Most independent personal trainers face difficulty when it comes to billing their cleints.
As an independent personal trainer you have the ability to set your own pay rate and choose the clientele you work with, however it is ultimately your responsibility to collect payment for your services.
Chasing clients down for payment gets tiresome and takes valuable energy away from building your business and ties you down with administrative duties.
In this article we are going to discuss and review best billing practices for personal trainers that includes when to bill, how to bill, and more.
When To Bill Personal Training Clients
Deciding when to bill your clients is a crucial element in the efficiency of running your business.
While you have a number of options available when it comes to determining when to bill your clientele, some options have more benefits than others.
Before or After Session (Per Session)
Collecting payment on a per session basis can be effective for clients that do not wish to commit to monthly payments or larger packages.
This method of billing clients can simplify the process as you’ll know to collect payment for the session either before or after the session concludes.
Clients that do not have deep pockets or live paycheck to paycheck like the majority of students generally will appreciate this model of billing more than larger financial commitments.
However, this method of billing comes with a multitude of drawbacks which is why it is the least suggested and preferred method of billing personal training clients.
With this method the trainer’s paycheck is at the mercy of the client to continue training as the client can decide at any point in time to discontinue training.
Monthly recurring billing or package billing methods commit clients to a longer duration and ensure that the trainer receives payment for a promised number of sessions or time frame.
It is advised to collect payment before the training session begins, as it is a possibility to complete your service and not receive payment. This can result in chasing down for a client for payment, or a lack of payment altogether.
One way to circumvent chasing down clients with this method is to simply collect their billing information in a point of sale system such as MINDBODY Online or other point of sale systems to bill at your own convenience.
Overall, collecting payment on a per session basis can be convenient for the client. However, the lack of a commitment or guarantee of income and the possibility of chasing down payment makes this the most undesired method of billing for independent personal training services.
Package Based Billing
Package based billing offers more stability to a trainer’s projected income and allows flexibility to the client.
A common practice with package based billing is to incentivize larger session package commitments by decreasing the overall per session rate the more sessions that they commit to.
Number of Sessions Package Total Price Per Session 5
When presenting to clients a package, explaining the benefits of long-term education and goal setting can not only help the client feel more confident in their investment but to also save money by receiving a discounted rate per session.
As a personal trainer, one of the biggest insecurities is a paycheck guarantee.
With packages, it is easy to setup a Promise to Pay Agreement, or a contractual agreement between the personal trainer and client to make the commitment more financially feasible.
With a Promise to Pay Agreement the client signs a contract agreeing to purchase the entire package with variables for payment that can be adjusted to fit the client’s needs.
For example, a 30 session package at a discounted rate of $45 per session has a sub-total of $1,350. For many this is a large purchase and can make an uncomfortable dent in their bank account.
With the agreement in place you can set stipulations with your client to break down the $1,350 total into multiple smaller payments such as 5 payments of $270. With this agreement you will also set the frequency of payments which should align with the rate in which they are planning to utilize the sessions.
If the client in this scenario is using 3 sessions per week, then billing every two weeks would ensure that they have paid off their package before using all of their sessions.
30 sessions / 5 (number of payments) = 6 sessions per payment
3 sessions per week or 6 sessions every 2 weeks = 1 payment every 2 weeksBilling Frequency Breakdown
As previously mentioned, by utilizing stored billing information on a point of sale system you can run the payments at your own convenience, or have it scheduled to run the payments according to the predetermined frequency which will alleviate any problems of chasing down clients for payment.
One of the drawbacks of this particular billing method is that your client somewhat determines your paycheck.
If a client does not utilize their sessions as discussed at signing, the time it takes for them to commit to another package increases which will in turn decrease your overall monthly income.
Additionally, locking your clients into a contract can result in negative feelings towards your business. It is advised to use your best judgement with clients to determine whether or not the burden of your payment arrangement is financially viable for them.
Personally month-to-month billing is my preferred method of billing personal training clients and for a multitude of reasons.
With month-to-month billing your client pays a set rate for a set number or unlimited sessions. With this billing methodology I personally only sell unlimited training sessions.
