Guide to Operating a Successful Fitness Center

Guide to Operating a Successful

Fitness Center

Fitness Management USA, Inc.

2221 Justin Road, Suite 119-147

Flower Mound, Texas 75028


The Company


Fitness Management & Consulting was established in 1989 to provide sales and management expertise to the health and fitness industry.  While we share the “how to’s”, we help you effectively apply success principles yourself.  Our programs are designed to give you quick measurable results.


We are a results oriented company.  We provide help exclusively to the health and fitness industry.  We are not “consultants” who come in, do a lot of posturing, and tell you things you already know.  We are “doers” who get right in the trenches with you and get our hands dirty.  We work with you and your people to solve problems and improve your operation.


The Founder


James E. Thomas, the Director of Fitness Management & Consulting, has held positions within the fitness industry for 20 years.  A current company President, and having owned individual clubs, Jim understands the needs of the small business owner as well as the special challenges of larger operations.


The Operational Analysis


This is the key ingredient in our Recipe for Success.


Before undertaking a project for any of our clients, we recommend that an Operational Analysis be conducted.  This affordable, impartial snapshot of the overall operation allows the client to see things he may be missing because of his closeness to the business.  It includes a look at the entire operation, from front desk to sales and marketing to facilities and services.  Our report highlights those areas that are in need of improvement and includes specific recommendations for fixing the problem areas.


It also allows us to get to know each other before undertaking any longer term projects together.  Our analysis of the business will include ways in which we can work together in the short term or on an ongoing basis.


One of our representatives will be happy to talk to you regarding your particular situation.  We will then submit a written proposal for your project including all areas to be covered and a firm price quote.  There is no cost or obligation for this initial recommendation.  Give us a call today and we’ll get started immediately!










What Our Clients Say…


“While streamlining operations to keep everything simple, Jim hired, developed and trained personnel that are now an integral part of club management.”


“In short, Jim’s skills as a motivator and creative trainer have benefited us in many ways.  He was results-oriented and productive for us and will surely be for any other club he works with.”


“We felt that our sales had stalled, and Jim was able to bring in fresh ideas to encourage the sales team to achieve excellence, with such a competitive market, we feel that his efforts were significant.”


“Jim has made a significant impact on the success of my business.  His wide range of talent with the business community are numerous and invaluable.  It is my pleasure to recommend Jim and to acknowledge his professionalism.”


Call Us Now and Get One Hour Free


We would like to get together with you to discuss your particular situation.  Give us a call and we’ll give you one hour of our time FREE.  Who knows, it may be all the help you need!


To set up an appointment, give us a call at 800-929-2898 or visit our web site at  We will meet with you at your convenience.


Services Offered


  • New club start-up
  • New club pre-sales
  • Membership pricing
  • Internal sales promotions and structure
  • Marketing and advertising campaigns
  • Employee placement
  • Operational analysis and Troubleshooting
  • Sales training and management development
  • Outsourcing
  • Prize Insurance for special events
  • Direct Mail Programs that get results
  • Web Site Design
  • Online Consulting for those needing a resource center and quick answers


Call today for a custom-designed consultation package.




Welcome to Fitness Management & Consulting and your guide to help your club achieve it’s full potential.


Your club could not survive without several very important factors:  the patronage and loyalty of your members, the loyalty, dedication and professionalism of your staff, the upkeep and efficiency of your facility, and the ability to refine and manage all of the above into a cohesive, effective, and solidly run business.


It is also very important to realize that there are no short cuts that are going to carry your business through.  The only thing that works and will show results is; hard work, attention to detail, and ensuring all aspects of the business are run smoothly.


This guide has been set up to touch on most of the major points that are important in building the success and profitability that is essential to your club’s survival and growth.  The greater your ability to make a profit; the better the chance for your business to be able to grow and expand.


When all is said and done, it is key to remember:


  • Your members are the most important people in your business.


  • Your members are deserving of the most courteous, professional, and efficient service your facility can provide.


It is also important to remember that a good name and reputation takes years of hard work to develop.  Unfortunately, this reputation can be easily destroyed through the careless management of your facility or by the careless handling of a member.


As you read the individual sections of this guide, keep in mind that it takes more than good ideas to make your business successful.  It is making these ideas work that will make your business the success it should be.


The keys that unlock these ideas will make your club the success it should be.


This can be broken down into three very simple principles:


  • Implementation – Making sure that the idea is something that can be accomplished with the resources that your facility has available and can be properly supervised by you or your management staff.



  • Follow-Through – Making sure that you, your staff, or the outside people you employ complete the task that you’ve undertaken.
  • Measuring Results – Making sure that you are able to quantify your results against the costs of labor, time, and expenses invested in making the idea.


