Welcome to the start of an exciting journey!
This is the first step in the process of you earning over $100,000 a year and working less than 20 hours per week.
In this article we’ll look at what you need to do to start charging what you’re worth—which I suspect is a LOT more than what you’re charging now.
But before we get started, there’s one concern that almost every personal trainer I talk to has around this subject, and that is:
“What if I put up my prices, all my clients leave, and I can’t get any new ones. I still have to pay the bills!”
Rest assured, I’m NOT suggesting you just put up your prices and not do anything else differently.
That would be risky. Instead, what I’m going to show you is a system, that if you apply it as I show you, will have you consistently being able to charge at least double what you currently charge, and often a lot more.
Are you ready? Here goes….
The first thing you need to do is to DIFFERENTIATE your service. That means you need to stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Stop being a “me too”.
Because if you’re a me too, then you’re a commodity—it’s like buying petrol—people will shop around and only compare you on price. But if you set yourself apart so you have NO competitors, then there’s nothing for clients to compare you to. They stop buying on price, and instead look at you and what you have to offer.
But (I hear you say) given that there are 5,000 new personal trainers graduating every year, how are you going to set yourself apart?
Well, there are actually millions of possible ways to do that, but they fit into two main categories. To understand how this works, we need to look at an important business principle called “The Bathplug Diagram”. Here it is:
Here’s how it works:
The people who make the highest profit are those at the top left and the top right of the diagram.
Those at the top left are the ones who do a small volume of business, but at a very high price with a large profit margin. Like, say, a designer clothes store.
Those at the top right of the diagram do a large volume, with low prices and a small profit margin. Like Kmart or Target.
The problem for most people is that they are too afraid to claim either of these two extreme positions. Instead they try to be “everything to everyone”, taking all business that comes along, and charging the least amount they can without going broke.
It’s these people in the middle who struggle. The reason for this is that, when the economy goes bad, or “the plug is pulled” on the economy, these are the first ones to go down the drain.
So here’s the key: the further up the sides of the bathtub you are, the better you’ll do. You can do that in one of two ways:
Model one: low volume, high price (like the designer clothes store)
This is probably the easiest model to set up. The way you do it is by finding a niche that you can specialize in.
There are thousands, if not millions of possible niches out there.
The reason that specializing works is that, given the choice, people would rather be trained by a specialist who knows exactly what they need, rather than a generalist who takes all-comers. And people are prepared to pay more for that privilege.
Think about the difference between a GP and a medical specialist. The GP has to see 70 or 80 patients a day, while the specialist sees a lot fewer patients, and charges a lot more!
Model two: high volume, low price (like Kmart or Target)
This model is generally a bit more effort to set up. The way you do it is by finding ways to have a lot more clients without having to spend a lot more hours on the job. That means leveraging your time. Here are two ways you can do that:
1. Do group training. Instead of seeing one person and charging $200 an hour (like the specialist) you could see 20 people and charge them each $10 per hour to get the same outcome.
2. Hire a lot of trainers to work for you. In this case you teach a lot of other trainers your system, and take a percentage of every dollar they earn. It does mean hiring and managing staff (and all the hassles that can go with that initially), but can be very lucrative in the long term.
For now we’ll concentrate on the first model (low volume, high price), since it’s the generally the quickest and easiest to set up, and is probably not too different from what you’re currently doing.
How to become a specialist:
Specialising allows you to do a number of things:personal trainer specialist
1. You can target your marketing, so you need to do less marketing and you get more clients.
2. You can charge more, as people expect to pay more for a specialist, and they’re not just comparing you on price.
3. You can work less hours without a cut in income, since your hourly rate goes up.
4. You keep your clients for longer, since your training is tailored exactly to suit them.
Exactly what do I mean by “finding a niche to specialize in?” Actually, a more accurate description would be “finding a niche within a niche to specialize in”.
In other words, you’re after a fairly narrowly targeted group. When I talk to personal trainers about specializing, they’ll often say to me something like “Oh, I already do that. I specialize in working with women.”
Well, this is NOT what I mean by specializing.
“Women” is a very broad niche. In fact it’s roughly half the people in the entire world! Working with the niche “women” is certainly not what I mean by “specializing”.
Instead, you need to find a niche WITHIN this broader niche.
Here are some examples of niches within the niche of “Women”:
– overweight women preparing for pregnancy
– brides-to-be who want to look their best on their wedding day
– new mums who want to get back in shape after having a baby.
And here are some other examples of niches
– Men in their 20s who want to pack on muscle
– people recovering from open heart surgery
– people giving up smoking and not wanting to put on weight.
Are you starting to get the idea?
Newbie mistake—many people who try to define a niche for themselves for the first time tend to choose a niche that is either too broad or too narrow.
