How to Sell Out Your Small Group Sessions at $394/hr

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Small Group Coaching Personal TrainingHere’s how to make an extra $1,182 a month. No, this is not another Groupon.com coupon or any type of discounted service for that matter. This is a technique that I’ve been testing out over the past year. Although I originally used it to sell-out my 6-person “small group coaching” sessions I have now come to find that it works for selling all sorts of programs – even my online fitness products! The great thing is that you can save yourself a year of trial and error and replicate my success!

Here we go!

So some of you may have already heard about this website and maybe even been a part of a group on there, but what I’m about to share with you should help you add at least another client per month to your business (we filled our first 6-person small group within just a few weeks).

Many of you have been asking me about this, so let’s first talk about how I run my Small Group Sessions:

Okay, so what I did was create the idea of charging $197 a month for a small group coaching program.

It included:

• 1 small group session per week (Saturdays)

• 1 week of printed workouts (print out that day’s workout for them to take home)

• Our studio start-up new client folder that includes stretches, fat burning intervals, nutrition, and nutritional support recommendations

• Sample meal plans & a recipe printed up

• Email support during the week

• Progress reports every 4 weeks (weigh-ins, body comps, measurements, etc.)

• 12-week program with ability to renew and reserve spot at end of 12 weeks (3 monthly payments of $197)

• Plenty of motivation and accountability with weekly weigh-ins and supportive group session environment

Now, you may think this seems like a lot of work, but all you have to do is create it once and then it’s done forever.

Literally, the only thing we had to do for this group session was show up and teach it. All the printouts were already copied and we just hand them out at the end of the session.

It’s awesome!

Plus, our sessions are always only 45-minutes so that means you’re making almost $300 for 45-minutes ($295.50).

And when you do back-to-back sessions that means you’re raking in $591 in just 90 minutes!

(That’s about $400/hr… $394/r exactly if you’re into doing the math out)

The MATH:

* Each 6 person class = $1,182/mo and $3,546 for the 12 week program

* 2 back-to-back classes = $2,364/mo and $7,092 for (2) 12 week programs

Now even if you only charged $97/mo and followed this plan it would still equal about $150 a session. Another tip I would give you is to leave 5-15 minute between sessions when you’re first starting out (this will allow you a little wiggle room in transitioning to the new small group session if you have a smaller studio).

Before I get into how I marketed this program I’m sure you probably want some details on how I run my small group coaching programs… so let’s have at it:

First off, my studio space is small… really small.

Meaning I can max it out with 4 CPTs working with 1 client at a time. But, to be able to do this we all have to be willing to play by the rules and stay in certain spaces while working in on occasion with other CPTs and their clients.

It works, but you do need to have your systems down if you’re going to have 8 people on a 497 ft fitness floor lifting heavy objects…

However, with our small group coaching sessions we had to find times to clear out the studio, since there’s no way we could have 6 clients in for a session while others were working out.

What I did was reserve early Saturday mornings (the first 2 hours of training in the studio) for these SGS (small group sessions).

I did NOT teach the classes myself since I do not work in the studio on the weekends, but I did design the SGS structure. I had 1 CPT teaching it while each client stood at a station.

We have 6 cable towers (3 Keiser and 3 Life Fitness) and so each client was assigned a cable tower. They also had an abs mat, dumbbell set, and kettlebell.

This allowed us to use my tri-set system of burning body fat in a self-contained area. (3 exercises done in a row followed by a rest period)

The result was fantastic body transformation results and the clients loved it!

During the last 5 minutes of the session while clients were foam rolling or stretching the instructor would review the workouts clients should do on their own during the week (this was a weight loss based program so they did body weight based exercises if they did not have access to equipment, gym workouts that mimicked what they just did in their session, and also cardio based intervals like sprints).

NOTE: Have you noticed yet that NEVER once did I call this small group session a “class.” Classes are the free things that health clubs give members for FREE. Since you’re charging money, how you phrase things becomes of the utmost importance. NEVER call them classes…

(Also, in order to charge top dollar you must really niche out your small group session. It can’t be just general training.)

