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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Leverage your gyms vendor network

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

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

3. Write more blogs and articles, publish more

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

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

4. Repurpose your articles onto LinkedIn, Medium or AmericanTowns

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

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

5. Embrace video production across your entire team

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

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

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

6. Create a proactive plan for saving member cancellations

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

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

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

7. Proactively reach out to prospects

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

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

8. Follow up quickly and personally with all gym inquiries

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

9. Publish content where your prospects are

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Embrace live chat for your website

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

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

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

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

Branding Ideas That You May Have Forgotten About That Will Work for Every Gym

No doubt that we live in a digital world with many opportunities for branding and to create awareness of our gym or studio. But with that said there are many opportunities to brand and promote your gym outside of digital. In the end, your goal should be to be known by everyone in your trade area, so you want to utilize every option you can. Here are a few ideas that tend to be forgotten:

  1. Business Cards

Think of this as your own personal billboard and rather than hope that someone you just met will remember your email address and phone number, business cards are your tangible reinforcements. A high-quality business card could be what earns you that callback, which is normally the goal of giving them out. It’s important that your cards properly represent you and your gym brand and add that extra bit of credibility. Use both sides of the card.

2. Snail Mail

Snail mail still works. As a matter of fact, because it is less popular, your personal hand-written thank you card could be the way you effectively get in contact with someone that might normally be hard to reach. For example, are you sending hand written thank you cards to your new members? To clubs guest that’s don’t join? To Members who bring in a guest? If you are looking for differentiation, this is a good place to start.

3. Public speaking opportunities

Public speaking is like giving your blog post a vitamin B shot…it’s a great way to network and gain credibility with an entirely new audience. The idea here is to put effort into the content you present and make sure you leave a lasting impression while educating and sharing “how tos.” Take that “how to” blog you wrote and use that as your guide for a speaking engagement. Even if you don’t immediately walk away from the speaking event with a lead, your gym will be attached to the memorable seminar on how to lose weight (for example). By doing this, the next time expertise is needed for that, your name and gym will ideally pop into their mind.

4. Testimonials and Social Proof

Testimonials and social proof will most always stand the test of time. Every gym in existence is going to give their members and prospects reasons that they are the best. They will brag about their results, their customer service, why they are the best facility in the area, etc. Hearing from their actual members is a whole different story. Testimonials are a candid, inside look at how a gym really operates and handles their membership base. In fact, many people won’t make buying decision to join a gym before reading testimonials.

5. Promoting a community event or local charity

Another great way to gain credibility and get your name out in the open for others to see is to sponsor a community or charity event. Not only is it great PR for your company, it shows that you care about your community and giving back. We have a gym recently partner up with a local charity to sponsor an attempt to teach the world’s largest group exercise class.

6. Making outbound calls

Of course, not everyone likes making outbound calls, so the key here is to hires staffers who can find motivation in the follow up. The next step is to set them up for success. They’ll need a list of potential leads such as missed sales, former members, corporate leads, etc., a proven script or method of calling, and a strategy. They’re going to get a lot of no’s, what is their rebuttal attempt? Their follow up and follow through? This can be a very successful method if properly executed. For many gym owners this is either a gigantic problem or a gigantic opportunity.

7. Attending local trade shows

Participating in a local trade show is definitely worth the time and effort, especially if you are open to penetrating your immediate area. Even though we live in a largely digital world, people are still attending these events knowing the importance of face to face networking and brand recognition. Similarly to public speaking, this strategy should be thoroughly planned. The goal is to be remembered at this event, not to simply be a participant promoting your gym.

Some other forgotten ways to brand your gym are street signs, joint marketing ventures with local businesses, flyers, press releases, and networking groups.

Now, go brand your gym!

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

When is the Best Time to Sell My Gym?

So many gym owners are crazy busy putting out fires and running the day-to-day operations of their gym that they typically do not give much consideration to this question (until it’s too late). Before selling a gym, there are many factors that need to be addressed. However, if you do these things right and you can maximize the return on your gym.

In a perfect world, the best time to sell a gym is when the gym is performing well and not when it is trending downwards. However, there are certain things gym owners can do to make their business as attractive as possible to potential buyers.

To build value in the gym, take some time to review the following:

  • Standardize documents and company procedures
  • Eliminate any liabilities or liens and resolve any litigation (if you have any)
  • Investigate the transferability of leases, vendor contracts, etc.
  • Be sure all equipment is in good working order
  • Consider securing key employees with employee agreements
  • Eliminate non-performing employees from the payroll
  • Give you gym a face lift (paint, carpet, drive up appeal, etc.)
  • Be sure your books are clean and information can be verifies

Consider taking the following action to free up cash flow:

  • Reduce any unnecessary inventory
  • Collect on any outstanding receivables
  • Attempt to renegotiate any vendor agreements to more favorable terms
  • Review any owner discretionary spending
  • Be sure financial controls are in place

In addition to setting a future target date to sell the gym, gym owners should ask themselves what they want to get out of the sale of the business.

Do you they just want to finance their retirement?

Is it important that their son/daughter remain with the gym?

Can they gain any tax benefits by financing part of the sales price?

Do they want to ensure the new owners will treat their members with the same level of service?

