Do You Operate Your Gym with a Sense of Urgency?

A quick check showing the definition of urgency to be; 1) to act promptly; 2) act with intention to make things happen; 3) doing what needs to be done immediately.

So, here’s what I see frequently in gyms…many time there are lots of good things going on but the business and staff have become stagnant because of a lack of urgency. Here’s the deal, without urgency, it simply doesn’t matter when something is done…it could be tomorrow, the next day, next week, next month or even next year. By simply acting with urgency can make all the difference in getting your business back on track or maximizing the opportunity.

Here are some things to consider if your gym needs a kick-start with urgency:

  1. As an owner, manager, department head, sales person…make your own smart, quick decisions with confidence. It all starts with you, right? This is a way of thinking you want to act on immediately and your behavior will help train your team to act accordingly.
  2. Identify obstacles to your staff’s progress and quickly remove them. Take a look around for obstacles that are getting in your way of acting with urgency. In many cases, I have seen the commission schedule or the lack of one being an obstacle. In the end, a simple process is usually a successful process.
  3. Establish a culture that is focused on outcomes, not individual tasks. Here’s the bottom line on this, effort without results is meaningless.
  4. Communicate consequences for inaction; clarify what happens if desired outcomes aren’t met. Too many managers think consequences mean they fire someone, not so. My favorite is to role play the telephone inquiry script in front of the group — if we’re not setting phone inquiries or not getting shows….that will normally get them to memorize the script. Or in the sales process, many times we will roll out a Love at First Sight Offer.
  5. Identify what systems work for your gym and eliminate the systems that no longer serve you. Don’t keep old, tired ways of doing things in place just because “that’s the way you’ve always done it.”
  6. Announce and celebrate small success to demonstrate what happens when desired outcomes are met. For example, break a sales record; the entire team goes out to dinner together to celebrate. Or celebrate when members sponsor in a new members and receive their gift before the deadline.
  7. Agree on deadlines and provide reminders. Final day for a membership special. Final day to sign up for a class. Final week on the referral contest. You get the idea — then be sure to communicate across many different platforms….in club signs, email, phone, social media….
  8. Keep meeting short by always providing an agenda. Always have a planned, crisp agenda for each meeting. Don’t allow the meeting to drag from the original intent.
  9. When speaking, get to the point quickly; encourage your team members to communicate in a similar manner. Say what you want, when you want it and get to work — no long drawn out explanations necessary.
  10. Demonstrate leadership by example by meeting your personal deadlines. This one should be simple enough; leadership by example.
  11. Hold one-on-one meetings to secure each staffer’s buy-in to the team. Meet with EVERY team member and communicate the expectations and their understanding of each — you must get 100% acknowledgement and buy-in before you can get started…..and then be sure you follow-up.
  12. Follow up. It will not be good enough just to express your expectations, you must continue to follow up and train where necessary. The culture of urgency will never be important to you staff until its first important to you.

Now, go get it done…now!

AnOutsourced CEO and expert witness, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Visit his Web site at: www.fmconsulting.net or www.youtube.com/gymconsultant.

How to Bootstrap Your Sales and Marketing for your Gym during the Pandemic

The pandemic is affecting every gym operation differently — some gyms are going to go out of business, some will manage through it and be okay, some will benefit hugely from it simply due to the kind of gym or service they offer.

However, we simply can’t stop marketing and communicating with our members and prospects, and now is the time to think about what we can do, with what we have, where we are (play the hand we’re dealt).

So, with that in mind, here are some ideas for effective marketing activities you can do that cost little or no money, and that every gym should probably be doing more of anyway.

Some may work for you; some may not, but take a look and see what you think:

1. Reach out to past telephone and web inquiries that never bought

Try reaching out to potential members that have made inquiries previously but never joined or never went through the full sales cycle.

Your email database is going to be a great asset for you right now, so leverage your database to communicate with all of your prospects.

