Choosing the RIGHT Business Name

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At the request of a few of our Smart Studio Systems Members I’d like to give you the BEST formula for choosing a personal training business name. Remember, you only really get ONE shot at this and there are ONLY 2 ways of going about this. In this post I will explain what those 2 choices are and an easy way to choose the right business name for your company. Here’s how:

As I said, this S3 Member’s only post is by member request and the reason I bring this up is because if you have a question, I’m always happy to answer it in the comment section or if it’s a longer, more involved topic, I will create a member post out of it so that everyone can benefit.

So, here we go!

There are really only 2 choices you have when deciding on a business name.

1. You can ither choose a business name with “your name” in it, or…

2. You can choose a more corporate business name

There are clear benefits to both and the pros and cons that I’ve outlined below should help you decide which way to go when naming your new business.

Personalized Business Name Benefits:

When you choose to use your name in your company (like I did with Stephen Cabral Studio) you are personalizing your business to let people know who is ultimately running the show. This allows your current and future clients the subconscious peace of mind of knowing that an actual person stands behind the business itself. It lets people know who they can turn to with questions or if anything should ever go wrong with billing , etc.

I think a lot of people like the idea of buying into a personalized philosophy, system, or concept and by placing a name and face with the business it puts their analytical mind at ease. That’s the reason I chose to go with my name as the studio name.

To me, it just seems like people enjoy doing business with other people.

I think people are also more willing to part with their money when they know it’s going to a small business that is trying to fit in and improve the community… instead of it going to “the man.”

There are some downsides to having a business in your name though. For one, now that my studio business has grown and is doing over 700 sessions a month in our small studio I am not able to personally speak with every client who works with us. Often times after the initial complimentary session time set up with a member on my training team I may not see them again (if they are training at times when I am not at the studio). Of course, I do check in by email, but I must rely on my qualified CPT team to implement our style of training and keep them happy.

Also, when your name if is synonymous with the business you may have a slightly more difficult time selling the business if that is your end goal (more on that in a minute).

And, while I don’t think you’ll have any issues with expansion and owning multiple studios under your name, you may find that people will still want some type of access to you since you are the person running the show. The way I combat this is by holding events, seminars, workshops, client appreciation parties, and sending out weekly video/content newsletters where people can still interact with me. It’s not always ideal, but if you want to continue to grow and help more and more people you have to come to realize that you must just keep developing systems and putting them in place so that you can expand.

Here’s another interesting tip: If you do include your name in your business name just be ready to become known as “THE Personal Trainer” in your city. Whether it be good or bad, whenever I go to a restaurant or event in Boston someone always recognizes me  and says, “Hey, aren’t you that personal trainer who…”

Some final notes:

Now that my studio has been opened for 3+ years and we were able to take right off since we opened I can happily say that I would keep the studio name exactly the way it is if I were to do it all over again. I will say, though, that if people (store cashiers, wait staff, etc)  just see my credit card that reads “Stephen Cabral Studio” they often think I own a photography company… that’s why I make it a point to always include my tag line under my studio name in ALL of my marketing and business pieces.

It reads:

Stephen Cabral Studio
“Inspired Personal Training & Weight Loss”

Alright, so now that you’ve seen the pros and cons to naming a personal training business under your personal name, let’s talk about the “2nd choice.”

Corporate Business Name Benefits:

When consulting with gyms, independant health management companies, or franchises I always recommend to them that they structure their business with the end in mind – and this most definitely includes the name of their business.

If I were to name my business “Results-Only Personal Training Solutions” instead of “Stephen Cabral Studio” I would have achieved a few things.

1. It would give off the impression that I am well established and professional (of course, your message and marketing must match that)

2. I am poised for easy expansion and roll out within my area, state, or world wide

3. Corporations like to work with other corporations (they feel like you must have your act together) and you may have an easier time getting into large businesses to do bootcamps, wellness seminars, etc before you become established.

4. It will make it easy to replace yourself with a manager and systems that run the show

5. Once the company has grown to the size you’d like you can sell it

Those are the big benefits to creating more of a corporate name and now let’s talk about a few of the downsides. The cons basically include all the pros of the personalized business name. For example, with a corporate business name you lose the small business appeal and the sense of doing business with another person (instead of with a corporation).

To me, the bottom line is that if you ever plan on walking away from your business by either selling it or not coming in on a weekly basis I would go with the corporate name. However, if you’re like me and love to train and see yourself doing it for the foreseeable future then there’s no reason NOT to name it in your own name (you could even just use your last name).

I hope this post shed a little light on how to choose the right name for your personal training company and how important it really is depending on your end goal.

