10 Reasons Your Gym Business Has Become Stagnate

We work at both ends of the fitness industry – with those gym owners who are just starting out and want to shorten the learning curve and those who have been in business are in need of a turnaround (and everything in between).There are many reasons why some gyms grow and others become stagnate. Of course, there are factors like market size, competition and consumer demand. But there are also other factors that have to do with operations, leadership, accountability and systems.

Based on what we’re seeing across the country, here are some thoughts on why gym owners and their business become stagnate.

1. Success apathy. Just because you have had success in the past, it doesn’t guarantee success in the future. Simple complacency…we take our eye off the ball. . An independent gym is usually a reflection of the club owner’s needs, desires and personality.

2. The right staff. You cannot build a successful gym without the right people in place. This requires both the proper hiring and training process and the willingness to make the changes that become necessary as the business grows. This is easier said than done for many gym owners. It takes dedication to the process.

3. The lack of standards, systems and controls.  It’s not enough to have high standards in your gym without implementing the control systems that assure those standards are met. Without the controls, you will have good intentions accompanied by bad results.

4. The member attitude. Not the member’s’ attitude but the gym’s attitude toward its members. There is nothing more destructive than gym staff who dismiss difficult members as “nutty” and conclude that there is no way to make them happy. The problem is that most nutty members have not so nutty friends, and word of mouth travels fast these days.

5. Technology. New technologies can do many great things but can also be overwhelming and time consuming for gym owners. Acquiring the financial, technical and staff resources necessary to solve a technology problem can be very difficult for a small gym, but there’s not much choice; the marketplace does not stand still.

6. Marketing. This includes everything from branding to advertising to market analysis. How your gym executes may be the major driver of its success, but how your gym is perceived is also crucial. The other reality is that small gyms can have a difficult time finding resources to help them with this critical part of their business. That means that the success or failure of a small gym’s marketing frequently comes down to the abilities of the club owner. Few people are good at everything.

7. Stale fitness services. Whether you are talking about fitness products or members, the market is always changing, and your products and services have to change with it. If you are fortunate, the changes are slow and subtle; sometimes, they are dramatic.

8. Lack of investment. Whether it is for more new gym equipment and accessories, new technology, a bigger facility, or more employees – growing gyms require more cash than non-growing gyms. Getting this cash may require borrowing money, finding more investors or using up whatever cash is on hand. It’s ongoing. Some gym owners tire of the demands and decide to slow down the investments — and that slows down growth of the gym.

9. Stubbornness. It is stubbornness that helped the gym owner get the club off the ground, get through the learning curve, survive the recession and cope with every problem along the way. At some point, though, focused adherence to what you know can limit a gym’s ability to adapt to change and get to that next level. Policies and strategies that might have worked when you had 10 employees can hold you back when you have 30 — a common example is when you start to hire higher-priced managers who have different expectations than a $10-an-hour employee.

10. Leadership. This includes vision, courage, fortitude, attitude and gym culture — all of which should create an inspired staff. And of course there’s the often-used word that is many times called the secret to it all, passion. Here is the real secret: passion is critical, but it can’t make up for deficiencies in the other categories. I have seen many owners struggle in the gym business that had plenty of passion. It will not be enough.

Jim Thomas | Fitness Management & Consulting | 800-929-2898

An Inexperienced Health Club Sales Staff and Their Seven Most Common Mistakes

The heart of true customer service is a commitment to deliver your members and prospects the most professional sales and service possible. But, there are some pitfalls. In working with many health clubs across the country, we find many facilities with new or inexperienced salespeople, which may or may not include the front desk staff serving as salespeople.

