By Joleen Bingham, Certified Two-Brain Fitness Business Mentor
Here is the step-by-step process I used to grow our personal training program at 13 Stripes Fitness to the point where it has contributed 50 percent of our recurring monthly revenue over the last 18 months. We did this starting with zero PT clients, and we experienced two COVID-related shutdowns during this period.
Step 1: Solidified Our Vision
When I picture 13 Stripes three years down the road, I see it clearly now, and this helps me make decisions every day. After focusing on our mission, we now know it is to help busy adults become and stay healthy. We are a fitness facility where people who previously had difficulty sticking to a program reach their goals through customized offerings. With that in mind, we recognized group classes are not the best way to serve everyone.
2. Created Our Avatar Client
We determined this client is someone who would benefit mostly from personal training, not group classes. This is right in line with the mission of our gym.
3. Created Recurring PT Membership Packages
We treated personal training similar to our group memberships: We created three personal training memberships with sessions three or four times per week. This sets us apart from every other gym in the area, whether it is a microgym or a gym in a large chain. We know our ideal clients want consistency and accountability, so we emphasize these elements. For example, we created memberships with 30-minute PT sessions because the majority of our clients are extremely busy and this time frame is perfect for them.
4. Shifted Coach Mindset and Replaced Staff Members
Most of our coaches came from a strict CrossFit background and thought group classes were the best way to serve everyone and get them in shape. We worked hard to show coaches that not everyone benefits from a one-hour group class with high-level Olympic lifting or gymnastics. Realizing that CrossFit is not the best option for me personally anymore helped me change the way we approach serving people. We had to make some replacements on our team, but those who remain have truly bought into our mission and recognize that different people need different approaches.
5. Hired Full-Time, Career-Oriented People
Having full-time staff people who are dedicated to a career opens up a lot of availability for clients to book personal training sessions, but it also creates an atmosphere of stability and growth. In addition, career-driven staff members are hungry to learn and dedicated to the vision of the gym that supports them.
6. Trained Sales Reps
Sales comes down to the people on your team and the skills they have. Through training and practice, our staff members learned how to dive into motivation, goals and objections with prospective clients. This has helped increase our ability to discover “pain points” and honestly recommend personal training as the best option in sales meetings. Although all group members come in through an on-ramp involving personal training, this path isn’t the best option for people who don’t want to join group classes. Our sales reps know this and get the right clients on the personal training track in the first meeting.
7. Created the Rebuild Fitness Program
This program is designed for people who are returning from surgery or injury, looking to get back into fitness after a long period of time, or have nagging aches and pains that they cannot get rid of. The personal trainer in charge of this program has been a physical therapy assistant for 17 years and is a perfect fit. Our coaches let her know when someone is complaining of an injury or pain, and she reaches out to schedule a session. After that, she creates a customized plan and membership for them. This process has led to the development of many hybrid-style memberships, and it has provided a great option for clients who might otherwise have left the gym due to injury.
8. Used Affinity Marketing
Affinity Marketing is the process of using existing connections—not ads—to acquire clients. You can get Two-Brain’s definitive guide here.
First, we created a partnership with a physical therapist. Prior to leasing space to an in-house physical therapy practice, we built trust with our local physical therapists, and they began to refer clients who were finishing therapy to our Rebuild Fitness program.
Then we renewed our focus on Goal Review Sessions. These consultations with existing clients have always been part of our gym, but during COVID closures we really focused on scheduling them. We focused first with clients who were nervous in groups or who were struggling to make it to the gym due to changes in family or work schedules.
We also learned to ask for referrals to make a formerly passive process very active—and successful. Our trainers got over their fear of asking for referrals by practicing over and over again with scripts, and now it’s become second nature. This allows us to connect with people who already know, like and trust us without spending any money to do it with ads.
9. Created a Tailored Marketing and Social Media Plan
With our emphasis on personal training and our ideal client avatar in mind, we changed our landing pages to use ad copy that does not refer to “classes.” Similarly, our social media posts have an emphasis on personal training and individual accountability.
Good to Great
Although we’ve done a good job growing our PT program, there is always room for improvement. Our next steps are to:
- Increase the number of testimonials we are posting.
- Derive 75 percent of revenue from PT by the end of 2021.
- Determine by the beginning of 2022 if our vision would be best served by dropping the group model completely.