Being a personal trainer can be the best job in the world, you get to help people improve their fitness, and see them transform physically (improved body shape) and mentally (higher self esteem and better body confidence).
That said it can also be a really tough job!
I’m talking from experience…
I’ve been that trainer who struggles to make a living.
The trainer who let’s clients cancel last minute and get away with it (because I was scared to lose the client).
I’ve also been that overworked personal trainer, doing 40+ PT sessions per week – giving everything to my clients, but very little to myself!
I’ve made plenty of mistakes!
Thankfully after completing over 10,000 x 1-1 personal training sessions in Sheffield I have learned along the way to avoid mistakes like the above, and that’s why i’ve written this post…
To help other personal trainers who are struggling.
3 problems every personal trainer faces and how to overcome them…
#1 Clients not paying on time
You’re providing a level of service and giving your time to help people achieve their physical goal(s). Just like any other job you deserve to be paid on time.
Personal training is unlike many jobs, if you set your business up correctly you should be charging upfront for your service – for example charging clients in blocks of sessions. It’s important that clients pay you upfront so that you can manage your cash flow – because you are self employed.
When a client doesn’t pay its frustrating, you’ve got bills to pay, you need a roof over your head, and money to pay for food!
When a client doesn’t pay sometimes it can be a harmless mistake, they’ve genuinely forgotten or something has happened. This will happen from time to time, and as long as the issue doesn’t happen frequently, and when it does it’s rectified asap then that’s totally fine.
That said there are clients who don’t pay and try to dodge it as long as possible. I’m lucky I don’t have clients like this any more – but I used to! And I was too scared to say anything incase they spoke badly of me (affecting my reputation) or stopped being a client of mine. Basically… I was scared!
Nowadays I don’t accept this and have full confidence in myself. When a client doesn’t pay on time, I ask them right at the beginning of the session “Hi X, I’ve just checked my banking, however I haven’t received payment for this block of sessions. Could you please update me?” – that’s all I say.
Often the client will be embarrassed and either transfer the money straight away or be keen to resolve at their earliest convenience. The issue will usually be resolved within 24hrs and that’s fine if it only happens occasionally.
But if it isn’t solved… I will e-mail the client before their next session reminding them again. If they turn up without having paid for the second time round, I tell them the session will not go ahead and explain my reasons why.
Make-sure that you are polite but authoritative. Don’t feel guilty for focusing on money, you deserve to be paid, and you need to have respect for yourself. If you are polite, people are 9 times out 10 more likely to respond immediately to your request and will totally understand where you are coming from. If they get funny about you asking for money, then they are not the right client for you and you need to sack them off! You deserve better.
#2 Turning up late
Turning up on time isn’t even an option for you as a personal trainer – if you don’t turn up on time then you wont be in business very long. It’s a must. The same can be said for your clients, they need to turn up on time so that they can get results and maximise the time they are spending with you.
The trouble is that not everybody is as dedicated as you, and people will turn up late. Again, sometimes this will happen e.g. your client is stuck in a traffic jam. If it happens once in a while i.e. once every 30-50 sessions then that’s ok, however if a client is always late then it’s important to have a polite chat.
I address this issue in the following way…
“Hi X, i’ve noticed the last couple of sessions that you’ve arrived to our appointment late, is everything ok? I just want to make-sure that you’re getting the most out of our time together, and want you to get the best return on your investment, therefore it’s important to turn up on time”.
This is often enough to get your point across politely – and more often than not the client will respond positively, by apologising and making sure it doesn’t happen again.
That said if it keeps happening then it’s good to pull your client up on it. Explain that you want to help them, and have their best interests at heart, and that you also value their time and your own. You have lots of people who want to train with you, and you want to focus your attention on those clients who are committed to making a change. You can explain that turning up on time is part of the deal and that you don’t want them to waste their money.
Another thing you could do is a forfeit, although it rarely happens to me now, because of the above strategy i’v just shared, if it does I make the client do 30 burpees for every 5 minutes that they are late. This soon stamps out the late behaviour! lol!
#3 Client Cancellations
You’ve spent time planning your personal training session, are fired up and ready to help your client kick butt, BUT then…
You get a text…
“sorry I can’t make training today, i’ve got to go into work!”
What do you do now?
That’s a good question, as with all of the issues mentioned in this post, if it happens rarely then don’t worry about it – things do crop up, clients get sick, and you get sick (so even you will have to cancel at times!).
Cancellations happen, but judge each client individually, some clients never cancel, even when they’re ill, others cancel because they’ve got a little headache, or the suns out (so they want to sunbathe!) – although they don’t tell you this – there’s some people who cancel at any opportunity they get.
When this happens it can be frustrating and you need to address the issue. Again, you could pull them up on it and say something like…
“Hi X, i’ve noticed you’ve cancelled a few sessions recently – is everything ok? or is it something i’ve done?”
Listen to their response and adapt accordingly. This is often enough to establish change. But if not then it’s important to let them know that you want to help them as much as possible, BUT you can only do that if they turn up to sessions.
Another absolutely key thing for you ‘the coach’ to have in place is a ‘Cancellation Policy’ – this is a must and not enough personal trainers have one in place.
If a client cancels last minute, or with less than 24hrs notice, it’s often impossible or very difficult to book somebody else in to replace the slot. You should have a 24 hour cancellation policy in place – if a client cancels then you still get paid.
Having a ‘Cancellation Policy’ in place is absolutely imperative – it will save you thousands of pounds each year, and it will stop clients cancelling with ease – as nobody wants to spend money for nothing in return!
If you want the cancellation policy that I use then e-mail me at: email@example.com and I will send you the exact email that I send to my LEP Fitness clients – for free!
Extra Help For Personal Trainers – read on…
I hope you enjoyed this post, if you did please comment below or send me a private message.
Also make-sure to check out the other blogs i’ve written for personal trainers – read blogs here – there are over 80 free articles on my site for personal trainers. I talk about everything from business tips, marketing strategies, making passive income from e-books, online personal training, fitness blogging, etc, etc.
Finally, if you really want to take your PT business to the next level, get more clients, increase your income, and build an awesome personal training brand… then i’d highly recommend you check out my e-book The Ultimate Guide To Building Your Personal Training Business – it’s an excellent resource for PT’s and it will totally transform your business!
Thanks for reading,
About Sheffield Personal Trainer Nick Screeton
Nick is the owner and founder of LEP Fitness, a personal training company in Sheffield. Nick has built LEP Fitness from the ground up, starting out 7 years ago with some basic gym equipment, and zero clients. But nowadays he owns a luxurious private personal training studio where he completes 30 sessions per week and has a successful online personal training business.
Nick has the knowledge and experience (completing over 10,000 x 1-1 personal training sessions) – to help people achieve their physical goals and help other personal trainers to grow and develop their businesses. If you want help growing your own personal training business then make-sure to get in touch with Nick today.