well-known now that almost everyone knows what a personal trainer is and does. Spend some time writing out 60-second intros for your business. Good commercials are interesting or funny and make your prospect want to know more.
As a coach, my commercial might sound something like this: “I am a wellness and life coach. We work as a team on work/life balance, time management, stress reduction and life-changing personal and career goals. I sell personal happiness.”
Create several short commercials and practice them with your spouse or friends. Have a selection you are comfortable with and can use when you meet other business professionals and potential clients.
Create a Facebook or LinkedIn Business Identity
I am certainly no expert in social media, but I do recommend that you create a business identity on a website like Facebook or LinkedIn. I have not received business from either source yet, but I believe it won’t hurt to get your business identity out there in the social waves. Be careful not to spend all your free minutes posting , because you can invest hours and hours without receiving any income in return.
Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. I know a lot of Facebook addicts and can honestly say I don’t know how they find the time to work or live their lives. If social media is not working for you or proves to be a constant distraction, eliminate it from your agenda.
Choose a Practice Client
One of the quickest ways to build your confidence and ease your nervousness as a new personal trainer is to choose a friend, family member or business colleague as a “practice client.” Do your “practice training” before you officially open your business for new clients. It will enable you to smooth out all the kinks and work through some of your anxiety and excitement. Offer practice training for free—both you and your client will benefit from it.
I suggest you practice all aspects of getting a new client:
- explaining your services over the phone
- setting up a free 30-minute in-person consult (only to discuss goals and needs, not to give free advice)
- mailing or emailing forms
- collecting a client’s training deposit or full fee up front (in this case you would not be collecting money, but discussing how it would work)
- doing an initial assessment and program design
- doing one to three personal training sessions
I would probably limit your free training services to two to four sessions (including the assessment), with the offer that the person can continue as a full-paying client after the practice sessions are over. Be certain you and the client are clear on how many free sessions you will offer.
Check Your Readiness
Look back over the work you’ve done through this series and confirm that you are ready to launch your new business. Create a foolproof checklist to be sure you are prepared for every new client. As you begin working with your first few clients, add or subtract from the checklist as needed.
Choose a ‘Grand-Opening’ DatePick a date on your calendar when you know you can be prepared to officially start your business and accept clients. You will not want to join a networking group until you have actually started business and are ready to accept clients that very day. Post your opening on the social media sites you belong to and send emails, business cards and brochures to everyone you know. Ideally, you will be able to send business cards and brochures to 50-100 people in your social circle.
If you have a popular high-end fitness equipment store in your area, get to know the managers, because they can refer you to people who have purchased large workout equipment (treadmills, ellipticals, multistation gyms and so on). An equipment store was one of my best sources of new clients when I began in-home training.
Beginning a new business of any kind generates a mixture of excitement and fear. Getting prepared to start an in-home personal training business requires a lot of foundational work, but it will make your start smooth and confident. The excitement in the early days will keep you motivated for a while, but focus and dedication will keep you in the game for the long run. Every year you will need to set new goals, reach out to new clients through networking and take impeccable care of the clients you already have.
Keeping great clients is a lot less work than finding new ones month after month. So be prepared to work hard always and to keep yourself motivated by continually learning new training and self-management skills. In 2012, I will celebrate my 24th year of business as a personal trainer and coach, 20 years of that being strictly in-home personal training.
I am so grateful for the success of my business and can say it is still surprising to me to think how long I’ve been in business and how many great clients I still have. I am living proof that a one-woman, in-home training and coaching business can thrive. So go for it!