The next section will stop you from falling into this trap.
There literally are thousands of “niches within niches” out there. So how do you choose the right one for you? There are a few criteria that a good niche must meet. Here they are:
1. There must be a big enough group of people in that niche. It’s no use building a business targeting albino pygmies!
2. People in the niche must be hungry for your service—they must really WANT it.
For example, targeting couch potatoes who’d rather drink beer and watch the footie than exercise may sound like a noble cause to work on, but the reality is, while they NEED your service, they don’t WANT it badly enough to do something about it. Don’t fall into the trap of choosing a group who really NEEDS your service, but just doesn’t WANT it.
3. It should ideally be a niche where you already have a track record, either because it’s something you’ve done yourself, or you’ve successfully trained others in the niche before.
4. It’s easy to find people in your chosen niche. Do they all read the same magazine? Do they hang out at the same conventions or expos? Do they all shop at the same store? Do they all buy a particular product? If you can find big groups of them, it really makes your marketing easy.
5. The people in the niche are willing and able to pay for your services. For example while “long term unemployed people” may be a niche that fits the other criteria, they are unlikely to be reliable payers. On the other hand “busy executives who travel interstate at least once a week” are generally willing and able to pay a substantial amount for the right program.
Let’s look at an example and how it stacks up against the five criteria: let’s look at the niche “brides-to-be who want to look their best on their wedding day”.
1. A big enough group. On average in Australia every year there are about 6 marriages for every 1,000 people. So if you live in a city with a population of 1 million, then there will be about 6,000 potential new clients. Given that you’re probably looking for only 50-100 clients a year, this is plenty.
2. People hungry for your service. There are not too many brides-to-be out there thinking “nah, don’t think I’ll bother doing anything special for my wedding day. I’ll just rock up as I am really.” Whether it’s losing weight, or just toning up, you can guarantee most brides-to-be have at least thought about a physical tune-up prior to the Big Day.
3. You already have a track record. Have you trained brides-to-be before? Are you able to get them to sing your praises in a testimonial? One thing that’s great about this niche is that it’s really easy to get great testimonials to use in your marketing. “Before and after” pictures are a very powerful persuader.
So you can imagine the contrast between the picture of the overweight bride-to-be, and the gorgeous, glowing bride on her wedding day. Envy and desire are hugely powerful motivators!
4. It’s easy to find people in your chosen niche. Are brides-to-be easy to find? They buy bridal magazines, buy wedding gowns, choose wedding cakes, book reception venues, set up gift registries, choose wedding flowers, go to bridal expos—the list is endless. All of these places are easy and effective to advertise in. All of them target the people in your chosen niche.
5. People willing and able to pay for your services. In 2009 (the latest stats available) the average Australian wedding cost $49,202.
The numbers are very similar for the US. Brides-to-be expect to outlay large sums of money for everything on “the best day of their lives”. I’ll bet most would be willing to pay more than average for the right personal trainer to have them looking their very best on their wedding day.
So all-in-all this looks like a great niche. With a bit of fine-tuning you could probably get the bridesmaids as well!
Sit down with a piece of paper and start to jot down some possible niches. Just let your mind wander and write down any niche that pops into your head. Don’t discount anything at this stage. By doing this without censoring yourself, you’ll find that you unlock the parts of your mind that are the most creative.
Continue for at least 15 minutes.
Once you’re done, go back through the list.
It can help to put them in a table and rank each one against the five criteria, say with a rating out of 10.
Then choose the one that ranks highest against all five criteria, and see how it sits with you. Could you see yourself focusing on people in this niche? Do you feel like you have a lot to contribute in this niche? Is it something you’d enjoy? If it is great! If not, go to the next highest and repeat the process until you find something you’re happy with.
Once you’ve found what you think is a great niche, you may want to get feedback from us leave a comment below and we would be happy to discuss your choice with you. Sometimes it helps to have a sounding board—someone to cast an objective eye over what you’re doing, to reassure you that you’re on the right track.
Now that you’ve found your niche, we need to look at how to make the transition from what you’re currently doing, to becoming the specialist in your niche.
But be careful. You’re not going to go out and sack all your existing clients. It’s important to make this transition stepwise—you still need to pay the bills while you’re doing it!
The steps in making the transition are:
1. Define your chosen niche in more detail—what are their needs, wants, fears and frustrations?
2. Find where people in your chosen niche hang out. Who has your clients before you?
3. Check out the competition. Is anyone already targeting your niche? What are they doing? How can you differentiate yourself from them?
4. Decide where and how you will market, and prepare your marketing strategy and your marketing materials.
5. Refine your service, so that you exactly meet the needs of the clients in your new niche.
6. Decide on your pricing structure.
7. Do the marketing and measure the results.