Business systems are all the rage in the fitness industry forums right now. Personal trainers are trying to find ways to automate as much of their business as possible to save time and increase profits.
Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with business automation but there comes a point where you automate so much, or you automate the wrong thing, that the client experience is ruined.
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The Rockefeller Corporation studied why customers leave one company for a competitor and found the following:
That’s right… a massive 68% of your clients will leave because they don’t feel as though you care about them.
So how do we create systems that will both save your business loads of time while simultaneously make your clients feel as though you care about them? Here are my top five!
1. Reply to Emails Straight Away
This one is so simple but extremely effective. Especially if you’re an online trainer and you deal with lots of technical questions.
A 2014 survey by Toister Performance Solutions revealed that 66 percent of companies currently take 1 day or more to respond to emails.
One business day to respond to an email is still accepted by many customers, with 43.4 percent of survey respondents selecting this option. The problem with this standard is that it leaves out 43.9 percent of customers who expect a faster response.
Think about the last time a client emailed you with a question or concern. For most of your clients the questions wasn’t a forethought. They didn’t think of the questions before they were doing whatever it is they were doing that caused the problem, right?
They were in the moment. Right in the middle of a workout maybe and they got stuck.
How do people feel when they get stuck? They get frustrated.
No matter what I’m doing, if a client gets in touch with a technical question, I break away and answer that questions or forward the email on to someone who can answer it immediately for me.
In my eyes, clients give you money to remove frustrations in whatever area of their life they’re paying you to manage. So if they feel more frustration for any longer than necessary they’ll feel less cared for.
2. Template. Templates. Templates.
If you find yourself replying the same thing to lots of people, create a template.
If you find yourself writing the same instructions over and over, create a template.
If you find yourself doing anything repetitive at all, create a template for it.
Templates are a great way to save heaps of time in your PT business because you’re almost definitely going to have to repeat yourself daily.
But here’s the caveat. Don’t create templates with a view to just copy, paste and send. Leave a few buts out like the intro and outro of the email or instructions so you can add a personal touch.
Mention whatever was in the email that prompted you to reply with a template in the first place. Ask how their piriformis muscle is doing after the minor complaint.
Personalise the email so that it doesn’t feel like a template.
In other words, care. But care faster… with templates.
3. New Lead Follow Ups
A lot of personal trainers I speak to miss this one out. Not on purpose. It’s just not something you’d initially think to include in your personal trainer business systems when new leads are the main focus.
Yesware found that if leads don't reply to your first email, you have a 21% chance of getting a reply to the second one. And if you continue to send even more follow-up emails, there’s still a 25% chance that you will eventually hear back from your recipient.
Why does this happen?
When people enquire about your services, they’re usually in a state of consideration or decision. That means that they either need more info to make a decision or they want to ask a question before signing up with you. They’re what you may have heard some people call a “hot lead”.
But if you can’t get to them right away because you’re mid client or asleep, that person will “cool” down and the urgency they felt when they initially got in touch will have disappeared. That’s normal.
This doesn’t mean you’ve lost a lead, it just means you need to reignite that lead and add some warmth by restarting their initial trail of thought.
This is where follow ups come in. A series of emails that you send out should the lead not reply to your first response.
I recommend creating four follow ups. You keep sending them until the lead replies and then you stop.
For this reason, I wouldn’t suggest adding these follow ups to an automated email client like Mailchimp to Aweber. Instead, add them to your calendar 2 days apart.
If you want to learn more about follow ups and get my follow up templates, check out this post in our friendly Facebook group (if you’re not a member be sure to join and I’ll welcome you in).
4. Social Media
The social media game is one of relevancy. The more relevant you are to your freinds and fans, the more Facebook will show your posts to them.
This is a pretty important concept to master but once you do you’ll be on your way to building a huge audience for your personal trainer business.
So how do we increase our relevancy? In short, we post things that people want to like, comment on and share. And we do it regularly.
This is where the system comes in. Using an automated system for your evergreen social media posts is a great way to maximise reach, get more likes and share and ultimately become more relevant.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Will using apps like Hootsuite, Meet Edgar and Recurpost have a negative impact on the reach of your Facebook posts?
Right now, we have no idea.
Big social media companies like AdEspresso, Buzzfeed and Buzzsumo have conducted several case studies and the results are mixed.
Some report marginal decreases in reach using third party apps, others report no decrease in reach at all.
Some posts even got a BETTER reach with the apps.
To me, this says that Facebook isn't penalising content because it's posted via a third party app. It's just penalising crappy content and showing good content to more people.
My advice is to use them. To get any kind of impact from social media you need to post on each channel around 4 times PER DAY! (Because it's not easy to create awesome content so that gives you a 1 in 4 chance each day.)
I don't know about you, but I ain't got time to post manually four times per day. Third party apps can massively cut the amount of time on business admin so you can have more time with clients, friends or family.
The big one! Taking payments. I’m not sure what the obsession is with taking payments from a personal trainer websites. If I was given a dollar for every time a PT said to me “I want clients to be able to pay on site and then sign the PAR-Q” I would have… only a few hundred dollars.
That’s not a lot of money but that is a lot of personal trainers asking for the same thing.
I fully understand the appeal. Watch Paypal notifications pop up on your phone while you’re watching Netflix and show it to your significant other with a wink that says “I’m the bread winner in this house!”.
But in reality, this just isn’t how people pay for services. It’s how they pay Amazon or a software subscription.
When a client has gone through the buyer journey and is finally ready to get in touch, they almost never want to hand you their money straight off the bat.
They want to talk to a company representative and ask questions.
Because no matter how similar every client is to you, everybody thinks they’re special. Everybody thinks that their situation is unique in some way and they want answers specific to them. They want to speak to you, not give you money.
So how do you automate this?
The system I’ve found that works best for personal trainers is having your payment links on hand. We use Paypal and so do a lot of our clients. So when a new lead says “yep, sign me up” we send a PERSONAL email thanking them with the link and instructions (you can also create an email template for this).
Think about it. Almost every sign up you’ve had has been the direct result of a conversation, right? And then you’ve scrambled for your Paypal login details or banking sort code and account number.
Create the Paypal buttons, save the link somewhere handy and then do a bit of copy pasting when the time comes.
Paying for software doesn't require a human touch because it's not a human service... but personal training is.
That's it. Reply to emails straight away, create templates, follow up with leads multiple times, create a social media calendar and keep your payment systems human.
Use the personal trainer business systems outlined in this post and you'll be well on your way to building an effective, efficient, client centric personal training business.
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