Back on topic…

I paid my CPT teaching the class $15 per person in the group. That means they could make $90 per 45-minute session (not bad for them either).

It’s also a good idea to give them a “re-signing bonus” for clients who continue on after the 12-week package is up. I would offer 10% of that package sale (10% of $197 = about $20 per re-sign).

Now you have the nuts and bolts of how I run my small group coaching sessions, so let’s get into how I first marketed them.

About 2 years ago I found out about a website called, MeetUp.com.

I didn’t think too much of it other than it was a cool idea for moms to get together and go for a run in the park (I’m not being sexist since the only groups I had ever heard of were called “Mommy & Me” and that’s all I knew of this website). Later I found out that there were weight loss, triathlete, sport’s specific, and all sorts of other health related groups.

It’s actually pretty cool and I know belong to a few others that I don’t personally run.

Some groups charge money, while others are free.

There is a small charge to create your own group, but I’m going to tell you a way to get others to pay for your MeetUp.com bi-annual membership fee, which is $75.

First off, I wouldn’t have ever created a MeetUp group if it wasn’t for this ONE feature:

You actually get to choose which email lists from MeetUp.com you want to send your initial email blast to.

This is sick!

Can you believe this? You only have to pay $75 to send a SUPER-TARGETED email to THOUSANDS of subscribers interested in your topic all living within your city…

It’s actually a ridiculous deal, but most people do this all wrong.

Given that I’m a little bit of a marketing nerd I always look for the hidden areas that most people don’t recognize. So here’s what I did:

My secret wasn’t to target just people wanting weight loss since that’s what my group was focused on, but rather the Meet-Up Groups with the LARGEST LISTS.

You see, you actually get to pick 2-3 lists for whom you want to mail to. So I first looked at everyone who wanted weight loss and then choose the lists of people who had the largest followings within that category. It didn’t have to be strictly weight loss, but of course they had to be into losing weight, dieting, or exercising.

Even if you aren’t going to do a weight loss group, this WOULD work well (maybe even better) for specific sports camps, dance classes, martial arts specific classes, seminars, etc.

The other big point here is that you MUST have your MeetUp website finished before the emails get sent out… you wouldn’t want to waste your one opportunity of people landing on your website and not joining as a member…

Also, make it FREE.

You’ll be charging plenty of money later… the first thing you need to do is build the trust.

That’s why we offered a FREE 30-minute seminar with a 30-minute Q&A (60-minutes total) to all new members (we ran it about 1 month after launching, but kept building the momentum throughout the month).

The seminar was just on the fundamentals of weight loss, but with a catchy name… something like, “The 10 Proven Steps to Losing Weight & Keeping it Off Forever.

And, at the end of the seminar we offered all attendees a complimentary fitness consultation coupon and tried to set up times for everyone to come in later that week. (Again, we’re still offering free… so that we can build their trust and then sign them up at the end of the consultation).

Now, here’s a few of my techniques that often fly under the radar:

  1. I used my own studio as the “sponsor” of the group so that it was front and center in front of all people coming to that website. That means it was a free advertisement for my studio…
  2. I had links to my online newsletter to get people reading my work and allowing me to stay in front of them more often. Plus, this allowed me to try to follow up and promote my online fitness products.
  3. I offered a complimentary fitness consultation right on the website so that anyone could get started right away and not have to wait for a seminar, etc.
  4. I created question boards to start some interaction amongst the group
  5. I let people know why they should keep checking in: future events planned, etc.
  6. I always had links to all my in-home, studio, corporate, and small group websites to allow them to choose what worked best for them.
  7. I put my photo, studio phone #, and email on the website to build trust.

Another great thing is that MeetUp.com has a high SEO ranking so my websites started getting more “Google Juice.”

And, who doesn’t like a little more Google Juice?

(I’m on the 1st page of Google for my specific keyword)

Now, if I were looking to make money through this website I could have other companies (not direct competitors) sponsor my MeetUp.com webpage. For example, maybe I would have a chiropractor, massage therapist, spa, meal delivery service, etc. pay $50-$500/month for that spot where it says “Sponsor”.

