How to Avoid Financial Disputes with Your Gym Members

Member-owner relationships are a bit like marriages. You work hard to cultivate strong, long-lasting bonds. You do all you can to show you care and provide what your member needs. Despite that effort, you can still find yourself dealing with absences, arguments, and painful breakups caused by disagreements about money. Among married couples, financial disputes are the second leading cause of divorce. Likewise, uncomfortable conversations about missed payments can make members feel like your gym is not the right place for them. To avoid losing members, put a plan in place to prevent financial disputes and strengthen your relationships.

What can you do to avoid financial disputes with your members?

At Member Solutions, we have over 25 years of experience providing billing services and collecting member payments. Think of us as a financial counselor who wants to help alleviate some the strains money puts on your member relationships.

Follow these 5 tips to avoid financial disputes and keep your billing practices running smoothly:

1) Talk about your billing policies

Clear billing policies allow you and your members to stay on the same page. Put yourself in your members’ shoes. Would you enjoy surprise charges to your credit card? While surprises can be fun, financial surprises can damage your relationships.

Create a membership welcome packet that clearly details what your members can expect financially. Address the when and how of payment processing, late fees, cancellation policies, payments dates, and how members will be notified if fees change.

2) Be flexible when members have money problems

Eventually, one of your members will show up to your gym after months of racking up an unpaid balance and overdue fees. They’ll say they had no idea it was happening. They’ll ask you why you didn’t remind them and possibly tell you they can’t afford to pay.

While it’s important to enforce your policies, sometimes it’s important to find a middle ground. Ask yourself, “What’s best for my long term relationship with this member?”

Sometimes it’s in your best interest to give a member a break. You may decide to waive fees or set up a payment plan to get a member caught up. When you make an exception, let them know that you’re doing it because they are a valued, long-term member. Explain that your policies are in place because newer members—who don’t have strong relationships like yours—might try to avoid paying.

This method has a variety of benefits:

  1. You were likely going to receive no payment. Now that you have made an exception, you are likely to receive some compensation.
  2. You increase the odds that this member pays on time going forward.
  3. If this member is leaving, it’s more likely that he or she will return to your gym.
  4. The likelihood that member talks highly of your gym will increase.

Every gym owner is unique and has different opinions on this situation. All we recommend is that you consider the value of each customer on an individual basis.

3) Automate member payments and billing

Automated billing services virtually take you out of the dues collection process at your gym. All you have to do is set up client accounts, due dates, and payment amounts. Voilà! Your clients’ accounts will be billed automatically.

What does this mean for you? It means that you no longer have to directly collect member payments. This saves time on administrative tasks and reduces strain on relationships with your members.

4) Offer secure online payment processing

The convenience of online payments has obvious appeal for both businesses and members. However, when it comes to online payments, choosing a service with maximum security is critical. The last thing you want is for your or your members’ financial information to be compromised.

Choose a Level 1 PCI compliant provider to protect your business. Providers that follow these data security standards offer the highest level of protection against credit card fraud.

5) Enlist a professional team to bill your members

In addition to damaging relationships, tracking down member payments is confusing and time-consuming. Pursuing missing payments can take up to 10 hours every week. That’s time you could spend with your members, growing your business, or relaxing with friends and family.

Outsourcing to an affordable managed billing service that specializes in tracking down delinquent accounts can reduce stress and help preserve relationships. Billing professionals have an in-depth understanding of the payment processing business and are better able to troubleshoot issues with failed credit card payments or delinquency. In fact, members are more likely to settle monetary issues with a billing company than a gym owner.

If you decide to collaborate with a third-party billing provider, choose a team that will uphold your policies while still offering flexibility to your members. A good billing company will be able to advise you on when to make exceptions for members who are having trouble paying.

Overcome financial disputes to strengthen relationships with your members

Financial disputes are one of the main reasons relationships end—whether it’s between spouses, business partners, or band members who pursue disappointing solo careers. To beat the odds, you need to be proactive. Talk to your members about your expectations regarding payments. Be open to a financial partnership with your members. If you decide to partner with a billing company, choose a team with the same commitment to customer service and fairness that you do.