The reason for selling a monthly package is that it places the onus of scheduling and using sessions on the client and away from the trainer.
One of the most time consuming tasks as a personal trainer is setting up your schedule and working around your clients’ schedule.
By shifting the burden of scheduling sessions to your client this can open up more time for you to focus on building and servicing the business or give you more time off.
There are many utilities you can use to enable your clients to book their sessions with you automatically, some of which include:
The main benefit of this billing method is that it allows you to accurately project your income with some degree of stability. Of course a client can cancel with you towards the end of the month, however over time you will determine your average churn rate and should be able to account for any cancellations.
Using a tool to auto-bill your clients on their bill date will save you time and decrease your administrative workload.
Keep in mind with this method you can charge whatever you like and set the parameters for the amount of sessions received every month — you do not have to allow for unlimited sessions.
In my experience most clients tend to average between 2-3 sessions per week when they have access to unlimited sessions.
While there is no absolute right or wrong way to decide when to bill clients, some of the aforementioned options do offer more convenience and stability to your income which makes running your personal training business a little bit easier.[thrive_leads id=’201′]
How To Bill Personal Training Clients
When you’ve determined the optimal time in which to bill your clients you can examine options available on how to bill your clients.
How you bill your clients is equally important as when you bill your clients as it protects both your interest and the interest of your clients.
Many personal trainers encourage and prefer cash payments from their clients, even going so far as to offer discounts for cash payments.
While cash is and will always be king, cash can be troublesome as it can be harder to keep track of, whereas electronic payments are index-able and can always be referenced to at a later point.
Some trainers prefer cash simply because cash is easier to obfuscate or to not report on taxes — which we strongly recommend against doing. You should always keep the books clean and report your income.
If you do take cash as payment, be sure to provide a receipt to your client and a copy of the receipt for yourself.
In any instance of receiving payment from a client, it is advised to use some sort of accounting service to help keep track of your income such as:
It’s understandable if there are a few personal trainers reading this article at this point and have rolled their eyes.
In my personal experience as a personal trainer I’ve rarely seen personal trainers take accounting seriously. They believe that accounting is for “businesses.”
Keep in mind that your personal training service as an independent personal trainer is a “business.” Whether or not you represent your personal brand (name) or have created a brand, your service is still a business and it’s advised to treat it as such.
By keeping track of the books and providing professional checkout experiences it not only increases your credibility but decreases the probability of an IRS audit in the future.
Professional checkout experiences are ones that are quick and seamless.
When it comes to how you bill your client there are a few electronic methods that we recommend to check out:
- Mobile Point-of- Sale Systems
- MINDBODY Online
- Front Desk
- Recurring Monthly Payment Options
- MINDBODY Online
While the options listed above are just a small handful of the solutions that are available, by using these tools or similar ones you will make your life easier and increase your credibility as a professional.
Additional Billing Tips
To finish off the best billing practices, we have some additional tips to make your life a bit easier, decrease your liability, and increase the quality of your service.
There are a couple of extra forms we recommend keeping (or electronic versions) that can assist you in facilitating your business.
My go-to form for all clients, regardless of how or when they pay for their personal training is a Session Tracker form.
The purpose of this form is to verify with a client’s signature the amount of sessions that have been used.
This will remove the probability of any discrepancies in remaining sessions from occurring in the future as you can easily reference this form at any point in time. I keep this document in my client folder.
Additionally, by signing this document the client is agreeing that they are exercising at their own risk and hold me (or my business) harmless from any damages and will indemnify me against any claims that may arise in the future as a result of them using my services.
While this may be redundant as they sign a full version of this before beginning to utilize my services, it serves as an acknowledgement of this risk and liability they assume by exercising with you.
Additionally in your client folders I’d recommend to keep some other documents which were referenced earlier in this article:
- Purchase Agreement
- Liability / Indemnity Agreement
- Receipt of Purchase
Once again, there is no definitive way to go about running your business. It makes sense to strive to be as optimal as possible when it comes to running your business, however the choice to do so is yours.[thrive_leads id=’201′]
Do you have any tips, tricks, or hacks when it comes to billing your personal training clients?
Leave your comments below!