Raise Your Rates Campaign

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Raising your training rates has to be the easiest (once you learn how) and fastest way to add more than $10,000 a year to your business without changing anything else. Literally, you send out a well-formulated email, follow up with your clients, and then PRESTO – you’re making $10,000+ more a year just like that! Follow the system I’ve been using for years to get an instant pay raise next week:

Let’s get started!

What I’m going to do in this post is show you FIVE different ways in which you can raise your rates ethically and with good reason.

So without further adieu, here they are:

The Lock in Your Last Year’s Price Now Campaign

You’ve probably seen this before and many gyms do this almost every year.

However, they do it with a little twist. They allow people to pay in full or renew at their current price if they resign their contract.

You’ll see this same marketing technique used by most major companies like cell phone companies, health clubs, country clubs, etc., when your contract is about to expire or they’re running a “special.”

Although I like the thought process behind this technique, I don’t like the fact that you don’t actually get to raise the revenue you’re bringing in (unless of course they expected to lose a floor of customers).

Buy 1 More Package at Last Year’s Low Prices

This technique is one of my favorites and I used to use it when I was consulting for heath clubs.

Every year in December we would offer all personal training clients the ability to purchase one additional package at last year’s pricing. So, even if they hadn’t finished a package it would allow them to pay for one extra personal training/spa package at the current pricing.

We let people know by email and letter that the rates would be going up that January and this was our way of showing our appreciation and letting them in on an end of the year deal.

This actually did 2 things for us:

1. It brought in a ton of cash to use as working capital for the New Year and our year-end numbers got a huge boost. It basically made the company and personal training department look great when we did 300% more sales volume than normal for the month (especially since December is traditionally a quieter month anyway).

2. Whether clients knew it or not, the longer we could get them to commit to personal training the better our chances were of keeping them as a long term clients. Since, I knew that many of our clients wouldn’t exactly be thrilled about the rate increase I wanted to come up with a plan to soften the blow. In this scenario they wouldn’t be renewing now until March and by that time they would be they most likely would have forgotten about the rate increase and typically won’t care as much about the additional cost.

This technique worked unbelievably well and if I still consulted for health clubs I would use it every year…

Raise your Rates Without Anybody Knowing

I love this technique and I did it at my studio when we hit 50-60% capacity.

Basically, I knew going in that I wanted to charge a certain dollar amount per session, but I also wanted to fill up quickly. And, since I didn’t have a lot of success stories on the wall or people to refer me new clients I opened my studio charging $10 less per session than I wanted to.

After I hit about 50 clients I immediately changed all my marketing material and rate sheets to reflect our new rates.

That meant that any new clients who now came to our studio would be paying the $10 more per session. However, since they never knew that we charged $10 less they had no qualms about paying the now “normal” price.

This “new” price gave me the ability to pay my CPTs more money and I also increased my profit margin as well.

Happy trainers getting paid more money = good business.

Plus, happy trainers give better customer service, you can ask more of them, and they help make your studio great.

This one rate increase technique has easily added a half a MILLION dollars to my business over the past few years alone.

It works and I hope you decide to use it in your business as well.

Raise the Rates Across the Board

This type of campaign actually raises rates in one big swoop and doesn’t exempt anyone. Traditionally I have used this at my studio and with consulting clients after being open for a year or two.

It allows you to state reasons why you’re raising your rates and what they’ll get in return.

It’s also a little bit of a take it or leave it campaign, but with a little sugar sprinkled on top to help the news go down better.

We used this technique at my studio with the original clients whom had been working with us for the past 18 months when we first opened the studio. These were the clients paying the $10 less per session.

Since we now wanted to get their pricing in line with the current members we sent them out a personalized email (from a template) and we had an in-person conversation during their next session (with their trainer).

You can also add a 3rd step by mailing them a letter, but I’ve found that to be unnecessary unless you are running a health club based program.

Here is the email we sent out:

“Dear Scott,

I just wanted to check in and make sure everything was going well at the studio. You seem to be doing great and I’m really proud of the success you’ve had so far. It looks like your hard work is really paying off!

I also wanted to let you know that as of January 1st, 2011 we will be raising our professional personal training rates by $10 per session. We’ve given this a lot of thought and after careful consideration we’ve decided that after almost 2 years of not raising our rates it is something we must do.

Over the past year we have upgraded equipment pieces, technology, website presence, and many other features that sometimes go unnoticed.

