Pat Rigsby is the co-owner of several businesses in the fitness industry, including the Fitness Consulting Group. He also serves as an industry consultant focusing on the development of profitable personal training departments. To learn how you can improve your club's retention, referrals and profitability through personal training, take advantage of a special offer for all Step by Step readers and join www.PersonalTrainerU.com free for 30 days at www.ptdepartmentprofits.com. Rigsby can be reached at pat@fitnessconsultingroup.com.

Let's start with a business principal that is behind many — if not most — of America's greatest fortunes. It may be the most important business secret that you can learn because it is the most powerful and most reliable way to make a small business grow.

If you study many of the most successful businesses in the country both today and throughout history, you will encounter this marketing strategy. Yet it's hardly ever talked about. And it's often overlooked. What is this strategy?

Nothing sells better than price.

No matter how good your training programs are, nothing will grow your client base faster than lower pricing.

Let's look at history. Consider how many billion-dollar fortunes were created by inexpensive pricing:

  • John D. Rockefeller dominated the oil industry by buying up production and delivery and thus being able to offer oil and gas at prices his competitors couldn't touch. By keeping the prices of these fuels relatively low during his reign, Standard Oil increased the size of the natural fuels market tremendously. Because oil and gas were cheap, people used more of them.
  • Andrew Carnegie made a fortune by producing inexpensive steel.
  • Sam Walton changed the world with his discount stores.
  • Henry Ford made driving possible for the average person.

Is it any wonder that most clubs have an incredibly low penetration rate for personal training? Club memberships are often less than $50 per month, but usually those same clubs try to sell personal training to their members for $400, $500, $600 or more for one month's worth of services.

This all may seem too obvious to mention, yet it appears in few marketing books and most fitness business owners are oblivious to this concept.

So, whether you own a personal training studio or head up a personal training department in a club, you'd be crazy not to consider lowering your personal training prices as part of your growth and marketing strategy.

But how can you use this strategy without lowering what you make per hour?

How about these four ideas for starters:

  1. Work with people less frequently. You could easily offer programs that allow members to meet with trainers twice per month. Sessions could offer program design, body fat testing and creating a roadmap for the clients to follow.
  2. Semi-private training. The price point for each client can be lower and you can still make more per hour.
  3. Boot camps. Large group training again means lower price points for clients and more per hour for you with no reduction in frequency of training. Boot camps are great for clients that need accountability and motivation.
  4. Empowerment programs. These programs are as much about education as they are about actual training. They address nutrition, exercise and motivation in a group session and follow a standardized program.

So look for ways that you can lower the barrier to entry for your members to take advantage of your personal training offerings without lowering the value of your trainers' time. You'll be able to help more people and make more money, an ideal situation for any fitness facility.