To be a successful personal trainer, it’s essential that you’re not only highly efficient with your time, but also with the processes that you use.
Below are the 8 most powerful ways you can become more efficient so that you can win back more time, make more money and ultimately, experience more freedom.
1. Create a ‘perfect week’ template
A perfect week template will provide the foundation for you to manage your time and schedule efficiently.
Designing a perfect week template is simple; all you need to do is specify in advance how you want to spend your time during the week. Instead of opening your calendar every time you want to book a client and seeing a white wall of empty space, you establish designated parts of each day for seeing clients, writing programs, completing administration tasks and, most importantly, spending time with friends and family.
By structuring your time, you’ll have more freedom and peace of mind. Only seeing clients when you want to see clients and setting aside time to relax with family and friends will help you do both guilt-free, knowing that you’ve already allocated the necessary time for each in your schedule.
In the example below, you can see several clearly defined blocks in the schedule each day—some for training clients, some for doing administration work and even some for my own workouts.
2. Create client blocks in your diary
Scheduling clients together in blocks is the most efficient way to use your time as a personal trainer.
When booking a client, make sure to schedule their session back-to-back with other clients, as this prevents useless gaps of time between clients—which effectively becomes dead time.
3. Shorten your sessions
If you currently offer one-hour sessions, consider shortening the length of your sessions to maximize your time.
Unless you have a specific reason for doing a full hour session with your clients, consider shortening your sessions to 45 or 30 minutes.
There are three benefits to this:
- The cost to the client will be less, as shorter sessions should require less of an investment from your client.
- Shorter sessions give you the potential to earn more income per hour of training by allowing you to train more clients within a given period of time.
- You’ll be able to take on a greater number of clients in total. More clients, in turn, gives you a greater chance of generating more referrals—and will only lead to a healthier personal training business in the long run.
4. Start your day the night before
Everyone knows this, but few people actually do it.
The simplest way of increasing your daily productivity is utilising a to-do list. You don’t need a fancy productivity journal or app—just a pen and a piece of paper.
Starting tonight, write down the five most important things you need to do tomorrow, in order of importance. You’ve now created a strategy for how you plan to use your time.
The key to this is to attack the items on your to-do list in the order they were added. Don’t just do the easy things so you can cross them off the list. Focus your attention and energy on the most important tasks early in your day. If you don’t finish your to-do list, the remaining items should be added to your list for the next day.
5. Have a one-touch policy for administration tasks
One of the most common ways people waste time is by not finishing what they start, switching from one task to another and thinking that they’re multi-tasking when in reality, they’re doing nothing much at all.
When it comes to administration work, such as checking email or writing client programs, adopt the one-touch policy. It’s simple; if you start doing something like replying to an email or loading up an article to read, you’ve now touched it, which means you need to finish what you’ve started before moving on to something else.
6. Be in control of client payments
Having a clean and simple method for clients to pay you is essential.
Rather than leaving it up to your client to pay you on time—which we all know may or may not happen—a direct-debit arrangement allows you to choose how often your clients are billed during the month, in addition to helping to regulate your cash flow by grouping all client payments into one single deposit into your account.
There are numerous online platforms that offer this service and are easy to set up and charge very low fees (which often you can pass on to your clients).
7. Have a systematic approach to continuing education
Taking continuing education and development seriously is a hallmark of successful personal trainers.
Instead of randomly attending a seminar here, or aimlessly listening to a podcast there, structure your continuing education as a recurring event in your schedule.
Plan the courses you want to attend in advance and set designated times during the week where you can read in silence or listen to a podcast without interruption. You could even diarize it in your perfect week, as mentioned earlier.
8. Make it as simple and easy as possible for clients to refer others to you
No client will stick around forever, so it’s important that you’re continuously on the lookout for new clients by prospecting regularly and generating referrals.
Most personal trainers forget that their current clients are a potential goldmine worth of referrals just waiting to be tapped.
One obvious benefit is that those referred to you by your current clients come with an inherent sense of trust, as they are coming to you off the back of a built-in testimonial from a friend, family member or colleague. This saves you from having to sell them on the idea of training, as it’s already been done for you.
The key to generating referrals regularly is to make it as simple as possible for your clients to do so, and to give the process some structure.
I do this a few different ways:
- During the onboarding phase of starting with a new client, I give them two personal training gift cards. I enthusiastically explain that they can be given to a friend, family member or colleague who might be looking for some guidance on achieving their health and fitness goals. After a few weeks, I then follow-up with the client and ask if they’ve handed these cards out yet.
- I make a point of regularly inquiring after my client’s friends, family and colleagues to find out what they’re doing to keep fit and healthy. I’ve managed to get a load of referrals over the years, just by being curious about these associates of my clients, finding out what they’re doing with their fitness goals and extending the offer for a complimentary session.
- When a client gives me good feedback about our training during one of their sessions, or, for example, steps on the scale and becomes excited about a reduction in weight due to their training—I make a point to casually remark something along the lines of, ‘I’m so happy so that you’re making progress, Diane! By the way, I was wondering… do you have anyone in mind that would possibly like to experience the same kind of results as you?’
Grit and hard work aren’t the only qualities necessary to forge a successful career as a personal trainer. It’s the intelligent use of time, in addition to creating structure across a few key areas, that separates the thriving few from the average many.
I encourage you to put these tips into action as soon as possible. Side effects will include more space in your schedule, being able to streamline non-training-related tasks and increased freedom, which is the reason many of us chose this industry to begin with.
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