What’s a guy running a $50M PT business know about personal training?
If you haven’t heard Andrew Simmons talk before, he’s a personal trainer turned multi-million dollar business owner from the south side of Sydney, Australia. He has an inspirational story of how he made a big leap by starting his own studio. He almost went bust a few times before deciphering the code of personal training business before starting a very successful franchise, Vision Personal Training, that makes over $50 million in revenues.
Simmo and the business of body transformation
I was lucky enough to hear “Simmo” talk at a Max Personal Training seminar in Auckland. He had some real pearls of wisdom and really understands the business of body transformation.
The first thing you notice about Andrew is that he believes passionately about what he does. He’s so confident that he can sell 100 sessions at a time and if the program is followed 100%, he will guarantee results or give back the money and train that person for free until they do. That’s a strong signal to the client and to Vision personal trainers that have to back that promise up.
It’s clear that Vision emphasises clients feeling fit and strong rather than focusing on weight. Body composition, the amount of fat vs muscle that we have on our bodies, rather than the scales are likely to make a person really see the results. As he puts it, when you look great you’re a “…better person. People will want to hire you. You’ll be more attractive because you’ll inspire others”. I really like that last point on inspiring others because that’s the best part of a positive feedback loop.
What also resonated with me was Vision personal training approach to clients. He sees coaches only having 3 main capabilities: to educate, to coach and to inspire. You can’t force someone to change and feel motivated. This really backs up the approach we’re trying to foster with the Top Trainer app. Training is fine in the session but that about “my way”. Coaching is what is needed outside the session because for your clients, “it’s their way”. All my research relating to behaviour change and habit change backs up the fact that coaching is more effective than training in this area.
It’s clear that Vision personal training has some great systems in place to enable this level of training and coaching. I believe they have their own virtual personal training app and encourage weekly reporting so that clients stay on track. I imagine one reason their studios run so well is that they’ve got a system for every person that walks in the door and a system in place to follow up on anyone that leaves.
Andrew Simmons had a lot of fantastic advice on the business of personal training. He makes it understandable through the “horse and cart” analogy. The “horse” is sales & marketing and the “cart” is knowledge, talent and service. Having one without the other is kind of useless and if they’re not in sync, it’s going to be a hell of a bumpy ride.
In terms of which science he believes personal trainers need to focus on, he emphasises social science over anatomy. If the focus of your business is about changing lives, not just training bodies, then it’s pretty important to understand how people think, rationalise and view change. Clients need to be ready and committed to change before you start or it’s a coin toss whether you’ll be successful. That’s also why Simmo’s not afraid of using contracts because contracts cement commitment. If clients are financially committed they’re more likely to be psychologically committed to.
Andrew broke successful personal training into a lot of memorable R’s:
- Reputation (this affects everything)
- Raving fans
If you’re not a role model then it’s hard to lead change. He doesn’t mean being ripped, but he does put importance on walking the walk.
Rapport and trust are essential. I have been guilty of trying to fast-track this process but it doesn’t work. People don’t buy without trust and they don’t make themselves vulnerable (push themselves) without trust. Patience is pretty important here.
Andrew had a nice quote about results, “If you don’t get client’s results, you don’t deserve more of them.” He doesn’t buy the blaming your client excuse. It our job as trainers and coaches to educate, coach and inspire change. He also mentioned that setting the right expectations was important. This makes full sense. If you or your client agrees on a result that is just never going to happen, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Make the results reflect the effort the client’s going to put in and then work in and outside the session to keep your client on track because results lead to referrals.
Simmo sees personal training as a ‘referral’ business. Just like every other service business, customer service really matters. You need systems for following up, encouraging and keeping your client accountable which is where a software like Top Trainer can really help.
Before he finished he gave 6 book recommendations:
- The Confidence Gap by Russ Hayes
- Blue Oceans Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
- McDonald’s: Behind The Arches by John F. Love
- It’s Not About the Coffee: by Howard Behar
- 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman
- The E-Myth by Michael Gerber
He also had some great quotes:
- “It’s always impossible until it’s done”
- “Leadership is an activity, not a position”
- “Goal without a deadline is a dream”
- “Slow is fast. Fast is slow”
- “Actions of confidence come first, feelings of confidence come later” – The Confidence Gap
Credit image: andrewsvision.com.au