Fitness Business 101: Beware of Tech App Companies After Your Revenues
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I initially shared this commentary in a note to my readers on my Facebook Fan Page. It came out of the growing frustrations with doing business in San Francisco, in the midst of various tech startups who all seem to think that our industry capital is up for grabs. I’ve expanded on the thoughts a bit more for The Fitness Library and I’m creating a Fitness Business 101 Series that will continue to expand on the Business side of Fitness. We’d love to hear your thoughts as a Fit Pro.
As the owner of a Fitness Business in San Francisco I’m approached almost on a daily basis by up and coming tech companies who swear that they have the “next best thing”. The truth is that there are very few of them out there who are going to make your business any better.
It starts off with an email saying “Grow your Fitness Business” or “Other people in your field are growing their business with us.”
Look, your fitness business is a service based industry first and foremost. If you provide good service then you’ll get return customers and even new customers referred from people who are delighted by your services. But only if you ask and provide incentive to do so.
There are companies out there who market to you, convincing you that you need them and that their declining sliding scale price model that bottoms out at $5 is going to not only net you more clients, but in the end benefit the client.
This is the model of some new “fitness” programs. Pay less when you do more AND pay after the fact. They’ve funded themselves millions, promote and hype themselves with all types of press releases and media attention and newcomers to fitness will jump at the opportunity to coach. But all this is going to do is net you more headaches.
First of all, every trainer out there knows that services are paid in advance, unless you are contracted for hire. Even then, the entity you contract to is paid up front for services.
You also have to wonder how much you’ll get as a trainer. I mean, you designed the class, conducted the class and will only get a percentage of the profits while these other guys sit back and let their app work.
The entire concept of “pay as you go” and “pay less when you do more” is flawed when it comes to true fitness professionalism which at the end of the day is to provide clients results. For results we need commitment. This sort of model is guaranteed to net you uncommitted clientele. Not only are they uncommitted to YOU the trainer. But they are uncommitted to your program.
There are also so many discount companies out there that offer discounted deals for Fitness Business. One of them rhymes with Coupon.
They tell you that they provide new ways for clients to find you who normally wouldn’t find you. Here’s what really happens though. They ask you to blast the deal out to YOUR social media and when someone pays them, they give you a cut for something you could’ve done for yourself. Giving a 50% discount on your own instead of taking a percentage of that 50% sounds much better doesn’t it? But why devalue your service? Instead run a trial for new members or a “Bring a Friend” program.
What also happens is people who find your fitness business organically then end up scouring the net and finding your Discount Deal first. So wait…All your hard work to promote your company, get your website to show up on the first page of Google, etc is gone to waste now. It wasn’t the discount company that lead people to you; you led people to the discount company and helped them make money off of you.
This also tends to drive cheap clients to your business or people always looking for the next deals, and lowers the overall value of our entire industry. Pretty soon, no one is making any money because everyone is lowballing. I know people personally who have said that they just get deals from new companies and continually have a different fitness experience.
But you as a business owner created the deal thinking that you’d have a chance to convert this client into a long term member. Little did you know, the deal seeker had other ideas.
Then there’s the company that tells you to pay for an introduction to potential clients that may or may not sign up with you. You have to bid for the client and of course a client is gonna go with the lowest price.
Either way the company wins and you lose because you and like 10 other trainers pay $2 or whatever to send out a quote in hopes that this client chooses you BASED ON THE BEST QUOTE…meaning price and not skill or ability. If the client doesn’t sign up with you for the long term, then the company still gets your $2 and the $2 from everyone else who submitted a quote.
There are plenty of other tech companies that I’ve filtered through and my ears are still open to their courtship.
There are the companies that provide you with scheduling platforms, but place your business in the same pool with other businesses. Last time I checked I don’t want my business listed in a space where buyers can easily jump back and forth, compare and contrast.
Your goal is to captivate and capture people in your web space. The last thing you want to do is send them off your webpage or to a space that is now full of other businesses vying for their attention. That’s like someone showing interest in dating you and then you pointing them to a group of other potential suitors. Who does that?
But do you notice a trend with all of this? You’re fishing at the bottom of the barrel of clientele. You’re fishing the cheapskate market. This is the market of people who don’t value YOU or YOUR services. No matter whether you’re a terrible trainer, good trainer or great, they value you all the same and that’s very little. At the end of their day, it’s about bottom line and they don’t respect your services, expertise or experience.
Didn’t you go to school and spend money for a college diploma just like they did? I know some of us did.
Don’t you spend money on Certifications and continued education to enhance your ability to help people achieve these goals?
Didn’t you spend all those years volunteering, learning your trade, etc so you could do this job?
Do you walk into their job and ask for deals that don’t exist? Imagine, walking into a lawyer and asking them to come down off of their $400 an hour rate. Imagine going to your accountant and asking them to charge you less.
Now I’m not saying don’t create specials or rewards for clients and members. I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that when you build your business (whatever it is), you must value your services and if someone chooses not to come participate in your services because of price then they weren’t the people you wanted anyway.
With that said, having a heart and understanding is also necessary, so when circumstances present themselves in earnest and people want to be dedicated to their fitness, but are falling a bit short, be willing to creatively work it out with them.
But you want people who understand that this is how you put food on your table; This is how you pay your bills, take care of your wife and feed your kids. It’s important that as qualified trainers in this fitness industry that you never forget this…EVER!
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