2. Leverage your gyms vendor network

We can’t go to networking events right now. Therefore, we have to do what we probably should have been doing a lot more of anyway: proactively reaching out to our top vendors and our top contacts and communicating with them more.

If you’re a gym owner or manager, if you’re in a sales role, now is a great time to be reaching out to your main contacts anyway — and finding ways to add value and help them solve some problems can make your relationship even stronger.

3. Write more blogs and articles, publish more

If you have a website, which you all do, this is going to be your single, main asset, so you want to double down on it.

You should focus especially on anything related to how you are safe place to work out and how you can get results for your members.

4. Repurpose your articles onto LinkedIn, Medium or AmericanTowns

Obviously social media platforms are free to use, but they’re really noisy. We have to find ways to cut through that noise.

The one way to do that is to republish your top-performing articles on your website currently (and the ones that you’re writing) onto your personal LinkedIn profiles, Medium or AmericanTowns as articles. This gets them in front of your network, your vendors, and your audience.

5. Embrace video production across your entire team

We want to create video. We want to get out there and we want people to see our faces, to hear our voices. Want people to see our body language.

You don’t have to have all the gear. A Smart Phone, a low cost microphone, a tripod, etc. It doesn’t matter, really. Balancing your Smart Phone on top of a pile of books and being able to do a video right now is good enough.

Keep it specific. Address main questions, fears, and anxieties. Do some walkthroughs or demos. Keep it short and just get it out there. Perfection is not what we’re aiming for. We want to get it done.

6. Create a proactive plan for saving member cancellations

We need to get ahead of concerns before they become problems. Proactively reach out to your members at risk.

Put yourself in a position to understand how the pandemic is affecting them. This gives you the opportunity to think about how you could provide more value at this time.

It may mean that you have to think of a new service or a new product or a new way to provide value. This just gives you that chance to get ahead.

7. Proactively reach out to prospects

The first thing to remember here is that people will still buy, so you want to be communicating with your database. Member referrals, former members, missed sales, internet leads; telephone and web inquiries, corporate accounts, etc are some quick opportunities.

Instead of waiting for them to move through the buying process, call them, text them email them and create a personalized connection with them. Reach out proactively instead of letting them go through the process organically.

8. Follow up quickly and personally with all gym inquiries

Give all your inquiries super service as much as you possibly can. In other words, not only are you going to act quickly and get back to people in good time, but use video when you do it to make a personalized connection. Do everything you can to make your buyers feel special (because they are).

9. Publish content where your prospects are

You need to be leveraging social media platforms, wherever your prospects are hanging out at the moment: current members, potential clients, and potential members. Let go of the need to have all the content on your website.

Put the content on the platform where your prospects are. It might mean publishing whole articles on LinkedIn, Medium and AmericanTowns and link back to your website

10. Ask for referrals. Who do your members know that could join?

You should communicate with people who are either current members or current clients of yours, or people who have been previous members and really liked what you did for them.

It’s always good to reach back out to them, with a personalized touch, to see if you can help them in any way.

Also, you can ask them for a testimonial or a case study, and then ask them, if they did enjoy what you did for them, is there anybody else that they know right now that would benefit from working with you?

11. Embrace live chat for your website

Finally, live chat. Get Facebook Messenger onto your website, so your members and prospects can communicate with you directly. I have seen member and prospect interaction go up as much as 4x by using Facebook Messenger as the live chat feature.

This is going to be especially important for gyms that used to rely on prospects coming to see you in your studio or in your gym.

Let’s get back to the basics — to what gym sales and marketing’s all about. That personalized communication with members and prospects in a way that’s going to help them to feel like they want to be part of what you do at the gym.

An Outsourced CEO and expert witness, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Visit his Web site at:www.fmconsulting.netorwww.jimthomasondemand.com.

Make Your Fitness Blog Outstanding & Readers Will Appreciate

cOr at the least that everybody could have a blog. We’ve all got something to say, everyone has something that they’re passionate about.

