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

Why hire a Membership Sales Coach when I already have a Sales Manager in my Gym?

Most health clubs already have a membership sales manager or someone who is in charge of membership sales production in some capacity, so why hire a sales coach for the membership department? Many sales managers are not trained in the subtleties of effective gym sales training nor have they developed the necessary skills and tools to be effective sales leaders. The most common way to hire a gym sales manager is to simply promote your best sales person in the membership department. This logic suggests this person is the most qualified to lead the membership sales team based on their past membership sales achievements. This type of promotion by necessity is common, but not commonly successful. In the process you may even lose your top membership sales performer when their leadership abilities fail to match their sales ability.

The key reason being: Great gym sales people don’t often make great gym sales managers.

Why? This is largely due to the behaviors inherent to traditional individual gym salesmanship. At the risk of generalizing, these individuals can be highly competitive by nature and many can often be found running by their own set of rules when comes to making a membership sale. Many sales superstars can be described as egocentric, disorganized, manipulating, persuasive and let’s not forget charming. Often embodying the true entrepreneurial spirit, the sales superstar by nature will just get out there and make things happen. And yes of course, they may even cut a corner or two in the process. This poses an interesting but challenging dilemma for their gym sales managers or club General Manager.

To promote such individuals to a gym sales manager is to promote the same individual behaviors. More often than not, these behaviors are challenging to replicate successfully without ramification. The decision to do so will play a huge role in developing your gym sales culture. This is why so many gym sales teams operate by the 80/20 principle, with 80% of the membership sales being generated by 20% of the membership sales team and the rest merely making up the numbers. Usually the successful few are doing things very differently based on what they know or have learned in the role through their own positive and negative experiences in sales or in the gym industry. The normally enthusiastic but struggling majority is left to make up the numbers. Gym sales models that demonstrate this type of unbalanced success are clearly lacking the right leadership, sales support and sales coaching structure in their gym.

A gym sales coach’s role in the above scenario would be to coach the membership sales manager and membership sales team members to demonstrate common habitual behaviors and skills across the entire team for optimum membership sales team performance in the health club membership sales department.

Now, go close a sale!

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, an Outsourced CEO, 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: or

How to Hire Quality Staff for the Gym

Managing a gym is more than making sure the gym is filled with people. Of course, the ultimate goal is a high membership count and ensuring the club is a profitable business but it takes quality management to get there.

In order to manage a quality gym, hiring quality staff is essential.

Staffing can be one of the most difficult parts of managing any establishment but it is possible to put together an unstoppable team. Make sure you are hiring because the applicant is the right person for the job, not because you want to hurry and fill the position. Onboarding is costly and when the members see high turnover it can reflect poorly on the establishment. People may wonder what is wrong with the management or leadership at this club… why does nobody want to work here? But the reality of the matter is, the right people were not hired for the job.

Screen Resumes

Before calling applicants in for interviews, spend time screening their resumes. Avoid candidates with high turnover showing on their resumes. For example, if an individual worked 8 jobs in one year, chances are they will not stay with you longer than a few months. If you find an applicant that jumps jobs but you are still interested in interviewing them, it is okay to call them in but be sure to find out why they left their previous positions. It is also okay to conduct phone interviews before face-to-face interviews, it could potentially save your time and theirs.

Interviewing Applicants

This is the time you will be spending with the applicants, so do yourself a favor and make time for your interviews. Interviewing person after person can be draining and sometimes seem hopeless, but the right person is bound to find their way in front of you eventually, so be ready!

During the interviews, pay attention to their attitude and confidence. There may be instances where they are working alone in the club. Do they seem responsible and trustworthy?

Find out what influenced the applicant to apply to your gym. Be sure to provide them with a clear rundown of the job responsibilities and a day-to-day visual. Be honest about the job description and pay structure. They may decide it is not the job for them and this could save you time in the long run.

And sometimes you just have to follow your gut and intuition. If on paper they seem great but in person you know they are not the right fit, keep interviewing until you find the right person. You are managing the gym for a reason, you got this!

Once the right candidates are hired for the job, you can move along to managing your team and structuring your club. Remember that building a strong and solid team is the first step to a successful venture. For additional guidance do not hesitate to contact us!

Does My Gym or Fitness Center Website Need Landing Pages?

Is your gym or fitness center using landing pages to convert visitors to your website? If not, it is important to you read today’s article. It is very likely that you are spending valuable resources on PPC advertising, social media marketing, blogging, email, and video production. Your marketing campaigns are driving traffic to your website. However, without landing pages, you are losing opportunities and wasting money.

What are landing pages? They are web pages designed with one specific purpose, to inspire conversion events. There are people coming to your website at different stages of the customer life-cycle. So, the traffic will include everyone from people who are just learning you exist to your most avid fans. Regardless, studies have shown that 98 percent of all website visitors will leave without converting, which essentially means they left without requesting more information, buying a membership, or signing up for your fitness newsletter.

