How to Scale Your Online Coaching Program » The Exceed Masterclass

How to Scale Your Online Coaching Program

This week we continue our one to one coaching series with Masterclass member Sam, who already has a successful online coaching program. I help Sam understand the processes required to start scaling his online program by introducing the concept of a recurring membership model.

So if you already have some online clients, or want to jump straight into a group coaching online program, or perhaps a one-to-many type program, this episode is going to show you EXACTLY how to do that.

As a quick heads up, I am also opening a small number of spaces (5 to be exact) to my one-to-one personal coaching program next week. Now this is slightly different to my Masterclass as you also get direct one-to-one access to myself, including personal calls and email support.

If this type of coaching and mentorship is what you need, then there's going to be a short opportunity to grab one of these coveted spaces next week.

Head over to and you'll be able to add your name to the waiting list and therefore be one of the first to hear about when I make these five spaces available. 

For now, enjoy the show!

Can't listen right now? Then read the transcript below!

Links and Resources Mentioned:
  • The Masterclass Inner Circle

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If you're a health and fitness pro who would like to learn more about creating a successful, meaningful online fitness business, check out The Exceed Masterclass

The Exceed Masterclass is your essential resource for the training, advice and support you need to plan, create and grow an online fitness business.

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Important: Since we only take a limited number of students each time we offer the program, and spots sell out every time, you must have an invitation.

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Ru: Buddy, tell me where you're up to with all of this online because I know we've done our personal coaching at the start of the year and we got things set up. How is that been over the last couple of months, what you up to?

Sam: Yeah, it's been really good. I basically decided this year, I can't remember when was it. It was summer I worked with you?

Ru: No, February.

Sam: Was it February?

Ru: Yeah.

Sam: That's gone real quick. So I decided, these three 12 week programs that I've done this year, I just decided to use them as a learning experience. So with every single one I've got better and better, obviously with my own skills and everything. And working out exactly who is I want to work with.

The latest 12 week program actually finishes at the end of this week and it's been the best one so far in terms of helping me work out, as I said who exactly I want to work with. Originally when I spoke to you it was all based on Weight Watchers, Slimming World. What I've found is, from the clients I've worked with this time, I had quite a good range of people. I've much more enjoyed working with, it's hard to say really, it's a type of a stereotype but your typical Weight Watchers and Siming World clients are people who are not really interested in the exercise side of things.

I've found I really enjoyed working with the younger clients 30's to 40's who are actually really interested in exercise. They've been a lot more interactive with me as well. So I found with that half of the people and there was about 18 on this last one.

Ru: Nice man.

Sam: It's a great learning experience to me but it's completely my fault for attracting the wrong type of people. But that's the great thing I've learnt as I've done it all. But those typical Weight Watchers people aren't as interested in that contact with me. And I've not enjoying working with them as much as the ones who have been engaging, getting involved with exercise.

The results they've got have been really really good, and they loved the program. But on the flip side I had people that didn't send me any measurements, any photos, didn't interact at all. All the ones who actually do get involved, they loved it. But obviously my aim is to make sure that as many of the people that do my programs are those type of people. That's why I have that little bit of a change in direction with who I was targeting.

Ru: OK. I really like it. So a huge congratulations for this year. Because we worked at the start the year to put this into place for you. You said you've done three rounds of your 12 weeks online program now. You also said you have 18 clients in the online program right now, that's even better than when we did your first launch and your first promo, so yeah you've been refining it. What's worked for you and what hasn't? Aside from the avatar thing.

Sam: I'm one of those people that's really open to feedback. So it's just more of a case now of making sure I get those people, who maybe haven't made a lot of progress, get results. But these are people who just don't send anything, don't interact, so there's only so much I can do. We do a weekly call about a certain topic, whether it's calories, mindset, all these different bits and bobs, and everyone who gets involved actually see's great results.

There is only so much you can do for people and it's just accepting that some people aren't willing to do the work, are they really?

Ru: For sure, I've helped people with their nutrition their fitness and now personal trainers with their coaching in their businesses. It's the same in any marketplace, a percentage of people will use what you put on offer and then a percentage will just not be ready to take action or just not quite find it right for them at that period of time.

And you're similar to myself, you're constantly trying to innovate, and I think as self-employed people and creators we should be doing that. So I think you've got the right mentality, but I think as well I sometimes need to tell myself, look I can't have every single person have huge success with what I offer. Because it's not down to us completely and I think we do put pressure on ourselves as coaches in that position, but it enables us to get better.

So speaking of getting better, making things more for you, whats the goals now?

Sam: The thing that I've done up until now is that I've not kept people on as such. Now it's a case of improving retention. So I do those 12 week programs and now it's a case of trying to get as many people onto something else after that initial 12 weeks. I spoke to you the other day about the rolling monthly program and over time just want to build that up. So I'm thinking of having two options.

