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Keep the Business Real Simple
Originally Posted: 07/29/09

"You know Thom, those are good ideas in the workshops but you see, my club is a little different and I don't know if what you teach will work for me.

The fundamentals you need to make money in this business are just about the same for any size facility you might own. If you own a 100,000 square foot club, or a 1500 square foot training facility, how money is made doesn't really differ that much. You obviously have more staff at the larger club, and more risk, but the fundamental business skills you need to make money are the same.

The reality is that most owners are comfortable doing what they are doing, even though what they are doing isn't often making them the money they want. A little money, however, tied with no change, is often preferable to change, which is often painful for a few months no matter how much money you might make later.

We recently had a workshop in Hartford, CT, and after two full days a trainer dude who owned his own club came up and said as he left, "I just don't think this information is for me. You see, I have all these one-on-one training clients and I don't think they will change.

I asked him where he had been the last two days. Everything we talked about was centered on information gathered from training clubs, usually the source of most new ideas in the fitness industry for working people out, and the information ranged from adding semi-private workouts and group personal coaching to marketing. We even discussed the need to leave existing clients alone and just focus on news business forward.

After I asked him a few more questions we came upon the real answer: he was happy doing what he was doing and all these changes were just too much for him. He wasn't the brightest dumb bell on the rack but we sat and deconstructed the entire workshop into small, easily digested segments he could use now, in his business. These are the foundational truths for our industry and if all else is failing in your business, start here to rebuild or grow.

A few foundational truths

You have to get control of your money first:

Set a price that reflects your current club and competition and then be willing to reset it every two years

Use a third-party financial service company to secure your revenue stream from your member payments and so you can focus on revenue generation

Use a 12-month membership as the foundation of your memberships, although you may use other tools to enhance your club

You must learn to drive your average EFT payment per membership higher than what you charge for a single member per month. For example, if you charge $49 per month per member, you must learn to get a higher average payment than $49. You can only do this if you learn to base your training revenue on monthly EFT and not sessions. This might be the biggest thing we are teaching this year
You have to market every week

You have to have something going out every week, every month, every year until you die or someone takes the club away from you. Fire your staff, sell your car, move in with your mother but never stop marketing

Use a paid trial as your base driver, such as 30 days for $19 (up or down depending on the market). We do this to take leads away from the competitor and to keep the club full of leads

Use a risk free trial every three or four months as an alternative to the paid trial. Try 21 days risk free if you are using the 30 days for $19

Master electronic marketing. You must have a decent web page that captures leads that you can use, you must have Facebook and you must Twitter, at least this week. Look up Casey Conrad and her new series on adding electronic mastery to your club's marketing plan. She has been around a long time and she is one of the most ethical people in the business

You have to get control of your leads

Very few clubs truly know how many qualified leads they have coming through the door each month. If you can't get control of the leads, you will never know how well your marketing is working.

Every phone call and walk-in, qualified or not, must have a matching inquiry sheet at the end of the workday. If your staff isn't comfortable doing this, get a new staff because the ones you have are killing you

You have to learn to sell

You need a dedicated salesperson, no matter how small your club is you training fools out there, that has the sole responsibility for the acquisition of new business each month

You have to do sales training daily for at least 30 minutes with everyone who sells memberships. Too much? Sell your club and deliver pizzas because you will never make the money you want from this business

Learn to convert at least 60 percent of all qualified leads over a 30-day period. You also need to track first visit closes as well. For example, if you get 100 qualified leads into the club, you should convert at least 60 to some type of membership and of the 60, 30 percent, or about 18, were first visit sales.

Train on service every day with every staff person

Service can be taught, but it has to be taught daily person-by-person in the club.

Teach your people to greet every person through the door with a strong welcome statement, such as "We're having a great day at the Workout Company. If your staff can't say that, or are embarrassed, fire them and reload

Learn names. Nothing is sweeter than someone recognizing you by name at the club

Thank every member every time they leave the club. "Thank you for stopping by today, we appreciate your business. It just isn't that hard to deliver good service and good service in a mediocre club will beat bad service in a new club everyday

Clean the club more than you think. There isn't a club in America as clean as you think it is. Clean it everyday; let the members see you cleaning, and remember that it still isn't enough. You lose more members because your club is dirty than you do through any other reason

If none of this makes sense then come to a workshop. Our focus is to always return to good business skills. Many owners just get involved doing other things in the business and you have so take time to find your way back to the foundational things that will allow you to make the most money.

This year we are also highlighting the changes in training in the clubs, perhaps the biggest changes I have seen in all the years I have been doing this.

Remember that making money has to be made simple but most owners fight change rather than take risk. Most feel that what they are doing got them this far then why take any risk, even though a lot more money could be made.

Most of what we do at the NFBA involves getting owners to simplify and learn the foundational truths of the business. You would be surprised at how many owners get frustrated with their business and revenue, yet haven't marketed in the last three months.

Consider business coaching. We do a lot of it and you may need it to help you find your fundamental truths in our business. Call the office and talk to someone as to what it takes to work with a coach to keep you on track and growing and who can help you fight through the fear of change. Call us at 800-726-3506. We can and will help your grow your business.

What I am reading this week: It's a weird week in the book nook. This week I am reading Dave Draper's, Brother Iron Sister Steel, and Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman. Draper's is a must read for anyone who plans to make the fitness business your business for life and if you actually think outside the gym, try the other book for a unique look at how the bible came to be.

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