How to take monthly recurring payments in your personal training business

Ever wondered how to take monthly payments in your personal training business and never have to ask a client for cash again?

It’s no secret that you can have  regular cash-flow and income if you get your clients to pay you automatically and on a monthly basis.

One of the biggest problems for a lot of personal trainers is having consistent income and cash flow.

Too many personal trainers are relying on clients buying big packages to give them a lump sum, or simply going from session to session waiting for their next payment.

I get it.

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In my own personal training business I used to sell blocks of 24 personal training sessions.

Every so often I would get nice big lump sump of hard cold cash and expect the clients to use up the sessions over 8-12 weeks.

Unfortunately there would be a week they were on holiday. Then a week where they were sick and a week where they had late meetings at work. Before you know it the renewal has taken up to 6 weeks longer to come. The result for me was my diary was full but I wasn’t making anywhere near the money I should have been.

Even though I charged clients for late cancellations and missed sessions my consistent income was a big problem. It resulted in me trying to fit more clients in, working more hours and ruined my work life balance.

One of the easiest way to solve the problem just move to a pay monthly system. This allows you to start having a really good idea about how much money you will have each and every month on a consistent basis. You can know when you are being paid and make plans based on this.

The Benefits

Clients are less likely to cancel personal training session if they feel like they are going to lose the session if they don’t show up. In fact I saw my clients start to have even better results as they were being more consistent in their training.

Time and time again though I’ve seen personal trainers avoid changing the way they charge.

The biggest barrier is squally the trainer themselves.

They worry about how the client will react.

They stress about the detail of working out how much to charge per month. How to actually break the news to their clients. What will happen if the client misses a session, what if they go on holiday, what about when you the personal trainer goes on holiday (you do take holidays don’t you)?

These are all small details and often prove to be stumbling blocks, but they are just mental blocks.

Your concerns

How will the client react? In my experience and from speaking to other trainers clients don’t have a problem. They pay their rent or mortgage monthly, their utility bills, their phone contract, gym membership and they are paid monthly, trust me they are used to paying things monthly.

How much should you charge? The best advice I’ve seen is work out how much they should be paying per week, then multiply that by 4 – 4.3. There is 4.3 weeks per month, so you can either charge them based on a 4 week month or that little bit extra.

What happens when they miss a session? Just give them the times you are available for them to reschedule the session too. Make the client responsible for booking another time slot that suits you. I used to give clients 2-3 weeks to make up for missed sessions. I would even sometimes fit them in if I could a little extra before holidays and after they got back. They were happy, I was happy I was getting a monthly payment.

What to do when you go on holiday? Personally I like getting another coach to cover for me. Because the client was paying monthly I knew I could pay another coach to do the sessions. I’d just leave a plan.

How do you inform your client of the change? Just tell them or write them a letter. I sent out letters explaining I was putting my fees up, if they wanted to stay on their current rate they needed to pay monthly. It was as simple as that. The best thing was that when I introduced monthly fees my income went up 30% over night.

The next barrier personal trainers face is how to collect the money monthly. You don’t need to pay for expensive direct debit systems. Here are 4 of the simplest methods that you can set up pretty quickly.

How to take payments

Paypal: You can simply set up a recurring payment option for a PayPal button.
Pros: Really easy to set up, clients know and trust the brand
Cons: Fees can be quite high

Stripe: Stripe is one of the most popular ways to collect monthly payments and is currently what I use the most.
Pros: Easy to set up
Cons: Can be a little tech and usually needs to integrate with something to act as a buying form. E.g. Wufoo, gravity form plugin

GoCardless: One that I’ve not used but heard good things about. A great way to collect direct debits.
Pros: Really low fees
Cons: Pro account is £200 although probably unnecessary

Standing orders: A way of having clients pay you with no fees. Many gurus say to avoid standing orders as you need to get the client to set them up. I discovered though you can create your own branded standing order mandate, as long as you have all the correct sections (just grab a form from your bank) and you can take the completed forms to the clients bank. Most people do internet banking these days so they simply set it up themselves but I have used standing orders really effectively
Pros: No fees
Cons: client is in control and can cancel it whenever they like

Summary

So if you aren’t already taking monthly payments why not? Whats stopping you?

If not go ahead today and start moving clients to paying you monthly. Your bank balance and your stress levels will thank you.

 

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About the Author Matt Murphy

My name is Matt Murphy – Internet Fitpro's tech genius and manager of the design team. I live near Watford, and currently still operate my PT studio in Ruislip.