Too many good ideas fail because they were handled improperly or never taken to their full potential.


The ideas and information listed in this guide are based on proven business and marketing philosophies that have been collected from over 20 years of business management and health club management experience.


































Setting Realistic Goals


When developing a basic set of goals for your facility, ask yourself how much money should you invest, how much money do you need to operate the business, and how much do you need to keep in reserve.


In addition, when setting monthly, quarterly or yearly sales and expense goals for your club, ask yourself three questions:


  1. What is the worst we can do?


  1. What is the best we can do?


  1. What do we really think we can do?


For cash flow and operating costs, always plan conservatively.  It is better to plan for the worst case and later show a surplus of cash, than to find yourself scrambling for ways to pay your bills.


Sales projections should be as realistic as possible.  Give yourself and your sales staff an optimistic but obtainable goal to strive for.


Don’t overestimate your sales and don’t let yourself be caught short when planning the cash needs of your business.




















The Importance of a Solid Business Plan, Watching Your Cash Flow, and Good Financial Record-Keeping.


There is a lot more to running a health club than knowing about equipment and proper workout techniques.  The foundation of managing your business comes from a solid business plan, watching your cash flow, and good financial record keeping.  Whether opening a new facility, looking to expand an existing facility, or just wanting to get a better handle on the direction of your business, it is important to have a clear financial picture as to the health of your club.


It is also important to have this information available to any bankers or investors that you are trying to attract to your facility.


Business Plan – A good business plan should organize your ideas, establish a direction and new goals, and turn these goals into a workable business strategy.


An accountant or financial advisor can work with you to prepare the information you need to develop a solid business plan and establish long-term goals for your club.  The keys to a solid business plan should contain all or a portion of the following:


A full set of financial projections including –


  • A balance sheet


  • An investment cost recap or budget


  • Any amount to be financed


  • A yearly sales and expense budget


  • 12- month cash flow and income statement


  • Additional two-year’s pro forma income statements


  • Hour and staffing recap and budget


  • Your business plan should also include –


  • Marketing area demographics


  • Background information on your competitors


  • Description of your facility along with key personnel and suppliers




Cash Flow –


Watch and plan your cash flow.  This can’t be emphasized enough.  The two main controllable areas are increasing your sales and controlling or reducing your costs.  However, there are other ways of improving your cash flow such as:


  • Asking your suppliers for extended terms


  • Leasing or borrowing money for equipment purchases or capital expenses:

instead of buying them outright.


  • Exchange or barter for required services such as printing, plumbing, electrical, etc. for membership time.


Good Financial Record-Keeping –


Knowing what your daily and monthly sales are and how they were reached, as well as a detailed breakdown of your costs are paramount to running a successful club.


Establish criteria and a management reporting system that will provide you with the details required to more effectively run your club, or to change and adapt to the businesses evolving needs.


The Importance of Monthly Dues Memberships


Probably the single greatest area where a club can build its long-term financial base is by offering a monthly dues program to its members.  This is an excellent way to build receivables, have steady monthly income, take the pressure off of cash flow during slow times, and build a solid financial base for your club.


Steadily climbing monthly dues revenues are also excellent to show to a bank, leasing company, or prospective buyer of your club, as they are indicators of the long-term stability and health of your club.


In addition to offering term memberships such as a three-month and six-month membership, offer several monthly dues programs at your club.


Typically, monthly dues membership programs are offered with a one-time enrollment fee to join the facility, and a reasonable monthly dues amount that is affordable to the types of members your club is trying to attract.  Your monthly dues rates should be in line with that of your competitors, but remember, being much cheaper is not always better.




Getting into a price war with your competitor(s) always benefits the customer.   Unfortunately, it rarely helps the facilities involved.


Keep in mind that the day you decide to drop your rates all of your competitors will have to make a decision as to whether to adjust their rates as well.


Stay competitive with other clubs in your area, but do not make the mistake of undervaluing the memberships your facility offers.  When you do this you are underselling your club as well as your potential profitability.


Fortunately, there are many reasons why an individual may join a particular club.  Price is certainly an important factor, however there are other criteria such as location, equipment, type and condition of facility, available services, and salesmanship, which also play important roles.


There are two basic options for offering enrollment fees and monthly dues rates to prospective members.  One option would be to offer an all-inclusive membership.  Another would be to offer selected-use memberships, such as aerobics only or free weights only.


Clubs have found that the most effective method is to concentrate on monthly membership packages that are all-inclusive.


The membership rates listed below are based on the sum of the first year’s monthly dues revenue and a one-time enrollment fee paid in one lump sum at the time of joining.