We recently completed a study for a health club that was struggling with its newly hired membership sales reps. As you read our findings, think about your team stacks up:

  1. Thinking small. Want bigger sales? Think bigger. Ask these questions: “How high is high?” and “What is my maximum potential?” Over and over I see the new or inexperienced salespeople only selling the lowest price membership the club has to offer. 
  1. Lack of preparation. There is an old saying: “Success happens when opportunity meets preparedness!” We find that too many health club owners are just throwing new sales reps in the fire with little or no training.  I asked one sales rep to see her price presentation sheet and she informed me that she just writes the membership prices on a back of a piece of paper. Not exactly a prepared recipe for success. 
  1. Failing to establish and/or maintain rapport. All too often the new sales reps just dives in for the sale. The key here is to talk about something you may have in common, be respectful, do some fact finding on the prospect’s goals and why they are important – and THEN move toward the sales message. 
  1. Failing to really commit and establish themselves as experts in their field. Again, this is about preparedness. Naturally, you wouldn’t throw someone into sales for your club who knows nothing about fitness. Even a person who knows a limited amount, though, can be bolstered with information so as to exude confidence when talking about the club. 
  1. Not listening. 90% of salespeople never listen, and are doomed to ineffectiveness. This one is a biggie, particularly when we’re rushed or feeling pressure. When new sales reps do nothing but talk, talk, talk, they most certainly will never find out much about the health club guest. Feature-dumping will only encourage the guest to check out other clubs. 
  1. Failing to ask for the order. This may be hard to believe, but only 70% of all health club sales folks NEVER ask for the membership sale. Do yours?  Such phrases as How does that sound…What do you think…Do you have any questions, don’t count.  This isn’t asking for the sale.  Asking for the sale requires decent boldness: “Let’s get you started today, Mr. Smith.” (Then be quiet). 
  1. Poor or no follow up. Follow up and follow through truly sets the great salespeople apart from the mediocre ones. The ongoing responsibility of the health club owner is to continually come up with new reasons for the sales rep to call back previous club The club needs to have a plan to continually reintroduce the sales rep with the non member. 

So, how do you and your team stack up? How can you help them make the changes they need to become a professional salesperson and provide value-added service?

Ask yourself how you fare on each of these areas. Would you give yourself a passing mark? Which ones would need a little work? How will you change to make sure you give your customers the most professional service possible?

Give your team a chance to win by reminding them of these success tactics. Remind them to keep focused and keep working toward their goals of helping the client make a decision that is good for the client and profitable for the company.

Should you invest in Sales Training for your Health Club Staff?

Health Club sales training is a must for any fitness facility wishing to secure a competitive advantage in their marketplace. This has always been important, but it’s even more important now than ever.

The ability to sell memberships, personal training, etc. is fundamental to success in the fitness business and the full effort of the sales team is essential. The health club sales team brings in the revenue that writes the check of everybody in the gym from the administrative staff to the cleaning crew to the owner.  Unless a health club can generate membership sales there is no revenue and there is no business.

The only thing worse than training your health club membership sales staff and having them leave….is NOT training your membership staff and having them stay.

Here are some thoughts why health clubs and gyms should consider investing in regular sales training:

  • Improve membership sales and productivity:  Just a 10% increase in the membership sales of one membership rep would offer a quick return on investment. 
  • Gain a competitive advantage over other health clubs: Many fitness facilities do not properly train their membership sales team. Health clubs and gyms that train and invest in their employees are also strengthening their own competitive position. A competitive advantage could mean the difference between success, survival or disappearance. New sales ideas and strategies learned from a proven health club sales training program give your fitness facility a strong advantage against other gyms in your area…even a slight advantage can make all the difference in that next membership sale. 
  • Increase employee satisfaction and staff retention: Everybody wants to feel good in their jobs. Health club sales training develops the abilities of membership sales personnel and encourages them to use their natural talents and abilities in the membership sales process. This helps to establish better relationships with guests and members. 
  • Confident membership sales staff: Confidence is a must when it comes to health club sales. A confident membership sales rep feels good about what they do, speaks with authority about the fitness facilities services and products and transfers the same confidence to guests and members. This confidence is crucial in making membership sales and in getting guests and members to join your health club. 
  • New creative ideas and inspiration: Implementing the new ideas and strategies learned in health club sales training makes selling memberships more exciting and simplifies the process. Working in fitness sales should be fun as well as providing an exciting daily challenge and opportunity. The idea is to create an atmosphere that allows a motivated person to act. Health Club sales training will help to do this. 
  • Motivated membership sales team: Membership sales reps are always more motivated when they can see a positive outcome as a result of their actions. This combination of confidence and motivation is a very powerful mixture in any health club situation. 

