Yesterday, I wrote about scaling up from a personal-training studio to small-group training.

But where do your first 20 clients come from?

Heck, where does your first client come from?

 

Relying on Relationships

 

When you’re opening a gym, there’s nothing more reassuring than the first client purchase. It’s more than the money: It’s proof that you have something that people want. That you weren’t totally wrong about the viability of your idea. And that all your front-end systems work: You can bring people in, sign them up and take their money!

Marketing is about relationships, and that’s never more true than when you’re in the Founder Phase.

You need to think about each new client individually, instead of an undefined group.

First, before you do any marketing, build your systems to maximize your retention.

Make sure you have your pricing and program offerings dialed.

Your first clients will come from your personal relationships. As I wrote in “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief,” it’s normal for your first client to be your mom. Or your sister or brother-in-law. Who would want to support you more than your family?

And, of course, support means paying you because they believe in your ideas, not enjoying your service for free because you need more practice. Good will should run toward the founder when he or she is starting a business. The new entrepreneur will need it!

 

Reaching Out

 

Here’s the process:

1. We call your best clients your “Apple” clients. Take them for coffee one on one.

Ask them these questions:

“What brought you to my gym in the first place?”
“Why haven’t you joined any other gyms?”
“What’s your biggest problem in life outside of your fitness?”

2. Ask about the people closest to them.

“Who has been most supportive to you on your journey, besides me?”
“What do the people in your workplace need? How can I help them?”
“What’s your biggest challenge in trying to help your family get fit?”

3. Map your client journey.

Where do new clients generally come from?
What do most new clients say is their goal?
What do your best clients list as their favorite part of your service?
Write all that down, and make sure every new client gets the same treatment.

4. Make your clients famous.

Every week, interview one client on camera. Just ask, “What’s your fitness story? What are you most proud of achieving? What’s something you never thought possible before? What would you say to yourself one year ago?”

5. Answer your future clients’ questions.

Publish one article every week. Start with the most basic questions possible, and answer them. Build an email list of everyone you know. Every third email should include a clear call to action: a clickable link to book an appointment with you.

6. Use your email list to start Facebook ad campaigns.

The key question to ask before you start any marketing is, “Who is my client?”

In my PT studio, that was easy: middle-aged professionals paid for themselves or their athletic kids.

But when I tried to start a CrossFit box, that was hard. I didn’t define my ideal client, so I made wild guesses about my service and pricing. And because I didn’t get my prices right from the start, I attracted a lot of discount-seekers who couldn’t really afford coaching. So I tried to degrade my service to their budget instead of asking, “Who can afford what I want to sell?”

You sell coaching. Who wants to be coached? Tell them how you’ll solve their problems.

That, in a nutshell, is marketing.

Want to start your gym the right way? Click here to download our FREE guide: “The Ultimate Business Plan for Gym Owners.”

 

Other Articles in This Series

How to Start a Gym
Starting a Gym: Location, Space and Equipment
Starting a Gym: Scaling Up
Starting a Gym: Adding Staff
Starting a Gym: Do You Need a Partner?