_MG_0320One of my trainers Daniel at Vision Clarence St in Sydney’s CBD asked me the following questions, to aid in his development and attaining his dream of owning his very own personal training studio.

I thought the questions were very good and hopefully my responses- which have been edited for this post provided him clarity and a better idea on how to make his dream a reality. This post will ideally give those who wish to emulate some of my own journey and successes with an insight into these commonly thought and asked about questions.

  • How much money do I need for a studio?

The more the better of course! Each and everyone will have a different set of circumstances and financial hurdles they will have to overcome to obtain the finance necessary to fund the opening and initial running expenses of your own personal training studio. My advice would be to consult with a financial planner who will get you on the right track according to your specific current position and your future goals. Inform them of your dream to open a studio and they will tell you exactly what you need to do to make this dream a financial reality.

  • Should I go into partnership or go it alone?

I covered this topic in the post: Avoiding the pitfalls of partnerships. In addition to the points mentioned in the post linked, I would strongly advise against relying on your clients for financial backing, which is why many trainers are considering a partner in the first place – for financial backing. Whilst it is a kind gesture for a client to offer support, and one that was offered to me by a couple of clients in my time as a personal trainer, when the time comes to collect and the paperwork is ready to sign many will back out. Relying on others goodwill to finance your dream is a mistake. The best scenario is to secure your own financing. If a client wishes to invest after this is in place, decide if it is an offer you would like to accept.

  • What is a realistic time frame to achieve studio ownership?

The answer most people want to hear is as soon as possible!. The truth is it may take much longer than your initial intentions. My journey from personal trainer to studio owner took 36 months and I could have easily invested another 12 months into my development, which would have saved a lot of stress and heartache in my first few years of ownership. I’m very glad I didn’t pull it off any sooner that’s for sure!

The time it will take you will depend on so many variables: the person you are, circle of influence, your inherent abilities and the development plan that you have for yourself as just some examples. Great wisdom can be found in Abraham Lincoln’s quote: “Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening my axe”. Your development and commitment to sharpening the axe will mean the difference between starting early and starting well. No point starting early and not being able to complete the job in the required time. Starting well, will provide you with an almost an insurmountable advantage.

  • What do I need to do between now and then to develop myself?

Think like an owner, in effect you have to be before you can become as the saying goes. Being a good trainer, or even a great one – doesn’t make you a solid businessperson. As a personal trainer you can only impact the business so much. If you are averaging 30 hours of PT that should equate to generating for the business around $2500-$3000 per week in revenue. Whilst that might sound like a lot, in actual fact its around 25% of what is required to just break even for a relatively new studio after you factor in all the overheads associated such as leasing the premises, franchise fees, marketing, equipment, taxes, wages, electricity and other numerous related expenses incurred in keeping the doors open, and as you know the costs keep rising.

Outside of your PT sessions and providing high levels of customer service, you need to think about maximising your time and adding as much value as you can. “Do more than you are paid to do as an investment into your future” is the great advice from Jim Rohn.

An owner of a studio cannot rely solely on their ability to perform PT sessions in their own business as there is a limit to how much you can do and the value you can add.

For example by mentoring a trainer and getting them to a high standard you increase the business without working any harder yourself. Revenue is up, management is happy, the clients that the new trainer is servicing are happy, the owner is happy,  you are developing, earning more money, learning and will be subsequently satisfied and happy. Failing to mentor and lead trainers before owning your own personal training studio is a huge mistake. Team is everything.

In summation focus on the horse before the cart, develop your speaking skills so you can best market yourself,  build and control your online profile which is so important under today’s social media microscope, up-skill your marketing, leadership and finally your managerial skills. You wont be able to excel at all of these, but in the beginning you will not have a team of people around you or the budget to outsource the people that can take on these roles. It is best to get a grip of most of these aspects so you can take charge until you have built a great team to lead, and can draw from their complimentary strengths. 

You may also like to read The Fatal Assumption 

  • Do I need to manage a studio first?

I went straight from a Senior PT role to owning my own personal training studio. I was never officially titled as a Manager and was always ‘managed’ by someone employed to do this job. What I have since realised is the title manager means little. You can in fact act and perform like a manager or a 2 I.C well before being given any title. Just like my studio’s manager Mario Vaca, who was stepping up and applying his superb customer service and attention to detail to the studio well before he was promoted to the manager title. This effort does not go unnoticed and he was recently awarded the coveted 2013 Vision Personal Training’s National Manager of the Year award and this all started by first leading without a title.

  • Would it be better if I did?

Managing a studio is a great way to learn and to make mistakes in someone else’s business, it will probably save you time and money by first managing a studio. Some people are not made of “the right stuff” to eventually become an owner or have little desire to take on the extra responsibility once they are exposed to more and more of the inner workings of a business. By first becoming a manager it is the closest thing to going out and owning your own studio, so before making that commitment and taking on those responsibilities it can be a great stepping stone.

  • Is there an opportunity to manage a studio?

There is always room for a leader in any business! Most owners will need a 2 I.C and a succession plan if/or when the current manager decides to leave and open their own studio. As mentioned the title of manager is meaningless it is just that a title. You should be managing yourself first exceptionally well and then you can move on to managing others.

  • What was your biggest challenge?

The first 2 years, were disgusting. Having the mental and emotional toughness to get through those first couple of years. Many trainers are not prepared for what it takes to get through that phase, the work I put in and the clarity of my goals helped me through this. I really only started getting it, by swallowing my pride and putting my hand up and say I have no f*&^% idea can you help me? This was a big step forward for me rather than trying to figure it all out myself. The sooner you learn to do this the better, no one has it all figured out! Hire a coach, or get a mentor who has done what you wish to do.

I hope this post has been insightful for you. Please if you have any particular questions on how to own your own personal training studio please comment or send me an email. I would happily respond and can use your questions in future posts.

Elliott.