As a fitness professional I am also continually purchasing new study course material and continuing education credits to further my knowledge which I feel in turn makes me a better fitness professional for my clients.

We hope you understand the need for the slight increase in our training rates and we really appreciate you as a client.

I’m looking forward to our next session and we can talk more about it then as well.

Have a great day and let me know if you have any questions!

Committed to your success,

Coach Cabral, CSCS, CPT, NS
Founder & Director of Stephen Cabral Studio
Health contributor for MTV, Men’s Health, Maxim, Dietcom, NutritionData, SELF

In the email above you probably noticed a few things:

Did you see how I…

– Checked in first to show I cared
– Complimented my client right away
– Got right to the point of why I was emailing him
– Explained and gave reasons for the rate increase
– Talked about my credentials and continuing education
– Restated that we are firm about the rate increase
– Said I would talk with him more in person during our next meeting

This email basically breaks the ice and allows you to ease into the personal conversation when you see you client next.

Believe me, very few people are comfortable selling…

And, even fewer are comfortable asking for MORE money.

However, unless you get our of your comfort zone you will never take your business to the next level. That little pit you get in your stomach is only there to let you know that you are moving out of your “safe zone” and that you’re about to change.

That’s actually a very good thing and as long as you’re worth the money and your services warrant the price you’re asking clients to invest then there’s nothing to worry about.

If you’re still a little freaked out at the thought of raising your client’s rates, here is what I would recommend you doing. (I actually did this the first time I raised my rates since I was kind of unsure of the process and it worked great!).

What I recommend is sending this email to the clients you like training the least.

They might be the whiners, the complainers, the ones who never show up… you get the point.

The reason I would send it to them first is because if for some reason they were to not want to pay for the rate increase and decided to leave, well good riddance anyway.

I consider them the “test subjects” for my rate increase.

To be honest, at my studio we’ve never had a client leave when we mentioned our rate increase. I think we had 2 people (out of around 100) drop down from 2x a week to 1x, but we never had anyone just flat out leave.

The truth is where are they going to go?

Are they going to find another trainer as good as you for cheaper?

Are they going to just drop the last year or so of training you’ve done together and just start from scratch with somebody else?

I think not.

Besides, if you truly want to make more money and a few people left due to the rate increase well logically, that just leaves more room for clients willing to pay your increased rate.

So go ahead and try this with 5 clients at a time, or just implement it for anyone not paying your current highest priced rate.

*The other important note is that if you don’t share the new revenue coming in from the rate increase with your trainers then they’ll be far more unlikely to help you in the rate hike (with their clients). You want your CPTs to know that they’ll be getting a boost in session pay as well and it’s in their best interest to help the transition go smoothly.

The Immediate Rate Increase

I actually just used this exact campaign last week.

The reason is that now that I am extremely busy and have to turn down personal training clients, coaching clients, and other opportunities due to lack of time I’ve decided that anyone not willing to pay me what my hourly rate is either must be handed off to one of my other CPTs or their rate must be increased.

It’s not mean, it’s not unfair, it’s just a part of the growth process and of doing business.

And, although I truly enjoy working with my clients I don’t want to sell myself short.

To calculate your hourly rate all you have to do is add up all the different projects, sessions, etc. that you get paid for and divide it by the number of hours you worked on them.

What you come up with is your average hourly rate.

Another way to look at this is to say that you want to make “X,” and in order to achieve that goal in 40 hours per week (or whatever your ideal workload is) you must make “X” per hour.

Hopefully that makes sense.

After coming to this realization I stopped doing anything that I didn’t enjoy that wasn’t paying my hourly rate.

I no longer cleaned my house, did home project repairs, shoveled snow, ran errands, file my papers, etc.

The only time I did anything that didn’t pay my hourly rate is when I chose to – that’s the difference.

Plus, if I had an extra hour free during the day I could just kick back and relax. For you that may mean more time with your kids, your spouse, reading, sleeping… you get it.

Remember, if you love what you do and you can pay someone less than what you make per hour to do a job that would take you as long or longer to accomplish then outsource it!

Okay, back to raising your rates…

Here is what I did last week.

I had 3 clients whom I train at their corporation and although they are paying my highest training rate I do have to commute 15 minutes over to their office building.

This adds 30-minutes more to my session even though I do train then back to back to back. Not only that, I have to shift gears when I leave my studio and that costs me productivity and time as well.

