Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that having a broad and loyal client base is essential. PTs may be experts in helping clients once they’re in the gym, but many trainers aren’t quite sure how to get them there. Don’t worry — we’re here to help! In this article, we’ve assembled our 12 best tips on how to attract clients — plus a bonus tip for good measure. Even better: you can start doing most of these even if you’ve only just begun your Cert 3 or 4 modules.
First, we’ll tell you how to build your ‘brand’, or the unique personality of your business. Next, we’ll run through essential strategies for spreading the word about your business in your community. Finally, we’ll show you how to raise your game, improving your business so that you not only attract clients but also retain them.
Part 1: Building Your Brand
1. Know what makes you an excellent personal trainer
How do you find out what that is? Simple: identify your core motivation for becoming a trainer.
Perhaps you fought long and hard to lose weight, so helping your clients manage the emotional aspects of weight loss is a hallmark of your training programs. Maybe you struggled with injuries in the past and have designed programs to prevent your clients from suffering the same frustrations.
The reasons why you want to be a personal trainer are the reasons why clients will want to work with you. Know what they are.
2. Develop a short pitch that captures your personality and your programs.
Once you know what’s special about your personal training approach, you’ll want to share this information with anyone you meet in a few, short sentences — what’s often called a pitch.
A simple way to design your pitch is to divide it into 3 sentences. The first one explains what unique fitness issues you help your clients solve. In the second one, you’ll explain how you solve them. Finally, summarize the qualifications that have prepared you to do so.
To take an example from above, you could begin your pitch by saying that you specialize in helping people who have struggled to lose weight for years finally succeed. You do this by addressing the emotional aspects of weight loss as well as the physical ones. You’re qualified to do this because you not only have your Cert 4 from Fitness Education but also have experienced the ups and downs of yo-yo dieting and exercise ruts before finally becoming fit and healthy.
Remember that practice is perfect: the more you tell people about your PT business, the stronger your pitch will become over time.
3. Create short brochures and pamphlets
Don’t worry if you’re no Joan Lindsay or Peter Carey! (A training brochure based on Picnic at Hanging Rock would just be weird, anyway.) You don’t have to be an expert wordsmith to write your own materials. Clients will be too impressed by the programs you’ve designed to care if your writing style is less than literary. (Use your word processor’s grammar and spellcheck, however, to weed out typos and mistakes.)
If sentences aren’t your thing, that’s okay. Bullet points and diagrams are also great — just make sure you use images that aren’t copyrighted, and never cut-and-paste someone else’s work and pass it off as yours.
Be sure to include the following essential information in every brochure, pamphlet, or handout you create:
- your pitch
- your services and pricing
- your location
- your contact information
- a short bio
While you’re perfecting your materials — or in the rare event you don’t have them nearby — have a business card at the ready, complete with contact information. Personalise your card by having a professional logo, an eye-catching background and/or a slogan that captures who you are as a trainer.
Part 2: Spreading the Word
4. Teach fitness classes at local gyms, community or neighbourhood centres
Teaching group exercise classes will give you valuable experience interacting with potential clients. If you’re not already working within a gym or community centre, consider applying to become a class instructor at one or more of these locations. (Cert 3 students and graduates: this is a great way to meet clients if you’re planning on enrolling in Cert 4.) In addition, offer free ‘mini’-sessions at local parks, fields and courts to showcase your personal training style.
If someone likes your training style in a gym, he or she will more than likely consider one-to-one session with you. We often hear the following response from clients, “I found my favourite personal trainer, by taking his spin, sports conditioning and boxing classes at my neighbourhood gym. Because he was such a talented and well-rounded class instructor (not to mention a likable guy), I knew that I’d benefit from one-on-one sessions with him.”
5. Develop a program for customer referrals that’s proactive as well as reactive.
PT businesses rarely survive without referrals. Some trainers even require their clients to recruit at least one person when signing on with them. You don’t have to take such a strict approach, however, to be successful in getting referrals.
Start by taking any opportunity that arises to talk about the benefits of your personal training programs. Here’s one possible scenario involving a reactive referral strategy:
While out with your friends, one of them says that her coworker’s finally getting back to the gym after hip problems. Mention your program for strengthening and loosening hips, then take out your business card and, on the back, write a quick exercise the coworker can do. By writing it down, you’ve not only helped someone improve his or her fitness, but you’ve also given your friend an incentive to share your contact information. Don’t forget to follow up with your friend to see if she delivered the card! (Even the best of friends can forget.)
Don’t rely solely on impromptu moments to attract clients, however. Be proactive and learn to ask for referrals.
Feeling awkward about asking your clients for referrals is completely natural. Here’s a surefire way to make it easy and effective:
Explain that referrals are essential to your business’s success.