And a blog is a way for you to express that passion while also encouraging others who share this interest to further explore and helping them to discover new things about the topic that they may not already have discovered.

You can blog about pretty much anything and there will be some people out there who are going to be interested in reading it. People blog about entertainment, sports, food, business, and pretty much any hobby under the sun.

If fitness is your passion and you want to share that with the world, then there’s no better time to start than right now. But the other side of this coin is that a ton of people out there have got the same idea.

Especially for something that has as widespread of an interest as fitness does, so you are going to be facing quite a bit of competition. There are already thousands of fitness blogs on the internet and more are being started every day.

If you want to build up a readership amidst all of that, then you need to find a way to stand out. Because while there are those thousands of blogs out there, a lot of them don’t have a lot of thought or creativity behind them.

There are blogs which sort of just fade into the background because there’s nothing about them that sets them apart from the pack. You need to make your blog outstanding if you want people to pay attention.

Here are some ways that you can do that:

Have a Specific Angle

If you look for fitness blogs online and try to seek out the ones that aren’t getting that much attention, what you’ll notice about them is that they tend to be very generalistic. They’re not about any specific aspect of fitness.

They’ll just be giving you the same advice and routines that you can find everywhere else on the internet. Conversely, you’ll see that the most popular fitness blogs do the opposite, they offer unique information about specific things.

A select few of the top ones are just general fitness blogs for sure, but there are always exceptions and chances are you aren’t going to be one of them. If you want to maximise your chances for success then you should follow a more reliable route.

So carve yourself out a niche. Analyze your own fitness routines and find out the things that you are especially good at. Centre your blog around that. Maybe you can focus on cardio or crossfit or calisthenics, or something that doesn’t begin with the letter C.

You want people to see your blog come up when they conduct a Google search and that’s more likely to happen if you have a particularly interesting niche.

Pick the Right Name and Host

You want every aspect of your blog to look and feel as professional as possible. If you just throw any old webpage together, using the most basic hosting site you can find and put little effort into the appearance, then people aren’t going to want to keep coming back.

It’s an unappealing site when so many out there are putting in so much more effort. Start right at the very top with the name. Come up with something good and also something that people will remember the name of.

Get a little creative, if you’re blogging then you’re a creative writer so you can come up with a creative name for your fitness blog that suits the niche. Now as for hosting, the best course of action for you is WordPress.

Reason being is that this will give you plenty of control over how your blog looks, it’s not that difficult to use and you have plenty of flexibility when it comes to including extra stuff like advertisements, which means that you can monetize your blog if that’s what you want.

There are a couple of others that you could consider too such as BlueHost, Siteground and Agathon if you want to explore your options a bit more, but WordPress is well-known for its reliability so it’s probably still your best bet.

Review Equipment

This is something that the vast majority of fitness blogs don’t do and it would attract a lot of extra people. Most of those who are reading a fitness blog will be looking for advice on routines and workouts of course, but equipment is important too.

If you offer them an insight into that aspect of your fitness regime then you’ll be giving them something that they don’t get from the other fitness blogs that they read and another incentive to come back to you.

And perhaps you could even end up in partnership with a company if your blog gets enough traction. You could end up being paid to post reviews of fitness equipment, which would mean that you would be expressing your passion and getting paid for it.

Consider this style of comprehensive review as a regular feature on your blog. It’s informative, it’s not on every fitness blog and it ties in perfectly with your discussions of the things that you are passionate about.

Stay Humble

One thing that you absolutely want to avoid when you’re running a fitness blog is alienation of your potential readership. Fitness is a topic that does breed egotism and there is nothing more off-putting than that.

Do not treat your blog as an opportunity to boast about how in shape you are, how big your biceps are and how much you can bench. That’s not what people want to see, your blog isn’t about you, it’s about your readers.

You will have people reading who are completely new to fitness and you should be aiming to treat them with as much respect as everyone else who reads. Your blog should be a place of encouragement, not a place of condescension.

