How do I serve more customers (and make more money) without working more hours?


I am a personal trainer (2 years) and have owned a private studio for 1 year. I bought the business and have retained almost all of the original customers, plus picked up others through referrals from local physical therapy offices and a gym a used to work at. I am also a mom, wife and often the driver for my kids as we live 13 miles from town, so they depend on me for rides to and from school several days a week. I also like this time with my kids and don’t want to give it up. In all, I currently see 25-29 clients per week for hour long sessions. A couple of clients come as couples and pay a slightly discounted rate ($115/hour). Two other clients come at the same time and each pays full price ($75 each). All others I see individually. I am just starting to do weight loss coaching and currently charge for my time on that as well. Between planning, scheduling, and the continuing ed that I am doing, I am at about 40 hours per week.

The clients I see don’t want a distance model, they want an efficient workout where they just have to show up and have a workout that is precisely tailored to their needs and they have the ability to pay for it. My issues are: I have had two referrals this week and I feel obligated to get them in, (thought: I need to make all the money I can now because a recession is coming, we need to build our emergency fund, you should never turn away business that fits your customer base, I don’t want the word to get out that I am not taking more clients, etc), but am also resisting it (thoughts: I need to leave time for the coaching class I am taking, for my family, for my own workouts, for workout planning–providing amazing experiences to current clients is most important to long term business success.)

I have an old belief that I learned in the corporate world that may be feeding my worry. “If you’re not growing your dying.” was the mantra of my old employer and we were always looking for new ways to add revenue and customers. In that environment, growing meant revenue (usually on less resources). I’ve been thinking of it as customer base in my current business. What’s your advice on expanding your customer base? Is it critical or is there ever a time when it’s ok to just go deeper with the customers you already have and find ways to serve them better without adding new ones?

I am on track to gross $90K this year, with a goal of $110K as the pipe dream . I would like help with options for making more money without working many more hours. My ideas so far are: see more doubles, raise prices, cut expenses (minimal impact as overhead is low), work more hours.

Whew, that’s a lot. I look forward to your sage guidance!