Now, these website visitors found something on your gym or fitness center website interesting enough to visit. Maybe they discovered a blog article about effective weight loss methods, came across a powerfully inspirational social media post, or even clicked on a paid search ad. The thing is that customers do not make their decisions in a straight Point-A to Point-B manner. For example, a person who is thinking about making a gym or fitness center may randomly and inconsistently research information for months before moving to the final decision-making stage. Landing pages are a way to capture these potential members, allowing you to market to them, and giving them a reason to return to your website.

Landing pages are a vital component of online marketing by guiding visitors to take a specific action. Your blog, video, social posts, or paid advertisement brought the visitor to your website, but what do they do now? For example, a visitor discovers a blog article touting the benefits of a Boot Camp fitness program, what do you want them to do now? With a strong call-to-action, your website can guide the visitor to a landing page that encourages sign ups to your Boot Camp classes by offering a free trial.

Additionally, the more landing pages you have, the better. Since landing pages are targeted and segmented, one can be created for every service and product that you sell, including memberships, personal training, specific classes, fitness apparel, and more. Also, landing pages can be designed to address the specific interests, needs, and goals of each customer subgroup, from the college-aged person who wants to get ripped to the middle-aged person who wants to get back into shape.

Do you have questions? What haven’t we covered yet that is important to you? If you would like to talk about landing pages for your gym or fitness center website, or a related topic, please contact us.

5 Tips For Building Your Team Of Gym Employees

Your team of employees can be the difference between a mediocre gym, and a GREAT gym that gym-goer’s love coming to, and refer it to all of their friends and family. That’s why it’s vital your team is trained to help make your gym the best it could be.

Here are five ways to build a great team for your gym:

1. Choose The Right Employees

You want to build a team of people who are passionate, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. Having experienced and interactive trainers who know how to explain gym equipment is needed to maintain safety and helpfulness for members. They must also have some level of athleticism so members trust your gym’s professionalism. Most importantly, you want employees whom are enthusiastic and happy to help, because their attitude will leave an impression on gym members. So before you hire any new employees, know what qualities you’re aiming for.

2. Go Over Your Gym’s Manuals

Don’t skip on providing training and employee manuals for all staff members. From the basic ground rules for the gym, to specific role responsibilities and best practices, you want your team to be on the same page. Preparation and training will go a long way. Don’t be afraid to set up role play and questionnaires for employees, or require shadowing for new staff.

3. Automate Simple Tasks To A Gym Software

Make it easier for your employees (and gym members) by implementing a gym software that will take care of member account management, scheduled classes, billing, and inventory. By automating tasks that a gym software can manage and organize, your employees will have more time to focus on more important projects, as well as their customer service.

4. Schedule Team Meetings

You can build up team morale by having a regular team meeting with your employees. This is a great time to discuss weekly highlights and progress, concerns, current projects and promotions, and to set any new goals. Make them feel involved and valued by encouraging participation and input. Always try to inspire their morale by reminding them of your gym’s mission and goals, which is to help people get more healthy and active!

5. Offer Incentives For Your Team

Having employees work with no incentive but a paycheck will not build a team that will go above and beyond for your gym. Offer incentives to work there like a discounted gym membership, free healthy snacks, opportunities for promotion, and throw in a team dinner once in a while.

Employees who feel appreciated and passionate about working in the fitness industry will make for a better gym team, and a gym that customers want to keep coming back to. So make sure to do what you can do build a great team. To help you out, contact us today.

Gym Interview Guide

Gym Interview Guide 

Applicant’s Name  ________________________________________________

Interviewer’s Name  _______________________________________________

Target Position  _____________________  Date of Interview  _______________


_____  Review application materials for past jobs/experiences which are most relevant to the interview.  Start   with oldest job/experience and work toward the present.

_____  The first interview should be no more than 40 minutes.  Plan your questions accordingly.

Outline for Opening the Interview: 

_____  Greet applicant, giving name and position.

_____  Explain purpose of the interview.

–  Acquaint the interviewer and applicant.

–  Help organization make fair decision.

–  Help applicant understand organization/position.

_____  Describe interview plan.

–  Brief review of past job/experiences.

–  Questions to get specific information about those jobs/experiences.

– Information on organization and position

–  Answer applicant’s questions about organization and position

–  Both will benefit from using this plan

–  Will be taking notes


Oral Communication                Tolerance for Stress        Decisiveness

Job Motivation                           Leadership                       Professional Competence

Work Standards                        Adaptability                       Planning/Organization

Attention to Detail                      Resilience                        Delegation

Initiative                                      Judgment                        Staff Development


Scoring:  0 = Not Observed     W =  Weak     5 = Outstanding ‘fit”

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