Simply put, some people are willing to pay a higher enrollment fee if it means lower monthly dues in the future.  Others either do not have the ability to pay a large enrollment fee or for a variety of reasons do not feel comfortable doing so.  By offering alternative rate programs you may be able to remove many of the reasons that prospective members have for not joining your club.


One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the higher the monthly dues, the greater the potential for a member to cancel down the road.  Conversely, someone who is paying only a small monthly amount is less likely to cancel.  Seek out a combination of both types of rates and settle for a happy medium to increase your monthly dues revenue.  The examples below illustrate four monthly dues options:


Option 1:  $499 enrollment fee, $10 per month.  First year revenue is $619.

Second year and beyond revenue is $120 per year


Option 2:  $299 enrollment fee, $25 per month.  First year revenue is $599.

Second year and beyond revenue is $300 per year.


Option 3:  $199 enrollment fee, $33 per month.  First year revenue is $595.

Second year and beyond revenue is $396 per year.


Option 4:  $49 enrollment fee, $45 per month.  First year revenue is $589.

Second year and beyond revenue is $540 per year.


All of the monthly dues memberships listed above can be made freezable.  This would allow the member to pay a reduced rate to keep their membership active if they know they are not going to use the club for a month or so.


As you can see, all four options above are within $50 of each other during the first year.  The big savings for the member comes after the first year.


The size and features of your club, and your competitor’s rates, will help you determine your actual rate structure.


Why NOT to Sell One-Year Memberships


Over the years there have been many clubs wherein the main method of adding revenue to their club is by offering one year, or even longer, term memberships.  The problem with offering memberships of this type is that they are normally heavily discounted in order to entice the prospect into paying a large sum of money up front to your facility.  This is a classic case of underselling your facility in order to get a larger sum of money quickly.


Unless you absolutely must offer this type of membership to bring in cash, limit yourself to term memberships from one to six months.  In addition, concentrate on monthly dues memberships to increase your long-term revenue base.


Other reasons not to offer one-year memberships are:


  • The price level for one year is often very close to a six-month membership price.


  • If your club’s rates increase, there are no opportunities to resell these individuals until their membership expires.


  • When basing your revenues on one-year memberships you’re more likely to experience         large fluctuations in cash flow.  Unfortunately, once you spend the revenue from this type of membership you are back to where you started:  looking for another person to sell a year membership to.


If you feel that you must offer a one-year or longer membership at your facility, try to offer it only once or twice a year as a promotional membership.  This could then justify the lower rates that come along with this type of program and could have a big impact during your slow season or during a big promotional period.


To Go EFT or Not To Go EFT


Throughout the United States many businesses, banks, utilities, mortgage companies, health clubs, and even large companies are using Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) system as a method of collecting monthly payments or dues.  EFT is normally done through a checking or savings account, or major credit card.


There are several reputable companies out there who specialize in administering this type of program for health clubs to collect monthly dues.


The use of an EFT system is a proven program.  The fees associated with an EFT system are inexpensive when compared to the administrative costs of doing your own billing, or when compared to the fees associated with selling health club contracts.


Since dues are paid automatically by the member; on the same day each month, your club can benefit by receiving a large cumulative sum of money each month.  Also, there are no leftover uncollected receivables unless the customer does not have funds in his account or is over the limit on their credit card.


If explained properly to a prospective member an EFT membership is not a difficult sale.  The company that you choose to do your EFT administration can provide you with the best ways of presenting their program and training your staff.


Keeping Your Club Looking Professional, Fresh, and Modern


Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that your club is completely done.  Your facility should always be evolving and improving.  It must be kept looking professional, clean, and up-to-date.  The look and condition of your club goes a long way toward selling your memberships and keeping your members away from your competitors.  There are many ways, both inexpensive and expensive, to keep your club at it’s peak:


  • First and foremost:  establish an ongoing budget for improvements.


  • As you can afford it, old equipment should be upgraded to the latest generation of equipment available.


  • Touchup painting of walls and the maintenance and repair of your equipment must be an ongoing task.


  • Don’t procrastinate on your maintenance or do shoddy repairs.  If a pad on a piece of equipment rips, replace it.  Nothing looks less attractive than duct tape holding your equipment together, frayed cables, or mix and match pad covers on your equipment.


  • A fresh coat of paint and a new color on the walls, as well as changing the color of the pads on your equipment, can go a long way towards making your club look new and keeping your club ahead of your competitors.


  • Keep your locker rooms spotless and sanitary.  They are in constant use and nothing can turn a member off quicker than a dirty locker room.


  • Hire a professional cleaning service for regular cleaning or for a major cleaning once or twice per week.