How do you manage the financial aspects of your member relationships? Share your comments below.

[Webinar] 5 Ways to Boost Member Retention with a Mobile App

5 Ways to Boost Member Retention with a Mobile App

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. PT)

The more engaged your members are, the more likely they are to stick to their fitness routine and with your business. Unfortunately, many fitness clubs struggle to maximize member retention. So how do you build stronger relationships that drive loyalty, member retention, and results? Our partner, MiGym, has worked with hundreds of fitness clubs to create personalized member app experiences. Clubs with mobile apps benefit from increased class attendance, strengthened relationships, lower attrition, and increased revenue. After reviewing results from clients, MiGym identified five ways that any fitness business—large or small—can use a mobile app to grow profits and improve member retention. In this webinar, you’ll learn the five ways fitness clubs can engage their member base through a custom mobile app. You’ll see a live demonstration of how you can use these techniques to cultivate stronger bonds with your members. You’ll learn how to:

  • Use push notifications and announcements during the holiday season and the New Year’s fitness rush
  • Increase member convenience through a simplified check-in and booking process
  • Gain a competitive advantage in 2018 by adding a mobile app to your business plan and marketing campaigns
  • And more!

Bonus: Attend the live webinar to get a sample holiday push notification and announcement to drive member retention, engagement, and revenue.

Meet Our Presenter

Hugh McEvoy, General Manager, MiGym

Hugh McEvoy has over nine years of experience providing software solutions to the fitness industry for member retention, marketing, and business management. As the General Manager at MiGym, Hugh partners with businesses of all sizes to conquer challenges and to achieve results.

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Guest Post: The Health of Your Gym

Guest Post: The Health of Your Gym

Warning: This is going to be a hard read if you’re eating.

It’s a bit ironic that facilities for our health can pose bacterial harm if not properly cleaned. Although places like gyms are not number one on the list of highly germ populated public locations, they can be one of the most common areas to contract bacteria.

Nobody wants to think about all these microscopic germs and particles that coexist among us, but to have a healthy fitness center inside and out, you must be properly equipped with both the knowledge, products and —oh your facility is well cleaned? Excellent! Now, how much do you spread that information around? It’s very well worth turning a quick spotlight on the cleanliness of your facility. Especially when the USA ranks number 28 out of the 188 healthiest nations despite being one of the most health data indulgent countries in the world.

So it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to remind the public you care about the shape of your gym right? Right! Here’s how to take advantage of a hygienic presence.

Provide Easy Access For Sanitation

You sneeze and there’s no tissue in sight. Here’s a worse situation. You sneeze into a tissue and there’s no trash container nearby! Avoid these minor inconveniences by providing disposable soaps, hand wipes or nonalcoholic hand sanitizers and easily accessible waste bins throughout your facility so your clients don’t have to interrupt their workout for long. They don’t have to be every two feet but a good presence of complementary products will give members a good impression of cleanliness in association with your business identity.

Establish With Your Members That You Have a Cleaning Schedule

Whenever that time for the full scrub overhaul of your facility comes around—that’s the chance to show off your results. Take a picture of your pristine facility and post it online. You could even incorporate fitness into the mix because who say’s scrubbing an entire building isn’t a workout? Or that just the act of cleaning is the only sign of a healthy gym?

Share pictures of upgrades, new installations, or even a photo of yourself arriving early! Fresh products, an active mind, and up to date materials express not just a business but a business owner who knows when to make the right decision.

Signs & Reminders

One of the most common of contagions caught at facilities of mobility is skin infection. (Gross I know, but stay with me.) The reasons for these skin infections are due to the unfortunate contact with deposits of leftover sweat on shared exercise equipment and or materials. (How are you doing? Good! We’re going get through this!) The best way this can be avoided is reminders such as: “Always Wash Hands After A Workout”, “Shower after A Swim Please” and “Remember Scandals On While Showering”.

Have any of these signs in your gym? Personalize them a bit, maybe station yourself in front of it for a quick selfie on social media. The more human involvement the better. Just no sweat!