Those #’s are accurate since I’ve gotten offers like that to sponsor my website.

So what is the name of the website I set up?

Well, I like to do things big and sometimes a little BOLD (it’s hard to get noticed in a big market full of competitors!), so I went with what I thought was the most fitting…

I called my MeetUp.com group:

“Boston’s Best Weight Loss”

http://www.meetup.com/Bostons-Best-Weight-Loss/

(Click the link above to see the webpage)

Small Group Personal Training Coaching

Now although we are no longer holding MeetUps we do still keep the website up since it generates traffic to my other websites and for $75 every 6 months it more than pays for itself.

Plus, if we need to fill more groups in the future we’ll just set up another seminar and send out some emails (You can email you group whenever you want!)

(I do still email the list every month to stay in touch with offers)

You may be wondering why we don’t do MeetUps all the time if it is such a great resource…

Well, as I always say it is ONE resource out of all the dozens I use on a monthly basis to bring in new leads. Plus, our main business is 1-on-1 training and MeetUp groups tend to work much better for bootcamps and small group coaching since the people who are attracted to it often times are looking for lower cost options (like free).

This why our small group sessions worked well.

(However, we have sold over 5 private 1-on-1 packages, as well as upgrades from our small group coaching just through our MeetUp.com page alone over the past year.)

Please also keep in mind that I am in a somewhat unique position in the fact that my studio is sold out of sessions… we can literally only take on a few new clients a month – there is absolutely NO room for any more small group sessions.

(We do, however, start new corporate small group sessions as often as we can.)

AND, if you’re wondering why I don’t switch over to just doing small groups I have 5 answers for you:

  1. The small group or bootcamp market is getting super competitive due to a low cost of entry and insanely low monthly pricing
  2. People who pay more money per session make better clients (this is true of business coaching and fitness coaching)
  3. We make the same amount per hour with 4 CPTs training in the studio as we do per small group…
  4. Our results and retention are far better with 1-on-1 (less than 10% turnover)
  5. I enjoy personally interacting with clients

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do bootcamps or all small group sessions – you need to be you!

Just use what I’ve done to enhance whatever aspect of your business you want to market.

I use all the principles I teach you for my in-home, corporate bootcamps, seminars, small group, and 1-on-1. It works for everything because the business and marketing principles behind them are PROVEN and SOUND.

So, my suggestion now is to study my MeetUp.com website and then look over all the others in your local area by searching keywords on MeetUp.com.

http://www.meetup.com/Bostons-Best-Weight-Loss/

After you’ve done your due diligence you can begin to mimic (not copy since it is plagiarism that will hurt both of our SEO ranking in Google from using the same wording on our websites) my MeetUp webpage and begin linking to your websites and free newsletter.

Do your best to try to give away as much as you can for FREE to begin building up that trust and from there you can then make a “special offer for MeetUp only members” of your MeetUp page.

I did this by sending out a special email about a free seminar and fat loss interval report give-away.

By the way, you can print articles online from free sources like ezinearticles.com as long as you GIVE CREDIT to the author and not play it off like you wrote it (again that is unethical and it’s not what I teach). You can do this for your niches’s articles, recipes, etc., which saves you a ton of time and research when putting together your small group sessions…

And……. I’m spent.

I think I need a power nap after that brain-exorcism, but I’ll check back in soon to see if you have posted any additional comments or questions in the comment section below.

I hope you enjoyed this unique Smart Studio Systems only strategy and proven money-maker!

Comments

Comment on this Content

  • Dustin Pelate

    Three questions
    1) If there are no Meetup.com groups near my business, what other methods could you use to promote this program?
    2)Could I promote the same small group coaching over lunch (12PM to 12:45PM) also?
    3) If a potential lead does not sign up for private or semi-private training, would it be best to introduce this program at that point or just have a separate marketing funnel for small group coaching leads?