  • Hire high school students at reasonable hourly rates to clean and maintain your club on a daily basis.


  • Make sure that your equipment is repaired quickly and correctly.   Members won’t  want to see an out-of-order sign on their favorite piece of equipment and then have to wait two to three weeks for it to be repaired.


Your Guest Register – The Key to Membership Sales


When a visitor enters your club it is important to remember that if they weren’t interested in joining, they wouldn’t have walked through the door in the first place.  Too many times health clubs will let prospective members walk through the facility without even finding out their name and information about them.


Make it mandatory that you or one of your staff fills out a daily guest register.  If you are going to take the time to show someone your facility, it is not too much to ask for a guest to provide you with some information.


The guest register should be filled out by the your staff and not by the prospective member.  This ensures that the guest register is completely filled out, is legible, and allows you to track your daily guest traffic.


Following are the key components of the guest register:


Name – Learning and using your prospective member’s name sets a more personal tone during the tour and sales presentation.


Address – It’s important to establish that the prospective member lives within a reasonable distance of your facility, since most people are apt to join clubs within a short distance of their homes.  An address is also important for follow up if they do not sign up.  It gives you the opportunity to send them a mailing or promotion that you may run at a later date.


Telephone Number – For initial sales follow-up; a telephone number is important.



A phone call gives the salesperson an additional opportunity to sell the membership as well as receive valuable feedback as to why the person did not join your facility and which one of your competitors the person did join and why.


Note:  There is a big difference between an effective telephone follow-up and being a nuisance on the telephone.  Keep telephone follow-ups low-key and professional.  Occasionally, you will have an individual who refuses to give a phone number when being signed in.  Assure these individuals that they will not be harassed and that everyone who walks into the facility must provide this information.


Age – The age of a prospective member is important to help target the sales presentation and the type of membership the individual may be interested in.  It also provides information as to how that individual would best fit with your other members and the programs offered at your facility.


First Time Visitor – Knowing whether the person is a first time visitor to the facility will help determine whether the individual may be eligible for any type of first time visitor membership incentives you may be offering.  It also helps determine the extensiveness of the tour to provide this person.  If the individual has visited your facility before, it is important to find out why they did not join at that time.


How did they hear about the club – This provides you with feedback as to the effectiveness of your advertising programs, promotions, member referrals, signage, and even word-of-mouth.  Use this as a guide to where your advertising dollars should be spent.


Salesperson’s Name – Allows you to track and hold accountable whoever shows the individual around your facility and makes the initial sales presentation.


Results – Here’s where you can track your sales closing percentage as well as the effectiveness of your sales staff.


Member service, Maintenance and Cleanliness – Your Most Important Sales Tools


We include member services, maintenance, and cleanliness among the most important sales tools because without attention to these details even the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art equipment and facilities would be incomplete.


Member Services – In a service industry such as a health club, member services is more than just demonstrating equipment to members.  It is you or your staff taking the time to know your members on a personal basis.  Member services is helping to establish tailored fitness programs and monitoring the progress on those programs.  It is also recommending additional ways of reaching the health and fitness goals of your members.


Hire the most professional and courteous staff you can afford.  Don’t leave key aspects of your facility in the hands of under-qualified staff.


Maintenance and Cleanliness – Maintenance and cleanliness must be ongoing and are among the easiest tasks to accomplish.  They go a long way in helping a prospective member decide whether or not to join your facility.


The Importance of Introductory Offers – Guest Passes, Spouse Passes, Referral Slips, Trial Memberships


The importance of introductory offers such as guest and spouse passes, referral slips, and trial memberships cannot be overemphasized. Even if your facility is located in a high foot traffic area and you have a large advertising budget, it is important to make these key elements in attracting new members.


Guest Passes – Over the years clubs have found that one of the most effective ways to generate new members is to offer free guest passes to new prospects.  Just as you probably wouldn’t purchase an expensive item of clothing before trying it in, neither would many people join your club without having worked out there first.


When giving out guest passes make sure that the guest passes have been signed by a salesperson or other club employee and have an expiration date.  This allows you to track the origins of the guest pass and by including a expiration date the pass helps create a sense of urgency for the prospective member to come in and try your club.


Spouse Passes – The couple that works out together stays together!  Remember to promote your club from within your membership.  Offer free trial periods for spouses or family members of individuals who already belong to your club.


Referral Slips – Again, promote your facility from within your membership.  Don’t hesitate to ask your members for referrals.  Offer the member some type of incentive such as a water bottle or free tanning visit in exchange for the names, addresses, and phone number of 5 or 10 of their friends who might be interested in joining the club.  Offer the referral a free visit or free week to try your facility.