Show That You’re a Good Example

The image of the business owner and staff is everything. Clean clothes, clean hair, etc. We’re not suggesting to have your staff share their selfies all over your social media but rather to have them included within photos of otherwise stagnant objects. Set up a new flyer? Have one of your staff smiling on the side or even holding the sign. There are numerous ways to apply human engagement and interactions to health and safety measures.

One way to ensure you have someone on the floor making it happen is by setting a reminder in our fitness center software. Set up a task for the staff member of your choice so there’s no confusion on whose job it is to post selfies with the clients!

Author: Claire Scro, Marketing Specialist.

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14 Fall Event Ideas for September & October

15 Fall Event Ideas photo

Need event ideas for your martial arts school, gym, community group, or another organization? With autumn approaching, you’ll have lots of opportunities to plan around seasonal delights. These fall event ideas are easy to customize for your participants with online event registration software like Event Manager.

1) Back-to-School/Autumn Pancake Breakfast

Celebrate the turn of the season with a themed breakfast! Use it to commemorate the start of school or the beginning of autumn. Pick your favorite breakfast place in town, or make it special with an apple pancake or pumpkin pancake recipe that you can share with your attendees later. Martial arts schools or gyms: use this fall breakfast as a way to engage prospects.

2) Costume Contest

Dress up at your office, school, team, exercise class, or classroom Halloween party. If you’re a coach or martial arts instructor, have fun with your students by creating a contest that is sport specific. Create a giveaway prize with a Halloween trick or treat bag with items that your group will enjoy.

3) Pumpkin Carving Party with Contest & Prizes

Get in this family-friendly activity by using a twist: pick categories for your pumpkin contest, like the funniest, most creative, and most unexpected. Winner gets a gift card to Amazon or a favorite local restaurant. Make sure you take lots of photos to post to Facebook and Instagram to engage your online community.

4) Fall Bike Tours

Get a group together for a fun time on two wheels as the weather begins to cool. Explore the earthy, changing colors of the trees for a weekend camping trip or day trip. If you want to accommodate all levels of cyclists, try enjoying a rail trail.

Astronomy Camping Fall Ideas

5) Astronomy Night

Make this an educational after-school event for a student science club, field trip, or as a way to build community in your young athletes. Visit an observatory, planetarium, or go outside with chairs, blankets, and a campfire.

6) National School Success Month

Host a seminar series for students and/or parents on good academic habits. This is a great opportunity for coaches and martial arts school owners to talk about how students can use the discipline that they learn in their sport to excel in the classroom. Offer study time, tutoring, or a way to connect students with peer study groups.

7) Museum Field Trip

Local or big city museums, in addition to their usual exhibits, usually have seasonal or special exhibits. While art museums are popular, science museums are great for kids who want a more tactile, interactive experience.

8) National Cheese Pizza Day (Sept. 5th)

Not that there needs to be an excuse for pizza, but we’ll take one when we have it. Host a pizza lunch or dinner at your school, office, or local community organization.

Frisbee Fall Ideas

9) Ultimate Frisbee Game

Get everyone outside with an adult office league or a team at your gym. Being outside is not only fun, but it significantly impacts the way you decompress.

10) Themed Paint Nights

Create a fall or Halloween-themed paint night for kids, adults, or both. Make it fun for kids with fingerpainting or adult-friendly with drinks.

11) Bonfires/Seasonal Cookout

Have your group submit their favorite seasonal recipes anonymously and have everyone pick their top five favorites. The majority says what will cook on the fire. S’mores are always great for dessert.

12) National Grandparents Day (Sept. 8)

Celebrate the special roles and relationships of grandparents with a dinner, craft night, or a sport specific demonstration from their grandchildren athletes. Have kids make cards or fundraise for gift cards.

13) Local Farm Adventure

Pumpkin patches and hay rides may feel cliché, but they’re a classic for many reasons. And hot cider always tastes better in season.

14) Haunted House

Get spooky with a haunted house or trail. Expert tip: make group t-shirts so you can keep track of your group.

Author: Jennifer Miller, Member Solutions Marketing Specialist

Branding, Websites, UX, & SEO: Use What We Learned to Benefit Your Business

Branding word cloud on chalkboard: design, value, strategy, logo, marketing, advertising, identify, trust.

