Before you even get your first personal training client, you need to make a few decisions. This includes choosing a name for your new fitness business, deciding how much you'll charge for your training sessions, and determining where you'll provide services as a certified personal trainer. An additional consideration is how you're going to collect payments.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for how to best collect fees from clients. Instead, there are several factors that, once considered, make it easier to select the options that make the most sense for your business.
Collecting fees for your training business requires some thought. If you choose an option that you wind up regretting, you may be stuck with it or risk losing some clients. Plus, once you go through all the work to set up a particular payment solution, you're less likely to switch to another. You decide that it isn't worth the time or effort. To avoid this type of issue, here are seven factors to consider.
If you provide personal training sessions at big box gyms, your fees are likely included in their gym membership packages. This places you on their payroll, which means they dictate how you're paid. This could be through direct deposit into your bank account, by check, or some other method.
Alternatively, if you work for a gym as a 1099 personal trainer or run your own in-person fitness business, you collect your own fees. Sometimes this requires paying the gym a portion. The same is true if you offer online coaching. In all these instances, you have more flexibility in how you collect payments.
It's often said that "cash is king." However, if you are strictly an online personal trainer, cash payments are out of the question.
Not providing in-person fitness sessions also makes it more difficult to collect payments via check. If you accept checks from clients you don't see, it forces you to trust them to put the money in the mail. Accepting checks also increases the risk that the payment could potentially bounce. This is evidenced by reports that Americans pay around $15 billion in overdraft fees every single year.
Perhaps the single most important reason to think about how you'll collect fees for your training business is client convenience. If your payment processing program is hard-to-use or overly complex, your business will suffer.
Offering the maximum client convenience generally involves providing multiple payment options. This enables each client to select the one they are most comfortable with.
If you are responsible for your own bookkeeping, consider your own preference as well. Yes, you want to be flexible—increasing your appeal to your training clients—but you also need to be able to record each payment received. This involves creating a system so no incoming monies fall through the cracks.
When considering your preferences, think about whether you want a cloud-based payment processing program or if you'd like to purchase personal trainer software. What's the difference?
With cloud-based payment platforms, you can access data from almost any device. This is helpful if you are on the go and want to check a client's payment from your smartphone or tablet.
If you purchase personal trainer software that doesn't involve cloud storage, your client's payment information is kept only on the device you used to download the program. This reduces your access but can be preferred if you want to make a one-time software purchase as opposed to paying monthly for a cloud-based program.
Personal trainers have many ongoing expenses. If you offer virtual training, your video platform might charge fees. In-person training sessions means you're paying to travel to and from the gym or your client's home. Running a personal training business also means having other typical business expenses, such as phone service, internet, bookkeeping, and office supplies. Add to this the fees associated with payment collection.
Using an online platform generally means paying monthly fees. Even if you purchase your own payment collection software, it doesn't mean that you get to keep the full amount. Some companies charge your business to collect payments via credit card or debit card.
For this reason, do your homework before selecting a specific payment collection option. Here are a few questions to ask:
How much do they charge to use their program?
Do they collect these fees monthly? Quarterly? Annually?
Is there a price break if you pay for a certain time period upfront?
Does their fee change based on how much they collect? (Some fee collection sites max out how much they charge per sale.)
How long does it take to transfer the money to your business account?
Some personal trainers require the client to pay weekly for their training sessions. Others collect monthly payments for small group fitness classes or charge a membership rate for a specific length of time. Sometimes there are one-time fees as well, such as if you also sell fitness products.
Choose a payment program that works for your particular training business. Ideally, this program should offer a few different collection options. This provides you more flexibility if you have clients that pay at different intervals. It also allows you to offer a discount for services paid in full without having to use a different platform.
New payment processing options are released all the time. While it may be tempting to go with one of these and increase your client's options, you run the risk that they won't be around for long.
The longer a payment processing company's track record, the more comfort you have that it will be available as long as you have your fitness business. You also have greater peace of mind that your payments will actually be forwarded into your bank account.
Once you've looked at all the factors associated with collecting the monies owed to your fitness business, it becomes easier to decide the best methods for you. Here are three of the best when collecting your payments online:
PayPal. This platform is trusted by service providers in several industries. This includes Airbnb, American Airlines, and Spotify. Approximately 277 million people have active PayPal accounts. So, it's likely your client already has one set up. Plus, if your online training business is global, this platform makes it possible to collect other currencies. It costs you nothing to set up invoicing on PayPal, but you do pay per sale. For U.S. fitness instructors with clients also within the U.S., the fee is 2.9 percent + $0.30 for each transaction. International fees are a bit higher (4 percent plus a fixed fee). You also pay more if you want the monies transferred to your bank account instantly versus waiting the standard 1-3 days. PayPal works for both one-time and recurring payments.
Stripe. Many service-based businesses also use Stripe to collect payments. Some of the most well-known include Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash, and Grab. With Stripe, you can collect both one-time and recurring payments for your business. Fees are the same as PayPal when receiving payments from clients within the U.S. (2.9 percent + $0.30 per sale). Though, if your online training business caters to international clients, its fee is a lot less (1 percent). Stripe also enables you to collect non-card payments. This includes payments received directly from your client's bank account, as well as payments received via check or wire transfer. Additional rates apply in these circumstances.
Through your online training website. Depending on which platform you use for your business website, you may be able to collect payments through it. The benefit of this option is that you can run your personal trainer business and collect your fees on the same online platform. Collecting your own fees also tells clients that you're serious about your fitness business. It says that you're willing to go the extra mile by setting up your own payment platform. The con of taking this route is that sometimes it costs more to collect monies this way. It's also important to check the security of your site so clients can pay your online invoices without worrying about having their private information exposed.
If your goal is to expand your personal training business and increase the payments you receive, one option is to earn additional certifications. For example, ISSA's Nutrition course pairs perfectly with personal training to make you a one-stop-shop for helping clients reach their health and fitness goals. Check it out and sign up today!
By becoming an ISSA Nutritionist, you'll learn the foundations of how food fuels the body, plus step by step methods for implementing a healthy eating plan into clients' lifestyles.