10 Ways to Differentiate Your Fitness Business
JESSE STODDARD-FB Inner Circle Coach
I have talked about how important positioning is in any business. One of my small businesses is as a fitness entrepreneur. What that means is that I love fitness, so I became a personal trainer and quickly found out the best business model was large group personal training and fitness boot camps.
Another way of looking at positioning is differentiation. What makes you stand out from your competition?
The first thing to do is to avoid trying to compete on price. In the fitness world, I see it nearly every day and it makes my face pucker like I’m sucking on a lemon. Then when I hear other fitness instructors whine about why they have to drop their prices “because that’s what everyone else is doing” or “because no one wants to pay money for this”, then I feel like I took a huge bite right into the crazy citrus sour lemon and the bitter sweet juices gush all over and make my jowls clench and my face squishes up to a tight knot and I CRINGE.
Here’s what I mean by differentiation. It doesn’t necessarily mean to “niche”, although that works and is a part of it. What I mean is for you to ask yourself this question:
What’s my big idea?
It could be a psychographic instead of a demographic. This could be a type of person it attracts that just loves what you and your group represents. How do you rally the troops? Starbucks was the “Third Place”, that created an experience with big plush chairs, different and more names for the coffee drinks, free wifi before anyone else offered it, and a hangout experience. It was creating a culture. Zappos is known for world class customer service at a time when online shopping was pretty impersonal. It wasn’t that the coffee or the shoes were that much better than everyone else. It was that they created a culture around it that attracted a certain customer, a “psychographic”. A slice of the pie that was plenty big enough to strike it rich.
Create a cult. It’s OK!
You can have many points of difference, but what’s the one big thing? Create a different experience. Make your business buzz-worthy. Ever see how excited Zumba fitness fans are? They are almost foaming at the mouth about their favorite instructors. How about the CrossFit craze? It attracts people who are all type-A super competitive people that are driven to excel and are nearly cultish in their behavior. Is that a good thing? It certainly is for business!
You can do this in a variety of ways:
Differentiate with either a high or a low price. Don’t be like everyone else. In my business, I choose higher. Walmart chooses lower. If you go lower, just make sure it is because you are going to attract the masses, not just a few more customers. You need just about everyone if you are going the low road. You’ll have to make it up on volume… Big time. I don’t recommend that most of the time.
Set your price contingent on results. Now that is bold! Offer a risk reversal where they have nothing to lose and you pay them back and then some if you don’t deliver on your promises. Charge some now, and the rest only when and if they reach their goal. You can charge much more this way and it is OK because it is bold!
Place (geography or niche). In fitness, someone doing sports training can focus in on doing it at an ice rink and be the only trainer specializing in female hockey speed and agility training. Target your product to a specific group.
Quality and Type of Product. If you offer a boot camp, it used to be that the fact that it was a boot camp was enough. Now the word caught on and everyone tries to copycat. So you need to come up with something just a little bit different. It’s been said that a million dollar idea is often just 10% different from a previously existing successful idea. Be just different enough to be special. This also pertains to the quality. If you run fitness boot camps, just be sure that you are the BEST one in your town.
Style of delivery. As a personal trainer, this might mean training style. For example, maybe you are the only one in your area that loves and specializes in resistance bands. Maybe you get certified just in that and you deliver exciting workouts with bands that no one else does as well as you, if at all. You add to that by even offering ways for your clients to workout at home as well. It’s your style and your thing and you become known as the master of that domain. That will set you apart.
Being a complete solution. Don’t make your clients go elsewhere for things that are easy growth channels for you. In other words, if your clients want home workouts, provide them! If they want help buying or setting up home gym equipment or in buying nutritional programs or supplements, then help them get it. They will go elsewhere and you are not only leaving money on the table, but you aren’t helping them the best you possibly can if you avoid these opportunities. After all, you are their go to person aren’t you?
Thorough assessments and diagnostics. You can go all out and use a high tech system like the FMS, or all you do is quick measurements and a body fat test, you have to start out with asking a lot of good pre-screening questions to find out what the goals and needs are of your client. You need to establish the baseline, collect the data, show that you understand, position your solution, and be able to know when you are in over your head or you can’t properly help your client effectively and you are simply shooting in the dark. People know when you don’t do this and they really grow to respect you when you do. This includes regular reporting over time too. Many personal trainers start out with doing a good assessment, but eventually drop the ball when it comes to keeping tabs with their clients progress. Whatever you expect you need to inspect, and without keeping your clients in the loop you are the one out of the loop in terms of your client retention and referrals.
They way you market. Even marketing is differentiation. Have a minimum of 2 internal and external lead generators, and utilize systematic follow up, relentless referral generation, and track everything you do. Just by having a professional and organized approach to marketing differentiates you from the bump on a log trainer sitting there at the gym wondering when someone will walk up to them and throw money directly into their wallet. Real businesses market and so should you, even if you are a one person show. In addition to this basic concept, you also want to have strong calls to action in your marketing and a strong headline that catches attention and is benefit-driven. Don’t just put in a logo and a name. Nobody cares. People do care about getting results, so that is what you talk about in your marketing, along with a reason they need to act now. If you market this way, along with using social proof, testimonials, and add fantastic deals, you will stand out from the rest of the trainers that just have their names and logos and “I am a personal trainer” approach… Which is lame.
The way you ask for referrals. To get referrals try asking for “advice” from your clients. “Mrs. Jones, you are exactly the kind of client we are looking for. What can we do to get more clients like you? I respect your opinion and would love any advice you could give me.” Many trainers offer free sessions or bonus offers when they get referrals, but what if you went out of your way and handed cash out right then and there in front of the other clients? Bold? Perhaps. You could also ask,“What’s your favorite aspect about being a part of our community?” or “What is different about working out here with us, compared to where you used to work out?”
Our objective with referrals is to get a warm introduction to their circle of influence. It isn’t just to try to bribe them financially right out of the gate. Offering incentives should sweeten the deal, it shouldn’t be the first and only thing you try.
The way you systematize your business. You need systems to be efficient and not let things through the cracks. You need systems if you want to grow your business. You need systems if you want to get more done without working 24/7 and losing your mind. There are a few steps to mentally go through. First, decide what it is for. Second, decide who creates it. It might be something to delegate. Third, install the system and train your people on how to do it. You can’t just expect it to get done the right way the first time. It almost never does. Fourth, track the progress and improve on it. Test everything. Fifth and finally, own your time. You are not “too busy”, you are just not spending your time wisely. You need to set priorities. Think of the big jar and the rocks, pebbles, and sand analogy, where you need to get the big rocks in first otherwise if you start with sand there is no room for the big rocks (the important priorities) to go in the jar. If you start with the big rocks, you can fill in the gaps with the pebbles and then finally the sand. Otherwise, the sand of life becomes like quicksand and steels all your time. You may even need to schedule everything, including family time. I’d trade a $5 per hour task all day long for $100 per hour tasks. Delegate the $5 out. Use your leverage points for rapid growth.
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