How to Keep Your Monthly Income Consistent (even in the Summer months!)

Posted by

S3 Members Private Content

Once you start getting clients in your door the goal no longer becomes how to get new clients, but instead how to keep your existing clients to stick around. In this S3 Member’s only post I’m going to show you exactly how we bill our clients, how we renew them, and how we ensure that they don’t take too much time off. Check it out:

This post is actually a special request from one of our Smart Studio Systems members (let’s just call him “Tony from Sicily”) who currently runs an in-home training business, but is looking for a studio space to settle down into.

The question he had is how to keep his clients paying or coming in during the notoriously slow summer months of June, July, and August (but also for clients that travel a lot or are inconsistent). Now for many people those are peak times for youth athletic training, etc., but in terms of 1-on-1 training it’s typically slower.

Before I get into how I ensure how I get paid every month just like the last, let’s first get into a recap of how I bill my clients.

Step 1:

Each new client that comes into our studio signs up for a 12-week package that is broken down into 3 payments and billed monthly for 3 months. It stops after the 3rd payment until we input a new invoice.

We let our clients know that we expect a 12-week commitment from them and in turn we will reserve a time for them for the next 12 weeks, so that any new client who comes in cannot take their spot.

It works both ways.

Step 2:

When the client has 1 session left to go we let them know that their next session will be the last one in that package and we say, “would you like to just continue to keep our schedule the same and we’ll just use your credit card that’s on file for the next 12 week package?”

(Did you see how easy that was? No awkward encounters of asking people for more money, etc. You just basically say “hey this is working out great – want to just keep going?”)

It’s simple and as long as you’ve been bringing the energy and delivering on results then the renewal is easy.

Plus, we use a 12-week package so that no one even has to think about it. Many people feel that 6 months is too long of a commitment and a year is way too much (except for inexpensive bootcamps and then those options are great).

We’ve found that 12 weeks is just long enough and 4 easy renewals per year is easier than asking for the full year up front… psychologically anyways.

Step 3:

If a client is training 2x per week then they purchase a 24-session package. However, that means we need to make sure they’re coming in 2x per week on average or they’ll just be taking up space in our schedule and we won’t be getting paid for it. Therefore we allow 100 days from the point of purchase before the package expires. Technically, they get 16 days off (100 – 84 days) which is about 1 week per month.

This one week off per month puts the client’s mind at ease when they’re first signing up… remember, it’s all about risk reversal when I client doesn’t know you that well yet.

Now obviously we don’t want them taking off that much time, so we talk with them about accountability an how the more consistent they are the better their results.

Although we will sometimes let an expiration date slide depending on the client’s circumstances it’s important that you let them know about keeping their program as a part of their high priority list.

Again, bring the energy, make it fun, deliver results, and email them to keep them motivated to come back again and again and again…

Step 4:

Now it’s time to deal with what happens when clients take an extended break for work travel or vacation.

This is a tricky area and you must tread lightly.

What I suggest is doing what we’ve found to work out really well. Instead of being confrontational we send a client who will be away for the summer an email that says:

>

“Hi Rob,

Thanks for letting me know about your upcoming travel plans this summer and your trip sounds amazing.

I just wanted to let you know that it is really difficult for me to hold your normal session times for you for the 2 months while you’ll be away since those are peak times when I would typically be training clients.

What I’ve done in the past is continue to reserve your 2 sessions per week for you until you get back so that no one else can take those times. In exchange I usually hold one free of charge and you would continue to pay for the other in order to reserve both.

Since I enjoy working with you and you’ve been a great client I want to continue to hold your session times for you and I hope you understand that this is my sole business and if I’m not training clients then I’m not earning a living.

Just let me know if you feel that this arrangement is fair and I’d be happy to talk with you more about this in person during our next session.

Have a great day and I’ll see you Thursday morning!”