Trial Memberships – Trial memberships are often the added incentive in getting prospective members to join your club.  In conjunction with an ad or a promotion make an introductory offer that is so inexpensive it is hard for a prospective member to turn it down.  Examples of trial memberships are:


  • One-week trial membership free.


  • One-month trial membership for $9.99


  • Six week trail membership for $19.99.


Touring Your Club – Evaluating Your Strengths and Weaknesses


When a prospective member enters your club, the decision whether they will join or not will probably already have been made by the time the tour of your facility is over.


Don’t underestimate the tour – it cab be more important than the sales presentation in solidifying a membership sale and overcoming any objections that the customer may have.


By the time the tour is completed, the customer should know all of the benefits that your facility has to offer, as well as specific features that will allow that individual to accomplish their health and fitness goals.


Establish basic guidelines and objectives for your sales staff to follow when giving tours.  Take a tour of your own facility and list and prioritize its strengths and weaknesses.  Ask yourself:  are you leaving anything out?  What can be improved?


Following are some important guidelines to remember when giving tours at your club:


  • Be upbeat and personable.


  • Ask questions regarding what areas the potential member wants to work on.  Zero in on those areas.


  • Allow the prospective member to try a piece of equipment.  This helps to make them more comfortable with your club and less intimidated by the equipment, especially if they’ve never worked out before.


  • Use the tour as an opportunity to break down the barriers and get to know the prospective member on a personal basis.  Remember, a health club is a service organization.  Your club is sold primarily on what the customer thinks of your staff, facilities and potential benefits received; not the price.


Selling Memberships – Creating a Sense of Urgency


When a potential member enters your facility there is normally a reason that brought them in the door.  Very few people enter a health club on pure impulse.  Typically they have thought about it for some time, and have come in because they are ready or are getting ready to act.


The task before you is to create a sense of urgency to convince that individual to act today.


Once the individual leaves your facility, there is a good chance that they will procrastinate even longer before joining or that they might find themselves at the door of one of your competitors.


One of the most effective ways to help the individual make a decision that day is to offer a genuine incentive to join during their first visit to the club.  This could take the form of:


  • A free gift.


  • A reduction of the enrollment fee.


  • Extra membership time.


  • A membership gift certificate for a spouse or a friend.


  • Extra services such as tanning, baby-sitting, or additional classes.


Make sure you account for the cost of these incentives when determining your membership rates.  Remember, it is critical not to undervalue your club.


Sales Presentation Do’s and Don’ts


Do’s – Initial Sales Presentation


  • Be upbeat


  • Explain your facilities in detail


  • Prove the need for the individual to join your club.


  • Have the prospective member explain in detail what they want to get accomplished at your club.


  • Create the desire for them to join.


  • Explain in detail how you can help them accomplish their goals.


  • Ask questions and listen.


  • Establish the customer’s objections and overcome them prior to discussing membership rates.


  • Take a sincere interest in their health and fitness goals.


Don’ts – Initial Sales Presentation


  • Don’t prejudge your prospect as to their interest level or their financial ability to join your club.


  • Don’t mention membership prices during the initial sales presentation.  Sell your club based on its facilities, services, and the benefits that can be accomplished.


  • Don’t do all the talking.


  • Don’t preach or lecture.


  • Don’t talk negatively about your competitors.


  • Don’t give the prospective member a brochure about your club.  Nothing is as effective as a guided tour of your facility and a personal interest in their fitness goals.  Brochures are only effective when distributed outside of the club.


Do’s – Presenting Membership Rates


  • Present the rates slowly and thoroughly.


  • Present the rate options one at a time.


  • After presentation of the memberships rates ask your customer which one of the membership programs are best for them.


  • Try to get them to join today.


Don’ts – Presenting Membership Rates


  • Don’t rush when presenting your rates.


  • Don’t be afraid to try and sell a prospect a more expensive membership than they came in for.  If you don’t try, you’ll never have a chance at upgrading and adding additional revenue.


  • Don’t have the customer leave on a bad note.  Even if they don’t join at the time of their first visit, make sure the door is left open for them to return and join at a later date.


  • Don’t present more than two membership rate options.  You do not want to confuse the prospective member.  Offer additional options only if the initial two membership options are unworkable.  Before the membership rates are presented, try to determine which type of rate program the customer would be most interested in.


Do’s – Closing the Sale


  • Overcome objections and ask the member to join while they’re still at the facility.


  • Complete all membership paperwork at the time of the sale.


  • Make sure the individual knows that you will be their contact person for any future questions or needs at the club.


  • Make sure that before a new member leaves they have made an appointment with either yourself, a trainer, or another member of your staff  to get an orientation of your club.