The great benefit of having the 12 week program is that I can build up that huge 'know, like and trust'. The two options I was thinking about are either a premium or standard membership. A premium would be a step-up, 1-2-1 coaching with a maximum of 10 people and over time that could get really expensive. I'd Skype at the start of each month, with weekly check-in's where clients have to send me food logs and all this. Similar to what your 1-2-1 nutrition model used to be.

Then I'd have a standard membership that is the same as they where doing, but they just carry on. They'd still send me their measurements, however that would change slightly. With the 12 week program they send measurements every two weeks and photos every 4 weeks. When it's on a rolling monthly basis, I was thinking they'd submit their photos on the 1st of each month and then measurements halfway through and then just cycle that round. All those people will also be in a community in a Facebook group. Those check ins and measurements are completely optional.

The program will be rolling monthly and people can just decide to carry on. I'll put out a post on Facebook saying to check in with me. I know a lot people won't do it, but then I suppose some people will be happy to just stay being apart of the community and having access to me. They will have already done the 12 week program so they will have the knowledge and they won't need so much looking after.

So if I can scale that and build up the amount of people in there and they can stay as long as they want to. I'll also make the 12 week program more expensive over time and I think that will help with retention and people being more committed. I could then make my 1-2-1 a lot higher priced.

Ru: Yeah. Okay so how can I help you with that? What would you like my input on?

Sam: I just wanted to check what you thought. Is it a good idea to do it as rolling monthly program rather than getting them to sign up for another 3 months?

Ru: Yeah, I think it's going to be really difficult to get someone to sign up again. Even if they have loved what you've done for them in 12 weeks. Even if it's for something cheaper than what you've previously offered like a downgrade to a group coaching type model or like you've said less stuff. It's very very difficult.

What I would recommend is that you try and get someone into the right package. For example your high-end, one to one, from the start. Or if they've come in from the group coaching they could maybe move on to that. Or you get them into the group type model and keep them there for as long as possible. I think a good transition would be that you set it up that all of them will be rolling.

You're one to one coaching would be be rolling nonstop and your group coaching stuff or the cheaper package would also be rolling. But you would also say there's a minimum of three months commitment and then you're going to get the better type of client, because they know that they're actually a bit more committed.

So you're moving to the membership model with both of those packages, but you're not allowing people just to join for a month and leave. You're just putting in a slight retainer there of three months minimum. And you want to be really clear upfront that this is going to continue per month, not just a minimum 12 weeks. You can even set something up and I know you've got this with your auto responder sequence. Have you got it linked in that when someone becomes a client they get added to a new list? Have you got anything like that set up?

Sam: I haven't as such but I can get that done.

Ru: This is what you could do to really solidify this type of model, so that after 12 weeks people aren't messaging you saying "I've just been billed again, Sam, why is this?." Because that can happen if you don't make it very clear that this is ongoing and you can cancel whenever you want, but it's after a minimum of three months.

You'll find that a lot of people will stay on, but some will also just set themselves the short 12 week intense phase. But like you said, you're not then losing everyone, every time after that 12 week block. I really like this model, but I also think that you want to set up like an auto responder. When someone signs up what are you using to take payments right now?

Sam: I was using PayPal originally.

Ru: You could even do it manually for now. As soon as someone signs up you'd add them to a client list in your email service provider. Keep them as a separate entity in the email service provider. But that could also then add them to an auto responder sequence that would send them an email in 11 weeks time, saying "you're coming up to your 12 week mark with us, thanks very much for being part of it, and of course I would love to keep you as a client with us. But just to note that next week you will be charged again for another month. If you've got any questions hit reply and reach out."

So there you are notifying people that this is going to continue after 12 weeks and after that I think you've done a good job of transitioning onto that rolling contract, but keeping it at the same price. I think you want to keep them the same price unless you have a way of significantly been able to downgrade them.

Sam: Yeah I wasn't sure with price what was the best thing to do. Originally I let people pay upfront but that's going to be paid monthly now with three monthly instalments. So then it's easier to transition to rolling monthly anyway.

My original plan was to have, and now this is just me picking a number from the sky, let's say £49 a month for the first three months. In that three months the the customers would get weekly Facebook lives to learn stuff, they'd be a lot more active. Then my idea was to just drop the price slightly as a rolling monthly and carry them on. But not to drop it drastically, just to give a slight incentive to say yes and carry on rolling monthly. Because obviously they wouldn't be getting as high a level of service or they wouldn't be giving me as much to do. So if I'd just drop a fiver off to £44 pounds a month rolling after or something along those lines.

Ru: And are you able to do that for people in your payment processor?

Sam: I use go cardless for my offline payments when I do fitness classes a few hours a week. It's such a good system, basically people create a direct debit and you can put them on any plan you want at anytime. So after they finish their initial 3 months I would just apply the customer to the new rolling montly plan. It takes about 10 seconds. Then if they want to do the premium coaching I can just cancel that plan and put them onto another one, because they already have set-up a direct debit.

With PayPal it's a bit more complicated because they have to click links and sign up for this and that. With go cardless you just set up a direct debit and you can basically do whatever you want with them, and put them onto any plan. So it's just a really good and easy system to use.

