How to Give Your Staff a Raise

Gym staff meeting - how to give your staff a raise

You earn more money by creating more value for more people.

Your staff can do the same.

In this series, I’ve been telling you how salaries and sales bonuses aren’t the best ways to create opportunities. The best way to create opportunities for your staff is to allow them to grow the pie, not to take a larger slice.

Here’s how to get them to do it.

The Path to a Career

Before we get into this, I don’t want you to assume that every great coach is a full-time coach. A great coach can work part time. Read more here: “Gym Management: The Case for Part-Time Coaches.”

Now, here are the steps to building the careers they want:

Step 1 

At your quarterly Career Growth ToolKit meeting, ask your coach: “What do you want now?” Ask the coach to tell you about his or her Perfect Day. Ask how your gym can support that Perfect Day. Ask where he or she would like to be in six months.

(If you’re not doing quarterly Career Growth ToolKit meetings, start. We teach you how to do it in our Mentorship Program.)

Step 2

Determine how much the coach needs to earn to reach those goals. Using tools like the Happiness Index (and his or her personal budget), calculate a goal number.

Step 3

Use our Career Growth ToolKit tool (we give it to you in the RampUp program) to work backward from that number. Create opportunities to do personal training, specialty programs, nutrition coaching or more groups. It’s all laid out in our free “Intrapreneurialism 101” guide, which you can download here.

Step 4

Determine the starting position. What will the coach need to learn in order to capitalize on this plan? Will he or she need a certification before starting a kids program, for example? Will the coach need to take the Two-Brain Coaching First Degree before he or she can work with 1:1 clients?

Step 5

Measure progress. Perform regular reviews as part of Career Growth ToolKit meetings.

**Step 6** 

Give the coach an opportunity to open his or her own business under your brand. After you’ve taught the coach how to be an “intrapreneur,” you can help him or her step outside your protective umbrella and open a gym. Read “Go With Them.”

A chart outlining the path to building a career

Communicate and Lead

The key to all of this is asking your coaches, “What do you want now?”

Some might want more money. Some might want more opportunity. Some want consistency; some are willing to take risk in exchange for equity. But no one wants the same thing forever.

The best way to help your coaches build careers is to mentor them to success.

The wrong way is to pay them “bonuses” based on metrics they can’t control or 1940s ideas like “seniority.” According to data in our “State of the Industry” guide, most gym owners aren’t profitable enough to give their staff members raises. The average coach income in our “State of the Industry” report was $21 per class coached. That’s not enough—but the businesses can’t afford to pay them more.

The best way for coaches to earn more? Help grow the business.

How to Pay More

Let’s consider this question: What can you afford to pay per class?

Take all your group or class revenue. Multiply that by 44.4 percent. That’s your total class budget for staff.

Now divide that budget across all the classes you offer. Because each coach is teaching the same programming and following the same plan, they should all be paid the same amount for classes. They’re delivering an identical service at 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

If the resulting per-class rate is too low, you have three choices:

  1. Raise the price of your group-training classes.
  2. Put more people into the classes.
  3. Deliver fewer classes.

Which should you choose? Back to our first rule: You make more money by creating more value.

1. If you deliver far more value than you charge for group training, raise your rates.

2. If adding more people to a class will increase its value, focus on marketing.

3. If you find yourself delivering 1:1 coaching at group-class rates, kill the class.

Raising your rates increases your salary cap. Adding more clients increases your salary cap. Delivering fewer classes spreads your available spend better. It’s not the long-term solution, but if keeping coaches is your priority, it might be the best solution right now.

Everyone Can Win

I know you: You’re generous. You put other people ahead of yourself—your clients, your family and even the people who are paid to put you first: your coaches.

It’s not wrong to do so. Your team is critically important to your gym’s success. But it is wrong to undermine the gym’s stability or sacrifice your family’s income by paying coaches too much.

Coaches can have a great career in your box, especially when the relationship is good for everyone.

Other Media in This Series

“What Are You Incentivizing?”
“Should Your Gym Pay a Salary?”
“Should Your Gym Pay Sales Commissions?”


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.