    • Hi Dustin,

      Good questions and here are those answers:

      1. You could hold your own Evening or weekend seminar using your own in-house email list

      2. Absolutely. I aim to give 1 monthly business “Lunch & Learn” to local businesses. At the end of the talk I direct people to a website to download material in exchange for their email, and I also offer a complimentary weight loss and fitness consultation.

      3. Always try to get their name and email in exchange for something of value – however, you should already have it if they signed up for your seminar/presentation online. I use aweber, but you could use Infusionsoft or any other CRM system.

      Hope this helps!

  • Brad Pugh

    I have Free Saturday Boot Camp Meet Up account that I use….but was wondering if there is a way to send an email blast out to other meet up lists or groups other than my own? Or have I missed my “one time” shot ….I just don’t remember…but do I just need to start my next Meet Up Groups and better utilize that one time BLAST? I thought you said you emailed the Blast once a month? Sorry..just a little confused on the steps to take on getting an email out to the most people who have NOT joined my Group yet. Also….I am a person who love “Done For You” lol Or I wouldn’t be on here…..but could we get some email templates to use for our lists that have worked for you?

    • Hi Brad,

      Sorry this comment of yours got sent to spam… you got spammed!

      Back on track, you only get ONE shot as far as I know with the MEET UP groups and it is to announce your group, so make sure you put the service right in the name of your group! This means if you’re offering a free Saturday bootcamp in Chicago, write the name of your Meet Up group as “FREE Chicago Saturday’s Bootcamp!”

      This will get a lot of attention and be a big hit!

      Of course after you launch the new Meet Up group you can always email your Meet Up member list, as well as other groups to see if they’ll promote your group or link to it.

      Hope that helps!

  • Hi John,

    Here’s how we differentiate it:

    Semi-Private: 2-3 people maximum. More private attention and ability to make changes within the program to account for biomechanical issues, etc.

    Small Group: 1 type of programming only. The entire group comes for fat loss and everyone completes the same exercises without exception. (Of course, form alterations take place as needed).

    I hope this helps!

  • Thanks John!

    There are no walls dividing the area. We simply use the first area where you walk in our studio for the semi-private (2-3 people). When it is small group training we use the entire studio with 1 CPT teaching it.

    This is scheduled at certain times during the week as not to interfere with our 1-on-1 sessions (typically Saturdays and off peak times).

    • John Donaghey

      Sorry,

      my fault.

      I meant how do you differentiate it from semi private pt (not physically separate it). The prices are similar so why would someone do this instead of semi private PT?

      I would love to run more of these small group scenarios as they are a great way to get people motivated.

      Thanks for all your responses so far.

      John.

  • John Donaghey

    Hello Stephen,

    great post. I love this idea. i have one question. How do you separate this from semi-private training? I would love to start this in my won studio but the price is similar to semi-private training so how is it any different? I hope that makes sense.

  • ***UPDATE***

    I didn’t know this but apparently you can’t have blatant links to your website or business on your MeetUp group. They shut me down!

    I had over 111 members, my group was up for over 2 years, and we gave away great content, but they don’t care and THE MAN shut us down.

    Oh well… I just want you to learn from what happened to me and just make sure to not make it as obvious as I did with promoting my studio. However, I will say that even if your group is only up for a year or two before they cay something it is well worth it. We got at least 7 paying clients from MeetUp.com through our 2-3 MeetUps and emails.

    Just getting the email list alone was worth it! I used to email the list once a month with a special small group training or private training deal for MeetUp members only.

    Aaaahhhhh, the end of an era…

    (Don’t be surprised if you happen to see another “Boston’s Best Weight Loss” Meet Up Group happen to pop up in the next month or so (sssssssshhhhh! – just don’t tell THE MAN at MeetUp.com)

    Here’s another tip…

    When I found out the MAN was shutting my MEETUP group down, I immediately sent out this email using the MEETUP email option, which got all the interested people from the group onto my other email list (if they hadn’t already):

    Hi MeetUp Members!

