Most personal trainers are concerned at some level about how much they can or ‘should‘ charge.
New trainers can be uneasy at the mere mention of the topic of what to charge for personal training and established trainers sometimes still find themselves charging the same rate after a few years, so it’s not entirely about experience. And nor should it be. Let’s look at the effect that this concern has on the trainer and their business.
More than anything, the concern will manifest as an ongoing anxiety when talking money with a client. You might find yourself wondering how much you can ‘get away with’ or being concerned about charging too much (don’t want to appear greedy or arrogant) or charging too little (don’t want to appear desperate).
Typically, the trainer will answer the question by comparing their rates to other personal trainers, making adjustments based on where they fit in terms of experience versus the other trainer. But this is a flawed model and doesn’t explain why some trainers might effectively charge $400/hour or more while others languish at $50/hour. After all, can they really be eight times ‘better’ or have eight times the impact?
Regardless of what you charge for personal training, your ideal outcome is to be totally comfortable about your rates, to be able to maintain eye contact with the customer and communicate the price without flinching, and to have them pay happily because your offer represents a fair exchange.
To help you decide what to charge, there are 3 principles that you must understand.
3 Principles for Personal Trainers to Understand about Pricing
To get that ideal outcome I’d invite to you consider these three principles.
#1 – Customers don’t buy on price, they buy on value
Most of us have a problem understanding the distinction between price and value. At least we think we do but the truth is we all buy on value every day.
You’ve had the experience where you’ve paid a premium to buy goods from the convenience store when you could’ve bought the same thing from a supermarket for 20, 30, maybe even 50% less. That’s because you put a value on the ‘convenience’ of the store that the supermarket couldn’t offer.
It isn’t always convenience that we value. Value can also be increased by:
- And even trends or color.
We might even value the fact that something isn’t the cheapest simply because it isn’t the cheapest.
Services like personal training are subject to the same evaluations as anything else we buy and each prospect you deal with will be making their valuation on criteria that’s important to them.
#2 – It’s not about you
Many people, when they’re in a sales transaction, are too focused on their own experience and their own fears. This is why the fear of rejection is supposedly so predominant in sales.
But even though the customer might be buying a ‘personal’ trainer the actual buying decision isn’t personal. It’s personal in the sense that they will want to work with someone they know, like, and trust but their ultimate decision will be based on the delivery and value they anticipate getting out of the transaction.
They aren’t paying for companionship; they’re paying for results so don’t take it personally if a prospect decides not to go ahead with an offer.
The key point is to adopt this position at the start of the sales process rather than resigning yourself to it at the end when the prospect has walked away. If you adopt it at the start, you can let go of any anxiety about rejection that might be troubling you. The sales conversation will then flow much more freely without the anxiety hanging over your head.
#3 – You can’t lose what you don’t have
I’ve seen clients in all service industries concern themselves with the idea that they might ‘lose’ a prospect if they price themselves too high, push too hard, or even price themselves too low.
As a result they second-guess themselves, worrying about what the right or wrong thing might be to say to ‘keep’ them.
It’s a bogus notion though because you can’t lose what you don’t have — they aren’t a client until they’ve agreed to your offer.
For the transaction to happen, you want fair exchange on both sides. If you’re worried about ‘losing’ a prospect it probably means you aren’t convinced that your offer is equal to what the client is willing/able to pay. In that case you need to work harder on understanding your own value but, either way, if the client walks away, it won’t be because you lost them.
So keep an ear out for that little voice in your head telling you that you’re afraid of losing them and use it as motivation to up your game rather than lower your price.
Some Simple Tips for a Personal Trainer to Understand and Communicate Value
Before you can communicate value to a client, you need to understand what it is they value so you can shape the language of your offer to appeal to them. These tips will help with that process.
Qualify the prospect
Many people have unrealistic expectations about what a service might be worth and what they can afford so a simple question about budget can help establish if the prospect is ‘real’ or not. “Do you have a budget in mind for your personal training?” should suffice.
It’s not critical that they have a number but if they do, you can judge whether they have a realistic amount in mind.
If they come back with x per hour, get them to be more specific and share how many hours per week they plan on being trained. Though they may come with a specific idea of how many hours they think they want, they aren’t really in a position to judge yet as they don’t know what they can achieve with you in that hour.
This question though will give you a weekly sum that you know they have allocated for their personal training program and you can decide if they’re a fit for your pricing structure.
Determine the desired outcome
“What’s the outcome you are after from your personal training/coaching?“
This question is key and the answer will form the basis of your offer. You want as much detail as possible from the client and then you want to drill down and get what that would mean to the prospect.
“I want to fit my size x wedding dress within six months” is the detail, but find out what that would mean in emotive terms. “My wedding is important to me and I want to feel special as the center of attention. I want to know I’m looking at my best and to be able to look back at my wedding photos with pride.“
“I want to lose six inches off my gut” is the detail, but the real goal might be to move away from being at high risk of developing diabetes so they can feel vital and energetic in their older years.
Every prospect will have an emotive driver that tells you what they value. Your job is to understand what those drivers are and demonstrate how you can help them achieve the desired result.
Understand the Impediment
“What’s preventing you from getting that result yourself?” is another key question to ask the prospect.
They’ll then tell you in their own words why they need you. This answer will be key so try to remember as much detail about it as you can. Write it down if necessary because when you repeat them back to the client, they will already be pre-primed to agree with you.
Communicate the Value
Now that you know what’s important to the prospect and what they value, you can communicate your offer in terms of that value. Wherever possible, use the language they have used.
“So let me check in and see if I’ve got this correct. What you’re after is a program that will help you achieve [enter desired result here] so that you can [enter emotive expression of desired result here].
You told me that you don’t think you can get the results on your own because you don’t think you’d push yourself hard enough and you’re also concerned that you might injure yourself through poor technique. Is that correct? Great, based on that, what I’d recommend is [enter program details and pricing here]. Does that sound like something you’d be able to commit to?“
If all the boxes have been ticked, the client will have a clear understanding that you can deliver what it is that they want. The value will have been communicated and the deal will very likely be done.
Quit Being Anxious
There’s too much unnecessary anxiety about pricing in pretty much every service industry, not just personal training.
We all value time and money differently so some folks are going to be a match for what you offer and some aren’t. It’s not personal and you can make the offer as ‘clean’ as possible by eliminating personal baggage in the conversion process and understanding as much as you can about the client and what’s important to them.
Bottom line, communicate your value in terms of what they value to get the buy in.
Get this right and you can be sure that your pricing will represent fair exchange and you’ll attract clients that feel the same way.
About the Author
Brett Jarman is a coach, consultant, author and strategist specializing in self-employment. He is the author of Soul Operator – How to Be Your Own Boss and Build a Business with Purpose. Brett has been self-employed for 30 years and has established, owned and operated businesses in a range of service, manufacturing, marketing and information arenas. His work as a consultant and strategist has taken him to more than 25 countries around the world including speaking at conferences in Canada, Australia, Egypt, India, Iran, Italy, Korea, USA, Mexico, and Thailand. You can reach Brett via www.brettjarman.com.