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, sign up for his free newsletter at www.fitnessconsultinggroup.com. Pat can be reached at pat@fitnessconsultingroup.com.

As competition for members grows, many clubs are starting to focus on increasing their revenue per member, primarily through personal training sales. Although semi-private training is in vogue right now, one-on-one training can still be the core of a successful personal training department if you employ these four tips:

1. Offer 30-minute sessions. By offering 30-minute sessions instead of hour-long sessions, you can make your trainers’ time more valuable while lowering the price barrier for your members and increasing your penetration rates. If you normally charge $50 per hour, you could offer 30-minute sessions at $35 per 30-minute session. This would give you a much better return on your trainers’ time, allow those people who can’t afford a $50-per-session rate to still benefit from your services and enable your staff to double the number of people they can work with during the club’s peak hours.

2. Add a session-per-month offering. There are probably quite a few of your members who would like some coaching and guidance from one of your personal trainers, but they either can’t afford working with them on a weekly basis or don’t feel like they need that much assistance. By adding a one- to two-session(s)-per-month option in which your trainers can update clients’ programs, monitor their progress and help them devise strategies to break through any plateaus, you’ll not only tap into a bigger market of prospective clients and generate more revenue, you’ll also dramatically improve your club’s retention and referral numbers.

3. Move from packages to EFT programs. You don’t sell packages of 12, 24 or 36 gym visits do you? Asking people to make a commitment works with your memberships, so why not in personal training? There will be little if any resistance to using this approach, and it yields several benefits. Simply set your clients up on four-, six- or 12-month automated payment plans that are directly drafted from their checking account or credit card. This lets prospects know that you are only interested in taking on clients who are committed to getting results, and it prevents your trainers from being bill collectors. You’ll also get great piece-of-mind knowing what your receivables base is for the next few months.

4. Understand that members want immediate gratification. If you choose to employ tip No. 3, then using what I call the “accelerated results” program is a great way to help your members get results quickly and increase your club’s profits.

Here’s how the accelerated results program works: If a client enrolls in a six-month personal training program in which they will pay for eight sessions per month, we allow them to use 12 sessions in each of the first two months to jump start their progress, then they transition to eight sessions in months three and four, and four sessions in months five and six. Clients love this type of program because they want positive results quickly, and this allows them to get extra help in the beginning (when they need it most) while spreading out the cost.

Integrate some or all of the tips, and you’ll soon be rewarded with an increase in your personal training department’s revenues. You’ll also have a happy member base.