Ru: I think that's doable then, if you're payment processor allows you to do that. We use Stripe and that's very similar, you can pause, you can change payment details, and add things on and do stuff like that. But like I've said  if you go and just try and keep it rolling and have the minimum three months term, if I was personally in your shoes, that's what I would do. I wouldn't adjust the price. I've got clients and I've had clients who have paid the same price, even though we've only had like a three months minimum setup initially, and kept it rolling for them. And I have coached them and worked with them for over a year. So you can see how just transitioning that model as to not cutting everyone off and keeping them rolling can greatly improve your business. But at the same time I kept them at the same price.

Sam: To be honest there isn't really any need to drop prices because they still get the same services and they can check in with me, which is the main thing. When you're paying someone it's mainly for accountability, isn't it. And if you're still letting them have the check ins then they are paying for the same service in a way. I think it's just getting over that mindset isn't it, that people won't pay.

Ru: It's a big mindset for you Sam, you are devaluing your service after three months. You think this isn't worth this money after they've worked with you for three months. And maybe you're not giving them such as new material and sending them through your 12 week program but it doesn't need to significantly change.

Let them decide whether or not the value still there. But of course you need look after those clients still and do your best and innovate, and possibly even expand your program beyond the three months. You may find then that you could almost put those clients who've been with you longer into a slightly different product or service, but keep it at the same price.

Sam: Those clients who wanted to stay, I've asked them why they want to stay or what they want me to do. They basically just said it's just about having that accountability mainly and being able to speak to me, have that community on Facebook where they interact with all the ladies. So it's the things that they are paying for anyway.

Like I said, if in that initial 12 weeks you could provide such a high level of service, you almost don't give them a choice. Because if they leave it's like - you're completly on your own. You need to make your program so good that there's no alternative. I'll be happy for people to leave if they have achieved what they wanted. But if there is still something they'd want to achieve you give them no option because you're the best at helping them.

Ru: Yeah. It's something that I've seen myself with the Masterclass for example, and you've probably seen it grow this year as well. I'm exactly the same for now, it's like join and you can leave anytime. You can join for a day and you can go again, if you really want to. So if I hadn't made the Masterclass awesome that business model wouldn't work, right. That's what you want to try and achieve with your own coaching program as well.

Sam: The amount of stuff you have created, I can't imagine many people go to that much effort with it. In terms of all the videos, the forum, you've literally tried to do everything that you can do for us, haven't you?

Ru: Yeah. I've tried to make the masterclass literally everything an ambitious and developing Personal Trainer needs. And I did exactly the same with our online nutrition and lifestyle coaching program, it works exactly the same. In fact, because my focus has been the Masterclass this year, the Masterclasses is probably better now. But you can literally use what I'm doing and innovating in the Masterclass and put that into your own stuff. So yeah, keep innovating it and I think you're going to find that those people will be more than happy to continue paying for your services.

Sam: Yeah definitly. Thanks Ru!

Ru: All right.

Sam: Have you had any hotel recommendations for Amsterdam, have you posted them in the group? I haven't checked.

Ru: I can get you some. Alex will get you some.

Sam: I'll book it after NY, the credit card is taking a hammering over Christams. I've already book my flights and stuff.

Ru: Yeah. The mastermind is going to be mega here in Amsterdam it's going to really have fun.

Sam: Really good to meet you in person. Obviously when you're self-employed you spend a lot of time on your own and you just sort of ask family and friends for opinions. And they don't really know, as they don't own an online business. Not in a horrible way, but their opinion isn't really valid as such. So it will be great to interact with people who do similar stuff to what I do and give each other advice and opinions etc..

Ru: Yeah getting together with a bunch of other online fitness professionals in person for a weekend of talking business and enjoying ourselves is going to be pretty epic, so it's good that you can make it.

Sam: Really good idea.

Ru: All right buddy, well I think we've put some great stuff into place. What's the action steps from from the call? What are you going to do next day or two?

Sam: Listening back to the MP3 of this call and going to get things done. January is my big launch so I've just been doing that, getting all the systems in place. Getting lot's of content out there, all bits and bobs. I'm just going to take action on it all now. I found I always used to procrastinate so much, but since I started working with you, I started journaling, I basically plan my week and set goals every day. I almost can't not do anything nowadays. I'm always wanting to do something and tick things off.

Ru: You've become a productivity machine.

Sam: I know, that's it. It's a bit of a strange one for the family to appreciate but I just can't sit still no more, it's all good.

Ru: Awesome man, well it's been a pleasure. Thank you very much. And keep me up to date, yeah?

Sam: Thanks for your help mate.

Ru: Cheers buddy, see you in a bit.

Let's build your online fitness business together

If you're a health and fitness pro who would like to learn more about creating a successful, meaningful online fitness business, check out The Exceed Masterclass

The Exceed Masterclass is your essential resource for the training, advice and support you need on how to become an online personal trainer.

You'll receive proven, practical training to help you reach more people and create more impact online.

How to start an online personal training business

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