ONLINE VS OFFLINE SERVICES, HOW IS THE INDUSTRY CHANGING AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE INDICATORS?


It’s no surprise that many industries have had to pivot the way that they serve their clients, the Fitness and Coaching industry is one of those sectors that has had no choice but to readdress the way in which they work with clients. Whether you are a Personal Trainer, a Therapist, Studio Owner or anything in between I’m sure you’ve been having long conversations with yourself about what the most suitable way forward is for you. I’ve had this exact conversation with so many of my clients over the last few months and thought that it would be great to share some of my OPINIONS (this is important, I don’t have a crystal ball unfortunately so take what I say as it’s intended which is well placed, educated guesswork).

The most obvious comparison I’ve seen is the online vs offline debate, people considering whether they should move all of their services online, whether they should stay online, whether going back to in person services is the right thing to do, will people even want in person services etc etc etc. All very valid points. There is a very clear distinction to make early on, there are plenty of shite business coaches out there who will tell you that you can offer a service online that is equal to or better than in person services and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a load of rubbish. How can you properly correct someones form without physically being there? able to make small adjustments as you go, how can you engage with someone on the same level without being able to convey body language or without a delay because everyone is rinsing the broadband?

Now that is not to say that online services aren’t good, because they are, they are absolutely amazing but I just think it’s important to say that anyone who says ‘oh in person PT will be dead in a few years’ is trying to sell you on some pipe dream so that you buy coaching from them. Online services can be a FANTASTIC tool for clients that want flexibility, for business owners that want to maximise time, clients that already have an understanding of how to execute on the foundations of what you offer etc. Online services allow you to help more people than you’ll ever be able to in person but the point that is important to remember is that they can not fully replace in person services within the industry. You can run a fully online business and very successfully, but if you run a physical service do not worry, the online brigade won’t be stealing all of your clients and destroying your business any time soon.

So Should I Work Online Or Offline?


The short answer is it depends. There are so many factors to consider not only from your perspective but also from the perspective of the client you’ll be working with. As a business owner what sort of lifestyle do you want? is the service that you offer something that can be tailored into an effective online product that allows customers to progress? do you just love working with people physically and can’t get enough of actual, human interaction that isn’t through a screen?

Running an online business can be just as time consuming as running a physical operation, take it from someone who knows! You see it all the time, pictures of people sat in the Bahamas on a laptop apparently making £100,000,000 per hour (slight exaggeration) but I call bullshit. Think of the administration that comes with running something of any sizeable income potential, unless you either outsource everything or don’t give a flying fuck about the member journey or results. On the other end of the spectrum you can make a really nice living from an online business and have a fantastic work life balance and quality of life if you set things up properly.

On the other side of the coin, if you are an outgoing, personable person then guess what, chances are you aren’t going to be a massive fan of sitting behind a screen 24/7 and having hardly any physical interaction with clients. The service you can give someone in person is superior to what you can offer online and I don’t care what anyone says there will ALWAYS be a demand for in person services even post Corona Virus.

But Do I Need To Be One Or The Other?


Absolutely not, there seems to be a bit of a line at the moment between people that run online businesses and those that are going down the more traditional in person route. Have a little scroll on IG and you’ll find no end of knobheads telling you that in person is dead, online is way better come over to the light bla bla bla. If in person is right for you, then you do you, vice versa if online works for you then crack on.

However, there is absolutely a middle ground here that people don’t seem to talk about and in my experience working with business owners is massively under utilised. A blended approach to offering both online and in person services can help you to maximise revenue, opportunities, provide the best possible service and run a business that is equipped to withstand any economic tests that might come your way. There are endless ways to implement something blended but a couple really simple examples could be ;

 

  • Online check ins for physical clients.
  • Studios that offer memberships that allow members to do X number of classes per week, why not offer in person and online so that members can pick.
  • Therapists that offer services helping with posture or injuries, why limit the recovery time to the 1 hour that someone spends with you? Offer an online membership portal that is an extra payable service so clients can continue their work at home.
  • Physical PT clients often start with a trainer as they have no exercise history, if you are able to transition someone with zero exercise history into online coaching so they can fly the nest and work out solo but with programming and check ins but save you those physical hours, guess what you’ve done an amazing job*.

 

*This last point is particularly undervalued and always misconceived by trainers. There is the idea in the industry that you have to hold on to clients for as long as you possibly can, because they need you and it’s good for your income and I get that. However look at it this way, that client has done such a good job with you that they no longer need you to train them in person, for a lot of PT’s that’s it, relationship done and no more income but why should that be the case? You’ve done a great job to this point, now they are comfortable to train alone you can transition them to an online service and provide programming and regular check ins. Your client gets support, you get continued income and now have an extra slot for in person PT which means you’ll have MORE income at the end of it and not less.

So What Does This All Mean?


If you’ve made it this far, fair play to you I’d love to say there is a nugget of pure wisdom down here but it’s more a summary of sorts, sorry. DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU, don’t worry about what other people are saying there is no right or wrong answer. You shouldn’t definitely be online, just as you shouldn’t definitely do in person services, don’t let the pressure of someone else’s smoke blowing distract you. You can definitely learn from both camps, if one totally suits you then power to you crack on with it, if you aren’t sure then maybe a blended approach is best for you!

Hopefully that ramble made some sense, if not then why the hell are you still reading?! If you want someone to chat to about your ideas, moving parts of your business online, blending your in person services or just a website or branding in general then please do drop me a message I’d love to speak to you. You won’t catch me selling you something you don’t need, trying to talk some shit about how you must do this or need to have that. Hence why this guy who runs an online business helping create websites and online platforms is sat here telling you that working online might not be the route for you, because I’m keeping it real!

Brad