Plus, it’s not exactly exhausting to walk 15 minutes to their office, but in the winter it’ not all that fun…

Now, if I didn’t like these clients I would just pass them on to another one of my CPTs, but I actually do enjoy training them which is why I’m willing to keep commuting to their office – as long as they’ll pay my new rate.

I have decided to raise their rates by $10 per session.

This will help compensate for the commute time and walk over.

(By the way, this $10 pay increase for just 3 clients will add $5,000 to my bank account next year without working any more hours… not bad)

Here is the email I sent to them last week:

Subject: Personal Training Sessions

“Hi Brian,

I just wanted to check in and let you know about one change starting January 1st, 2011 that has to do with the professional personal training packages that I offer.

Although I haven’t increased my rates for some time I have decided it was the right time to increase my training rate by $10 per session for all new packages.

This will allow me to continue to invest in my own continuing education, as well as to not have to take on any additional clients. I feel this will also allow me to further improve my own training ability and pass that along to you and my other clients.

I have given this a lot of thought and after taking into consideration the commute over to your office building as well as the additional time I invest into designing my clients’ programs I felt it was fair.

Let me know if you have any questions and we can talk more about it in person during our next session.

Thanks you again for being a great client and have a great weekend!

Committed to your success,

Coach Cabral, CSCS, CPT, NS
Founder & Director of Stephen Cabral Studio
Health contributor for MTV, Men’s Health, Maxim, Dietcom, NutritionData, SELF

As you can see I keep the emails short and to the point.

You don’t want to look like you have to come up with a million reasons why you need to increase your rates. You just have to be confident in what your doing and say that you’ve given it careful consideration.

I also state a few main points and let the implications speak for themselves (like the commute, my continuing education, time, etc.).

Plus, I always have my stand by of switching these clients over to one of my other CPTs if they don’t want to pay the increase.

Of course, if someone wasn’t willing to pay the rate increase you could always just say, “I understand where you are coming and why don’t we keep your rate the same for now and revisit this in a few months…”

Personally, I would never do that because once I commit to raising my rates I’m locked on.

I understand the value of my time and if I’m working for a lower rate then that means I don’t have any openings to take on a higher paying opportunity or client.

Again, I’m not a cold-hearted snake looking to extract more money anywhere I can… Absolutely not.

I charge only rates that I feel are in line with what I provide in terms of value. I 100% believe I over deliver for what I am asking people to invest in.

I know that there is no way any of my clients could get better service or a more tailored program for them if they didn’t train with me.

That’s how confident I am and that’s what allows me to justifiably raise my rates.

If you offer terrible service and you’re one of those poor excuses for a fitness professional then you obviously shouldn’t think about raising your rates – maybe you should be charging $10/hr like I see people doing on CraigsList ; )

Sorry, I just needed to lighten the mood a little…

All kidding a side I know that you are probably undercharging your clients like we all do at first and that’s okay. You just have to understand that everyone expects a business to increase their rates with time.

It’s just part of doing business.

Plus, you’re not going to ask for $50 more per session, you’re only asking for $5 or $10. (Although I am friends with a fitness pro who raised his rates $20 per session knowing he would have people leave, but the instant increase in pay would allow him to work fewer hours and make the same money – he’s a pretty smart guy!)

You could even ask for $9, which psychologically sounds way more appealing than $10.

Now that you’ve seen the campaigns let take a look at the numbers:

If you were doing 30 sessions per week and you raised your rates $10 per session you’d be making an extra $1,200 per month or $14,400 a year (with 4 weeks vacation time built in – you need to take time off!).

How easy was that $14,000 pay raise!

And, if you have CPTs working under you, you can see how getting a piece of the new rate increase of each of their sessions would add up quickly.

If you have 2 full-time CPTs working under you then you’re probably looking at over $30,000 a year in new profit without having taken on any more hours of work or adding any expenses.

This is a rare opportunity that you must tap into.

I hope you enjoyed the Raise Your Rates Campaign and I have no doubt that once you increase your rates you’ll be emailing me about how you wished you had done it sooner!

Committed to your success,

Coach Cabral, CSCS, CPT, NS
Founder of Smart Studio Systems
Health contributor for MTV, Men’s Health, Maxim, Dietcom, NutritionData, SELF


Comment on this Content

  • Michael Warren

    Hi Steve,

    I’m a new member. Excellent program this far.

