What would you do with an extra $6,000 a year in earnings? Pay off debt? Go on vacation? Save for a down payment on a home? Raising your session rates by $3 can make this additional money a reality, whether you charge $10 an hour or $125 an hour.
Two logical reasons to raise your personal training rates are having a full schedule and wanting to work less, meaning you are okay with losing clients and would even hope to do so. Other reasons include financial need and your accrued education and experience. Regardless of the reason, increasing fees requires a little courage and some planning; if you’re an independent contractor or owner, you are the only person who can give yourself a raise. If you’ve read this far, you likely have a reason of your own, so it’s time to put the wheels in motion!
Use this information to guide you to the next level of earning.
Loyalty Is a Hurdle
“I haven’t raised rates on my existing clients in a while,” says Nancy Korf, a personal trainer in Beverton, Oregon. “What I do instead is set tiered pricing. Newer clients pay more than my existing clients,” she adds. A handful of IDEA members interviewed shared this same mindset. They keep loyal clients “grandfathered” into the same rate forever.
Is loyalty a reason to pay a lower fee? While many fit pros say yes, business owners and experts say no. How do those who are paying more feel about other clients paying less for the same service? Or if loyal clients stay with you long term, do you end up with no time for new clients, meaning your pay stays the same?
You can follow this grandfathering policy; or, if you feel your time is worth more than you’re earning, you can learn to raise rates without losing business. Loyal clients respect you and your livelihood. They know you have bills to pay, healthy food to buy and vacation time to schedule. Truly loyal clients want you to thrive. If you raise your rates, they will negotiate with you before they search for a less expensive trainer.
Fear Is the Real Issue
Do you cringe when you think about raising your rates, or do you get excited? Most trainers report a combination of both. Everyone wants to earn more money, but the potential risk can be a roadblock. The main reason fitness professionals don’t raise their rates is fear of loss: “What if I lose clients?”
Fear is normal. It’s human. Be okay with your fear, accept it, and then move forward. Fear is a belief, and it’s not always the truth. Don’t let it hold you back from earning what you’re worth. Close your eyes and breathe. Imagine yourself as one of your clients. Would you walk away from a price increase without discussion? Or would you give yourself a chance to negotiate and talk it over?
Think about people whose services you pay for—your hair stylist, massage therapist, babysitter or photographer. If they raised their rates, would you take your business elsewhere without discussing it? Or would you accept the increase because you value what they do?
“If you show the ability to help your clients reach their goals and they are reaching them, your clients will stay with you for a long time. Keep your value high,” says Ryan Pindroh, health and fitness supervisor at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen Health and Wellness, in Hoover, Alabama.
There are two main reasons people quit personal training when rates increase:
- They truly can’t afford to spend more money.
- They already wanted to quit, and this gave them an excuse.
See the “Negotiating Deals” section for ways to keep clients who can’t afford the raise, while letting the other ones go. You probably knew their hearts weren’t in it anyhow. Now you’ll have room for people who want what you offer. Wouldn’t you prefer to help people who value what you do, rather than beg for the business of those who don’t?
Practice Is Your Best Tool
Write down what you want to say when you tell clients the news. Read the script aloud, so you hear what it sounds like. If you’re not sure where to start, read the script below
See how it feels and sounds to you, and then adjust it as necessary. Make it your own.
Jenny, I’m increasing my rates from $65 to $70. I haven’t raised them since we began working together. This new fee starts on [insert date], so you can buy as many sessions as you want at the current price. I really enjoy having you as a client and hope you understand the change. Do you have any questions for me?
(Now, be silent and smile!)
Commonly a client will answer, “Okay” or ask, “What’s the reason for the increase?”
Have your response ready, so you keep it short and sweet. Do not ramble on! For example:
I feel that the service I provide is worth this price. It’s comparable to the cost for personal training in the surrounding area. I attend workshops regularly and spend time planning sessions outside of the time we’re together. The cost of living and inflation are also factors. Do you understand?
If your schedule is full and you have a waiting list, you could tell the client that as well, but practice how to say it first or it might come off the wrong way.
If you talk about raising rates in a manner that makes clients feel comfortable, they will tell you their concerns before they quit. “Do you have any questions?” or “Please talk to me if you have concerns” are two of the most important things to include in your script. Negotiate only if someone asks.
If a client does ask, you could do any of the following:
- Compromise on the amount (raise your session rate $2 instead of $3).
- Shorten each session by 10 minutes and charge the same.
- Pair the client with another client, lowering the rate and freeing up time for you.
- Switch the client to a time that you want to fill (if she is currently in a popular time slot).
- Offer to keep the rate the same if the client brings you a new regular client.
- Keep the cost the same if it’s worth it to you and you really like working with this client.
Healthy Money Mindset
If you’re still not comfortable with raising your rates, there’s another way for you to earn a better living. Spend less!
Being more mindful of your weekly spending helps you save more of what you earn. Have you ever asked your clients to keep a food journal? You can keep a money journal for yourself and monitor your spending habits the same way you’ve asked clients to track their eating habits. Keep all your receipts for a month, and review them. Then, find places to make changes.
Financially successful fitness professionals don’t always earn big salaries. Often, they’re simply savvier about tracking finances, following budgets and saving/investing the money they earn.
The way you think about money is your money mindset, and for many people, this mindset is formed by their family of origin. If you want to have more spending money, consider reading these books to shift your money mindset:
• Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich
by David Bach (Broadway 2004)
• MONEY: Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom
by Tony Robbins (Simon
Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny
by Suze Orman (Spiegel
Grau 2010) (good for men, too)
The more you understand the human body, the healthier you are. The more you understand money, the wealthier you are. Happy earning!