8 Retention Strategies You Need to Grow Your Gym

8 Ways to Improve Gym Member Retention infographic

The most successful gym and fitness business owners understand that gaining a new member is just the beginning. Over time, your members become much more valuable to your business the longer they stay at your gym. So what do you need to do to improve your member retention?

You coach your members on the importance of being consistent in order to hit their fitness goals, and the same is true for maintaining your relationship with them. To increase your members’ loyalty and retention, you need to consistently offer them a stand-out experience every time they interact with your business.

These eight simple retention strategies will help you identify ways that you can improve your members’ experiences so you can keep them around for years to come.

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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 Errors to Avoid: Employee Discipline

Two boys practicing karate in front of a children's martial arts class

Greater focus, improved self-control, and increased self-discipline are only a few of the lasting benefits that a practitioner or trainee realizes from their study of any martial art.

As a business owner, your challenge is to translate the discipline you impart in your teaching to your employees to ensure the smooth operation of your business. How you impart these lessons to your employees may go far in determining the success of your business.

This article identifies some common communication errors and also provides suggestions on how to improve communications with your employees and impart the same lessons that you are providing to your students.


Error #1: Discipline as Punishment

Discipline pertains to improving employee performance by assisting the employee (at least at first) to learn so they can perform more effectively. One prevalent error is treating discipline as punishment. The threat of additional sanctions will not correct or eliminate unwanted behavior. Instead, it usually has the opposite effect.

Negative sanctions generally succeed only in limited instances where certain factors are present. Thus, just as your students learn discipline, so too should employee discipline be viewed as an opportunity for the employee to learn what needs to be done to bring their behavior up to the standards you demand. Discipline must have teeth, even in a learning sense. But it can’t only be teeth.

Error #2: Discipline as An I vs. You Confrontation

While martial arts may, in some circumstances, involve confrontation, employee discipline should not. Discipline should not be viewed as something done to an employee, but rather as something done with an employee. Effective discipline requires you and your employee work together to solve a problem. The result of this combined effort is an employee who feels respected, who is involved in the process, and who feels more a part of the team. Remember, discipline needs to be a team process.

Error #3: Too Late

While you are certainly not seeking out employee problems, there is a fine line between looking for trouble and being too slow to recognize or to respond to an emerging issue. Delay dealing with a problem and the unwanted behavior will continue or escalate, making it that much harder for you to deal with it in the future. It is critical that you promptly note inappropriate behavior and communicate that fact with the employee as soon as possible. This communication does not have to be lengthy, particularly if the event is minor, but putting it off until tomorrow never resolves the problem.

Error #4: A Non-Progressive Approach

Progressive discipline starts with the least possible use of power and disciplinary action. Over time, it involves stronger actions if the situation continues. Delay disciplinary action, as related in #3 above, and the situation may become so severe that only the harshest sanctions are available. Applying harsh initial discipline will usually not resolve the problem with the employee and may result in a backlash by other employees. Start with the least forceful action as early as possible, unless the offense warrants the severe action.

Error #5: Missing Root Causes

It is your business, and it is understandable that you may want to lay down the law to a problem employee. In some cases, a problem employee may require this kind of approach. However, in many situations, negative or even positive discipline may have little effect on behavior simply because it does not address the root causes of the problem. It leaves the employee on their own to figure out a solution.

There are many reasons that an employee’s behavior may be problematic (some of which may actually be due to the fact that the employee is a problem). Without knowing the root causes underlying a performance problem, it will be difficult to work with an employee to improve their behavior and performance.

I am not advocating one approach over another, nor am I advocating in favor of any particular approach. However, from both a legal and a practical standpoint, it makes no sense to take actions that are doomed to fail. Therefore, when you meet with your employees to discuss or correct behavior issues, remember that in a successful meeting you should:

1) Listen and have empathy with the employee’s situation.
2) Refocus the employee to the original problem, and ask them to come up with a solution.
3) Offer assistance, including setting up another meeting to discuss the employee’s progress.


About the author: Andrew S. Kasmen, Esq. is General Counsel and HR Director for Member Solutions.

Disclaimer: Member Solutions is not an attorney and does not provide legal advice. Further, the information provided in this article is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. It is being offered as a general information service to Member Solutions’ clients. The laws of your jurisdiction may differ. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your particular situation.

The Dos and Don’ts of Business Ethics

Merriam-Webster defines ethics as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad with moral duty and obligation.” In laymen’s terms, ethics are about doing the right thing when you know nobody is watching.
 

Ethics need to be high on the list of desirable traits demonstrated by your staff.

While all the staff employed at your business should demonstrate ethical behavior, it is most critical for your front-desk and finance personnel. These employees must be trustworthy and held accountable to the high standards that you set for them.

Your front-desk and finance employees have access to your business management software—which contains your members’ names, social security numbers, addresses, signatures, and credit card numbers. In making an unethical choice, they could cause significant damage to a member’s financial situation that also damages your reputation and business.

