The 80:20 rule states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes.
This rule is was spotted by Pareto and proven using statistics, initially he spotted it by noting that 20% of beans in his garden produced 80% of his peas. It has since been linked to thousands of situations. Particularly in business and economics.
What does it mean to fitness professionals? It proves what you’ve always known:
The majority of your income comes from 20% of your clients. Not only the majority but 80%!
It can also be applied to bad customers. 80% of your free time is spent on 20% of your clients.
Here is how it worked for me:
When I first read about the 80:20 rule back in 2009, I was like most “successful” personal trainers, run off my feet with no time to work on expanding my fitness business. I was only doing about 20 pt sessions per week but I was managing to make this take all week.
Clearly I was doing something wrong. There had to be a smarter way of doing things..
When I looked at my client base (25 individual clients) I realized that yes the 80:20 rule was really accurate for me, I had 20 pt sessions a week, but 12 of those sessions were to just 4 clients.
These 4 clients were also good clients they were getting results, they had regular slots in my diary so didn’t cancel or rearrange.
I also realized that this should be applied to where all my time was going:
10 of my clients which is a large percentage of my clients I was only seeing once a month or every 2 weeks. Obviously it takes more energy to look after 10 clients than 4. For example because of the sparseness of their sessions I had to prepare workouts for them to do on their own and also they often liked a regular slot in the diary but only used it 1 time a month.
I also noticed I had specific problem clients who took up a lot of my time and energy which I should have focused on the business. These clients would frequently cancel and move sessions. This took peak times directly out of my diary and also time to reorganize.
I also had the odd clients who were just incredibly hard to please and keep happy. I had to use a lot of my energy keeping them upbeat and satisfied, trying to inject energy into sessions.
Applying the 80:20 rule to my business
It is clear that I needed to find more high quality clients like the 4 I already had. These 4 clients were happy saw me regularly and were getting good results.
Firstly I didn’t sack any of the bad clients this just isn’t me. However gradually over 2 months I adjusted my client base.
Armed with this knowledge I took a new approach to my clients, I spoke to clients who I thought were struggling or not satisfied about their training and commitment to train. Some dropped off but the majority got more focused and I was able to relax and better understand their goals.
Key changes I made using the 80:20 rule:
Within 12 months my client base was much smaller around (12) I had around 25 sessions a week, I could easily do more because my diary was tidy and works. However 25 clients is plenty and this gave me more time to focus on developing other business ventures, and enjoying life.
I am now frank about cancelations and getting clients booked into regular slots. So if clients keep moving and canceling they get charged and will either become more focused or realize training does not fit for them right now.
I will only take on clients who will commit to regular weekly slots as a minimum, if they really want results then they really must book 2 sessions/ week.
Clients must always be happy and achieving their results, unhappy clients cause stress and worry they also can require extra planning and attention. I ensure all clients are having 6 week reviews on their targets.
These are small changes which can be tough to stick to. But they completely changed my business they allowed me to build a client base with regular slots that get results. Building a good reputation and freeing time up for me to build my business.
Your turn to use the 80:20 Rule
Take a look at your client base, where are you spending the most of your time?
Also look at the promotion work your doing? Is 20% of the work your doing achieving 80% of your client base?
The purpose of going through the 80 20 rule is to find the 20% of work in your business and that is making you the majority of your income. Also spotting the time wasting your doing for little reward in your business. You will then be able to apply more time to finding the work that is really making you money with little effort.
It sounds simple and it is, these small changes also may sound like they won’t make a big difference. But believe me they will have a big effect on your business.
Some other examples of the 80:20 rule at work:
There are loads of examples
- The distribution of wealth and resources on the planet.
- Fewer than 20 percent of employees are normally responsible for 80 percent of a company’s output.
- Fewer than 20 percent of customers are usually responsible for 80 percent of the revenues for companies.
- The majority of your phone calls are likely made to a very small amount of the people compared with the amount you have numbers for.
- You likely spend a large chunk of your money on few things (perhaps rent, mortgage payments or food).
- There is a good chance that you spend the majority of your time with only a few people from hundreds you know.
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