Where Do We Go From Here? GOT FITNESS?

Over 25 years ago the Milk industry raised public conscientiousness with these two simple words; GOT MILK?

This is the direction the fitness industry needs to take immediately. We can’t just sit around and take it. We need to create a platform to raise the public awareness of the benefits of fitness.

I remember talking to a member of a gym and upon discovering where they lived, I asked why she drove so far when there were so many gyms that were near her home….her simple answer, “This is where all my friends are.

I recall a national fitness company (at the time) running TV ads that said; “If you want to get HERE (all the fun activities they want to participate in), then you need to get HERE (the gym).

The fitness industry needs to join together to raise the public awareness on how we can solve problems, provide solutions and bring more fun back to life. We want the public to feel an emotional connection to our industry.

Fitness: It Does A Body Good. Of course, I borrowed that from the Milk industry, but you get the idea.

This is where we go from here. GOT FITNESS?

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.

The Way We See The Problem Is The Problem

I’m guessing you’ve heard this Stephen Covey quote before. Do you agree with it?

What if I told you that there are clubs that are breaking company sales records? What if I told you there are clubs that did better revenue and profits in 2020 than they did in 2019? What if I told you there are clubs that are getting 20+ prospects a day on a consistent basis? What if I told you that there is a new 15,000 square foot independent club being planned for New York. What if I told you there are clubs in California that have done more sales while conducting workouts outdoors than they did when they were indoors?

I was being interviewed by a major U.S. Newspaper and I shared this information with them and the response was, “how can that be?”

Now, before I begin, I want to first recognize the devastating effect the pandemic has had on the fitness industry and businesses throughout the U.S. By no means do I want to make light of that. I simply want to bring some success principles that have been followed with amazing results. I hope you find them beneficial. Based on what I have experienced, here you go:

  • Play the hand you’re dealt. Yes, you have to wear a mask. Yes, you have to honor social distancing. Yes, there are occupancy limits. Yes, we have more hand sanitizer than ever. With that said, we have no control over this, so instead we want to focus on solutions and what we can control, not continually talking about what’s wrong.
  • Get our head right and know that people will still buy. It all starts with us. Unless we’re positive and are sold on the fact that people will still buy, then it will be a struggle.
  • Create certainty in the community, with our prospects, our members and our staff. This has been done by creating doctor led advisory boards and a commitment to do more than what the state is requiring to remain safe. And then promote it.
  • Know that the sales process and business fundamentals are more important than ever. Staff training is right at the top of the list on how to properly handle a telephone inquiry, how to greet a guest, the proper way to use a needs analysis, how to ask for the sale, the proper way to ask for referrals, etc.
  • Understand that now is the time to advance and expand into the marketplace. This is the single biggest problem most gyms have is no one knows who you are and those that do aren’t thinking about you. Get known! There are no shortage of no and low cost ways to promote your gym.
  • Be innovative. There are many “free agent” members in the marketplace. We have had great success promoting to bring in proof of membership at another club for a special discount. We have also had great success marketing to clubs in individual trade areas looking for owners that would like to make an exit. This has created immediate member growth for the acquiring gym and some cash flow for the departing owner (something they may not have had otherwise).
  • Over Communicate with our members. The first goal is to keep who we have and the initial strategy is to over communicate. Such things as pulling member usage reports each day, creating new and existing member nurturing programs. We want to view ourselves as a resource center to help our members get the results they are seeking.
  • Creating new revenue streams. We want upsell opportunities at point of sale for personal training and retail. We want recurring opportunities for such things as supplements. And, we want to create the membership ladder whereby we can offer add ons and upgrade opportunities to existing members. All of these will help increase revenue without requiring and additional foot traffic.

Now, let’s focus on solutions.

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 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.

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.

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.

a message from Jim Thomas

While all of us in the gym business settle in and wait for the pandemic to pass, we need to recognize that this could end up being a significant opportunity for your gym if you choose to expand and advance into the market place. But, it will require work. Don’t just sit and wait, develope a strategy, so that when this is over, you’re prepared to advance.

Here is some impotant information to remember:

  • People will still buy from you, but you will have to ask. Don’t let anyone guilt or shame you into thinking that selling is a bad thing. In many ways, you can treat this like a pre sales.
  • The economy will prosper soon. This is temporary. This will end. Let’s be sure we’re ready.
  • Gyms will re-reopen. There will be pent up demand for your services and products. Be prepared.

Prepare a plan of action and business strategy for the new normal:

  • Keep Selling. For a visual, treat this like a presales, make it simple and easy to get started and add value. Memberships, paid trials, personal training, supplements, etc.
  • Keep your current members. You’re only temporarily changing how you will coach your members (you’re not closing). Help your current members stay with you. Stay in touch with your members. Commnicate, even over-communicate. Such things as online classes, Q&A sessions, sending a work out of the day, check in on them, accountablity sessions, etc.
  • This one is big…be prepared for business after this ends. Don’t find yourself doing nothing and expect to flip the switch. Develope your plan and take action!

Are you ready to keep your members and capture market share?

  • Take control of the current situation and get a grip on things. Write out a plan that allows you to preserve cash, keep your current members, continue to sell, and develope a strategy that allows you to advance, not retreat into the marketplace. Turn off the TV.
  • Leverage an online and remote strategy to serve your members and prospects. Live classes, video, accountabilty calls, coaching calls, have fun with it just like you would inside your gym.
  • Prevent objections and sell during this time; Make this simple. Provide value.

Thank you.

Jim

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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