Navigating the rebranding process and launching a completely new, optimized website wasn’t easy. But it gave the Member Solutions team valuable insight into the kind of planning, techniques, and development required. To help you out, we asked our marketing department, “What did you learn from our recent rebrand and the launch of our new site?”

Meetings: Use collaborative communication tools. Be open with your team.

CLAIRE, Marketing Specialist

Aside from a having a positive attitude, open communication and having various ways to communicate really helped. One strategy we used was creating a group chat on Skype where everyone could talk and submit their observations. Another was having smaller meetings in between our scheduled large group ones to discuss specific topics, like SEO.

UX: Create a website that offers a positive, intuitive experience for your customers.

CHRIS, PPC Manager

We only have a few seconds after a user arrives at our website to grab their attention. Wasting any of those seconds can turn a potential customer away for good.

People fall into the trap of trying to pack their website full of information, keywords, and resources. These actions are things you think should help, but they hurt the user experience instead. Knowing when, where, and how to provide information is as valuable as the information itself.

Branding: Bring in fresh perspectives. Grow through flexibility & willingness to learn.

CAITLIN, Brand Manager

It was interesting coming into this project as someone who doesn’t have long-standing familiarity with the product. Because of this, I could view the content with a fresh perspective and place myself in the shoes of a potential client. Tackling the project from this viewpoint allowed me to take a step back from the content developer mentality and remember the top priority of any website our team creates: our audience.

Be flexible. No matter how much you plan and plan again, processes and strategies evolve over time. You learn from mistakes, gain new insight, and even spark fresh ideas. It’s all part of the challenge and what drives continued growth—both professionally and personally.

SEO: Plan your website’s optimization from the start. Know your industry & involve key stakeholders.

MIRANDA, Brand Manager

Consider SEO up front. At the early stages of planning, consider how SEO will play into your website structure and content. As a vital part of your strategy, you need to make sure that any decisions you make will align with your SEO goals.

Collaborate during planning. Involve all key stakeholders and team members to gather information about what your customers want and look for. Each person has a different experience with your customers, so it’s important to get multiple perspectives on the structure and content you’ve proposed for the site.

Know your industry. Research key opinion leaders, your product category, competitors, and customers so you can appropriately reflect the current needs of your industry. Take the opportunity to address present challenges and preferences with your new website rather than simply updating the appearance of your old site.

Websites: Design for clear, branded messaging in a mobile format.

LAURA, Senior Graphic Designer

It’s not enough to create a new logo and call it a day. You must update your website as well. As a designer, I cannot stress enough just how crucial it is to make your homepage clean, visually interesting, and to have a clear message. Ask yourself, “What type of company am I? What do I want to say?” You may think you’re getting your message across to the right target audience, but in the end, you may be missing the mark.

You literally have 5 to 10 seconds to make your first impression when a new visitor lands on your site. If a prospect cannot figure out who you are and what your company does in that short window of time, you’ll lose their interest or worse, future business. They are already moving to the next thing.

If your site isn’t visually appealing and built to adjust to all the different devices out in the world, your prospects will lose interest and instantly move to a competitor. People are not surfing the web on a desktop computer anymore. In fact, not being mobile friendly will even affect your rankings in Google’s search engine. It is now known that their preferred configuration is mobile responsive sites.

Another other important aspect to remember is your opinion isn’t the only one that matters. Invite friends, family, coworkers, or someone in the same industry to look at your newly refreshed website and logo. Get an outsider’s perspective. Their opinion may be completely different than how you view your company.

Content: Be authentic in your tone & brand voice. Show your audience that you’re human, too.

JENNIFER, Marketing Specialist

Your website may be the first introduction someone has to your business. Think of how you would greet someone in person: authenticity and friendliness usually open the opportunity to build rapport. Today’s savvy consumers are going to take their business to companies that speak to them personally, that make them feel valuable as individuals.

Appropriately using emotion builds that value with your audience, even when they’re not ready to purchase. Human-voiced content should not only translate through your website but through social media and advertising as well. Blogging is a great way to create and demonstrate your brand’s sense of community. Categories are a subtle way to create authority in your areas of expertise.