Try to communicate with people on there as much as possible. Have a comments section and talk to the people who comment. If all goes well you will reach a point where there are too many comments for that to be feasible, but at the start make it clear that you are interested in how your readers are progressing.

If you make a concentrated effort to stand out with your blog, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t end up with a lot of people coming back to the page on a regular basis and that will be very fulfilling.

So if you’re serious about it, then put the necessary thought and care into making your blog something that’s worth reading.

An Outsourced CEO and expert witness, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Visit his Web site at:www.fmconsulting.netorwww.jimthomasondemand.com.

Preparing Your Gym for a Comeback

As of this writing many gyms across the USA are slowing beginning to relaunch their business and others will be conducting a relaunch in the coming weeks. One thing for sure, we’re not going back to the same place we left a few weeks ago. It’s a different marketplace and it’s a different economy. We will need a plan. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you begin; 1) what are you willing to give up to hit your goals? 2) What will you have to change to hit your goals? 3) What will you have to learn to hit your goals? Now, here are some things to consider:

1. The need for certainty. This is where it all starts. We need to be sure we get our head right. Of course, we need to understand the problem, but we need to give power to the solutions and what we’re trying to accomplish. Owners, managers and staff all need to work with a high level of certainty and confidence if they want the customer to have certainty. People will still buy.

2. Over communicate. Keep your members in the loop on what is happening and continue to provide them with valuable information on how to get the results that they are seeking. Create signage throughout the clubs on washing hands, cleaning equipment, social distancing and even consider arrows letting people know what direction they should go. Use all forms of communication to let everyone know what is happening with your gym

3. Provide unprecedented value. Give more than ever before. The goal here is to keep all your members and sign up new ones. You will need to provide an unprecedented level of value. Continue your digital programming with hangouts, expert Q&A, lives streams, private sessions, etc. Continue to focus on the member experience and celebrate success stories during the break; celebrate member anniversary dates, etc.

4. Prepare for member health and safety. I suggest doing more than what is required by your state. Temperature screenings for members, guests, employees and any vendors. Increase the number of cleaning stations throughout the gym. Prepare a FAQ to help address any potential issues of members not social distancing, coughing, sneezing, etc. Depending on your member base, consider a specific time for those 60+ to come in and workout. Have plenty of signage throughout the club as well as directional signage moving member down the right path form proper social distancing.

5. Prepare for staff health and safety. With all the talk about member health and safety, let’s don’t forget about our staff (not that anyone would). There will be some staffers that are simply not comfortable returning just yet and that’s okay. Perhaps they can help work on your digital product. The key thing here is to educate everyone on what you are doing to keep them safe. Many clubs are conducting temperature checks on staff twice per day. Two a day cleanings, rubber gloves, masks if desired.

6. Marketing to your members. This is one to start doing right now. Prepare videos to walk your members and guests what they can expect upon entering. You need to let your members know what you’re doing to keep the gym clean, healthy and safe and what you’ll be doing to keep your member healthy and safe. Social media and email marketing is ideal here. Showing new protocols and what to expect will ease potential fears your members and guests may have.

7. Marketing for your business — advance into the marketplace. You won’t be able to use just one or two things and get the results you want. The plan should be to show differentiation and market to an uncontested marketplace. You want EVEYONE to know who you are and what you are doing. Start writing your plan of action now. A press release is a great way to start. This is a great time to conduct a membership drive or a re-grand opening.

8. Prepare to be ready to sell in a new marketplace and a new economy. Include your health and safety standards in your process, but stay on point. Business and sales fundamentals will be more important than ever. You will likely have fewer inquiries and fewer prospects for a while. A good habit to get into…is to treat each guest like it’s the only one you will see that day and work to bring them up to your level of certainty. Get your staff trained and follow up to be sure they are on track. You can’t afford not to. As mentioned, conduct a membership drive, have referral contest, host a re-grand opening, etc. Revenue is the oxygen of your business, let’s keep it flowing. In addition, looks for ways to increase the amount you collect per new membership sale with additional added value. Consider new membership offering to accommodate a new economy.