Don’ts – Closing the Sale


  • Don’t push too hard or try to oversell your prospect.


  • Don’t focus on the price to close your sale:  memberships are sold because the individual wants to accomplish specific health and fitness goals.  The fees should be secondary.


  • Don’t let the customer walk out of your facility without trying to set up another    appointment, or without giving a guest pass for them to come back and try your club.


  • Don’t be discouraged if you do not close the sale during the initial consultation.


  • Don’t let the prospective member walk out with a negative impression of your club or salesperson.


Do’s – Telephone Presentations


  • Be professional and courteous on the telephone.  The person who answers the phone can be the first impression a potential customer has of your club.


  • Always mention your club name when answering the phone.


  • Always find out if the individual is calling for them selves or for someone else.


  • Always introduce yourself by first and last name to who ever you are addressing.


  • Always find out the first and last name of the person you are talking to.


  • Always ask how did the individual hear about your facility.


  • Always speak about your facilities, equipment and services.


  • Always try to get the individual to see the facility.


  • Always give the individual a reason to visit your club within the next few days.
  • For example:


  • Ask specifically which of the next two days is best for the prospect to come in.  (For example, state “We are running an open house Monday and Tuesday for prospective members, which day is better for you?” rather than using an open-ended phrase such as “when can you come in?”


  • Offer a free workout or fitness consultation.
  • Mention a special promotion.
  • Mention you are holding an open house.


  • Always try to set a specific time and date with the phone prospect for an appointment to visit your club.


  • Always ask for a phone number (they may not always give it to you, however, without it you have no chance of following up on the lead).


  • Always make sure the prospect knows where you are located.


  • Always reconfirm the appointment before ending the conversation.


Don’ts – Telephone Presentations


  • Don’t discuss rates on the telephone unless you have absolutely no choice.


  • Don’t let the prospect control the phone call.  You should take the lead.


  • Don’t try to carry on two conversations at once.  The prospect deserves full attention during the phone call.


  • Don’t allow non-qualified people to answer your phone.  This could be the difference between signing up a new member and not even getting them in the door to see your facility.


  • Don’t rush the phone call.  Explain everything slowly and thoroughly.





A Sales Commission Program That Works


Presumably anyone who is selling memberships at your facility, other than an owner or perhaps a manager, is on some type of sales commission program for each membership sold.  If they are not, they definitely should be.  Obviously, the size, sales volume, and base salaries of your salespeople will determine what type of commission program is best for your facility.


In order to motivate your salespeople to make sure that they close the sale, clubs will offer several types of sales incentives to get the maximum performance out of their sales staff.


An example of a basic commission program would be to pay a fixed percentage (10% to 15%) of the enrollment fee or membership revenue paid at the time of joining.  If a monthly dues membership were sold, a percentage of the first month’s dues (33% or 50%) would also be paid to the salesperson.


It is also important to offer other types of sales incentives and contests to your staff either in cash, prizes such as a trip, TV. or additional paid time off.


Sales incentives and contests can be offered for various criteria and periods of time that run from one-day to weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly.


Examples of criteria to use when setting up sales contests or incentives are as follows:


  • Most new memberships sold in a given period of time.


  • Most upgrades of short term members to long-term memberships.


  • Greatest dollar value of memberships sold in a given period of time.


  • Most appointments set in a given period of time.


  • Highest percentage of closing sales.


  • Greatest improvement over the same period last year or the previous month.


  • Greatest number of corporate or group memberships sold.


  • An extra incentive for selling selected or secondary memberships (i.e., tanning or other features that a member may pay extra for).



Avenues for Advertising


Establish a realistic advertising budget for your facility.  Know what your advertising costs are and make sure you are able to track the results via your guest register or other areas.


Types of advertising available include:


  • Newspapers, magazines, newsletters, yearbooks, and other print sources.


  • Radio and cable television.


  • Direct mail fliers, postcards, circulars or press releases.


  • Billboards and signs (including park benches, buses, subways, etc.)


  • Yellow/white pages.


  • Coupon books or direct mail.


  • Gift advertising (T-shirts key chains, water bottles, bumper stickers, etc.)



It has been found that the most effective way to advertise is through direct mail, flyers, circulars and coupon books or any type of advertising that will be retained by the person who receives it.


Many companies will work with you to design your ad at no additional cost.  If you can afford it, however, hire a professional advertising agency or graphic artist to design your ads.  The benefits of a custom, professionally prepared ad are often worth the extra expense.


Effective advertising will be different for every club.  Experiment and try several different types of advertising to see what works best for you.