    My question, when raising your rates, how do you suggest I go about letting go of a problem client? I have 1 client that has been with me for a few years and she signed up at much lower rates. She pays consistently month after month with no qualms. But, she is an absolute nightmare to train and she doesn’t make referrals. All of my clients make awesome transformations…except her. She won’t work hard. She actually says she can’t/wont do lower body anything because her legs don’t bend. Training to her is a time to hangout and literally talk about food and wine. So needless to say I abhor training her. Nice enough person but a total waste of my time. I don’t have any other trainers to work with her, it’s just me. So how do I politely “let her go?”

    • Hi Michael,

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the Private S3 members area!

      We’ve had a few of these problem clients… it seems like we get 1 per year, but luckily it’s only about 1 per year.

      What I do, and have my team members do is this:

      When his/her package is in it’s last session I say to them that after giving it some thought we simply don’t seem to be the right fit for you in terms of helping you reach your goals and what you’re looking for. Unfortunately we can’t do “X” (whatever was/is the issue) and therefore you may be best suited to work with another fitness professional. I can give you some recommendations if you’d like.

      Then I wait to see how they react. If they’re offended, I simply say that I am just trying to do what I believe is best for them and right now I don’t believe I am the right person for what they are looking for.

      I then see if they understand and if they have any questions.

      I prefer being direct and compassionate, but not mixing words, which would allow them the opportunity to continue training here.

      You can also do this in an email if you’d like, but I don’t really want to put this in a permanent form that could be reposted, taken out of context, etc.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

  • Michael Oneal

    Hey Steve,

    One of my newish clients said to me this week when we were talking about prices and business etc “I’d actually pay you more”. Funny thing is, I like this guy, he’s cool, he’s successful and he’s made made massive gains in his fitness because he gives it 120% every session…I’d actually train him for less LOL.

    This guy also taught me something else….Part of “rate structure” is believing in yourself and valueing what you are and what you offer. To some clients you are the person that is going to change their life forever….Sometimes that actually happens, you become a catalyst at a pivital point in someones life, drag them out of a dark hole and show them some light…what price this is worth per hour can only be determined by the client and in most cases it’s well above your charge rate.

    • Excellent points and thanks for sharing!!!

  • Jeremie Guarderas

    Hey Steve,


    The problem occurred on the home page but I just tried it again today and it works… I dunno what happened that day..

    Thanks again for the help!

    PS: I may be late for the video testimonial contest – when was the cut off date?

    • Glad to hear it was just a glitch in the Matrix…

      Also, there’s never a cut off for video testimonials – send it on over to support@smartstudiosystems.com with the YouTube link or use YouSendIt.com (free and preferable) to attach the video files.

      Looking forward to seeing and hearing about your great results!

  • Jeremie Guarderas

    Hey Steve,

    Sorry to post something completely off topic but the customer service link is not working…

    I just wanted to ask you how to make a tutorial – like the one on your sells page for this program. I want to be able to show my prospect how to register online and get into my bootcamp etc.. I want them to actually see me walking them through the process on your computer.



    • Hi Jeremie,

      That’s strange – could you tell me which link you are referring to – the one at the bottom of this page works…

      As for creating a tutorial there are 2 ways.

      The free way is by using Jing or ScreenToaster (I prefer this one). You can make them private or shared videos.

      The paid way is to use Camtasia or Screenflow (for a Mac).

      I personally use Screenflow for all my private videos since it is very professional and allows me to have my little head pop up in the corner of the screen. I use Screentoaster for all my free tutorials since I can bang one of those out in minutes and it doesn’t have to be as fancy.

      For example I use Screentoaster when showing my webs designer what I want done and Screenflow for my S3 higher-end videos.

  • Quick note:

    I have 2 clients that I do not raise my rates with.

    One is a 60-something year old who I know can barely afford to work with me once a week – I like helping her out, and therefore, I keep her rate the same…

    The other client refers me new clients like crazy, so as a reward I let her know that her rate will not be increasing. She’s very appreciative and as a result keeps referring me even more clients!

    So, as you can see there are always exceptions (but of course, relatively very few in the end)…

  • Mailing Letters:

    If you were to send out a letter, all you have to do is use the email I gave you in this campaign.

    You can then just transfer it over to an 8.5×11 professional letter with your company logo, etc.