The Business Side of Coaching: Training Facilities

My name is Mike Weisman, and I’m on the Coach Engagement Team at CoachUp. I double as a part-time baseball coach on the CoachUp platform, so I get to see both sides of the coin.

My full-time job is to help figure out what CoachUp can do to help you grow your business. Since my start here, I’ve seen (and tried) some things that have worked…and not worked so well. I want to share with you some of the personal experiences I’ve had as a coach and try to connect those experiences to my insights as a CoachUp HQ member.

A hot topic in private coaching is the use of training facilities.

I know facilities can be difficult to break into and deal with, but the reality is, with weather, training equipment, daylight—whatever the reason may be—coaches need to use a training facility at some point. And, believe it or not, there are actually several benefits from using a training facility for your sessions. It takes a little upfront work on your end, but it's worth the long-term payout.

Benefits of Getting Access to a Facility

Stop turning down clients: For us northerners, there are months of the year where we simply cannot train outside. But, you never know when your next great client is going to reach out. Even if you want to cut costs by not having to deal with facility rentals for the majority of the year, you don’t want to have to turn down a client in November just because you won’t be available until March. You are likely never going to hear from that client again.

Sometimes, it’s worth working with that client, even if you’re not happy with the amount you are taking home for a couple months, so that you can see the benefits later. Think of the facility cost as an investment. Shutting down your client acquisition ability for 40% of the year is no way to grow your clientele.

So, maybe you aren’t profiting per lesson as much in the winter, but don’t go dark either.

Help legitimize the client experience: Having a facility provides assurance that the location you are going to is managed professionally and available. You don’t have to worry about someone else taking up the hoop or batting cage, or the grass not being mowed for the last two weeks. You have more confidence in the consistency of what the client will experience.

Client acquisition: I have met about 75% of my clients through CoachUp. The other 25% I have met through referrals from people who I have met before or after lessons. There is no better way to sell yourself than having a bystander see you helping an athlete improve.

Scheduling: This one is counterintuitive (or at least it was for me) but the most important thing that I have found facilities to help with is scheduling. If you have to reserve space, how can scheduling become easier?

A specific location allows you to stack lessons in one spot and apply some gentle pressure to a client. Client’s understand that this is your home - this is where you coach and they only have certain hours.

Rather than going back and forth with suggestions, you let them know this is the block available. Instead of offering to run around to four different fields in four different towns on a weekend, you can stack sessions back to back and have clients come to you. This efficiency helps counter the cost of the facility.

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These are reasonable benefits, but if they didn’t have a cost associated with them, this post wouldn’t be necessary. These numbers will of course differ depending on your market and are anecdotal based on Boston suburbs, but I have found the sweet spot for a facility rental to be about $15/hour. Having said that, no indoor batting cages list that price for an hour so you may have to hustle a bit to get the most favorable rate for you.

Here are some some strategies I have used to get this number down to that $15/hour that makes it still reasonable for both me and my client:

  1. Let them know you are bringing in your own clientele. Sell them on this being mutually beneficial. You are going to be bringing in new foot traffic to the facility with no extra work on their end. Every client you bring in has parents and siblings who can sign up for whatever programs they are selling.
  2. Ask when they generally have trouble filling the space. They may have a model based on teams or large programs with certain times being difficult to fill the space with an entire group. One on ones or small groups can sometimes fill the cracks during “off hours” at a discounted rate.
  3. Try and get multiple lessons and high volume to give you leverage. If you can tell them you are going to be in there several hours every week, because you are going to be planning on doing lessons, you then take a lot of marketing work off their plate. If you can guarantee it ahead of time, that can be even better. This winter, I was able to get space below $15/hour because I guaranteed it ahead of time and prepaid for it. Now it is up to me to fill it.
  4. Try and find a non competitor. A facility that strictly does batting cage rentals and in-house coaching is going to be way less motivated to give me discounted space. Every lesson I do is one less lesson that they are not doing. Strength and conditioning and sports performance places can be great because skill training and strength training are so complementary. There is more room to help them out and refer people, while not ‘stealing’ clientele. There are also places like this popping up all over the place!

In addition to the actual cost of the rental, there is the cost of putting in the work to get a favorable rate. You’ll need to do some research, write emails, make phone calls, negotiate, and build some relationships and this takes time and effort. Don’t let that cost be the thing to deter you because the benefits of growing your own coaching business are definitely worth it over time.

Check back to read some more ups, downs, and learnings of using CoachUp to grow our coaching businesses.

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