Written by James Patrick
“What do you charge?” This question can be panic inducing for many fitness professionals unless they’ve put the time in to figure out the right rate for them. However, setting the right hourly rate can be a challenging task for many trainers. On the one hand, they want to remain competitive and attract clients, but on the other hand, they need to ensure they are paid fairly for their expertise and time.
Unfortunately, many are setting rates so low they are literally making it impossible to hit their financial goals. Let’s explore a simple equation to assist you in determining what is the lowest rate you should ever be charging for your time should you want to hit your financial goals.
Step 1: Figure out your annual income goal. How much money do you want to bring in within a single calendar year. We are going to focus on growth (income before expenses) for this equation. For the sake of discussion, let’s use the example of $100,000.
Step 2: Determine how many weeks of vacation you want in the year. Suppose you approximate that you will take 4 weeks off at some point in the year (albeit not consecutively), that leaves you with 48 remaining weeks that we will list as working weeks.
Step 3: How many days per week do you want to be working? When I was early in my career the answer to this was always 7 days a week. Eventually I moved it to 6 days a week and now that I am a parent, I really keep my work weeks to 5 days a week. However, there is no wrong answer to any of these questions. Ideally how many days per week are you wanting to work? Let’s use 5 for this example.
Step 4: How many hours per day are you willing to work? It is important to note that you have two types of hours. There are billable hours (time you are working with clients and are billing them for your time and services) and there are administrative or overhead hours. The latter are all the hours you spend on social media, catching up on e-mail, cleaning up your studio, checking the mail and so forth. You are not paid directly for this time but it is still work and still must be counted. For this example, let’s use 9 hours per day.
Multiple Steps 2, 3 and 4 together. Thus, you would take the 48 weeks X 5 days X 9 hours. The result is 2,160. This is the total number of hours you are willing to work in the calendar year.
Now take your income goal from Step 1 and divide it by the total number of hours you are willing to work. This will give you the minimum hourly wage you need to be earning. $100,000 divided by 2160 gives us $46.30 per hour.
That means we have to earn $46.30 every hour for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week and 48 weeks in the year to hit our income goal of $100,000. With this information we are now one big step closer to knowing our minimum hourly rate. The last piece we need to factor in is what percentage of our time is spent doing billable (revenue) work and what percentage is spent doing non-billable or administrative work?
The reason this is important is let’s assume you worked with a client for 1 hour and you charged $46.30 for that one-hour session. You, thus far, are on track to hit your goal. But in the next hour you spend your time on social media trying to post a new reel and respond to comments. You made nothing in this hour putting you now behind your annual goal by $46.30.
If you estimate that half of your time is administrative or overheard time, this means you need to double the $46.30/hour charge in order to hit your income goals for the year. If you determine that only a third of your time is billable, you would need to triple the $46.30/hour charge.
The point being you need to earn enough in your billable hours to afford you the time to do your non-billable work. This is how you calculate your hourly minimum rate which you are now able to communicate with a bit more confidence as you know exactly why you are charging what you do.