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.

How to handle a pay raise with gym staff in a challenging economy

I speak with many gym owners and operators who have concerns on how to hand out pay raises when times are tough. Although… difficult times can be nothing more than an excuse not to offer a pay raise even though there’s merit. My answer normally will surprise the concerned gym owner when I tell them my solution to pay raises is the same no matter if it’s good times…or not so good times.

Gyms need talent. There is a shortage of talent. Talent will cost money otherwise you will lose your best people to other industries.

As we all know, sales can have a way of being a moving target…so if you continually compensate your staff around a fixed compensation plan, you are setting yourself up for a fall. I like to see gyms offer some form of a guaranteed opportunity, but with plenty of upside based on production and job description.

· You have a budget, right? Give staffers responsibility for certain line items. Say the budget for towel service is $2,000 per month…any savings they can generate in that line item would result in a 50% bonus off the total savings. So, if they save the club $500, they would receive a $250 bonus. It’s a win-win.

· Additional compensation does not have to come in the way of direct dollars. Work a half day on Friday, but receive compensation for a full day.

· Make childcare available for a reduced cost or even free. This offers a potentially significant savings for the employee plus the added bonus of convenience.

· Where it’s possible, offer flex-scheduling. This is a nice perk for those who have children or simply like the idea of beating rush hour traffic.

· Everyone is in sales…or they should be. Have a commission plan for every employee in your club. And then teach them how to promote and sell.

· Offer more training and continuing education that’s job related. Help make them more valuable to you…and increase their confidence and self esteem at the same time.

· Have a monthly contest. Of course, a sales contest would work in many departments, but you could also have a cleaning contest based on daily inspection scores. How many more memberships would you sell or how many members would you retain with a cleaner facility?

· Combine duties. When someone leaves your company…instead of hiring someone else, take a look around, maybe you have someone who deserves more money and they can pick up some of these duties. The club will save and the employee will get an increase.

· A common mistake in evaluating compensation is to view the employee as an expense…if you can learn to view the employee as your most valuable asset, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

· A final reminder…the most expensive person you have on staff is the lowest paid person who’s worth it.

Now, go give someone a raise!

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.

Keeping Your Gym in Shape: Fourteen Ways Your Gym Billing Company is Losing You Money.

Thousands of gyms and fitness clubs are doing their billing and member management using Gym Software. But just because you have gone digital does not mean you are ahead of the game. There are many ways that your Gym Billing Company can actually cost you money and this article discusses several of those ways.

1. Your vendor / gym billing company requires you to use their merchant account. Gym Billing companies are not financial institutions. They are middlemen that mark up and resell financial services at a profit. Requiring you to move your billing services to their merchant account can cost you an additional 2% to 3% in monthly charges

2. Your Vendor does not provide next day funding for ACH transactions. It is critical to keep the cash flow going in your gym. Gym billing companies that do not process your ACH transactions in one day may cause critical lapses in your cash flow. Prompt ACH processing is important so that you can manage your billing and cash flow of receivables.

3. Your Vendor does not provide an integrated email and texting function within their software. Having software with integrated email that includes self-managed custom templates is critical if you do email marketing to your existing member base. If your vendor does not provide this service you will incur the extra costs of a service like MailChimp. And having your existing member database accessible to integrated SMS templates will eliminate the time consuming exercise of exporting your member database and uploading it to the SMS Company your vendor uses for texting. Remember though,

if your vendor has integrated an outside texting service, there may be extra rates applied every time you do a text to your member base, so be sure and check for that.

4. Your gym billing software does not include an integrated EFT payment-processing gateway. If your vendor outsources their ACH and credit card processing they will pass those costs on to you, usually with a markup.

5. Your vendor does not provide automatic processing of declines back into the system, along with an automated way of rebilling declines. If you have to search for declines after every billing you are wasting your time and your employee’s time. In the gym industry, time is money. Your vendor should automatically process all declines and rebill them as part of their service.

6. Your vendor does not provide deferred revenue reporting for accounting purposes. Deferred revenue is money received by a company in advance of having earned it. In other words, deferred revenues are not yet revenues and therefore cannot yet be reported on the income statement. As a result, the unearned amount must be deferred to the company’s balance sheet where it will be reported as a liability. If you have to spend time doing this reporting instead of your vendor, it becomes another added expense for you.

7. Your vendor does not provide a clear explanation of charges. There is nothing more aggravating than discovering ‘blended hidden’ rates of services in your vendor’s bill. If they do not provide this clarity there is no way for you to know exactly how much you are paying for what.

8. Your vendor’s software does not allow for extensive data mining of your member database. In the fitness industry it is critical to be able to quickly contact ALL the members in your database — current, former and prospective — so you can inform them of sales, specials, events, new products, “please come back” offers and use the integrated CRM to upsell them. If your vendor does not integrate this function into their software it may take you hours to search the database for the group you want to reach, export the result, and then contact the members through one of the email or texting services.

9. Your vendor’s system does not include a mobile phone app. More and more gym members want to user their phones to schedule training, buy services, research history,and check into the gym. A built-in app that your members can quickly acquire and download to their phone can save your club hundreds or thousands of dollars.

10. Your vendor’s software does not allow for online training and scheduling. Being able to allow online booking and scheduling is crucial. It frees up your resources by letting the trainers and members schedule classes themselves. Plus standalone scheduling systems can cost hundreds of extra dollars a month, a real detriment to your bottom line.

11. Your vendor’s software does not reflect the number of training sessions used after purchase. If the vendor’s system does not automatically perform the function of managing the allocation and use of purchased sessions, you will spend your money using your staff to manually keep track of what was purchased and when it was used.

12. Your vendor does not provide a CRM website that integrates with your software. Fitness clubs that can be found on all the social media outlets are ahead of the game. And the smart clubs use social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram — to link to a user-friendly website where the latest offers and specials can be purchased. If your vendor does not offer this service and link it directly to your software database, you are losing revenue that could push your earnings to a whole new level.

14. Your vendor does not include online contracts as a feature of their software. For years you have been having your new clients fill out paper contracts at the front desk — contracts that you then have to file away and keep permanently somewhere in your office. Software that stores all these contracts digitally and allows your members and prospects to sign up using a kiosk, tablet or phone allows you to store all your “paperwork” in the cloud, saving you space and allowing for instant retrieval of contracts. Paperless contracts stored on a secure cloud server also keep your club PCI compliant.

And that’s just some of the ways that your vendor can lose you money. When you are looking for Gym Billing Software or if you are just starting to wonder if you have gym software that is doing the very best job for you, review this information so you can ask the right questions.

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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