Many personal trainers and weight-loss experts base their operations at a single fitness center, where they rely on clients to come to them for workouts. Shianne Lombard of Lombard Fitness decided to mix things up — and go to her clients instead. By offering her services at several different gyms, local parks, and people’s homes and offices, the mobile trainer has greatly expanded her client roster.
GoPayment: How did you build your reputation as a fitness coach and weight-loss expert?
Lombard: I was the personal trainer for a contestant from Maryland on The Biggest Loser who ended up losing 107 pounds, so that got me a lot of publicity. I was also the personal trainer and life coach for Dr. Phil’s Weight Loss Challenge Bridal Edition, which made me realize that the wedding industry was a huge potential market for my fitness services.
What’s been your biggest challenge since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, and how did you overcome it?
I only knew a few people when I moved here, so I tried to leverage my success from the Dr. Phil show with wedding people. I contacted wedding planners, florists, bakers, and photographers to create a group of potential clients for a “bridal boot camp.” I then emailed a florist at a Business Network International (BNI) chapter, who introduced me to a group of networkers, including a whole team of health-care professionals.
How do you market your services?
I met a webmaster through BNI who helped me build a new site to focus on my new city and a publicist who got me some local TV exposure. I now have that video clip on my home page. I also network every week with about 60 members at my BNI group who are terrific at giving me referrals. I also pound the streets with flyers about my one-hour boot camps and have used Groupon to great success. These have all led to tons of new clients.
Why did you change how you worked with clients?
I started in San Francisco by meeting clients based on their needs at fitness centers of their choosing, then began suggesting a choice of three outdoor locations and three fitness centers that were more convenient for all of them. I promoted these locales through one-hour boot camps.
San Francisco also offers more flexibility for personal-training studios, which allow trainers to work with clients even if their clients are not members of that fitness center. That kind of mobility was crucial to my success, because it meant I could work anywhere. Another factor in my mobility was using a scooter to get to multiple appointments within a short time frame.
How has using Groupon worked for you?
Phenomenally! One of my clients mentioned that she was a Groupon subscriber and got daily deals. I thought it would be a great place for me to market myself, though I would not make much money initially on the offers.
My first event through Groupon was for $15 each for two individual sessions, which was a discount of 85 percent off my normal fees. Although I got 320 new clients, I only earned $7.50 per client for each session, because I split the profits with Groupon. However, from those clients, I generated more than $30,000 in business over the first year. Groupon was so successful that I did a second offer four months ago for the same price and got another 400 new clients. I’ve earned about $16,000 so far from that offer. I’ve also posted FAQs and Groupon information on my website to minimize the phone calls and emails from hundreds of clients.
How do you work with so many clients?
I’ve hired a team of six personal trainers and taught them the way I like to work with my clients in individual fitness-training sessions. I always tell them, “Remember to step off the treadmill and achieve something great!” That means to get outside and work at your own pace doing the types of exercises that you enjoy most.