(Professionally and your lifestyle)
I recently met a young man whose chose to move into the personal training industry from a non-related industry by managing a team of trainers. It didn’t work out (no surprises there) and he was to reduced to earning the income that his competence dictated. Very little. Now he is dealing with bankruptcy. He chose to sidestep the issue of developing personal professional competency for the highly promoted business model of hiring trainers.
Before you conclude that this story is simply an isolated extreme case, let me bring this home – there are so few people in this industry who possess competence that you probably haven’t met one. And that means you are most likely also incompetent.
Before you lash out take a moment and consider the following.
So what do most trainers to in the absence of competency? To solve this little problem? Market.
Again before you get to knee-jerk reactions, please don’t state I’m anti-marketing, as some have in conversation with me. I want to be very specific – a service provider who needs to market is probably incompetent, and using marketing to compensate for this lack. With only 24 hours in a day competent service providers don’t need to market. They need to hide.
I ran a seminar in Los Angeles recently on business building for physical preparation coaches. There some interest from prospective attendees on how to market via social media. I let them know very quickly that I not only will not be teaching them how to market their services, I would definitely not be endorsing them getting into the same stinking marketing pond as the masses in their industry.
Some what is the result of your incompetency? I don’t really need to tell you, but here are a few of the symptoms:
- Not enough clients.
- Not enough great clients.
- Clients failing to turn up for appointments.
- Clients not staying with you for very long i.e. high attrition rate.
- Low hourly rate.
- Worry about where your next client is going to come from.
- Time poor.
- Working weird unsustainable hours.
- Financial struggles in life.
- Wondering if you should change professions.
- Latching onto the latest shiny object in certification (mostly trend based) and wondering why nothing changed.
- Inability to support a dependent adult. Forget about having kids.
Now you’ve either resonated with what I have said so far or your values have been so threatened you have got poisonous in your mind and started texting nasty things about me to your buddies. That’s okay, I used to the latter…
For those who are still with me, let me help you.
Want to get out of the crab bucket where 99% of the industry is struggling? Choose competence. So what is competence? Here’s my working definition of competence:
In the absence of marketing; and in the absence of an association with a gym, sports team, sports institution, commercial company, or professional organization, you are able to generate an endless demand from A class clients willing to pay you triple figures per hour.
[Thanks to the April intake of the KSI Time, Money & Happiness 21 Day Mentoring Program for showing me how you prefer to shape this definition!]
In other words, sitting in your garage gym at home, high paying enthusiastic clients line up to see you.
Fairy tale? Not al all. This is one of the performance criteria we achieve through out now 18 year old KSI Coaching program. This is what we create.
So what’s the downside? It takes time and commitment, and the right vehicle. It might take 5-10 years to achieve this. However once you have it, no-one can take it away.
So what do most do? Look to marketing instead.
In the early 2000s a young Los Angeles resident wrote to me with. They really, really wanted to work with athletes:
“…I have read [your book] "so you want..." thoroughly. While I agree with your statements it is easier for you with an established record to attract new clients than it is for an "outsider" like me to break in… I'd like to move out of the personal training field and train athletes exclusively but bills need to be paid…”[i]
They didn’t possess the delayed gratification required to achieve competence. So how did they create the perception of having a
“…stable of Olympic level athletes….’
…a few years later? Marketing. Marketing mixed with a dose of deceit.
You see this, and you are encouraged to model this behaviour.
So what’s wrong with marketing? Firstly it doesn’t solve your problem. You are still incompetent professionally. Secondly it wears off. You are going to need to keep on doing it, and that’s really time consuming. Once the clients find your limits professionally they are out of there. And you will never get off that marketing merry-go-round.
And then how do you give yourself a unique marketing position (USP) in a world where everyone is marketing the same claims? You don’t. Unless you go to telling lies, which is tragically not only the norm in this industry:
“…The reality is that the lies in fitness far outweigh the truths….” [ii]
“… It's OK to tell a lie if you know that it's a lie... Once a personal trainer or performance specialist knows the truth then, they can tell a little white lie to make the sale or to get the client on board. The key to selling fitness lies (clever play on words) in knowing the truth but, also knowing when to lie….” [iii]
Is that who you are? A liar? For the most part, I don’t believe so. It takes a special person to bullshit year after year and still feel comfortable with themselves.
Now for those who are driven to action to improve their competence remains the challenge of selecting an educational path where you truly will achieve competence. As the late Jim Covey would say:
“Before you lean your ladder up against a building, make sure it’s the right building!” [iv]
If you tie your cart to the wrong horse your time and money invested will be of little to no use in changing your competency
If you are attracted to my definition of competency, and you would like some of that yourself, before you select a mentor or teacher, ask yourself – how do they shape up against this definition?
Now before I wrap some of you might have been wondering why I said:
“…and in the absence of an association with a gym, sports team, sports institution, commercial company, or professional organization,…”
They all offer great opportunities – if you like depending on others for your future.
If you open a training studio, locals will come. You will have clients. However would they travel to you if you closed the gym and moved 30 minutes drive away? Probably not. They are simply clients of convenience, not really making a massive effort to get to you.
If a sports team - especially a high profile team - employs you you can get some extra clients by marketing this fact. For as long as this marketing fact is relevant. In other words, you might expend a bit of energy wondering and worrying who will give you your next contract, as you depend on this.
The same goes for a sports institution. And the same for an association with a commercial company – it’s great whilst you are their seminar spokesperson, but what if they find a new, younger and better model? Where will your income come from?
So they are all great short-term income options. However I suggest that for the most part, any clients you attract are because of your association with these organizations, not because of your competence. And you probably don’t want to find out whether you have stand-alone competence – so you are going to hang on to the organizations with desperate dependency.
If you truly want to be in control of your destiny, competency is the solution I recommend. We’ve been giving physical preparation coaches the best option to achieve competency, and we’ve been doing it for 18 years as the time of writing this article. Yes, we are not the best at marketing. But on your side, have you been doing what everyone else is doing? Being attracted to the bright, shiny objects? Empty vessels making the most noise? How’s that been working out for you….So yes, our web site and marketing are sub-par. But we just happen to produce physical preparation coaches with the greatest competency, who attract an endless demand of A class clients lining up to pay triple hourly figure for their service.
You decide….marketing or competence. If you chose competence, here’s where you can get started: http://kingsports.net/Coach/courses/menu.htm
[i] Personal communication, details reserved to protect the message.
[ii] Reference reserved to protect the message.
[iii] Reference reserved to protect the message.
[iv] Wow, imagine that! Giving credit! I trust my solitary habit of doing so has a positive impact on you to adopt what industries with higher integrity deem normal..