Your first payment from a customer is a big deal; it initiates your business into being “up and running” and helps you feel more legitimate as a personal trainer.
However, it can be difficult to figure out how to price your session fees as a new personal trainer.
Personal trainers know they are going up against some competition and often believe they’ll only get clients through very low session rates. However, this isn’t a fact by any means and won’t help you bring in customers more than a normal session price.
Plus, if you start off offering too low a price for sessions and it negatively impacts your finances, and customers are already used to your prices, if you raise them they’ll be unhappy about it.
On the flip side, if you lower your prices, you’ll have some very pleased customers.
Plus, a lot of personal trainers who are new think they need to charge lower simply for being a new trainer. But customers are purchasing a trainer on their value, and you could have years of experience over a competitor who has only been in it for a couple of years.
You need to keep yourself, experience, and skill set in mind. And remember that you do have expenses and bills to pay, along with trying to make a profit.
… so how do you figure out the best training session fee so you don’t get stuck in that trap of earning less than you deserve?
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Your training session fee should cover your expenses (equipment, travel, utilities, etc.) while still providing you enough overhead to make a profit. Plus, if there’s a goal salary amount you’re aiming for, it’s important to factor that into your calculations so you know what you’re working toward.
While each personal trainer’s specialties may influence how much the session fee will be, here’s a basic formula for determining the best price for your business:
X 35% profit margin
= How Much You Need to Make Each Month
Once you’ve calculated how much you need to make each month, divide it by the number of days you want to work, and then divide further by the number of hours you’ll work each day (for the sake of argument, say 8 hours, aka the typical work day).
There’s your session rate!
You should return to this formula on an annual basis, as you may find that your expenses have changed over time. In fact, we recommend examining it every three to six months when you’re starting out in your business, as you’ll probably need to adjust your pricing as you go.
That’s definitely a lot to throw at you, so let’s break it down so you’re getting a more realistic idea of what you should charge:
Get a good idea of how much you’re spending on personal training equipment every month (or every year), whether it’s replacing existing equipment, spending money on weights, or even just purchasing new equipment to help bolster your business.
You may skip the college degree, but it does help your reputation if you join a nationally-recognized organization for fitness. This can help you further your education as well, so it may be worth your time. It does cost you an annual fee to be a member, so keep that in mind when determining your session prices.
From renting a space and utilities to website fees, list all of your business expenses every month and add up how much you’re spending. You should also include any marketing costs you’ve incurred.
Don’t forget to keep track of receipts/invoices, as most of these expenses are income tax deductible.
If you’re not setting up your own personal training gym, you’re probably doing a lot of traveling to client sites and vendor destinations. Be sure to include travel costs in your session fees, as this is the money you’ll spend for wear-and-tear on your car.
For 2019, the IRS calculates the standard mileage rate at 58 cents. If you happen to be traveling further or staying overnight for a fitness expo or training, make sure those costs are included as well.
As a personal trainer, you have to thoroughly research the demographics of potential clients in your area. In some towns, charging $100 per session will seem reasonable, whereas other locations that will be considered too pricey. This also means researching the socioeconomics in your city to understand how much clients, in general, will expect to pay a personal trainer.
Just like going to the spa for a massage or heading to the dermatologist for a facial, a personal training session is a luxury, which means this ties into how you think about pricing depending on the area you’re located. Is it common for people to indulge in luxuries? Or, is it something people cut from their budget? You’ll need to adjust your pricing so you’ll actually get people who are able to pay for your sessions. This also means paying attention to the current economy and researching spending patterns.
What a client is looking for will vary, i.e. someone may just be looking to get a little more toned, while someone else is looking for extreme weight loss. Some people may also say “I want to lose 10 pounds by my wedding in 5 months.” What the client wants from you will call for more or less work on your part, so you can increase or decrease prices based on that.
Once you’ve added your expenses to determine how much you need to make to cover them on an annual basis, multiply that number by your profit margin. This profit margin is essential because this is where you’ll make money that you can spend on yourself, as well as investing in the business. Some sources suggest that personal trainers need to have a profit margin of at least 60% to stay up and running and if you plan to expand your business and hire more personal trainers to work for you.
Once you’ve finally added your expenses and included your profit margin, you’ll want to divide that final number by 12 months. The end result will be how much money you’ll need to make each month in order to make your ideal photographer salary. From there, you can calculate your daily fee or even your hourly fee.
The DOL has a Bureau of Labor Statistics, where you can see the current meridian annual wage for personal trainers. It may help you to see how much the annual salary is for other personal trainers, but also keep in mind the other factors as you come up with a price for your sessions.
If you’re just starting out and still feel uncertain about calculating your hourly fee or project rate, there’s no harm in getting a better idea of what your competition is charging and modeling it after them.
To that end, do a little online research and gather a pricing list for personal trainers who work in your niche and location. Most personal trainers have prices on their websites, or at least are willing to email price packages if you reach out to them. It can feel a little sneaky, but this technique can really cut the learning curve in half if you’re worried about setting the wrong session fees.
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When she’s not writing for SB, Pauline runs an intuitive healing business... and is still writing as she types up psychic readings! As she was raised by entrepreneurs, she knows what it takes to be a small business owner.
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