An ethics-based workplace all starts with you. As an owner or manager, your staff looks up to you as the mentor. Your behavior is what will be repeated by all. But it’s not just your personal conduct that’s important. You need to instill an ethical environment in your workplace. Here are suggested dos and don’ts.

Meeting with Fitness Team Good business ethics

The Dos of Business Ethics:

  • Have staff meetings on a regular basis. Talk about desirable behavior and give examples of unethical behavior. Allow the staff to discuss hypothetical situations in which they must make an ethical choice.
  • Have an open-door policy and seriously consider all comments and complaints from the staff.
  • Mentor your staff on accepting responsibility and not deflecting blame.
  • Make sure there are adequate checks and balances within your finance department.
  • Have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for all staff members.
  • Treat your staff in the same ethical way that you expect them to treat your members.
  • Trust your member’s personal information with Member Solutions. We have been certified as a Level One Service Provider under the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Level One is the highest ranking and carries the most stringent requirements. We set high ethical standards for our employees.
Donts of Business Ethics - Boss Talking to Staff

The Don’ts of Business Ethics:

  • Put undue pressure on the staff. They may bend under the pressure and turn toward unethical behavior to get the results you are demanding.
  • Have a culture of fear or silence.
  • Allow anyone to “pass the buck” or deflect blame for things that are within his or her responsibility.

Displaying ethical behavior will bring your business to new levels. Your staff will be proud to work in such an environment and such pride will be reflected on your members. The respect that your staff has for each other and for the members will be contagious and you will see careers and lives flourish.

1 Easy Trick to Increase Your Gym Membership Sales

Man uses membership software reporting and metrics for sales insights

How well do you know your sales team? How well does it handle telephone inquiries? How is it doing with their tours? Are trials converting to new members? If you answered any of these questions without referencing a number or percentage, you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways to increase gym membership sales.

Tracking Sales Performance

Using a few simple sales metrics will help you increase your revenue by determining where your business is strong and where you need to improve. Knowing the numbers will help you:

  • Set goals that motivate team members to reach their potential
  • Use your strengths to drive sales
  • Identify and fix problems in your sales process

Getting Started

The goal is to measure key numbers throughout the sales process. Specifically, you want to track new prospects, tours, trials, and membership sales. Record the data in your fitness club software (or a spreadsheet), where you and your staff can easily review the numbers on a regular basis.

What to Measure
1) Leads

What to Do: Each week, track the number of people who express an interest in your gym. Remember to record the source of the inquiry – your website, email, phone call, Facebook, etc.

Why It’s Important: How many leads you get tells you how well your marketing is working and determines how many opportunities your sales team has to sell memberships.

Tools to Help: Use the Member Manager Lead Activity report to review the new leads you have in a certain period.

2) Lead Follow Up

What to Do: As a group, review the phone calls, emails and other follow-up activities your team does. Try to identify the activities that help drive trials and sales.

Why It’s Important: Inspecting the follow-up process can reveal which activities—or a combination of activities—give you the best results. You may discover that you should adjust your sales process or that your staff needs extra training.

Tools to Help: Optimize your sales process with Member Manager Lead Flows – series of tasks, such as phone calls or automated emails and text messages, which detail your lead follow-up process. Use the Member Manager Follow Ups report to review every time a sales team member has contacted a lead.

3) Tours & Trials

What to Do: Tally the number of tours you give of your facility. If you offer trials, carefully track how many leads take trials.

Why It’s Important: Tours and trials are crucial parts of the decision-making process. If your leads aren’t coming in for visits, there may be a problem with your follow-up process.

Tools to Help: Review the Member Manager Prospect Activity chart to quickly check how many appointments have been set and introductory tours have been completed by your team.

4) New Members

What to Do: Based on your financial goals, set a target for the number of new members you want to have each month and make sure it is well communicated to your team. Compare sales to the number of leads, the amount of follow-up and the number of tours/trials given to get an idea of your overall success.

Why It’s Important: Good sales can be an indicator of the health of your business. On the other hand, if you’re consistently missing your goal, there may be a problem with your strategy. Comparing sales to other metrics can reveal opportunities to improve your marketing, communication, tours, trial offers or membership options.

Tools to Help: Check the Member Manager New Members report to see how many memberships you’ve sold in a period of time. View the Sales And Value chart to quickly find out your revenue by category.

These easy-to-use metrics can help make your sales team more effective and significantly increase your gym membership sales. These numbers will teach you how to maximize your strengths, fine-tune your sales process and motivate your team to go above and beyond expectations.

For more information on Member Manager software, contact the Training and Support team at 877.600.3811 or support@membersolutions.com.

About the author: Justin Bodamer is the Manager of Implementation & Support for Member Solutions. The Implementation and Support team is dedicated to helping you and your team make the most of your relationship with Member Solutions. You can contact Justin at membersolutions@membersolutions.com.

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