This question is one that plagues newly qualified personal trainers and old hands alike. It’s a difficult one to answer too as there are a number of factors that determine the answer.
In order to answer this question, there are a few others you need to ask yourself first:
- How much is the competition charging for similar services?
Pricing yourself at a drastically different price point to the competition has both merits and drawbacks. Clients will potentially be used to associating personal training with a rough cost. If you plan to undercut that, make sure you can justify the expense of your time, i.e. small group or semi-private training. Likewise, if you plan on charging significantly more, make sure you can justify the value in such a price increase, i.e. more years experience or specialist skills.
- What are you charging for?
Some people bill every component individually, i.e. an hours PT is just that. It doesn’t include programme writing, nutrition coaching or email support. Other trainers have one blanket fee. If you envisage more than 10-15 minutes of extra work for a particular session, it’s worth considering factoring that into the cost.
- How do clients pay for their sessions?
One of the best pieces of advice I ever had was to charge clients a monthly inclusive fee and make it automatic, either through standing order/direct debit or a money service such as PayPal.
The mentor who suggested this, made a strong case, which stood on three main points:
- You don’t have to re-sell your services every time payment is due. This has proved to be true for me, more times than I care to think. If a client has a big bill come up around the same time as your sessions are due for renewal, they’ll start to think of the latter as a luxury. If the decision to pay is automated, this happens a lot less.
- It gets clients to think about training as a long-term commitment, rather than a fad or impulse purchase. A lot of the time, clients enquire about personal training when they’re in the pre-contemplation stage. A trainer with good sales skills may move them to the action stage and get them to sign up. Often, when this happens, clients see the initial phase as more of a trial period, where they ‘see if they like it’. Whilst this is all well and good, it can sometimes result in lower levels of commitment or action from the client.
- It allows you to better predict and manage your income. One of the challenges I faced as a young personal trainer, was having a secure income. I remember worrying from week to week, what would happen if clients missed sessions or went on holiday. I remember one August, almost every single client took a two week holiday. The resulting short fall in income was a real pain. Now, even if clients go away, either on holiday or for work, the sessions they should have done in those periods get caught up before they go, or after they return. My monthly income stays the same regardless. The only time it changes, is when a client leaves, and even then, I have a full month to fill their timeslot.
Deciding what to charge can be a real dilemma, but if you consider the information above, you’ll probably find you know the answer already. One last caveat though. Always make sure you charge what you genuinely feel you’re worth. Selling yourself short is incredibly destructive to your self-esteem and in the long run, can lead to resentment. Likewise, don’t be tempted to overcharge clients, as they’ll eventually realise and your reputation may never recover.