Part 3: 14 YEARS, 14 COSTLY MISTAKES: HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE 14 LESSONS I LEARNED AS A PERSONAL TRAINER TURNED GYM OWNER

Welcome back to Part 3 of my 3-part blog (If you didn’t catch Part 1, go here and read this first), written to help you avoid all the mistakes that I made, so that you can step-up in your business and life faster, stronger and better than the 200 personal trainers next to you. The market is fierce and certainly, won’t let you dominate your niche without a fight.

Prefer not to read the full blog and are an infographic kind of guy then download that here.

Mistake #10: A web designer is definitely not a marketing expert

This is like expecting your barber to clean your teeth like a dentist. Teeth and hair are in the same vicinity but require wildly different skill sets.

I’ve put my trust in web designers more than anyone I know, thinking that, by extension, they also know what they’re talking about when it comes to marketing.

Put it this way: if instead of having an opt-in above the fold (where a prospect can enter their details in exchange for something of value, you instead have a list of your qualifications, then that is a sure-as-shit clue to fire your web designer/marketing manager.

Something like this, which worked extremely well

 

Or this,

 

They say we treasure what we measure. With marketing, it is critically important to know where your money is going, because you can then suss out if the money is worth it based on the number of qualified leads you are attracting.

If you are just starting out or even a seasoned pro, I know one guy in particular who specialises in making them for personal trainers: Internet FitPro| The Fitness Website Experts. Money well spent with people who know what they are doing.

Mistake 11: What got you here, won’t get you over there

Another great book I read some time ago: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith.

Once I left a commercial gym and transitioned into my own boutique PT Studio, the only thing I kept doing the same was training my clients semi-privately.

Everything else had to change and evolve.

In other words, you must adapt and create a multi-faceted approach. Here, I’m talking about a magical place that might consider body mapping, functional biomechanics, injury management by HPT5, then there’s physio, GP referral, hybrid training programs, nutrition, and life coaching as not separate from one another, but integrated together in such a way as to create a complete turn-key operating system.

Why? Because this is what the modern high paying client wants: everything under one roof, bespoke, the way they like it.

Mistake 12: Your competition is NOT another personal trainer or gym in your town

If you are only heading in one direction and that is merely competing on price, the lowest price, then you’ll always be sharing those clients amongst all of your competitors. It doesn’t matter how good you are. Lowballing your price is a race to the bottom.

I want to share a simple framework for pricing your services. But first, let me paint a picture for you.

Your client is a middle aged woman who likes the finest things in life, has a husband who can afford to pay these finer luxuries for his wife, and travels first class to holidays, such as the Maldives, a visit to the French ski resort Val d’Isère, a 5-star hotel, weekend long breaks, and Michelin star restaurants. She drives a 4×4 Vogue, whom after dropping the kids off at private school hops into Starbucks for a caramel latte, then walks into the doors of … your warehouse gym.

If this upper crust client isn’t immediately greeted, by her name, within 3 seconds, shown a huge smile of appreciation, and escorted to the relaxation area or even changing room while also being informed of which coach will be helping her today and what to expect, etc.,

Then she will be comparing you to the barista at Starbucks who always remembers her name, and order, and so forth. Just for good measure, she’ll mention the butler who made her life hassle free so she could more fully enjoy her stay.

You get the picture now?

As humans, once we have experienced a standard that we fully appreciate, we simply compare that with everything else.

Raise your standards to that of the best hotel, restaurant, car manufacturer, private school, and Starbucks and your mindset will start to change. You will want to market to the affluent.

This book by Michael Heppell will show you how to ensure customers are raving about your products and services and come back for more.

I know what you are thinking. But “Joe, you had a warehouse of a gym!” –  In fact, it was an old hosiery factory, but what I set out to do was create an experience that once you enter through the doors, you’ll actually forget that you are in Leicester. A bit like The Chronicles of Narnia… 🙂 

A simple framework for pricing your services

Still with me? Good. I know this is a slightly longer point that I’m making, but it’ll be well worth it.

Pricing is usually set on seeing what your competitors are charging and, once you have that information, you either charge slightly less or slightly higher (in order to be seen as the expert, as many marketers advise us to do).

So what should you do instead?

It’s very simple. It starts with what you want your clients to get out of working with you, rather than trying to figure it out based on what everyone else is doing. If you do what they do, you’ll obviously only be setting your prices based on sessions (1 or 2 or 10 per month), because that’s what every other personal trainer does. You may make a few dollars, but you’ll never make bank.