5 Tips to Selling Memberships during a Recession

Recession graph on computer screen

We have read the headlines and listened to newscasts of the global economic crisis. Consumers are fearful and are not spending their hard-earned dollars as freely as they did in better times.

Traditionally, the health and fitness industry has not been adversely affected by economic downturns. Consumers spend money on necessities and good valued essentials. What can be more important than one’s health?

Listed below are five tips to selling fitness memberships during a recession. See if you can add more, and share this article with your staff.

1) Sell yourself.
The first person that needs to be sold on investing in one’s health, especially during downturns — be it financial, emotional or physical—is you, the membership advisor (I would go as far to say that every employee must feel the same way).

Believing in the value of exercise is not an option. Everyone knows the value of exercise, and now more than ever, must believe that exercise helps one’s physical and mental well-being. This helps overcome the emotional and physical challenges that we currently face and that lie ahead. Once you embrace the fact that living a healthy lifestyle is a 24/7 attitude in good times and in bad, you will close more sales.

2) Sell with passion.
Questions membership advisers must ask themselves are:

1. Are you exercising?
2. Do you believe in the product that you are selling?
3. Do you practice what you preach?

The biggest component to selling anything is emotion. People buy on emotion. They can sense whether the representative is sincere or just putting it on to make the sale. Today’s consumer is very savvy. Do not underestimate their ability to see right through false emotion and excitement. Membership advisors must have a burning passion for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. That passion must flow through their presentation and engulf their prospect.

2) Ignore the negativity.
Membership advisors should not get caught up reading doomsayer headlines and watching stock market results or chaos around the world. Yes, they must know what is going on, but, should not dwell on it. They should stay away from negative people. Everyone knows who they are. Have them run, not walk, away from them. Being distracted from their daily “success cycle” will only make matters worse.

Membership advisors must keep their PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) in check every day, no matter what is going on around them or in their own personal lives for that matter. They must stay focused.

3) Provide value.
Consumers are evaluating where to spend their hard-earned dollars. Membership advisors must make the value proposition relate to their goals and fitness needs. Showing prospects the value of starting an exercise program, and that starting now, makes more sense than ever. They must explain how spending less than $2 per day for a fitness membership (some may be as little as $0.50 and others as much as $5 per day) is a great value, especially when you determine what their daily spending habits are.

Check out these stats. According to the National Coffee Association, the average yearly coffee consumption per person in the United States is close to 4.4 Kg. Among coffee drinkers, the average coffee consumption in the United States is 3.1 cups of coffee per day. That adds up very quickly when you talk about two to four cups of coffee per day.

You probably don’t know that Americans spent 2 million on cosmetics last year alone and that cutting out cigarettes—whether you light up once or more than a dozen times a day—can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year. A pack of cigarettes now costs more than $5 on average— with some states tacking on additional taxes that raise the price even more.

In New York City, local taxes have pushed the cost of a pack to about $10. I can add to this list, but you get the point. Members can join your program for a low fixed cost and enjoy the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Prepare your team by having membership advisors list as many cost benefit savings as they can.

4) Empathy versus sympathy.
Empathy is the capacity to recognize or understand another’s state of mind or emotion. It is often characterized as the ability to put oneself into another’s shoes, or to in some way, experience the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself.

Sympathy is a social affinity in which one person stands with another person, closely understanding his or her feelings.

Membership advisers should not sympathize but empathize with prospects. They must understand their situation but not get caught up in their story. Bring the conversation back to results and benefits of joining your program. Turn each negative into a positive.

People on a tight budget usually don’t have much to do other than watch TV, read, and surf the web. That gets boring quickly and only encourages a less than healthy lifestyle. They can be at the gym, exercising, socializing, networking, and making new friends all for a low monthly fixed fee. They can read, surf the web, and watch TV while working out.

Selling memberships is not just giving a “Vanna White Tour,” as my partner and senior vice president, Deana Valente, calls it. Or as my good friend and colleague Casey Conrad calls it, the “Disney Tour,” and asking the all-too-familiar closing statement, “So what do you think?”