Key elements of a good ad should include all or a portion of the following:


  • Name, Address, Phone Number


  • Special Rate/Regular Rate


  • Deadline


  • Features of the Facility


  • Method of Payment


  • Attention-Getting Headline or Slogan


  • Additional Selling Points
    • Cancel Anytime
    • No Long-Term Contracts


  • Eye-Catching Graphic Image


  • Map


Importance of Corporate and Group Memberships


One of the most effective ways of increasing your membership is to make your club attractive to businesses, corporations, churches, professional organizations, and social groups as well as a wellness benefit for their employees and/or members.


It may be very difficult to convince an employer or business owner to pay all of the costs, or even a percentage of the costs for their employees health club memberships.


If an employer or business owner is willing to pick up any of these costs then consider that to be an exception and not the rule.


The best way that we have found to attract companies, groups, and professional organizations is to explain to the administrator, employer, or business owner the benefits of a wellness program for their employees.


Benefits include:


  • Stress reduction.


  • Less down time for employees due to illness.


  • Builds teamwork.


  • Lower long-term health insurance costs.


  • Happier and healthier employees and members.


Don’t limit your options to companies or businesses.  Other types of groups to approach are:


  • Church or temple groups.


  • Civic organizations.


  • Teachers groups.


  • Clubs such as Kiwanis, Rotary, or Lions.


  • Local unions.


  • Fraternities and sororities.


  • High school athletic programs.


  • Specialty clubs such as the garden club, seniors groups, gourmet club, etc.


  • Charity organizations where you can offer a portion of the membership fees paid back to the organization as a donation.


Provide the employer or administrator and the employees or group with an individual copy of the special group or corporate membership program you are offering.  Recommend the offer be delivered to each employee by interoffice correspondence, email or stapled and presented to every employee in their paychecks.


You or your staff should do as much of the work and follow-through as the employer will let you.  Remember, if you rely on one of their employees to do it, they will normally not be as motivated as you are in promoting your club.


The best place to find the leads and contacts for these companies and organizations are through your current memberships base, friends, and associates.


Other resources are white and yellow pages, chambers of commerce, town halls, or you can use a database company that specialize in providing marketing lists, addresses and telephone numbers of businesses.


Tying Your Club Into the Community


It can be generally said that the majority of people like to work out at a health club that is as near to their home or work as possible.  Since this is the case, make sure that you take advantage of the opportunities available to make your club an important part of your community.  Think of your health club as a social gathering place for your area, similar to a community center, church, popular restaurant or nightspot.


Looking at your facility in this way will allow you to open many doors of opportunity for bringing new members to your club.


Host a special event at your facility for your town, such as:


  • A holiday party:


    • Christmas Celebration


    • Halloween Haunted House


    • New Years Party


  • A pep rally for your local sports team.


  • A super bowl or major sports event party.


  • Host a charity event or fundraiser for the American Heart Association, Cancer
  • Society, AIDS Research, Diabetes, Toys for Tots, Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy, or any other worthwhile cause.


  • Sponsor a local team, such as:


  • Softball or baseball team.


  • Little League or other children’s sports leagues


Tie your club into organizations or professional people, such as:


  • Your local hospital or HMO.


  • Chamber of Commerce.


  • Diet Groups.


  • Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.


  • Big Brother or Big Sister.


  • Church or synagogue groups.


  • Local veteran organization.


  • Health practitioners:


    • Chiropractors


    • Sports medical doctors


    • Physical therapists


–  Nutritionists


Develop and host an aerobics, weight training, swimming, or other type of physical fitness program in conjunction with the recreation departments of your local towns.


Fitness Programs for the Whole Family – Ages 1 to 80


Health clubs are no longer the domain of teenagers and adults in there 20’s and 30’s.  Since 1990 the United States has experienced a baby boom that is the largest since after World War II.  In addition, America is graying:  there are more adults over the age of 60 than ever before.  Don’t limit marketing your club to just a few age groups.  Offer programs and promotions that will help your club fill the health and fitness needs of all these people.  Also, groups such as seniors and children are often able to use your club during what would otherwise be slow times at non-peak hours.  If you are able to sign up children, many times parents will follow, and vice versa.  In addition, since in many cases both parents are working, your club may offer a healthy avenue for families to spend quality time together.


Fitness programs for kids can include:


  • Kids exercise and toning classes.


  • Kids cardiovascular and aerobics classes.


  • Kids team sports.


  • Dance.


  • Karate and self-defense.


  • Toddler and motor skills development classes.


  • Parent and child participation classes.


  • Gymnastics and tumbling.


Fitness programs for seniors can include:


  • Senior aerobics.


  • Senior exercise fitness classes.


  • Walking classes.


  • Stretch and tone classes.


