Minding Your Business: Collecting on the 1's
There needs to me more attention brought to the BUSINESS of Personal Training. That is why I am taking the month of September to talk about just that! Without running a successful training business, a Trainer is just some guy who works out. Essentially, you only have a HOBBY.
In order to take your love of exercise from a hobby to a business, there are a few essential skills you need to master. One of the hardest is also the most essential: Asking for Money.
How hard can that be? Shouldn't it be something like:
Bark Orders. Count to 15. Get Paid.
Yet Trainers struggle with even approaching the subject of asking for regular payment. What gives? After watching other Trainers for decades and going through this myself, I have found the two most common reasons for this phenomenon:
- Trainers are afraid and/or worried they will appear greedy.
- Trainers have no PLAN or SYSTEM to receive reoccuring payments.
Personal Training is a PERSONAL business. We operate our business in a very relaxed atmosphere. Sometimes it is hard to know where the friendship aspect ends and business mode begins. Early in my career, even I struggled with the whole MONEY issue. I thought being nonchalant or lax with a payment system was a sign of great strength. I wanted my clients to know that the TRAINING was more important to me than the money.
I was WRONG.
By not setting up a set in stone system for getting paid, I was doing my clients and myself a major disservice. I was compromising the proper Trainer / Client relationship. My authority as a business owner was diminished and the the line of Friendship and Business was blurred. That is no way to run a business; moreover, it is impossible to gain the proper amount of respect it takes to deliver results to your clients.
Asking for Money is a skill to learn like any other exercise. If you practice it enough, you will learn to master the proper techniques. The good news is that there are simple ways to approach the discussion:
The best method for getting paid is to be direct.
Mind. Blown. Right?
It is harder than it sounds. Remember the first of the two points above? It can be very difficult to switch a conversation from exercise, life, and nutrition to forking over hundreds of dollars.
Yet the difficulty lies solely between your ears! It is only your perception and fear of asking that holds you back. Do you think the cashier at McDonalds is afraid to ask for money when someone orders a number 1?
Of course not!
I know where this comes from. We have a relationship with our people. They become our friends. We know everything about them: their life, their jobs, their relationships, their problems, and their shortcomings.
Sometimes a Trainer can get caught up in being more of a friend or psychologist than a business person. Friends don't sit there and listen to your problems, help you overcome them, and then hold out a hand and say:
"Pay me NOW."
A Professional does though. It is important to be direct, honest, and relatively assertive in order to do your client, your business, and YOU the most good. So the next time a Client needs to remit a payment, just try a simple:
'Hey, could you bring a check next time if you wouldn't mind?' Or 'That was our last session. I can take your payment whenever...'
Keep the mood light, but firm. Make sure they know you are 'TELLING', not asking. If you want to truly have a business and put food on the table, you will learn this!
Create a Monthly Structure
An even better method than having to approach a client every single time they owe you money is to NOT have to! Have a payment system set up from the beginning. It is a fantastic way to get past the awkwardness of asking for money. When you begin training with a new client, let them know that all payments are due at the first of the month.
This system will teach your Client to start thinking of you as Monthly Service rather than something they go out and purchase from a store every so often. I want to be a Utility Bill, not a New Car.
I do not want to be an expensive toy that is painful to purchase. I want to be simple, easy, and reoccurring. My payments occur once a month, come out automatically, and are not thought about again for over 30 days. When a Client can think more about their training rather than how/when they pay you, it is the fastest way to receive regular, consistent income.
Take ALL forms of Payment
If you can make it easier for someone to pay you than not, you will make more money. Momma always taught me to:
"Never turn down free food or money..."
In your Training business, you should accept cash, check, credit, savings bonds, travelers' checks, autodebit, gold coins, stock certificates, or ANYTHING else.
Make it easy. Make it inclusive. If you have not already set up ways to do this, here are two great service links below:
Do not be afraid to talk to your bank as well for the ability to draft checking accounts (ACH). If you are a legitimate business with a good track record, it will be relatively easy to set up.
The bottom line is that no matter what method you choose, when you choose to do it, or how you choose to inform your Client, make sure you: