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 Improve Sales at Your Fitness Center

Owning a fitness center or gym can be a great investment and career choice as they can be very profitable in all economies. While a fitness center can be successful and profitable, it does count on sales and other efforts to drive enrollment and overall revenue. I continue to work with many gyms that continually say, “I thought it would be easier than this.” When evaluating their business, it will many times come down to simply a failure to properly understand and implement sales and marketing strategies. When you are looking to improve your sales efforts at your gym, there are a few tips that can be followed that will provide an immediate return.

1. Regardless of circumstance, be sure that everyone gets a presentation. So many gyms owners work so hard and spend so much money to get someone walk in the front door and then many prospects never get a presentation. Prospects will come in wanting to work out with a friend, they just want to take a class, and they have ice cream melting in the car…you name it. If you can master this tip, it will have an immediate impact.

2. Treat everyone like a buyer. This is easy to say but very difficult for many people to follow. Don’t prejudge your prospect. Treat them like they are there to buy, you’ll be amazed at the difference. Us this tip with everything, telephone inquiries, gym prospects, follow up, corporate accounts, marketing efforts, etc.

3. Sit down with every prospect. Many personal trainers will make this mistake, but I see it across the board. Solving problems for customers is what you want to do and the customer does not know what the desired outcome is. Guide them through the process.

4. Use a pre-printed price sheet. Now, it’s my suggestion that you decide on two programs you would like to sell and that’s what you show your prospect. You want to keep this simple for your prospect AND your salesperson. Don’t show your customer a menu of options, you’ll just create objections.

5. Be agreeable. This is another tip that will take some practice for many folks. I hear and see too many salespeople trying to sell from a standpoint of disagreement. Be agreeable, it will draw people to you. Now, this doesn’t mean we lay down or anything. “Mr. Customer, I understand, it seems like everything cost more these days, what do you say, can we get you started.”

6. Ask for the sale. Of course, this is the biggie. If you do nothing else, be sure you do this one. Of everything I teach, this is consistently the most difficult one for everyone — new and even experienced. It will take practice and regular training. The big mistake everyone seems to make when they are covering price…is when the customers offers and “objection” we have a tendency to go back to selling when in reality we need to be asking for sale.

7. Follow up. This is another one that offers a significant opportunity if it’s done properly. I won’t bore you with the statistics, but most leads don’t get properly followed up on. Learn how to do this properly and you’ll always have a full pipeline. The key here is to nurture your prospects and members — in other words, work to help maintain interest and desire.

One of the big problems I continually see is how we choose to view membership and personal training sales. In the end, you’re really not selling a membership or training, but rather, you’re solving problems for people and providing solutions. You gym will need a process that allows you to do this and you’ll have be sure and snag that first sale. Where do you find that first sale? We’ll it’s you. That’s the first sale you’ll need to make before to start talking to customers. YOU must be sold. Can you solve your customer’s problem? Do you have the best gym to sole their problem? Is now the best time to solve their problem? It’s easy to say “yes” on all of this, but it will take work, regular training and accountability.

Now, go improve your sales!

An Outsourced CEO, 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 orwww.jimthomasondemand.com.

Tedious Gym Management Tasks that Can Be Automated

Reposted from www.abcfinancial.com

There is no longer the time nor the place for tedious, manual tasks involved in managing your gym; automation is taking its place. Time is too valuable to waste, and with the industry growing at 3% annually, integrating efficiency into your gym operations to keep up with competition is imperative to your success. Even the simplest tasks can be automated to save you time and add a layer of professionalism to your gym. With the advancement of gym management technology, it is now an expectation that processes be completed as quickly and easily as possible.

These five tasks can be laborious if done manually, but if you start to automate them, you’ll see these tasks can be a piece of cake!

Member Check-In

We’ll start with the basics. Checking in members should be one of the simplest tasks of gym management, but lines to the front desk and fitness class rooms can build up quickly. You need to have a fast method of getting people in before that line starts to form, and automated processes can help. One automation tool most gyms employ today is key fobs for check-in. Remember how annoying it was to look up every member or review paper logs? Using key tags, key fobs, fingerprint scans, and pin codes allow your members to simply scan or enter their code and go. It not only keeps your members happy by eliminating the check-in line, but also opens up profit potential for your business. If you no longer need multiple people manning the check-in process, you can have employees take on a larger business role, become a personal trainer, or fill another position that will help to grow your gym.

Payment Processing

Delinquent payments are a nightmare for gym owners and managers. Organizing payments, getting member dues collected on time, and reminding members of late payments are all tedious tasks. But these tasks are also critical to maintaining a consistent, up-to-date revenue stream. With a payment processing system, you can have automated billing, allowing you to focus your time and energy on improving your member experience and club profits. Send automated alerts to remind members when payments are due to reduce delinquent payments. It is also beneficial to have a payment processing system that gives your members the option to customize their payments to set up payments on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Fully automating this process allows you to enjoy a seamless billing cycle.

Reporting for Gym Management

Running daily, weekly, or monthly reports is more useful than you might think because they provide you with the data you need to support important business decisions. Putting together reports manually is time-consuming and is prone to human error, and unless you have someone who is a whiz at putting together charts and graphs, it is hard to really visualize and understand how your gym is performing. Automation speeds up this process and ensures it is accurate so you can be better informed to make the right business decisions. If you are using gym management software, there are several financial reports you should especially be familiar with, but it is also useful to run reports against the goals you have set to see the progress you are making. This progress can be represented visually on dashboards to give you a clear understanding of your gym’s performance.

Scheduling Meetings

If you know you have a meeting that happens every day or every week, do not waste time on scheduling it out each individual time. Even though it might only take a minute or two to schedule a meeting, every minute counts. Your time is spread thin as a gym manager, so setting up recurring meetings saves you the time and the hassle of having to do administrative tasks that can easily be automated.

File Management

Keeping up with customer changes is another tedious administrative task. With different levels of memberships available, customers may switch back and forth until they find a membership plan they are comfortable with. Or they might schedule a variety of classes until they find one they really like. Tracking all of these changes is a huge task involved in managing your gym. However, they can be automated as well. Gym management software automatically tracks these changes for you, so you do not have to worry about whether the membership status you have listed for a particular member is correct. Any changes that are made and any classes that are scheduled are all automatically tracked by your software system.

Gym management is filled with highly detail oriented tasks, which makes owning or managing a gym stressful, there’s no doubt about that. But do not do more work than you need to. Automate your tasks with gym management software so you can spend less time on tedious administrative tasks and more time on focusing on providing a positive and exciting experience for your members!

Learn more about all the ways gym management software can bring flexibility, stability, and security to your gym. https://bit.ly/2AHPYwV

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.jimthomasondemand.com.

How to Price for Long-Term Gym Member Retention

Reposted from www.abcfinancial.com

Pricing your products and services is not as easy as it might first seem. You have to choose a price that is sustainable for your business operations so your gym can continue to thrive. However, use caution: the price you choose could have a positive influence on people joining your gym, or it may deter them from becoming a member. Pricing doesn’t only impact customer acquisition, but it also impacts retention.

The Perception of Value-Based Pricing

When thinking about how to choose a price that will sustain gym member retention, put yourself in the place of your members. Consider the value you are providing to them. Your price should reflect the value your members receive, which is based on the perception of two things:

  1. The perception of whether what you receive is worth what you pay for
  2. The perception of what members receive at your gym compared to other gyms.

If your members believe they are getting the services they deserve for the price they pay, it will be easier to retain them long-term. How do you know what your members are expecting from you? Ask them! Have one-on-one conversations or do a poll with your members to learn more about the value they are looking to have at your gym.

As for the second perception, look to your competitors. Are you charging more for memberships than them? If so, are you offering more services, benefits, and value to your members? At a national level, the average costfor a monthly gym membership is $58, but mainstream fitness facilities have a $28 monthly gym membership on average. How does your current pricing line up against the national average? If you are charging more than your competitors, or more than the national average, you should be offering more to your members too. When you do, members will understand the value you provide and choose to stick with you.

Pricing Tips that Lead to Gym Member Retention

Automation

Automated payment processing is one potential tool you could use. If member dues are automatically withdrawn from members every month, you not only reduce the number of delinquent payments you have but also build retention. Convenience has become more important than ever to consumers, so if you do the work for them, they will be more likely to stay with you.

Loyalty Rates

The basic premise behind this tip is to reward the members who you retain. Set up a loyalty program to offer them additional services at a discounted price, send them more information on living a healthy lifestyle, give points for when they have multiple visits to your gym in a week, or for upgrading their membership. There is an infinite number of ways you can reward your members, but since about 20% of your members produce 80% of your sales, you need to make sure you show them your appreciation.

The Big “What Not to Do”

There has become an associated fear that raising prices will cause your members to drop like flies, but this is not always the case. Be strategic in the way you raise prices. Price rises that happen a little bit at a time are reasonable. Customers may not even notice, or they will not care enough to cancel their membership. However, if you raise prices dramatically, you may begin to lose them quickly. When you raise prices, communicate to your members the reasons behind the change so they can understand and see the value in it.

Doing this can help sustain your gym member retention, but the bigger factor affecting retention is the soft benefits that build a relationship between your members and your gym. Incentives, discounts, and low prices may influence members to join, but it will not keep them there unless you provide the value and experience that they are expecting.

The Emotional Influence on Gym Member Retention

Building an emotional connection to your members will play a major role in retaining them. This could include loyalty programs, superb customer service, or personal relationships built with employees or trainers. If they have this emotional relationship established, they will feel less likely to leave your gym (even if you do raise prices) because they would have to re-develop that connection somewhere else.

Ultimately, what you need to know as a gym owner or manager is customer acquisition costs a lot more than customer retention — 5 times more to be exact — so you should be putting a strategy in place that focuses on building member retention. Pricing strategies should be included here, but you should also consider updating your customer service operations or encouraging your employees to build relationships with members.

To learn more about how to improve gym member retention through factors beyond just pricing, go to https://bit.ly/2Pl7SKY to download our free eBook on member payment and retention challenges.

Reposted from www.abcfinancial.com

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.jimthomasondemand.com.

3 Important Things to Look for in Fitness Club Help

Running a fitness club is like running any other business. And in any business, there is one element which is of utmost importance—the people. Your employees need to be hired with care because they’re going to influence the impression that your fitness club makes on customers. Positive, energetic employees will impart the same feelings to your customers. However, employees who are disgruntled, unhappy in their jobs and overall sloppy will in turn impart those same feelings to your customers. And you obviously don’t want that to happen. So how do you make sure you hire the right fitness club help?

  1. Fitness: You’re hiring someone for a fitness club. So it goes without saying that they should be fit themselves. Of course, this only applies to people who are going to be interacting with customers. You can hire an accountant who is not fit, as long as they’re doing their job correctly. But in terms of receptionists, trainers, people who lead group classes and anyone else who will be interacting with customers, it’s a good idea to go with someone who is fit and enthusiastic about fitness. This will make sure your customers remain upbeat about their fitness goals too, which is what you want.
  2. Education and Experience: The first thing you’re going to look at on anyone’s resume is how much education and experience they have. Do they have any diplomas or certifications in various aspects of fitness? How long have they been working in the industry? In general, the longer someone has been around, the more you’re going to have to pay them, especially when it comes to fitness training. But this might be worth it because then you know that those people know how to deal with customers. They understand their fitness aims and the best way to motivate them.
  3. Presentation: When you’re interviewing someone for a certain position, you’ve got to keep an eye on how they present themselves. Are they professional in their appearance and their speech? Of course, this is the fitness world. So you don’t expect anyone to show up in a suit. But it’s important for them to be well-groomed, neat and clean. Plus, you should also try to evaluate how they’re going to interact with people. Some trainers like to push people to the limits of their endurance. Others take a more laid-back approach. Both methods are good; it depends on what your clientele prefers.

Contact us for more great tips on hiring fitness club help.

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