One of the big trends in personal training these days has nothing to do with a new exercise or piece of equipment. Instead, it’s about moving toward a new business practice. For years the personal-training business has taken a “pay as you go” approach with clients, having them buy either individual sessions or packages. Thankfully, this no longer has to be the only option as technology has made it possible for even the smallest business owner to provide whichever billing structure he or she prefers.

One approach that has grown in popularity is monthly billing. Instead of paying for a certain number of sessions that may require frequent reselling of your services and the greater possibility of termination of the client-trainer relationship, personal trainers are offering monthly packages that include automatic payment and long-term commitments. The benefits of the monthly package are clear—less payment hassle, no negatives from skipped sessions and longer, more guaranteed income—but the question is how to sell this new method to the consumer. Getting clients to buy in on the monthly packages comes down to three key aspects: value, ease of use and social validation.

1. Create Value

As is the case when selling any part of personal training services, a client will not buy in if they don’t feel it is of value of them. The personal trainer cannot be the only one benefitting from changing to, or starting with, monthly billing instead of paying for individual sessions as you go along. The most obvious way to do this is to decrease the cost of service compared to a package of sessions. For example, instead of $400 for 12 sessions for a client who comes in three times per week, a monthly payment of $350 could be charged. The biggest obstacle against selling monthly packages is a client’s concern over missed sessions, so the price or other parameters of the monthly package must reflect this.

Another area in which to create value is within monthly package length. A personal trainer should always prefer a slightly lower steady income to a higher, but more volatile revenue. Monthly packages with three-month commitments should cost more than a six-month commitment, which is more than committing for a year. Monthly packages could also include free classes, access to the gym when not with a personal trainer, swag or a better parking spot. “What” is being added to the training package depends on the specifics of each personal-training business. The key to moving clients to a monthly package is that they are structured to be mutually beneficial for the customer and the trainer.

2. Branding

Although a client may have objections to moving to a monthly package, these do not need to be addressed unless he or she brings them up. Instead, focus on selling the benefits of this payment structure, one of which is convenience. With monthly billing, the client no longer needs to remember his or her credit card or check. Electric funds transfer can take the money from a client’s bank account automatically each month. The client is never left wondering how many sessions are left in a package, and phone calls, text messages or emails to cancel sessions are no longer sent with the worry of a late cancellation penalty. These notices are sent simply out of courtesy. In other words, monthly billing can take a lot of the “business” out of the client-trainer relationship and, as a result, more time and energy can be spent toward what the trainer was hired to do in the first place—get results. amSTATZ offers billing services and can help set up an electric funds transfer schedule for a client.

3. Make It The Norm

If a move to monthly packages is the approach you choose, you have to be all in. Every new client from now on should be sold on monthly billing and existing clients should be offered the chance to move over to the new payment system. Providing too many options can confuse the consumer and will just create more work outside of training sessions. 

Now, it is up to you to decide if this move will be mandatory or not. Personally, I suggest not making it a deal breaker and possibly lose a client over a billing structure that he or she didn’t sign up for in the beginning. Be patient, offer great incentives for those who choose to sign up for monthly packages and the holdovers will see the benefit eventually. 

You must decide which payment structure is best for you and your customers. Monthly packages have been shown to be valuable because they remove some of the headaches with the payment process and session counting. In addition, monthly packages can provide you with steady, long-term income. To convince clients to come on board, this new structure must be advantageous for them in terms of value and convenience and be seen as the norm within the business. 

Whether you have 10 personal training clients or 100, monthly packages are a great way to retain clients and ensure that they continue to be motivated to come in and receive the value you and provide. As an added tip, consider offering 10 to 20 percent discount on a client’s next package if he or she brings a friend along who also signs up for a package.