If you want to succeed in a competitive Personal Training (PT) market then you must differentiate your PT services from all others. The basic PT business model requires you to sell your “time for money” this means that your earning capacity is limited by the number of hours in the day…. unless you get smart! Differentiation plays a key part in your earning potential and your overall success as a PT.
Creating high levels of perceived value in your services will mean you can charge higher prices. Don’t fall into the trap of charging less than the competitors to win business and always remember that you are selling “time for money” you only have a limited of time in each day so ensure you charge the highest possible rates for it.
So first of all what do I mean by “creating high levels of perceived value?”
What makes someone spend £500 on a Montblanc pen when a 59p Bic biro will do the same job? It’s simple, the Montblanc has perceived value, it looks good and it has a distinctive brand which makes the pen stand out as a luxury product. It hooks into the emotions of the buyer.
Anyone can buy a Bic biro but not everyone can buy a Montblanc pen – it defines the owner as someone special. I could give you countless other examples…. A Gucci handbag versus one bought from Primark. A BMW car versus a Vauxhall car. Customers don’t really care about the price, they care about the results they get and the prestige they feel by owning these items.
PT services can run on exactly the same concept. When a client finds a personal trainer who understands their exact needs and provides a service which goes the extra mile, the hourly rate becomes inconsequential.
So how do you differentiate yourself as a PT?
Ultimately, all personal training boils down to is how your client feels about themselves, their body, their outlook, their experience and the services you offer.
Your training is merely a conduit to those emotions.
Therefore, potential clients looking for a specialist to help them lose weight and get in the best shape of their life or somewhere fun to workout – whether they are stay-at-home mums or professional athletes – they wont care about the price if you can take them to where they want to be – both emotionally and physically.
Offer something that is unique and tailored to them, and create an environment where they feel appreciate and cared for.
If you set your PT rates at the same level as your competitors, you will attract the same types of clients. So differentiate your offering to attract those clients who don’t care about price, they just want a service that hooks into their emotions making them feel better about themselves and setting them apart from others. So how do we differentiate?
1 – Know your competitors
A good place to start is to carry out a competitor analysis [see other blog] this will help you to analyse what is already on offer and the range of prices and services on offer in your local area. Identify the successful PTs and observe what they do well. Are they always motivational and positive? Are they friendly and good listeners? Do they have a knack for explaining complex topics in an easily understandable manner? Do they go an extra mile to really get to know their clients outside of the training session?
2 – Know your client
The biggest lesson I learned as a PT is that not everyone trains to get fitter or to look good in that little black dress. You need to separate yourself from your love of training and the principles of fitness sometimes to really understand your clients’ needs. If your Monday, Wednesday and Friday night PT sessions with Mrs Jones are the only time in the week she can escape from the pressures of family life and focus time on herself then make sure you make her feel special and important during those sessions by responding to her individual need.
After a hard day at home struggling with the challenges of a young family and juggling the school run, shopping and cleaning, she might not appreciate you giving her a beasting in the gym. Always ensure you emphathise with your client and adapt to their needs.
3 – Know your stuff
Your knowledge and expertise will be perceived differently by every client. To some a broad range of knowledge and experience means you just telling them what to do so that all the guesswork is taken out of the equation. They might think you are annoying if you try to tell them the “why” behind everything you do.
On the other hand, others perceive expertise as your ability to justify everything that you do. They might think you’re incompetent if you tell them to “just trust you” because you “know” the program will work, or if you’re simply at a loss for words when they ask you to explain the “why” behind your training approach.
Some want to see you coach athletes to be confident in your abilities, and others just want to sit down with you and ask questions to verify your competence. Others might want to see you present at a seminar. Some want to read your writing or social media posts, and others want to ask current clients about their experiences with you.
You have to be versatile and multi-faceted in the way that you present your expertise.. Allow people are welcome to watch you coach or ask questions, point them towards your online media articles or blogs or get them to speak to your clients. Make “perceiving expertise” easier for them.
4 - Find and develop a niche.
Fitness is getting more and more "specific" than ever before.When you have a niche, you don't have to worry about what the competition is doing because there isn't competition when you've created the market.
It's much easier to differentiate yourself as a specialist than as a generalist.
5 – Get proven results
Get results with your clients and your business will grow. Be patient and persistent - but also open-minded to better ways of doing things. There are surely many more than just five points to be made on this front, so I welcome additional suggestions from fitness professionals in the comments section below!