Health club membership sales reps that have the motivation and confidence in themselves will sign up new members who are not only satisfied members but members who will also refer their friends.  We all know that there is no better way of marketing your health club than word of mouth advertising. We instinctively have more confidence in a fitness facility when it has been recommended by somebody we know. This is particularly the case where the health club we are selling is a more expensive one.  For those of you competing against lower-priced competition, this can be the difference-maker.

Now, go get some health club sales training!

How to Reverse Decline and Restore Stability to your Health Club, Fitness Center or Gym

Several years ago, I received a call from a gym owner with several facilities. He called me in despair. He knew that his gym was failing because membership sales had been declining steadily.

The club owner had just received a major wake-up call. In addition to the loss of some long-term key personnel, his business has just lost a major corporate account that made up a significant part of his overall sales.

Fortunately, he had some good cash reserves. From our conversation and initial evaluation of the gym, it was clear the gym could be saved. The cash reserves would give us enough time to fix the business.

I explained the drastic action that we would need to take in order to save his gym business. It was too much, too quick and too much heartache for him. (Significant layoffs of club staff were going to be required.)

He decided not to retain our services. He looked for a miracle and hoped everything would work out in the end.

Unfortunately, he was wrong.

Approximately 4 months later, the gym owner called me again and he was very down as he spoke on the phone. Membership sales had continued to decline (which caused other sales to decline), long term members and key staff had left the club and he was now almost out of cash. He was literally down to his last $1,000 with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

His gym chances for survival were gone. Within a week of his last call, he closed his business. Even worse, his home backed-up the personal guarantee on his business loan.

The saddest part of this story is the gym owner sent me an email a few weeks later. He knew that he could have avoided all of this if he had acted sooner…back when we first spoke. By failing to act quickly, he had lost his gym, his livelihood and his home.

Do not become paralyzed and fall in the trap of hoping for a miracle. You need to take immediate action to get a handle on your existing circumstances and get your business turned around.

Are You a Candidate for a Gym Turnaround?

Conducting a gym turnaround is all about reversing a gym’s decline and restoring stability to the business of the gym. There are some key factors that will help determine if your gym is a good candidate for a successful turnaround. Here are some questions you should ask yourself?

1. Is your gym still a viable business? If you were going to open this club today…what would you need to know to make an informed decision?

2. Is there still enough time left to get this done? Are there any hard deadlines looming that could stop you in your tracks?

3. Is there enough available cash to get this done? If your cash flow is good enough, many times you can use a simple float to get it done, if not, you will need outside funding.

4. Do you have a clear vision on how your gym should operate? Have you done this before? Do you know how this should look?

5. Do you have the proper management team and leadership in place? Are your key people truly committed to the success of the gym?

6. Do you have the confidence and belief of your stakeholders? Of course, your stakeholders will see you as the person who got them into this mess. You will need to win these folks over…again.

7. Do you have a structured and proven approach to get out of this mess? Go with what’s known and proven…no guesswork here.

Key Steps for the Gym Turnaround

 The first step is critical. You must recognize the need. Most gym owners wait until it’s too late. If you have a problem…face up to it now! Speaking from my consulting experience, don’t wait to admit the need until the patient is on the operating table. The longer you avoid what’s happening, the worse it will get and the more difficult the turnaround becomes.

 You must get an immediate grip on your finances. Only pay what will keep you in business. Everything else can wait.

 Next, you must take an objective look at your situation and develop short term and long term priorities. Don’t let emotion rule your decision making. Be willing to make the difficult decision.

 You will need to determine what has caused the underperformance. If you don’t know why this happened, you are doomed to repeat the mistake. Be sure and re-establish discipline.

 Establish a marketing plan and get the entire management team on board for the planned objectives. Do your research. Now is not the time to be testing new marketing ideas. Go with what’s proven.

 You will need supplier and vendor support to ensure your plan can happen. Don’t ignore these folks. Meet with each of them and let them know your situation and your intentions. The key here is good communication.

 You need to become an expert at health club management, particularly sales management. Start surrounding yourself with people who are better than you are at what you are asking them to do. Get your system in place. Assume nothing.