Most clients will gladly spread the word once they understand how integral their referrals are to your business, and you can make it easier for them by designing a referral card or brochure that your clients can give out to friends and family. Many PTs reward their clients for successful referrals by offering perks like free training sessions.
You can also enlist the help of local retail employees when searching for clients. Take the time to chat with the baristas and salespeople when you visit coffee shops, nutritional and health foods stores, and other local businesses to ask if you can display your materials. Tell them what you hope to achieve with your business, and even offer them a free session. Not only will they be able to recommend you with confidence to customers, but they also may become a client themselves!
(Because nutritional and health food store employees often get fitness and training questions from customers, they are ideal retail employees to contact.)
6. Use social media and set up your own website
Set up a Facebook Page, Twitter account and/or Instagram for your business and keep them active. Post or tweet a daily workout or recipe to get people reading. Share Instagram videos of clients hitting milestones (with permission, of course). Pose questions on Facebook or Twitter to get people talking, thereby building a community around your business. Try questions like: ‘What fitness goals would you love to achieve a month from now?’ or ‘What exercise have you always wanted to try but haven’t?’ You can also hold a Q&A on Facebook Live.
When you’ve built up enough material, consider setting up a website for your business. Keep it lively by posting pictures and videos, and make sure to place testimonials from satisfied clients front-and-centre on your homepage.
7. Get involved with your local community through paid and volunteer opportunities.
Get to know more people in your neighbourhood by volunteering or hiring out your services at various community events. If your town or city hosts a fitness expo, for example, help set up tables or booths and inquire about having one of your own. Give fitness and nutrition talks and consultations at community health and wellness events or even at local grocery stores. Health food stores in particular would be great places to hold short nutritional demonstrations — especially if you use their products. Once you finish these talks or demonstrations, provide special offers for people who sign up there.
Meetup is an excellent platform to get a community program started.
8. Partner with local businesses to expand your potential client base.
Contact hotels, residential buildings, and other facilities with gyms or workout rooms to inquire about advertising your services and even meeting clients there; the businesses will benefit from the increased value your presence provides. Estate agents are also great to partner with. Ask if you can leave your materials in any homes they show — especially those with exercise rooms and equipment. Offer a free session not only as a way to thank the agents but also to show them why they should recommend your services to prospective buyers.
You can also reach out to other health and wellness entrepreneurs. Consider co-hosting webinars and community talks, or co-authoring brochures. Partnering with businesses for fundraisers is also a great way to earn money for a good cause while showcasing your personal training skills.
Step 3: Keep Raising Your Game
9. Use your Continuing Education Credits (CECs) to develop further areas of expertise.
To keep up with your certs, you’ll need to accrue CECs. Taking courses that give you an extra area of expertise is a great way to attract new clients. Fitness Education’s Diploma of Sports Development, for instance, will enable you to work with sports teams and groups as a strength and conditioning coach. You can find other specialization opportunities that will make you more desirable to a broader range of clients here.
10. Be your own best advertisement by staying fit and healthy.
While you want to share client success stories as much as possible, you will always be the best proof of your abilities as a trainer. Videos in which you highlight a particular exercise, breaking it down and explaining the benefits, are also great for showcasing both your PT skills and your personal fitness.
When people ask you how you’ve gotten that great body, you can honestly tell them: ‘I follow the principles I put into my training programs, and that’s how I know they’ll produce results for my clients, no matter what modifications they might need or want’.
11. Be Genuine
Learn to listen to the client needs and tweak programs accordingly. Show your genuine care and interest in helping them achiveing their fitness goals. Give proper cues Guide them They will always remember your attention and care for them.
12. Continue to Upskill
We recommend registering with Fitness Australia (Australia’s largest health and fitness association) which also includes insurance cover in a yearly fee. Fitness Australia provides latest industry news, guides and tips on every aspect of personal trainers profession. It also has a portal that provides tips on growing yout PT Business.
13. Bonus tip: Just be yourself!
Speak to any potential client just as you would speak to someone you’ve recently met and are eager to get to know more. Whenever we’re communicating, we share the things we’re passionate about: families, jobs, hobbies, favorite books or movies — you name it. When you’re excited about how your PT business can help people become fit and healthy, you’ll talk about it with pride and enthusiasm. Let your passion for personal training become infectious, and you’ll attract clients who want what you have to offer.
Well, that’s it! These are our 12 best tips (plus one) for getting and keeping clients. Don’t forget, too, that our Cert 4 students have a small business module midway through the course that teaches them how to set up, market, and manage the financial and legal aspects of a personal training business. It’s never too early to start attracting clients, so start dreaming up your ideal logo and crafting your pitch today!