 

Your name
Your personal training business name
Your website
Your phone number
Your email

>

I actually use this exact method with 4 of my clients that travel a lot:

  • One couple pays for 3 of their 6 sessions per week.
  • One guy who trains with me once per week pays whether he is there or not in order to reserve his 6:30am time.
  • Another guy reserves 3x per week and pays no matter what so that I can save his space (his travel schedule is all over the place).
  • Another girl leaves for 2 months in the summer and pays for 50% of her sessions in order to save her spots.

So as you can see my income level from training will never dip from one month to the next since I have a system in place to keep clients on pace with their packages whether they are there or not. (In the summer I often work with individuals looking for me to design them a program and they just fill in all my openings… or I take more time off myself!)Remember, most people who can afford training are business people and understand how business works. That doesn’t mean they like it, but they get over it quick.

Plus, for the clients who feel that they shouldn’t have to pay for you to hold their spots we just let them know that they’re taking the chance that their session times may not be there when they get back. We let them know that if a new client comes in who would like to train at that time then we will have to take them on in order to keep getting paid.

I actually had to do this last year to one of my clients who was inconsistent… I felt like he didn’t respect my time so I gave his session times away to another more dedicated client who had been waiting awhile for me to get an opening in my schedule.

I love my clients and will bend over backwards for many of them, but this isn’t a hobby… I run a business that supports my family.

Step 5:

This last step deals with how to handle clients that can’t commit to a set time each week.

Since we’re not going to turn anyone away who comes to our studio, I tell all the trainers on my team to have the client sign up for as many times per week as they would like to train and commit to and then you’ll find times for them each week.

The client will just call or email all the available times they have for the following week (works well for doctors, nurses, etc.) and we just plug them into the openings in our schedule.

Lastly, we have clients who can commit to only one day per week in their schedule but want to come in 2x per week. All we do is schedule them in one permanent slot and then have them let us know when they come in on another day when they are free.

There’s always a way and although we won’t break certain package policies we do stay flexible.

Now for an important side note:

In order for any of this to work you need to be confident in knowing that there will always be other clients who want your service. It’s the only way you can tell clients that in order to reserve their session times for extended travel that they must pay for all or a portion of it. Don’t be afraid to let a client walk away…

And there are always going to be clients who want your service so you should be confident!

(Especially if you’ve been using all the marketing strategies and material in this Smart Studio Systems Member area – it’s exactly what I’ve been using for the past 4 years to sell out all available times every month! Please use all my invoices, client forms, etc. which you’ll find under the “Business Tool Box” tab – I put them there so that you could use my proven model and so that you wouldn’t have to guess at what works.)

Truthfully, I want the best for you and for the personal training industry as a whole, which is why we need to implement policies like the one I stated above. This is our career and it does need to be respected. Our time, service, and dedication have value and like any other professional organization if you want to be apart of it (and work with the best) then you have to play by the rules.

Step 6 – UPDATE:

We’ve been using this one A LOT this summer!

So here’s what we’ve been doing…

We ask each client is they have any travel plans coming up for the summer (or any season). And, when a client informs us that they will be going on a week or two vacation, we immediately reply with something like this:

“That sounds like a great and relaxing trip! One thing I’ve been doing for a lot of my clients that are taking off for a week, is to have them come in one additional session per week for a week or few weeks leading up to the trip. This allows us to really push those body transformation results and keep you on target until you leave for your vacation.

If you’re interested in coming in one or two extra times I’d be happy to email you over my openings, or we could go over them at the end of our session. We can also talk about how we can fine tune your nutrition even more before your vacation. How does that sounds to you?”

8 out of 10 times your clients will LOVE this idea and thank you for it!  The 1 or 2 that say they can’t is only because they are too busy to allow for an extra day to come in…

Think of it this way, you’re helping your clients get in peak shape before they have to get into a bathing suit and it doesn’t cost them anymore, since you are not going to be training them when they are away for a week or two… (you’re just bumping up those sessions earlier)

It really is a win-win.

This is why I have all of my CPT team members implement this policy and protocol whenever they find out they have a client leaving for a vacation or Holiday trip.