P.S. One last note… Although I do have Stephen Cabral Studio as my main training hub and studio location I did develop an in-home and corporate identity separate from the studio called “Personal Trainer Boston.” As you’ve read in my other online marketing posts I did this for SEO purposes, but you can also see how it is more of a corporate name and structure. In a way, it allows me to appeal to a larger audience by 2 very different means. The great thing is I can tie them both together and let people know (when they visit the Personal Trainer Boston website) that they can train with our partner, Stephen Cabral Studio, or with Personal Trainer Boston for their in-home and corporate needs.

Feel free to add any of your own tips and experiences and let me know if you have any questions by posting them in the comment section below!

Comments

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  • Jeremie Guarderas

    Hey Steve – Great post!

    I started my business before I purchased the S3 System and I am now stuck with a business name I am not crazy about. I mean I love the name since it represents me and my boxing history but the problem with that is that the name is geared towards boxing only.

    Originally when I came up with the name Thunder Gloves LLC I had plans on starting a boxing studio but once I got into personal training I had to branch out from that name. So instead of treating my business name as a company name, I thought it would be smart to treat it as the name of my programs: Thunder Gloves for boxing, Thunder Boot Camp for womens boot camp, Thunder Fitness for personal training.

    Sounds pretty good so far-right? Here’s my dilemma – I am now looking to expand and hire trainers but I do not own a facility. I am an independent contractor at one location that is a 16,000sq ft private own gym – it is poorly managed, very unprofessional and seems to be very unstable. I am only sticking around for my clients sake, being that the other place I can go to is too far.

    The other option I have is to expand my business at a friends studio which is 3,000sq ft (beautiful decor, properly managed etc) and this is where I see myself hiring new trainers to train. I am thinking while I get these trainers booked up – I will remain at the other gym and when the time is right then I will part ways.

    Okay now – the new place where I want to set up shop for my new trainers (3,000 sq ft studio) has a completely different name from my company name. How do I incorporate my company name with the studio name with out getting clients too confused?

    Please advise…

    Jeremie

    • Hi Jeremie,

      Thanks for the email and definitely drop the “gloves” part since you immediately think of boxing…

      You’re in a tought spot with your friend’s studio. The key phrase is “your friend’s studio.” That means it’s up to him how he wants to market you. Truthfully, once he sees you booking up he may resent your marketing and may ask you to take it down… I’ve seen it before and experienced it myself.

      If you have the pre-established client base it may be time for you to spread your wings and take on a small space that you can hire a few CPTs at with low overhead… something to think about. Then you can market and put the full S3 systems to work full force!

      Good Luck and keep us updated!

  • Feel free to list some examples of your own or other successful businesses in the fitness industry that use either a corporate or personalized business name.

    Examples:

    Corporate:
    Athletes Performance
    Velocity
    Fitness Together
    Gold’s Gym
    Planet Fitness
    24 Hour Fitness
    World’s Gym
    Weight Watchers

    Personalized:
    Boyle Strength & Conditioning
    Jenny Craig
    Dax Moy Personal Training
    Stephen Cabral Studio
    Parisi Speed School
    Jillian Michaels

  • David McIlhenney

    Thanks for the post. It will make my decision a lot easier.
    I think going with my own name works better in my area because the people here have a much more positive mindset toward small businesses and close personal business relationships. They sort of distrust bigger corporations and almost seem to like the fact that, by doing business with a local residence, they are helping a “neighbor” succeed. Which can help with referrals. I do like the corporate Identity idea as well. I’m going to think on that one.
    Can’t wait for the seminar next month.

    • Thanks for your comments David and I think you hit the nail right on the head with your thought process!

  • Crystal Curtis

    What a great post, because this is on my mind. I just left the gym to strike out on my own, and as an independent trainer, it makes sense to be called “Crystal Curtis Fitness. ‘Make Health More than a Hobby.'” But I also wanted to be called “Crystal Curtis Fitness Systems,” (I like the world ‘system’). But a friend of mine who is a freelance illustrator has a corporate sounding name, and he finds it is a strike against him, because companies who find him don’t want to pay a ‘team’– they want to pay an individual freelancer.
    Certainly, it seems just like you say–corporate name for expansion goals, and personal name for local outreach.

    • Hi Crystal,

      Thanks for weighing in and I like the names you are thinking about.

      I prefer using the word “systems” when referring to my online products since it subconsciously conveys the the fact that you do not need the “head trainer or creator” to be present when it is being implemented.

      This could work out well if you will be opening multiple locations, but it is something to just ponder over if you are setting your mind on a single shop.

      Either way, they’ll both work and you should go with whichever one you feel most strongly about.

      I would also make sure to put what you specialize in (your niche) in your tagline below your business name like I did… it will help differentiate you from all the other CPTs in your area.

      Good luck!