Some gym owners and trainers are selling their services for $3,000 and more per month—more than ten times the average—through a strategy called “high-ticket coaching.”
Can it work for you? Maybe.
What’s High-Ticket Coaching?
High-ticket coaching focuses on selling an outcome rather than a service. Many trainers selling a high-ticket option refer to their process as a “transformation.” Many charge between $2,500 and $3,000 for the first purchase, and the service can last from one to three months.
Because the process is focused on the outcome, delivery will vary. Some gyms deliver their high-ticket offer as personal training; others deliver it in a group. Most use habit formation (or “life coaching”) as the core of their service, and they prescribe the client different diets, workouts or other strategies based on needs. Anything to get clients to their goals!
How We Test
Warren Buffett said, “There is always somewhere else I can put my money.”
The most important asset a gym owner or trainer has is time. And time is a finite resource. So when we test an idea for gym owners at Two-Brain, we don’t limit ourselves to the question “Does it work?” Instead, we ask the more important question: “Does this work better than the alternatives?”
In other words, “If I had only one hour to build my business today, should I spend it on developing a high-ticket coaching program?”
We define a “high-ticket coaching program” as a specific program priced at either five times the gym’s average rates or requiring a minimum $1,500 up-front investment.
Two-Brain tested two high-ticket coaching companies in two different gyms. We also spoke with 10 gym owners who had implemented their own high-ticket programs. We measured their total revenue, close rates, client successes and retention. I was most concerned about long-term retention because who wants to make $3,000 per client and then lose them after a month?
How Did We Test High-Ticket Coaching?
Beginning in April, we registered a Two-Brain gym for a $5,000 high-ticket coaching mastermind program. We also tracked the results from another gym whose owner had signed up for a different mastermind on their own.
Our goal: test close rates and conversion rates with high-ticket coaching clients. We wanted to know:
- Does the program help clients?
- Are they likely to stay in the gym long enough to change their lives?
- Does this service create more value for the clients, coaches and owner? Or is it just a slick sales technique that will soon be another embarrassment to the fitness industry?
Our strategy: We tracked signup and conversion rates in both gyms against their previous numbers.
The result: Each gym managed to sign up several high-ticket clients, and the clients converted to long-term memberships in the gym most of the time.
One gym converted clients to another transformation after the first trial period. The other gave clients an option: continue with the next transformation stage or sign up for regular group coaching.
The second gym retained more clients after the initial transformation but had a lower close rate with new clients. I’ll share why in the next section.
What does this mean for you? It depends on the stage of business you’re in.
When to Use High-Ticket Coaching
Founder Phase (you’re making $18,000 per year or less and coaching most of your clients yourself): Red—We do not recommend this strategy. You could invest your time in other projects that would have a greater return.
Farmer Phase (you’re making $100,000 per year or less and managing your gym full time): Red—We do not recommend this strategy. You could invest your time in other projects that would have a greater return.
Tinker Phase (you’re making over $100,000 per year and your gym runs itself): Yellow—This might be a viable strategy depending on your next business plan.
High-Ticket Coaching: Challenges
The challenge with high-ticket coaching is really “anchors.”
If you already own a gym, your rates are anchors. It’s very, very hard to sell a $3,000 transformation if your “regular” rates are $150 per month—not only because the clients will definitely find out but also because you will know that you’re charging more for some people than others. You’ll feel like you’re tricking them—and maybe you are.
If you’re selling a high-ticket option and a “regular” option, you must be able to answer the question, “Why is this worth 20 times the usual rate?” before a client asks that question.
Sometimes, a gym owner actually opens a completely separate location to sell a high-ticket offer. This helps avoid the “anchors problem” unless they’re selling the same service at the gym for a fraction of the price. They feel facetious and the clients feel as if they’ve been tricked when they find out.
Another anchor problem: your own budget. Many gym owners struggle to sell $150 memberships because they can’t afford $150 per month themselves. Imagine trying to sell a $3,000 transformation on a $30 budget—not only would you fail to close the sale, but you’ll also probably miss out on a great client who would have signed up for your $150 offering.
Read our review: “Sell by Chat for Gyms”
High-Ticket Coaching: Pros and Cons
You might make more money. While no one has been doing this long enough to provide meaningful retention data, both gyms in our test added to their gross revenue for the months of testing.
Coaches might make more money, too. Following the 4/9ths Model for staff pay, coaches can make more money in less time if the gym charges more money.
You might create a churn problem. While $3,000 sales do happen, we can’t say for sure how long a client will continue with your gym after making this purchase. Retention has been the problem with “challenges” in the past: The gym owner runs through a list of leads and signs up a few. Then they’re gone and the owner goes through a prolonged drought with no new clients.
Moving to a high-ticket-coaching offer means you’ll have to change a lot in your gym. You’ll need a new mindset, a new sales process, sales reps and regular training, confidence to keep going when you hear “no” more often than “yes,” a new compensation structure, a new gym schedule, and maybe even a different space. This is why we don’t recommend high-ticket coaching in Farmer Phase: You’ll be throwing a wrench into your machine. It will affect your current systems, schedule, rates, clientele and staff.
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to just bolt a high-ticket offer onto your existing service.
You’ll see what your service is really worth to people.
Let’s face it: $150 per month is way too low for the service you’re providing. Not only are you giving people fitness and health, but you’re also doing it at a higher level than anyone else. People pay $700 per month for diet shakes; caring coaches should be making a lot more than they are.
Running a high-ticket coaching program might just prove your own value to yourself.
High-Ticket Coaching: Overall
We recommend high-ticket coaching only for gym owners in Tinker Phase or for gyms that generate a very high percentage of their revenue (more than 50 precent) from personal training.
Three of the Two-Brain mentors testing high-ticket transformations actually opened separate locations with different names and branding to offer their high-ticket options. As one said, “I’d never be able to sell this in a CrossFit gym.”