Selling is a profession and selling memberships is no different. Remember there is always a sale made during a tour of your facility. The consumer sells you or you sell the consumer. Which do you prefer?

Author: Tony Santomauro

5 Budget-Friendly Ideas for Your Business’s Grand Opening Event

Client Question: I am opening a new business soon. Can you provide some ideas to drive traffic to my business on our grand opening day?


Chances are good that you have invested a lot of money into starting your new business. Here I’ll provide some low-budget ideas for a grand opening celebration.

1) Rent an inflatable jumpy or bouncy to place in front of your business. If you don’t have a front lawn, rent a sky tube. Add balloons, yard signs, and gigantic banners out front that read, Grand Opening—anything that will make people look at your location. Use your connections, too. Know someone that owns a hot rod, race car, or chopper? See if they’ll let you borrow it. Place it out front to draw attention.

2) Offer free hot dogs and sodas throughout your event. Have visitors go inside your martial srts school or gym to get a coupon for the free food. In order to get the coupon, have them fill out an info card.

3) Create grand opening postcards or flyers. Donate $250 to your local high school football, soccer, baseball, or basketball teams. In return, ask them to put the postcards or flyers out in the neighborhood they live in. This is an easy way to get cards out for little to no money. It’s also a win-win for you and your local schools and sports teams. They need money, too, and will appreciate your donation.

4) Have hourly giveaways for gift cards to local restaurants and movie theaters. Have visitors fill out an info card to enter the drawing for the prizes. Make sure you keep their information and enter it in your member management software so you can follow up with them about joining your martial arts school or gym.

5) Giveaway t-shirts with your business name and logo. Drive around to local businesses, parks, and supermarkets. Invite the people you talk to take a class. Have an appointment book on hand. Make sure they know about the Grand Opening celebration.

Remember that your grand opening doesn’t have to be just a one-day or evening event. Make the most of your new business opening. Consider running a one- or two-week celebration to keep the excitement and the momentum going.

Hope this helps,

Chuck


About the author: Chuck Heacock is the owner of the Fitness Compound, a training facility that provides unparalleled fitness activities including Martial Arts classes, special boot camps, personal training, baseball, basketball, spinning, Zumba, cardio, and more. Chuck is also a sought-after fitness industry consultant.

Doing the Math to Calculate Martial Arts Business Success

Why do some martial arts studios have 50 students while others have 500?

Before delving into the multitude of factors contributing to business success or failure, understand first that it all comes down to two very simple metrics: Number of monthly enrollments and drop-out rate. As long as your number of enrollments is greater than the number of drop-outs, your school population will continue to climb.

Let’s take it a step further.

You enroll a certain number of students every month. Let’s say 10, for example. You also lose a certain percentage of your current student population each month, perhaps 10 percent.

When you first start a school, you gain students but lose very few. If you have 10 students and you lose 10 percent, you lose only one student. Your net gain is nine students. However, if you have 100 students, you will lose 10 each month. At this point, your enrollments equal your drop-outs, and you will stay at about 100 students.

When your school is growing, eventually the number of students you gain will equal the number of students you lose, and you reach a point of equilibrium where your student population will remain steady.

A Formula to Calculate Martial Arts Business Success

There is a very simple formula to calculate exactly how many students you can have based on your key business factors:

n = e / d

What are they and how do you determine these values?

1. “n” = how many students you have right now, hopefully, you already know this number.

2. “e” = the number of new students you gained over the past 12 months divided by 12 or simply your average number of monthly enrollments.

3. “d” = your drop-out rate which is calculated by taking “e” and dividing by “n” (e/n).

An Example to Illustrate

Imagine you are a studio that enrolls 15 students each month, and your drop-out rate is 8 percent. Let’s do the math:

n = 15 / 0.08

n = 187.5

This means that if nothing changes, your school will build to around 188 students and then will cease growing beyond that point.

