When I was working as a personal trainer I used to find it really uncomfortable at the end of every “block of personal training sessions”. The awkward conversation around asking a client to pay for their next block of 10 sessions.
“What if they had already decided to cancel?” I would ask myself, or “What if they wanted to leave it until next week to pay me.”.
Have you ever wondered how to make monthly payments in your personal training business? I'm going to share the simple changes you can make so you never have to ask a client for cash again…
It's no secret for most personal trainers that you can easily have a regular cash-flow and income if you get your clients to pay you automatically every month, just like their phone bill, car or house payment.
Consistent Income For A Personal Trainer
One of the biggest problems for many personal trainers is not having a consistent flow of income. Some months, life is sweet and the cash is rolling in, other months you're scraping down the back of the sofa for lost pennies to buy your daily coffee.
One of the main problems is 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. It's no wonder so many great trainers leave the fitness industry so early.
I Know Exactly How It Feels
In my own personal training business, I used to sell blocks of 24 personal training sessions.
Every so often I would get a nice big lump sum of hard cold cash from a new client, and expect them to use up the sessions over 8-12 weeks.
Unfortunately, there would be a week where they would be away on holiday. Then a week where they were sick and a week where they had late meetings at work and had to rearrange sessions. Before you know it the renewal has taken up to 6 weeks longer to come. What this meant 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 and regular income was a big problem. It resulted in me trying to fit more clients in, working more hours and ruined my work-life balance to the point where it was non-existent.
The Simple Solution
One of the easiest ways to solve this problem is to move everyone to a pay monthly system. This allows you to start having a clear idea of how much money you will have every month consistently. You will know exactly how much you are getting paid and when you are getting paid, allowing you to make plans based on this.
On top of this, it also helps your clients budget how much they are spending on your services, just like they would with any other expense.
The Benefits of Taking Monthly Payments
Clients are less likely to cancel a personal training session if they feel they are going to lose the session if they don't show up. In fact, when I implemented this system into my own personal training business, I noticed my clients getting better results as they were being more consistent in their training.
However, time and time again I’ve seen personal trainers avoid changing the way they charge because of false beliefs.
The biggest barrier is usually 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)? What happens if they decide to leave?
These are all small details and often prove to be stumbling blocks, but the reality is they are just mental blocks.
Overcoming the Barriers Stopping Your Consistent Cash Flow
How will the client react? In my experience and from speaking to other personal trainers, most clients don’t have a problem. They pay their rent or mortgage monthly, their utility bills, their phone contract, gym membership and they are all paid monthly. trust me they are used to paying things monthly. In fact, many will be happy about this as they get paid monthly themselves.
How much should you charge? The best advice I’ve seen works out how much they should be paying per week, then multiply that by 4 – 4.3. There are 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 them a plan.
How do you inform your client of the change? Just tell them in person or write them a letter. I sent out letters explaining I was putting my feet 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 when I introduced monthly fees my income went up by over 30% overnight.
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 Monthly Payments in Your Fitness Business
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 bit techy and usually needs to integrate with something to act as a buying form. E.g. Wufoo, gravity form plugin, or Moonclerk
GoCardless: One that I’ve not personally used but have heard good things about from our clients. Go Cardless is a great way to collect direct debits for personal trainers.
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. However, I discovered 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.
Pros: No fees
Cons: Client is in control and can cancel it whenever they like
What's Stopping You?
If you aren’t already taking monthly payments in your personal training business then why not?
What's stopping you?
If not go ahead today and start moving clients to pay you monthly. Your bank balance and your stress levels will thank you.