9. Continue with Digital Programming. Digital programming is here to stay and is something you should continue even when you open your doors. Remember, you want deliver unprecedented value to your customer. Initially, this should be continued at no additional change, but as you move forward this should may be included as part of a premium membership offering or even sold online through your web site.

10. Develop existing profit centers or create new ones for ancillary sales. Since many people have poor diets which lack the vital nutrients the body needs, consider selling supplements online. Investigate selling gift cards online, meal planning, etc. You want to find ways to encourage additional sales to your current customer base.

11. Not every gym will return. Some gyms will not return because of financial reasons and other simply will not want to continue, which is okay. This presents an immediate opportunity to grow your business. In nearly every case, this will be done with no money out of your pocket and you will be able to increase your recurring dues, perhaps your personal training, email lists, renewal lists, have URLS and phone numbers pointed to you and more. This is something to investigate immediately.

Now, let’s make this the greatest comeback ever!

An Outsourced CEO and expert witness, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Visit his Web site at:www.fmconsulting.netorwww.jimthomasondemand.com.

4 Signs it’s Time to Hire a Lead Generation Company for your Gym

One of your primary responsibilities as a gym owner or operator is to make sure the door is swinging, the phone is ringing, the email is dinging and the text is pinging.

Do you think your membership sales team could benefit from the expertise of a lead generation company to get things going, but you’re not sure you’re there yet?

Should you wait until membership sales or private training reach a certain level before bringing someone in? Should you just ride this slump out? Like anything in the the gym business, you want to be confident that you will see a return on your investment.

With that in mind, here are 4 telltale signs that you may be ready to bring in the outside help of a proven lead generation company for your gym.

1. Your Membership Sales Have Dipped (and overall traffic is down)

This is the most obvious issue.

Your sales numbers aren’t where you want them to be. However, you’re still confident that you have a strong sales team (including management) in place and you want to ensure that you’re giving them everything they need to succeed.

Bringing in the gym experts can give them a chance to examine your policies and procedures to find any gaps or opportunities, while they can also look at your sales culture and selling capability.

2. You Feel That You’ve Plateaued

Maybe your sales numbers are fine. But they’ve remained “fine” for months and you feel like your team is capable of more.

You may have done an expert job of recruiting and training your current roster of membership sales superstars, but they have gone as far as they can with the resources you have in-house.

Many times a fresh perspective can be invaluable when you’re looking to take your gym to the next level.

3. You’re Chasing Unqualified Leads

Everyone wants a sales funnel that is overflowing with nothing but qualified leads. However, we don’t have to tell you that this is not how the real gym world works.

Unqualified leads remain a major challenge in every gym. In fact, half of surveyed gym owners say that increasing their lead-to-customer conversions is their biggest challenge and their top priority.

A team of lead generation gym experts can help you gain access to more leads and ensure they’re qualified.

4. Your Sales Team is Spending Less Time Selling

Is your full-time sales staff only selling part-time?

This is another major issue that plagues many gyms. The average membership salesperson today is only spending about a third of their time on actual selling (or even less). The rest of the time, they’re performing non-revenue generating activities like prospecting leads or writing/ responding to emails.

Of course, these other tasks are crucial to their ability to sell memberships and do their jobs. But should they really take that much time? Two-thirds is too high. You can do better.

A lead generation company for your gym can help you streamline your processes and get your team back on the phones and selling more memberships.

Too many gym owners will only consider bringing in a lead gen company once their leads have dried up. There is always an opportunity to get help long before you get to that point. If you’re noticing your sales slowing or plateauing, now is the perfect time to seek outside assistance. Or, you can reach out if you simply feel that your sales team needs to spend more time selling.

There is really no wrong time to hire a lead generation company. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Now, let’s start selling!

An Outsourced CEO and expert witness, Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Visit his Web site at:www.fmconsulting.netorwww.jimthomasondemand.com.

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