  • Senior Dance Classes

20 Health Club Promotions That Work


Promotions can be divided into two major groups.


  1. Promotions that attract new members.


  1. Promotions designed to motivate your existing members.


Be aggressive in promoting your club.  Implement promotions on a monthly basis or as frequently as time and available funds will allow.


Examples of Promotions are:


  • Give away a free item, such as free membership time, a cellular phone, T-shirt sweatshirt, water bottle, etc., to any new member that joins within a limited time period.


  • Give your members a chance to receive free time on their membership.  Example:  Sponsor a new member within 45 days after joining your club and receive a one-month gift certificate for each new member sponsored.


  • For sponsoring a new member, get a gift certificate towards another feature of your club) i.e., tanning, baby-sitting, racquetball, aerobics, master classes, etc.)


  • Give members a chance to win a trip, cash or big prizes such as a color TV, mountain bikes, etc.  Each time a member sponsors someone to your facility, his or her name goes into a drawing box for a chance to win the big prize.


  • Have a drawing whereby sponsoring a new member within a certain month gives the sponsor a chance to win 100 $1 state lottery scratch tickets – the sponsoring member gets 100 chances at winning millions of dollars.


  • Dinner for two or tickets to a movie, play, or sporting event to be given away for sponsoring a member or for purchasing a particular type of membership during a limited period of time.


  • Do a promotion in conjunction with a local restaurant, night-club, take-out shop, hair salon, video store, ice cream parlor, gas station, dry cleaners, bowling alley, car wash, travel agency, etc., this would allow you and the other business to share the cost of the advertising and for you to introduce each other’s patrons to your businesses.


  • Set up a booth at a local shopping mall during a home show, sports fair, or other types of exhibition.  Offer an introductory special and guest passes for people at the exhibition to try your facility.


  • Give free memberships to a local radio station or sporting event, to be used as on-the-air contest prizes or drawings in exchange for free airtime or mention of your club.


  • Have a contest to promote the use of various features of your facility, such as aerobics, by offering prizes or rewards for the highest number of classes attended by a member, etc.


  • Attract new members to your facility by hosting a health fair at your club, featuring blood pressure checks, body fat analysis, cholesterol screening, etc.


  • Send your staff to a local beach, lake, high school football games, town fair, or any public event/area to hand out free guest passes or introductory special.


  • Stay open on a holiday and offer a free workout, a special aerobics class, etc., to attract other club’s members when your competitor’s may not be open.


  • In conjunction with an ad or radio spot, offer a considerably reduced rate to the first 15 to 20 people who call or visit your club at a certain time.


  • Offer a reduced rate or special membership trade-in policy for anyone who brings in an active membership card from another club in your area.


  • Sponsor contests for your members such as most weight or inches lost, best   attendance, bench pressing, etc.


  • Bring in a celebrity, professional athlete, guest speaker, performer, or costume character to attract new visitors to your club.


  • With your staff and instructors, do an off-location exhibition at schools, colleges, businesses, etc., in order to promote physical fitness, wellness, and good health.


  • Sponsor a sporting event such as golf tournament, bowling, tennis, 10K run, walkathon, etc., that ties into other aspects of health and fitness.
















Fitness Management and Consulting/ Training Services


To operate a profitable health club, an owner must wear two hats.  They must be both a facility manager and a marketing manager.  As happens in our business, owners seem to spend more time putting out fires solving operational problems rather than planning and implementing sales and marketing programs.  Fitness Management & Consulting was designed to be that additional arm for the independent club owner.


The health and fitness industry is a definite challenge.  To become successful, it requires a lot of hard work, determination, paying attention to detail, along with doing everything right.  If you let up, your profits can quickly become losses.


An understanding of the business comes only through experience.  There is no college curriculum to educate scholars for the health and fitness industry.  At Fitness Management, we have acquired our knowledge from years of direct exposure from day to day operations in fitness facilities.  We have a proven track record and a staff of professional experts to assist you.


As a club owner, you have a substantial investment from which you expect a profit and a return.   The price you pay for experience may be quite costly and put you deeper in the red.  We can help you short term or long term through our consulting work.


An outside consultant may see problems quicker and due to experience, come up with a faster more effective solution.  It may end up simply being a meeting to motivate and open the eyes of a well-trained staff.  It may be as involved as designing and implementing an entire outline on club procedures such as sales, prospecting, referrals, service and managing front desk.


And that’s not just some promising theory.  Our techniques have already tangibly improved club after club.  At Fitness Management, it’s what we call the “The Simple Solution”.


Call today for a custom designed consulting package.  You may reach us at (800) 929-2898, fax 214-292-9553 or email at  Or learn more about us on the web at









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