 Keep everyone involved in the process. Communicate, don’t keep anyone guessing. Communication is the key to most anything, but it’s the foundation when trying to keep everyone on the same page during a gym turnaround.

 Manage the process. Let people know what needs to be done and why. Then follow up. Train. Train. Train.

 Know your numbers. Don’t let the process of change distract you from the need to manage your gym. Track everything that is done in your gym just like you normally would.

 Manage with a cautious optimism. Know the risks moving forward and be prepared to deal with them. There are many elements that can stall your turnaround progress. Make a list of these potential setbacks and then a have plan if this were to happen.

 Keep your foot on the accelerator. Don’t let up. Ever. Don’t take success for granted. It’s hard work. Be on the lookout for success apathy.

Benefits of Turning your Gym Around

• You will save your investment and that of your investors.
• You can keep your well-paying job.
• You will get rid of any criticism that you have been receiving.
• You can continue to have the good things in life, such as a big house, vacations and a college fund for your children.
• You will give your gym a fresh start.
• You will increase the cash flow, the profitability and productivity of your gym.
• You will gain valuable experience that will keep you from trouble again.
• You will be able to sleep well at night.
• You will save many of your employee’s jobs.
• You will be a hero to your family, your board, your investors and your employees.
• And most importantly, you will have the personal satisfaction of knowing that you saved your business.

Learning Experience

The difference between winners and losers is that winners take responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes. This will be your key to bouncing back and taking the necessary steps forward. High achievement usually only comes after having a failure.

With this done, put the past behind you. Nothing good comes from lingering on the past. You need to look forward and figure out how to save your gym business.

In the end, you and your gym will survive. You will save many jobs and increase your investors’ stake in your business. Most importantly, you will have revived an important business for your community.

The key to getting out of your rut and moving forward is having very specific and defined goals. Your key goal now is to fix your gym. However, you must balance this goal with compassion since your goal will affect many lives negatively.

In addition, you must make time for family and friends and all that’s important to you.

This will give you the strength to go into the gym the next day and continue the honorable work of saving your business.

You must start immediately to give your gym its best chance to survive.

Now, go turn around your gym!

Fitness Management & Consulting Launches My Fitness Career Job Web Site

New fitness industry job website benefits both employers and job seekers.

Dallas, TX – October 16, 2013 – Fitness Management & Consulting announced today the launch of its new web site at www.fmconsulting.net/myfitnesscareer for job seekers and employers in the fitness industry. The new web site is designed to provide job seekers and employers from all fitness verticals with tools and resources they need to build their business, career, or both.

While working with club owners and fitness experts through the years, it became evident to Jim Thomas, president of Fitness Management & Consulting, that the uniqueness of the fitness industry did not lend itself to traditional staffing outlets such as Monster or CareerBuilder.com. “Our new MyFitnessCareer job site offers all fitness verticals additional resources to find the right employees as well as helps the job seekers search out the ideal career opportunity,” states Thomas.

Personal trainers, fitness teachers, gym managers, and sales consultants can post their profiles and submit their resumes for free on the site. Club owners and other employers looking for experienced fitness personnel can post job listings for $35.00 for 90 days.

Fitness Management & Consulting offers several programs to health clubs, fitness centers, gyms and other fitness verticals to help expand their market bases and keep the facilities productive and profitable. “Now,” says Thomas, “We’re excited to deliver the MyFitnessCareer site to the fitness industry to address needs at many levels. It’s an ideal complement to our health club consulting services, while offering career opportunities.”

About Jim Thomas’ Fitness Management & Consulting                                                         

Fitness Management & Consulting is a firm specializing in health club business consulting, turnarounds, new club start ups without franchisee fees, and sales training.  Its founder, Jim Thomas, has over 25 years experience in all aspects of health club sales, club ownership and management. Fitness Management & Consulting is a privately held company based in Dallas, Texas. For more information on Fitness Management & Consulting, please visitwww.fmconsulting.net.

 

Media Contacts:

Fitness Management & Consulting

jthomas@fmconsulting.net

www.fmconsulting.net/myfitnesscareer

Skype: jtmanagement

800-929-2898

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