Using the Numbers to Grow Your Business

What is more important is how you can use this to grow your school further. For example, what if you improved your enrollments to 18 students each month?

n = 18 / 0.08

n = 225

Simply by increasing your monthly enrollments by three, you have set yourself up to become a 225-student school. Now what if you took steps to keep your students happier and in your school longer to decrease your drop-out rate to 7 percent?

n = 18 / 0.07

n = 257

Now you will have become a 257-student school through a few very small tweaks to your business metrics.

The point is that by making little improvements, you can propel growth tremendously. Try applying this formula to your studio. See what sort of effect improving either of the variables will have. You will be surprised at what a big difference they make.

Take steps specifically to improve those variables in your school. Everything that you do should be focused on either increasing the number of monthly enrollments or preventing current students from dropping out.

There are many fantastic ideas in the Member Solutions article library that you should consult. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at sifu@wushucentral.com.


About the author: Sifu David Chang and his wife Elizabeth Chang are the owners of Wushu Central Martial Arts Academy with two locations in California. Sifu Chang is a former Wushu style forms national champion and Elizabeth is the brains behind the business. Each location enrolls an average of 25 students each month with a drop-out rate of 5 percent.

Success in Your Business: Creating a Sense of Belonging & Purpose

I am a big advocate of encouraging others to get creative with their ideas. In fact, about a year ago, I opened Fitness Compound, which offers a variety of fitness classes, programs, and training options including Zumba, cardio, Pilates, spinning, baseball, climbing, and basketball. Since then, I’ve added Mixed Martial Arts for kids, Zumba Tone, and Krav Maga to the mix.

Even though I’m offering services beyond traditional martial arts, I’m still creating the very same sense of community, purpose, and goal-driven environment as all other fitness-related businesses.

It’s critically important for your members (and prospective members) to get a sense of belonging and have a purpose when being a part of your gym or school. People want to be a part of something and feel good about themselves. Therefore, all your enrollment and retention efforts should include ways to fulfill those primary needs.

For instance, don’t shy away from holding free events. Many think that when they hold an event, they should charge a fee. They think their objective should be to make a certain amount of money on ticket sales. This shouldn’t be your main objective at all.

Your main objective when holding most events should be to create a sense of community and commonality to build rapport with your prospects. Hold a fundraiser for a worthy cause or a special springtime or summertime event to fuel business activity and to bring families and friends together. You will, in turn, build a business that people will want to be a part of and a contact list of prospects.

To strengthen retention, keep your members focused on achieving a goal. For instance, we hold a special internal campaign during the summer called 12 weeks of Summer, 36 Workouts. Anyone can sign up for the campaign. If they reach the goal of checking in at the gym for 36 workouts during the summer (three workouts a week), they get a T-shirt that says “I stayed in shape all summer at <Place of Business>.” You wouldn’t believe how this motivates members to stick to their fitness goals and get to the gym.

Remember the integral wishes of each and every human being: the need to belong and the need to feel good. When you keep these two intrinsic human needs in mind, and better yet, fulfill them through your business services, you’re well on your way to optimal success.

How have you created a sense of belonging and member community within your business? Share below.


About the author: Chuck Heacock is the owner of the Fitness Compound, a training facility that provides unparalleled fitness activities including Martial Arts classes, special boot camps, personal training, baseball, basketball, spinning, Zumba, cardio and more. Chuck is also a sought-after fitness industry consultant.

How to Increase Your Gross Sales Now

Membership management software sales dashboard

The 27th of March was a good news day for me. One of my General Managers called to inform me that my two Krav Maga schools were ranked #1 and #2 in the Member Solutions President’s Club based on total monthly gross billing totals. While I charge all of my enrollment fees, first month’s dues, and retail through a POS system, my two Krav Maga schools had still managed to climb the Member Solutions President’s Club rankings.

The Entrepreneur’s Club

I respect every instructor, owner, and manager on this list. The moxie it takes to believe you can make a healthy living teaching martial arts is substantial to put it mildly. Everyone on the list has undoubtedly faced obstacles and taken risks, and each of these people has overcome. That’s special.

I still remember the day I decided to sign what seemed to me to be (at the time) an expensive lease in the heart of Houston. I had somehow talked my way through two interviews with the property manager and minority investor of a newly-developed retail property. Terms were agreed upon. I was elated.

