To be honest, I find these questions incredibly humbling…and a bit scary.
I don’t take it for granted that these trainers are, for a moment, putting their future in my hands. I know from personal experience that the quality of mentorship a person receives can either launch them way forward or seriously hold them back, depending on whether it’s good or bad.
And so I do try to make the most out of these moments. I do my best to explain what worked for me, what’s working now, and what makes the most sense for each trainer in the moment.
But the more of these questions I answer, the more I start to see patterns…and the more I realize that you really don’t have to get anything perfect at the start of your career. You just have to have your heart in it and start building momentum daily.
And I’m starting to think that newcomers really only need one piece of advice…
I realize that I put out a lot of information across my different platforms, quite possibly more than most people can digest. However, I do this for a reason: I want everyone out there to find the advice they need. I’d rather risk a tiny bit of information overload than miss the opportunity to give someone exactly the advice they need at the exact moment they need it.
Still, brand new trainers are in a special position. From where you stand, almost any action item makes sense. There’s a certain magic to that…and I want you to take full advantage of it.
So here’s my golden piece of advice for brand new trainers:
Pick anything and implement it immediately.
Seriously. Pick something. Close your eyes and point. What you end up picking is so much less important than your decision to follow through with it, so get started!
And with that in mind…
Here’s a nice big post on how to market yourself as a brand new trainer. Which part of it should you implement first? Right now, any part. Eventually, every part.
Take a look at your schedule calendar right now. Notice those empty time slots? Go ahead and fill those in. If you like, you can label them as generic consultations, or you can simply fill in the time as “busy” and not give any details.
The next time you go to schedule a consultation with a prospect, make sure they can see you checking this calendar. You want to give them the impression that you’re just barely squeezing in their meeting.
Now is this a little bit of a white lie? Sure, but it’s important for you to do this if you’re going to get your first substantial set of clients. People are hardwired to trust people and businesses that look busy and DIStrust people and businesses who don’t.
On a related note, you never want to tell someone “I can meet whenever you’re free.”
This applies whether you’re talking to a prospect, business partner, even a romantic interest. When you leave your schedule completely open like that, you’re implying that aren’t that busy and also forcing the other person to decide on a time, which gives them option anxiety and makes them want to back out.
Be decisive, off 1-2 scheduling options, and look busy. That way, people will see you as a professional.
Besides, it’s good practice for the day when you really are that busy.
Set Your Boundaries
This is a mistake I see a lot of new business owners making (full disclosure, I did a lot of this in my early days too).
It happens when you’re desperate. You’re low on money, but there’s still a generous serving of month left on your plate.
You get a client coming in asking for a reduced price since they didn’t get the bonus they were expecting from work. Or, you get a prospect haggling you down to a low-price, short-term deal. Or you get someone trying to back out of a training plan early without ever paying full price.
Whatever the situation, you have someone trying to sneak around your rules in a way that shortchanges you.
And since you so desperately need the money, you let them do it.
Like I said, I’ve been there and done that, so I’m not here to judge you…but you seriously need to keep to your business policies once you set them (pricing especially!)
Because here’s the thing: you might get people thanking you in the short-term for cutting them special deals. You might even snag the odd extra client who normally would have walked away. But in the long run, you are doing serious damage to your reputation.
You don’t want people to see you as an easy mark: someone they can easily extract value from. That image is going to attract the wrong sort of people. You want people to see you as a professional: someone who knows what they’re worth and offers a consistent good deal.
Just to be clear, what I’m talking about here is different from doing a price-drop as part of your sales strategy. The difference here is that a price-drop should be a known and planned-for part of your strategy (and should ultimately reflect the actual value of your service). Randomly changing the rules for people every once in a while does not count as a strategy, and that’s the part you should avoid.
Also, it’s never too early to “turn pro” and start behaving like a professional. If anything, your career will probably start moving a lot faster once you start playing for keeps.
Be Clear About What Clients You Want
AND, make sure you’re always getting more of the clients you DO want and less of the clients you DON’T want.
Part of the reason for this is that it helps you build your “tribe.” If you lean towards training people you get along with, then you’ll mostly likely get together a group of people who also get along with each other.
This is important for any kind of group training, but it also helps with your marketing outside of the studio. When your clients all feel like part of the same tribe, it’s much easier for them to form a community around you and become your biggest promoters.
Besides, there’s nothing wrong with letting jerks and value extractors fall by the wayside in your program. There’s no need to be rude or confrontational, of course. Just don’t do them any special favors. Don’t let them soak up your valuable time and energy.
You want to create a positive feedback loop with your clients. Pour the most love into the ones who love you back. Ultimately, that’s just a smart investment, because those people and their friends will be one of your greatest sources of future business.
Market Yourself On Facebook
I’ve talked a lot about Facebook marketing before, so I won’t dive into it here. I just want to mention it here because it is so important.
If you’re unfamiliar with Facebook marketing or just want to brush up on your knowledge, check out this post.
Get Clients from the Gym
Newcomers, this strategy is an absolute must. It’s perfect for trainers just starting out.
Whenever you’re at the gym, keep an eye out for people who fit your client avatar. If you approach them properly, these people can make amazingly well-qualified prospects.
Think about it: these are people who already have some interest in fitness, since they purchased a gym membership and even bothered to show up and work out. Plus, since they likely aren’t fitness experts themselves, they are soon going to realize the pitfalls of working out alone…which means they’ll be perfectly primed for a helping hand to show up and guide them.
So like I said, keep an eye out for people who would make good clients. For each one, give yourself about a month to build rapport with them before offering them a consultation.
For the first week, keep it very basic and subtle. Just give them a quick smile and nod whenever they walk by. This is also when you should do as much non-verbal info gathering as you can. Pay attention to their conversations and choice of t-shirts and see if you can pick out their career, marital status, etc.
For example, if you figure out that someone is a lawyer, mention that you’re setting up your own small business and ask if they have any tips for choosing an insurance company.
Then, once you’ve warmed them up sufficiently, address a relevant pain point (trouble staying consistent, weight loss plateau, etc.) and offer to set up a consultation with them.
Enjoy your new clients!
Committed to your success,
P.S. I’ve had a lot of people asking me this, so I just want to clarify here: YES, Fitness Business Summit is open to brand new trainers and business owners! In fact, I think people who are new to the industry stand to get the most benefit out of it, so make sure you sign up today!