    Unfortunately the Meet Up Group, Boston’s Best Weight Loss Group, was shut down by MeetUp. They don’t understand that we are offering free seminars and online information for free to the Greater Boston Area…

    I guess that’s what happens when online companies grow too large and lose their personal connection with group owners.

    I did try to tell them that everything I offer is completely free, but they just responded with a template email response. So, what I’m going to do is still hold my own free seminars on weight loss at my Boston studio. Of course, I also send out health, wellness, and weight loss email newsletters for free every other day.

    You can get those emails and updates at:
    http://StephenCabral.com

    Just make sure you sign up in the right hand corner where it asks to enter your name and email and I will be in touch with you that way very shortly.

    Have a great day and I look forward to getting a new Boston weight loss group started back up again soon!

    Committed to your success,

    Coach Cabral, CSCS, CPT, NS
    “2011 Personal Trainer of the Year”
    Health Contributor for MTV, Men’s Health, NutritionData, Dietcom, Gather, SELF
    http://StephenCabral.com

    This enables me to keep in touch with them and minimize any damage as well as to continue to provide them with content and offer them my studio services. So take that MeetUp!

    • Connie Moore

      Hey Stephen, This was awesome. A few questions
      1. With the printout, are you giving them workouts for the entire week or just the workout they did that day?
      2. How often did you do the seminar, was it weekly, monthly?

      I’m in the process of creating my meet up page, prior to becoming an S3 member I signed up for group on (not the greatest idea), so I’m looking to bounce back with this meet up. Look forward to hearing from you!

      Greatness is Habit!

    • Hi Connie,

      Let me see if I can answer your questions:

      1. We always only gave the printout of the workout we went through that day, plus maybe a cardio interval workout that was easy to comprehend. I don’t really believe in giving out workouts that I haven’t taken a client through at least 1-2x…

      2. We did 3 Meet-Ups and we also partnered with some of the other larger MeetUp groups that have similar and complimentary practices. I personally believe speaking at or offering something of value to one of these groups will help you build your small groups faster!

      (Look for weight loss groups, mom’s groups, accountability, motivational, etc.)

      Spend a little time on MeetUp.com to find some of these groups close by your location that you may be able to offer something of value to. (Free body comp, body fat analyzer, nutrition consult, free group lass exclsuive for their members, etc.)

  • Christopher Alesi

    Stephen,
    A question about the handouts. How do you decide what exercise routine to print out for the week? The recipe guide, is it a general one or eating style specific? Finally, do you have the printouts binded or create a binder for the member? Formulating costs since I feel my market lands in between the 97 and 197 price points.Thank you.

    • Hi Christopher,

      I suggest doing what I do for new clients and that is just making photo copies of selected workouts, nutrition sheets, etc and then placing them in a folder for each participant.

      I figure that it costs me about $2-3 folder including ink and photo copies. I think it makes a great first impression and helps us seal the deal with clients who may be shopping around with other trainers…

      Hope this helps!

  • Richard St Pierre

    Probably one if the best of your best posts! The bests posts are the ones I need to re-read several times to get all the tips and valuable pieces of info. Great job!

    • Thanks and I appreciate the feedback!

  • Jeremie Guarderas

    Awesome, Awesome Post! I am very excited!

    I was also wondering how to get clients to write reviews about my service (ex. when you google a company and you see the review link) – any clue how that works?

    thanks

    • Hi Jeremie,

      Thanks and the review process works in a few different ways… On Google you have to set up a local business listing (free) and then you can send people over to review it (the more reviews the better!).

      On yelp, you can set it up, or someone else can… I suggest setting up your own Yelp listing and then sending clients there as well.

    • Jeremie Guarderas

      Thanks Steve!

      Please disregard the email I sent you about reviews…

      Good stuff

  • Wayne Large

    Awesome content, i had at least 6-8 people who wanted to join our group training sessions but could not afford the cost. Now i can reduce the price for these guys and do exactly what you wrote above. Great work Stephen

    • Sounds great and be sure to check back in and let us know how everything is working for you!

  • I know this is a massive post so what I would recommend is reading it over a few times in order to pick things up and take additional notes.

    Enjoy!