// Money talks - fees vs investment

by Donna Hutchinson

You say tomah-to, I say tomay-to – what’s the difference? Does it really matter if you refer to your training rates as fees or as an investment? In my opinion it matters a lot! It can be the difference between making a sale and seeing the prospect walk away.

The way in which you view your services has a tremendous impact on how you build a customer relationship. If you think you are quoting a fee when talking about your training you may feel awkward quoting your prices. When you aren’t confident in your approach to sales you make it difficult for the prospect to have confidence in you. The client will, most likely, say that they ‘have to think about it’, which, as we know, means that you have probably lost the sale.

When you use the word ‘fee’ in relation to your personal training services, it sounds to buyers as if they are incurring an expense. Subconsciously you may feel you have to validate why you charge a certain rate. To my ears, ‘fee’ is synonymous with the word ‘tax’. I know I have to pay taxes, but I don’t particularly like doing so.

When you refer to your personal training rates as an ‘investment’, it takes on a whole different meaning. Think about it. What does an investment mean to you? Typically, when you invest in something you receive a return. You expect to receive a benefit – like investing in your education, or building a retirement savings plan. You add to your wealth or your personal growth with an investment. That’s exactly what your clients or prospects need to think when they choose to train with you. It’s an investment in their health and wellbeing.

I no longer refer to any of my services as fees. When clients book a business coaching session with me they have made an investment in the growth of their business. I work with them to help build their business, and together we ensure their success. Every dollar a client invests in business coaching to grow their business is valuable. As their business coach I work to earn that value during every session so they feel they have invested wisely in their decision to do business with me. I strive to bring value to every coaching call. I’m so passionate about this that if a client’s business doesn’t grow, I will refund 100 per cent of their investment.

Can you sense my passion and commitment in that paragraph? This is exactly what I communicate to my prospects. I firmly believe that they are investing wisely in themselves and their businesses. As a personal trainer you can do the same thing. When clients invest in you as their trainer they trust you to help them achieve their goals and help them get results. You invest your time and energy to make that happen and they invest their money in you. Your clients aren’t spending money, but investing in themselves and achieving a specific goal.

So, it’s not just about whether to use the word ‘fee’ or ‘investment’ – it’s about what those words mean to you and to a prospect. By enabling prospects to view you as an investment, you’ll build value in their eyes, while also investing in your career.


Donna Hutchinson
Donna is a fitness business coach and author of the 
How To Guide To Starting Your Own Personal Training Business and The How To
Guide To Growing Your Own Personal Training Business. She has over eighteen year’s industry experience and travels the world
speaking to audiences about how to grow and develop their businesses. You can contact Donna at