A PTs Guide To Building A Client Base From Scratch

If you’re just starting out as a personal trainer and have acquired all the necessary qualifications, your first step is to start building a client base. This can be a daunting task, so where do you start? How do you get your name out there and win your first few clients?

Here at Insure4Sport, we have spoken to some of the top PTs in the UK and they’ve revealed how they managed to build a strong client base. Here’s what they had to say.

Where to start?

Every PT begins in their own way. Some start working for mobile PT companies; others begin teaching classes or creating their own clubs and groups. Ed Kerry, founder of The Run Doctor, explained how he started building his client base.

“I started by teaching classes and running clubs, which meant I could network and put myself in front of the right audience,” said Kerry. “Then the class members would approach me for one-to-one coaching and my business kicked off from there.”

Another way to begin the journey to becoming a successful personal trainer is to work for a personal training company. This can help get your name out there and it is exactly what London-based PT Mathew Lewis-Carter did.

“When I first started, I worked for three different mobile personal training companies before I set up by myself,” said Lewis-Carter, founder of Kudos Fitness. “The companies get leads for new clients and once the owner signed them up, it was my job to look after them.”

It is not always easy to get started. Lewis-Carter found the first few months difficult, just as most people do when they’re starting a new profession. He cautioned against new graduates thinking clients will just come straight to them – it takes a lot of hard work.

A PTs Guide To Building A Client Base From Scratch

Word of mouth vs social media

This may be the era of social media, but word of mouth referrals are still the most common way a PT will get business. This has been the case for Lewis-Carter and Kerry.

“Despite the developments in social media, my best source of business is still word of mouth and client referrals,” said Lewis-Carter. “Ask any PT and they will say the same.”

That said, however, PTs understand that social media can fuel word of mouth recommendations. Lots of established PTs use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to post gym selfies or upload short video clips of one of their sessions in progress.

If, like Ed Kerry, you organise a fitness club, then using social media and email to keep in touch with members should also promote word of mouth recommendations.

Learn how to sell

One of the most important skills you can have as a PT is the ability to sell yourself and to believe in what you are selling. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry: it can be learnt. There are plenty of books and tutorials out there to show you how.

Having your own PT is another way to learn how to sell. Many PTs think they don’t need a personal trainer and have never used one, but how can you know a product inside out if you have never used and experienced it first hand?

Using a PT to keep on top of your own fitness also takes the pressure off you and you may learn something new to pass on to your own clients. If you have never used a personal trainer, now could be the time to start.

What to avoid

One of the main pitfalls that new PTs fall into is not charging enough, as Lewis-Carter explains:

“When you start it is very easy to undersell your services. After 6 months I cut back on my clients and upped my prices. If they can afford £50 per session, they can afford £60, and so on. This gave me more free time and meant I was only working with the clients I really wanted to.”

Another issue many new and even established PTs experience is complaints about customer service. As a PT, your product is not just your knowledge of fitness and health – it’s also your ability to build a positive relationship with the client.

This can mean not being late, helping clients stay motivated, writing personal training plans for them when they are not with you and even simple things like making sure they stay hydrated during and after sessions. Having a good relationship backed up with excellent customer service improves your chances of clients sticking with you and referring you to their friends.

“The best advice I could give a personal trainer is to be personable,” said Kerry. “There is no difference between my press-up and any other trainer’s. The difference is the personality behind it.”

Be a good role model

It should go without saying that you are the best advert for your services. If you are healthy, fit and toned, clients will believe you can help them achieve the same results. However, if you are out of shape yourself, this could mean that your clients may not take you seriously and will think you’re not capable of getting results for them.

When helping your clients achieve their fitness goals, you need to believe in what you are doing and show passion. If you introduce a new style of exercise regime just because it’s fashionable and don’t really believe in it, then this will show through.

Kerry recommends finding your strengths and promoting them. “If you think you have the best skipping skills in the gym, promote it and set yourself out from the rest. It’s your unique selling point,” he said.

A PTs Guide To Building A Client Base From Scratch

Top tips

1) Learn how to sell yourself. If you are not a natural, consider taking a course that will help you gain the necessary skills you need.
2) Be personable – it will help get those first few clients and referrals.
3) Be a role model – keep yourself fit and healthy.
4) Don’t undersell yourself.
5) Find your strengths and promote them.
6) Be reliable and punctual – a good reputation is key to a long-lasting career in this industry.

Insurance for personal trainers

Before you take on your first client, it’s important that you are properly insured. Insure4Sport offers Public Liability and Professional Indemnity cover for PTs, as well as the option of Personal Accident, Loss of Earnings and Sports Equipment cover at unbeatable prices. Get a quote today.

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