Using just this tip should allow you to add another 4 sessions or so a week and help offset the sessions you have missing in your schedule with clients being out.

It’s one of the reasons that even with a slow summer with client’s leaving on vacations we still haven’t dropped below 1,000 sessions a month. Of course, it takes a few extra minutes of scheduling and emailing, but in the end it’s worth it for all involved.

It’s been working out amazing for us, and I hope it helps you too!

———–

PS. For additional information on this subject of keeping your monthly session totals up please review the Smart Studio Systems Post on vacation coverage for covering other CPT team member’s sessions when they’re away. This one is HUGE for us as well!

I hope this S3 Member post helps you keep your monthly income more consistent for years to come!

 

Comments

Comment on this Content

  • Victor Sykes

    Regarding my previous question about the 12 week agreement, I realize it’s an invoice. I found it. Thank you!!

    • Hi Victor,

      In order to get your older clients to switch over to new 12 week payment plans we simply allow them to keep their current pricing and just set it up on a 3 month payment plan. They can cancel after 3 months if they’d like.

      Then, we create a higher priced 1 month offer.

      So they still get to choose to pay one month at a time, but of course, they know and love you, so they’d rather just sign on for the 12 week EFT.

      And, you still have the one month option available (but at least $10 more per month). So, even if they stay on the one month at a time plan, you still increase profits without any more work.

      This method works great!

  • Hi Stephen,

    How do you handle clients who wish to pay monthly by check and do not want to pay by EFT because they’re uncomfortable with you dinging their account each month or they’ve been burned in the past? We typically do contracts (3 mos on 1-on-1 PT and 6 mos for group training) I’ve had a time or two where people have had changes in their schedules or commitment level and decided not to pay even when they’ve had a month or two left on their contract. We’ve tried contacting them several times and they don’t return our calls or emails. I want to keep this from occurring without turning people away because they do not pay electronically. I’m just curious how you’ve handled situations like if you’ve dealt with them or how you would advise handling this situation

    You may have posted on this, but I haven’t come across it yet. If you have posted this, please direct me to where it is on the site.

    Thanks,
    — Robert

    #####

    Answer: I figured everyone would want to see the response to how we handle check collecting:

    It’s a bit tricky since our clients know that they must bring in a check the same date each month EVEN if they haven’t used up their sessions before that time (for example they would technically be paying for 4 sessions a month on a 12 pack paid over 3 months).

    A few clients don’t understand why they would have to bring in their next check, but we tell them that they are NOT going to lose the sessions from the previous month… we just need them to pay on time just like all of our other clients since this allows us to continue to reserve their session time each week.

    If they don’t bring in their check we tell them that we cannot reserve their usual times for them for that following week.

    They may not be all that happy, but you can certainly do it in a way that is sincere and professional.

    What you can’t do is be at a client’s beck and call for when they decide to show up or pay…

    Also, if they don’t pay by the rules for the first package we have them pay in full for the next package or use a credit card.

    Lastly, I find that as long as you have them fill out the invoice that I gave you as well as explain from the very beginning that this is how you bill “and why,” then there’s very rarely an issue.

    Hope that helps!

  • Jeremie Guarderas

    That’s great!

  • Dario Dimakis

    Excellent stuff Steve! We as trainers don’t value our own time enough. You wouldn’t stuff around a specialist appointment and we actually PREVENT those appointments from taking place for our clients. BOOOM! I love your stuff!

  • Anthony DAssisi

    Thanks a lot Steve.

    Tony From Sicily

  • Remember that Smart Studio Systems is all about helping YOU create a bigger and better business so always email support@smartstudiosystems.com or comment on a post with a suggestion of what you would like to see written on in the future!

    • Victor Sykes

      Any suggestions as to how we get existing clients to switch to this type of payment schedule? I currently have 42 large group clients and 8 small group clients. Their due dates for payments are all over the place. I want to simplify the payment collection process moving forward. What are your thoughts?

      Thanks,

      Victor