Instead, build a service to fit the price.

If your client needs life coaching, program design, nutritional guidance, mobility and flexibility work, stress reduction, recovery sessions, HR rate monitored classes, supplements, rehab, etc., then piece this all together and set the price.

This boils down to three questions:

  1. Who gets the best results or positive change when you help them?
  2. Who gives you the most personal satisfaction to help?
  3. Who is your best (highest profit, repeat, happy) client in 12 months?

This will begin to give you an idea of the people you will serve.

Mistake #13: Ego

I’m yet to read Ryan Holiday’s book Ego is the Enemy, and I’m no gambling man (I’ve been Vegas 3 times and didn’t gamble once, can you believe that?), but I’m willing to bet that the book is more or less written about me and you.

Whenever I tasted success, and this could be anything from signing a new client, getting clients results, pulling off an event idea that I had, or basically anything that increased my bank balance, confidence and made me feel successful, it was inevitable that my ego would get the better of me.

I didn’t know when to stop. In one example, I invested  8K for something called “brand awareness.” Thinking back, I did this more for popularity (for me) than I did for the actual business.

I couldn’t control urges like this. When I wanted something, I wanted it now, like a 5-year old. Even though ‘I knew’ (probably two of the most dangerous words in the English vocabulary) what the possible drawbacks could be, I still went through with it. Ego can be that strong.

This alone puts a strain on my cash flow, and as a personal trainer, whether you are just starting out or a 10-year veteran, cash flow is vital for a PT business. Without it, you are sunk.

I don’t know if I have a lesson for you here, though Fitness Business Mentor Thomas Plummer, in a recent post, said:

Cash flow can be a problem for even a healthy business

         Even the healthiest of businesses can have cash flow problems. Shortage of present cash is usually not always an indication that the business is not healthy. You can run a great business for years, but all of a sudden find yourself grasping for money to cover the payroll. In other words, cash flow problems happen to good people who run good businesses.

To me, this says: cash flow problems lies with the owner of the business and is not necessarily a business problem.

The fight is to, therefore, master ourselves. Why did I need to gain popularity? Why did I need to prove to people that I was actually good enough? What personal void or need was I trying to fill?

Mistake #14: Moving too quick up the ladder without systems in place

Just for the record, I don’t like companies that create a hierarchy and then use that to their advantage to make key decisions to, let’s just say, make others in the company feel less valued and powerless.

I’m not talking about hierarchy as you may know it.

I’m talking more about when you, as the trainer, decide to leave the technical side of training (hands-on with clients) and moving to, say, Program Director and then perhaps manager.

I spoke more about this on a recent podcast episode with Steve of My Gym Hub and even recommended the book E-myth in. Apologies. I have a tendency to recommend books to you as you have probably guessed, but books have helped me gain more perspective than I could get anywhere else.

These two books… really inspired me to think differently about setting up processes and systems.

Referring to mistake #13 (“My Ego”), once the opportunity came about where I could move up the ladder, so to speak, I did so without thinking too much about it.

Why? Because the system was in my head.

I put too much onus on the guys I hired (who luckily were very smart people) to automatically duplicate what was already successful, though without knowing too much about it. Because it was obvious in my head, it should have also been obvious in theirs.

As you can imagine, this caused a lot of frustration, a drop in performance, and — more importantly — a reduction in client results and quality of services.

To avoid this happening, first, listen to this, read the books above, and begin creating your checklist which will then turn into a system, which will then form your operational manual.

The key is to act as if you were going to franchise your business model even if you plan on never franchising it.  

Take a look at Ritual Business Model 

It will make your life so much easier and, I promise, you’ll then start to adventure more around the world whilst your business runs without you.

Conclusion

My mistakes may not seem like a big deal to you, but they were monumental for me. They not only cost me money, and my dignity, but more importantly added years of grinding it out unnecessarily.

Knowing these mistakes in advance would have halved the amount of time it took to get where I am today, and that’s living in Bali, with an entrepreneur lifestyle, with my dream girlfriend around, kitesurfing most afternoons, and doing what I love to do, which is serving trainers like you.  

I hope you can learn from me and avoid some of my simple mistakes.

What mistakes have you made? Or currently making?

Cut your personal and business growth time by months or years. Get on a Discovery Call with me and get “over there” in record time.

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