Pat Rigsby is the co-owner of several businesses in the fitness industry including the Fitness Consulting Group. He also serves as an industry consultant focusing on the development of profitable personal training departments. To learn how you can improve your club’s retention, referrals and profitability, sign up for his free newsletter at www.fitnessconsultinggroup.com. Pat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four Ways The Personal Training Department Can Improve Your Bottom Line
By Pat Rigsby
June 10, 2006
In most health clubs the personal training department is viewed as a source of additional cash flow focused on the affluent component of the club’s member base. Typically trainers will offer an assessment to new members, however, trainers will only affect the club’s bottom line by selling packages to those members who can afford one, two or even three sessions per week. Unfortunately, this is very shortsighted. A well-structured personal training department can be much more than a profit center affecting only a small segment of your club’s member base. It can be your club’s customer service center, referral and retention center and a source of as much as 25 percent of your club’s gross revenues all rolled up into one. You just have to look for ways to maximize your trainers’ impact in your club. Here are four tips to get you started.
1. Generate higher usage rates
If you’re maximizing the role your personal trainers play in your club, your usage rates will climb. By offering a complimentary personal training and program design session to all new members, you will ensure that everyone that joins your club will feel more comfortable and have an initial game plan to get the results they’re looking for. When they feel comfortable in your club and on the path to their desired results, regular attendance is a foregone conclusion. And that’s going to result in an increased likelihood that they’ll remain a member of your club for a longer period of time and refer new members to your club. It will also increase the lifetime value of the member via peripheral purchases such as cooler drinks, nutritional supplements, tanning sessions, fitness apparel and services like personal training and weight management coaching.
2. Improve club member retention rates.
In this market where there are new health club franchises popping up almost every other month and new clubs opening at a break-neck pace, holding on to the members you already have has to be your first objective.
It’s much easier (and also much cheaper) to retain a current member than it is to gain a new member. You’ll have a much better retention rate if your members feel a sense of community in your club, which can begin with the personal trainers. If they are using the services of a personal trainer or at least using the initial plan laid out during their complimentary session, their attendance will dramatically improve. Seeing results from their health club membership will also improve retention.
3. Increase the rate of new referrals
If your members are getting all the things listed above, they are going to willingly provide more referrals to your club, and if your trainers are working with them on a one-on-one or small-group basis, they are going to experience great results.
Your trainers can also systematically facilitate referrals by inviting clients to bring a friend, family member or co-worker to a session. The guest will then be able to experience the club like a member rather than wandering around during a trial membership. He or she will feel comfortable because they’re with a friend and in turn be more likely to join your club.
4. More clients equal more money
If you want to reap the benefits listed previously, you need to have a higher personal training penetration rate among your members. In most health clubs the penetration rate is 2 percent to 4 percent. Two to four percent of members use a personal trainer, therefore only 2 percent to 4 percent of those members are maximizing their results, being coached to make peripheral purchases and are great “referral champions.”
If you don’t already, begin offering one- and two-session-per-month personal training programs to members where the clients will receive monthly program design, body composition testing and goal setting. Consider offering small group personal training to bring the price point down and make it a viable option to more members. By implementing just these two strategies you should be able to push your penetration rates above 10 percent and start taking advantage of the benefits associated with a well-managed personal training department.
Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of the numerous ways you can use your personal training department to improve your club’s membership and your profits. It’s only a starting point. Modify these tips to fit your club and add your own ideas to them. Before you know it, you’ll be viewing your personal training department as “control central” in your health club.