The first student I told was a private training client—a family member of a very wealthy and well-to-do Houston dynasty of sorts. I recall vividly what he said. “Don’t do it. You’ll never make it work.”

Thank God I didn’t buckle. In fact, the lease was signed the day the Dow dropped 777+ points. My commercial broker was sitting across from me on a family room chair. The lease lay still on my coffee table. He looked at the television, tuned to CNBC with the Dow in a free-fall. He looked at me and drew a long breath. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Yes, I do.” I replied. I suppose the rest is history. But it’s a history full of my share of close calls and decision points that have obviously propelled my businesses forward. Interestingly, my two schools are vastly different. The first school I opened with my life savings is a mere 2,900 square feet. It’s ranked #2 on the Member Solutions list and grossed more than $100,000 last month. My other school is the largest and largest contiguous Krav Maga school on the planet—boasting over 36,000 square feet of mats, heavy bags, CrossFit equipment, Hammer Strength equipment, and staff offices. This school had considerably more gross revenue than my smaller school, but as you might guess, the cost footprint is higher.

I’m sharing these things for a singular purpose—to reinforce the notion that any school of any size can be a huge success. You can be a huge success.

Optimizing Existing Sales Assets

A friend in the martial arts business called me a few weeks ago. His school was in a slump. The numbers were down across the board. He started by telling me what his new branding and marketing concepts were. I listened.

As I’m familiar with the school, I could speak with some level of understanding. In the end, he asked me for advice. I simply told him that I knew he had a quality program with top-shelf instructors, but I wondered if his sales staff were as accomplished (they are not).

In an ideal world, he’d convert every appointment. To that end, if he increased his closing ratio to 100 percent (for example and to make a point), he’d have to generate one-half the traffic to generate the same amount of monthly revenue—assuming he is converting 50 percent of his leads today. At the very least, he could dramatically increase enrollments and gross cash flow by simply closing at a higher, better rate. That’s job number one.

Job number two is to better work with existing members and new members (during “post close”) to generate more “warm” referral leads.

In summary, if my friend upgraded his sales training and process, he’d likely increase his closing rates by 30 percent while simultaneously increasing his lead stream by 50 percent or more (without ever spending an additional dime on marketing schemes), nearly doubling his revenue.

Prioritize and Preach Your Value Proposition

I earned my MBA in 1997 while working full time. I do have some background that makes the decision process a bit more structured for me. But, the one thing I know more than any other is this: everyone needs a world-class sales presentation and closing process. This is partly a sales training issue and partly a buy-in issue.

Put simply: If you don’t believe what you’re selling is valuable and life changing, no one else will. They certainly won’t pay for it.

The bottom line is your sales staff (this may mean you) must clearly understand the benefits of your martial arts programming and project a level of certainty and excitement about what your program can do for people (vision). This is a value proposition. Do you know yours?

The benefits of a martial arts program vary widely—from traditional martial arts to MMA and fighting, to self-defense programs like Krav Maga. Clearly identify the benefits you offer, and provide a wealth of evidence to back-up your claim.

Far too often, sales people present the view (what you see in the school on tour), not the vision (the short- and long-term benefits of martial arts training). It’s the vision that creates the value for your students. Only after clearly providing a superior value proposition can anyone really ask for the sale with confidence.

Using our sales program, we close just over 80 percent of all in-person leads at my small school with monthly fees ranging from $169–$219 and over 85 percent at my big school with monthly fees ranging from $99–$159. Every agreement has duration of 6–24 months. Absolutely no month-to-month contracts.

Do you want more sales? Implement a solid, well-conceived closing and post-closing sales process that clearly articulates your value proposition today.

Krav Maga Houston’s Chief Instructor, C.J. Kirk, is certified and licensed through the Krav Maga Association of America/Krav Maga Worldwide as a 3rd Dan Black Belt instructor. His two schools, Krav Maga Houston and Krav Maga Houston North, are the only certified and licensed schools in the Houston, TX area. Most recently, C.J. launched Kravology, an online resource for self-defense instructors and enthusiasts. For more Martial Arts and business information, register for the free Kravology weekly newsletter at kravology.com.