Earning Cash During a Tough Economy

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On Friday, I sat in on the session “Strengthening Your Business in a Weak Economy,” led by Amanda Harris, vice president of fitness and wellness at ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers. She offered suggestions, mostly for personal training, about strategies to help clubs thrive during a tough economy.

Did you know that more millionaires were made per capita during the Great Depression than at a any other time in the history of the country? Harris pointed out this fact to show that even during tough times, there is opportunity—you just have to be positive and seek out those opportunities.

About 20 percent of your members have a very negative mindset about the economy. Another 60 percent of your members are concerned but are trying to muddle through. Both groups, however, are worried about what they might lose. The remaining 20 percent are positive and see opportunity in tough times. You need to have the same mindset as this last group, and you need to understand the mindset of the other 80 percent of your members so you know how to reassure them.

In the past, you told people what belonging to your club would add to their lives. However, now their focus is on not losing things, so you have to tell them what belonging to your club will help them keep –their health. During stressful times, health problems can arise, but exercise, as we all know, can help alleviate the stress and keep people healthy. You should be stressing this to people—that they can't afford to have their health turn sour, so they need to ensure they spend a little money and time now to avoid major problems later.

It's also more important now than ever to meet your customers' needs, so they see the value of their memberships. That also means not selling people something that they do not need. You should refer your clients to other professionals when necessary rather than trying to take on something in which you do not have the expertise. You should reassess frequently with the client to ensure that you are providing value.

Harris pointed out some ways that personal trainers can increase their value without decreasing their price (she does not recommend cutting your price because it devalues what you offer). She suggests offering half-hour sessions, buddy sessions, small group training and large group programming (such as boot camps).

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