Vishal Lodhia is the founder of Fitness Buddy 24/7. Having launched only 7 months ago, Fitness Buddy 24/7 has hundreds of trainers signed up nationwide onto their TripAdvisor-style service allowing users to be able to find the best rated nearby trainers.
We met with Vishal to learn why he feels online reviews are going to become increasingly important for trainers generating new business, and some of the other ways he feels trainers can be marketing themselves more effectively.
The Fitness Network
Why do you think online reviews are going to become increasingly important for trainers?
If you look at any major consumer market you’ll see that reviews and testimonials play a major role. Whether it’s for taxis, tradespeople, hotels, restaurants, etc, we depend on online review systems for making our decisions as consumers. However, in the fitness market, there is a real lack of genuine, independent reviews. Why? Surely when a consumer is deciding which trainer to use they would value the thoughts and experiences of others that have already paid for their services?
Online reviews are unquestionably going to become an increasingly important part of the PT market moving forwards, and for that reason, it’s important that trainers start to think about their review strategy, just as any business would that features on Trust Pilot or Trip Advisor.
The Fitness Network
Aside from reviews, what are some of the other things trainers need to be thinking about in order to drive new business?
- Get your expectations straight
A lot of trainers pass their qualification and expect to just walk into a ready-made career. They fail to realise that they are now running their own business and the fact they have a qualification means very little. They are going to have to get out there on the gym floor and sell, and may even need to invest in their own website and digital marketing.
- Be clear on your speciality
If you go to a doctor and your problem is serious, you get referred to a specialist. Personal training is no different. If a client wants the best they’re going to go to someone that focuses on the relevant area. It could be on pre and post natal women, sufferers of diabetes, aspiring body builders or wealthy business people. The more you focus in on one area, the faster you will develop your expertise and reputation among that target audience. You’ll be able to charge a premium for your service and your retention and referral rates will be considerably higher than if you’re just another generalist.
This is, of course, easier said than done. When you start you feel like you have to accept any work that comes your way, but if you’re going to develop a serious business then at some point you’ll have to focus.
- Run short demo sessions during peak hours
The hardest thing about generating new business as a trainer is triggering the initial interaction. One great way of doing this is to run short demo classes in peak hours. For example, I know a trainer who runs a ten-minute ab session every evening at 8pm. He encourages everyone to get involved, and then whenever people have questions about the gym or certain exercise, he’s the guy they go to.
- Realise that this is all about relationships
As a personal trainer, you need to realise that the single most important asset you have is your personality. This is all about building relationships, whether it’s 1 to 1, with a small class or even with thousands of people across social media, it’s all about maximising interaction. From the moment you gain that qualification you are in the hospitality industry, and the sooner you embrace that the sooner you can start generating serious revenue.
- Use the gyms data
Your gym should have lots of data about member participation. Most importantly, it should include details of those who have recently joined but are not yet regularly visiting. These are key targets for you. You could even give them a quick phone call and ask when they’ll next be down. Say that you’d love to meet them and give a free session. Not only are you doing the gym a huge favour by interacting with these high-risk members, but these are the people who most need your help and will be most willing to pay for it!