Make a list of priorities and seek the advice of gym business professionals to ensure there are no surprises during the gym transfer process.

Confidentiality Matters

Once a decision has been made to sell, a gym owner should be conscious of the need for confidentiality and non disclosure. Any leaks about the sale of a gyms can cause fear for the employees, suppliers, landlords and banks. Great care must also be taken to assure that your competition and members do not learn of the planned sale.

You competition may (and will) sabotage a gym by leaking the information to employees and members. Key employees may start looking for other jobs. Members could be concerned about how the gym will perform under new management and may seek to join other facilities.

If any one of these were to happen, the value of a gym could be significantly decreased. The name of the gym and any detailed information should be disclosed only after it is determined that a potential buyer has the skills, experiences, financial capability and leadership required to run the business being considered. In addition, ALL potential buyers should be required to sign a non disclosure agreement stating they will maintain confidentiality on all information discussed.

Conclusion

The early planning on the sale of a gym will generate the most value and will likely expedite the gym ownership transfer. To summarize, focus on building market value and improving cash flow, prioritize the terms of the sale, seek the help of gym business professionals and maintain confidentiality.

Now, go sell your gym!

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

7 Documents Every Gym Owner Needs (with free download copies)

Here’s What You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Gym Business

I have worked with many gym owners that have had success with this simple formula I’m about to give you. Now, this formula will work no matter what stage of your business you’re in;1) if you’re barely keeping your head above water; 2) if you’re stuck in the middle and have become stagnant: 3) or if you’re rolling right along and want to capture more market share.

The first thing you need to do is set goals. Yes, I know, many of you already have goals, but many don’t. I talk to many gym owners that just know they need more sales, but no real goals. So, set very specific goals. So, no matter what goals you have set for yourself; bump them up….you decide how much bigger you’ll choose to make them. Double them if you like, but you decide. Here’s why I suggest you do this, way too many gym owners will sell themselves short and the goals become too small…it cost absolutely nothing to think bigger.

Here’s the second thing I want to suggest; prepare a plan of action to match these new goals. So, if your new goal is 100 membership sales for example….write out what would have to be done in order to hit it. In short, raise you action level to match the new goal you have set for yourself.

4 Things to Consider

What are you willing to give up to reach your goals? I was telling this to a gym salesperson recently and he said he would be willing to give up going out to lunch and instead he would eat lunch at his desk. By doing this, it would add an additional 5 hours per week for lead follow up and an additional 20+ hours per month. Now that’s a difference maker. Of course, this won’t be for everyone, but just imagine if one person did this. Naturally there will be other things you may choose to give up.

What will you have to change to hit your goal? Really give this one some thought. I’ve done this exercise many times with gym owners and staff and something that always comes up that seems to need to be changed….is the people we choose to associate with. Be sure you are hanging around positive people and those who are aligned with your goals. If this is not happening; this a change to make right away. I have one client that chose to join an entrepreneur network in their local area that meets once a week – this allows him to associate with high achievers and people who are getting things done.

What will you need to learn in order to reach your goals. In so many case, this one seems to be universal….many need to learn the proper implementation of sales and marketing or re-learn it if you have not stayed current in sales process, tracking and marketing. Of course, you want to revisit this question on a regular basis.

Write your goals down twice a day…and maybe three. You need to keep you goals at top of mind. Here’s what other gym owners have found to be effective; 1) write down your goals at the start of each day; 2) write your goals down at the end of each day; 3) and write down your goals any time you experience disappointment.

Do this and watch you business and production improve, but it will take discipline and perseverance. And to you owners out there – be sure and inspect what you expect.

Now, watch your business grow!

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.

When Is It Time to Sell Your Health Club or Gym?

Owners of Health Clubs and Gyms all reach a point in the history of their enterprise when it is time to “hang it up.” Many factors will tell you when it is time:

♦ Gym Owner’s “burn out” Owner’s or key employee’s health problems
♦ Business relocation or rerouting of expressways
♦ Lease expires and you do not want to renew for another term
♦ Changing technology Get estate in order
♦ Not interested in investing long-term capital
♦ Children do not want to enter family gym business
♦ Under-capitalized
♦ Largest accounts in financial difficulty
♦ Bank unwilling to renew credit lines for gym financing
♦ Supplier and gym vendor problems
♦ Staff problems
♦ Gym member’s habits changing
♦ Seeks retirement
♦ Wants to cash out and go fishing

Whatever the reason, you will need to plan an orderly transition to new ownership with less involvement on your part. For a confidential conversation, contact me now at fmconsulting.net/contact or call/text 214–629–7223 and I will get right back with you.

Now, we have three different ways we can potentially help you.

1. For gyms that are profitable (usually 20% margins) and with clean books, we can have one of our brokers contact you for a potential marketing and listing of your business.

2. If your gym is not profitable at this time and you want to maximize your opportunity, many clubs will employee our consulting services to help build their club back up before trying to sell and to ensure a maximum return on investment.

3. Regardless of the circumstances of your gym, you may choose to list it yourself and do a “for sale by owner.” You can register at fmconsulting.net/gymsforsale and fee is $149.00 for 3 months.

Please let me know where you see yourself and I will get you with the right person. Call/text 214–629–7223 or fmconsulting.net/contact

Thank you.

Jim

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.

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