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Results is Retention
Originally Posted 05/03/10

Most of you who have been through a workshop during the last several years are current on my initiative to add layer pricing, through group-style personal training, into all fitness facilities no matter how big. Layer pricing is nothing more than creating multiple price points so more people can play in the training world.

Results are retention and the only way you get results is to get people actively involved in training that works. The only way to do this is to introduce a wider range of pricing models so that every single member in the club can afford to use a trainer, even if the person has to share the cost of that trainer with others, such as semi-private training and group personal training.

Many of the participants in the workshops need months to get this program going in their businesses. People have to be trained, or fired, equipment ordered and space added within the confines of their existing physical limitations. In the mean time, these owners and managers are losing a great deal of income that could be generated by their existing membership bases. While they are waiting for perfect to happen, they stay mired in the 1995 one-on-one model, which restricts your ability to generate any real revenue from training.

There is a transitional system you can use now that will quickly affect your ability to create new revenue from your existing members in training. This system is based upon offering financing to your members. Perhaps the best practitioner of training financing is Jeremy Klugerman from Toronto. I was so impressed with Jeremy’s system that we have invited him to be a guest speaker at this year’s advanced school in Chicago.

If you have been to a two-day workshop, but not to a school, put it on your list this year. We will have 60 of the best owners and a team of instructors that will get some new ideas into your closed heads. We already have Jeremy booked this year as well as the kettle bell expert from the RKC, Brett Jones, as well as Graham Melstrand from ACE, a 20 plus year veteran in the industry who will talk about trends in specialization for clubs and professional training staff.

The version I am going to give you here is a derivative of Jeremy’s work. What he does is another layer of complexity higher than this but I will give you a basic system here that almost anyone can use and you can get his entire system in Chicago.

Step 1: Set up a system of assessments

Trainers have struggled for years with reaching the existing club membership. One of the reasons trainers fail so often talking to members has been that no matter how the trainer connects, he or she only has one product to sell, which is too expensive for everyone but about five percent of the club’s membership. Financing, which is discussed in the next point, opens up the market to more people who couldn’t normally afford one-on-one giving the club a deeper penetration rate into the membership.

But first, you have to get engaged in a conversation. The preferred opening question, usually directed at members either on a treadmill walking slowly or doing the same old circuit workout, is: "How long have you been a member here?” This question is then followed by: "Are you getting the results you hoped for during your time here?”

We all know that the answer to the second part of this scenario is always going to be no, I am not getting what I hoped for as a member at this club. Walking slowly or doing the same old circuit leads to boredom and adaptation and we know that what they are doing is going to fail in about six weeks.
If the answer is no, we move on to the second major question: "Would you like to do a full assessment and let me see where you are right now in your training and fitness level?”

If they agree, follow these steps:

• Sit the person down and take an ACE exercise experience and goal assessment. Fill out a paper as you do this and take notes. Besides getting good information, you need to put on a show here by asking questions and inquiring as to where this person is in their fitness journey. 

• The three major questions you need to ask again here are:

1. What are you trying to accomplish (goal)?
2. What is your time frame to reach that goal (how much time do you have to get them there)?
3. How many days a week can you commit to reaching this goal?

• Take them through a 5-10 minute dynamic warm up. Nothing illustrates your expertise better than taking somebody through something they have been avoiding since joining the club.

• Introduce the person to 10-15 minutes of strength training introducing a tool that they might now have used before in the club, such as a kettle bell or rope. The goal here is to break the old habits and start a conversation about functional training, getting results and breaking out of their fixed and failing routine.

• Finish big with a 3-5 minutes blow out at the end. Maybe 10 squat jumps with a small medicine ball will get it done. You need to let them know that they need a small challenge each workout to reach those goals. Don’t go silly here and make sure the person can do this but finish strong with a challenge.

• Fill out an assessment form (you need to create one) and sit down for a few minutes while the person is hot and sweaty and give him or her a fair idea of what they would need to do to reach their goal, where they are at now in fitness, and if what they want is reasonable. You should also let the person know that what they are currently doing won’t get them to their goal. Do not discourage the person completely here and make a few recommendations the person can do to improve what they are currently doing, such as adding a workout or two a week based upon interval training on the treadmill.

• Big Idea: Once you have the sheet filled out, tell the person exactly what they need to do to meet their goals. For example, a guy wants to lose 20 pounds during the next three months before going to a class reunion. He is willing to commit to the club twice a week and do some work at home as well. Your conversation with him would be: "Well John, based upon your goal, which is reasonable since losing 1-2 pounds per week is quite doable, I would recommend that you work with a trainer twice week for three months and I also recommend that you spend some time with our weight management specialist and have her review your food intake and supplements.” Tell the person exactly what they need to do even if you know they can’t afford it. Be the professional here and give an opinion.

• The person will usually say, "How much will all of this cost?” This is your cue as a fitness professional to pass the person along to a sales person who specializes in this for the staff. This person should have some training background as well. The trainer here can say, "John, I just talk training. Let me turn you over to Scott, who is also a trainer and sales person for the club and he can tell you what this might cost to meet your goals.” If the trainer has the right sales training, he or she can do both parts but sometimes adding another layer of support looks better.

Step 2: Offer financing

The club’s sales person/trainer can now sit with the person and offer training financing. For example, our trainer recommended to John that he work out for a total 14 workouts to reach his goal (12 training and 2 nutrition). Let’s also assume that the club’s rate is $50 an hour for one-on-one training. Do not discount for packages. Financing covers that much more efficiently.

In this case, John’s bill for training would be $700 (14 sessions x $50). The traditional model fails here. John might have the money, or is willing to give you a credit card, but we know that from 30 years of experience only about five percent of your members will lay out the cash. The number is simply too much for most of your members all at once.

Based upon this, Scott can state; "John, how about we finance this for you to make it easier?” Scott can then take the $700 and finance it as a membership receivable over 3-6 months. For example, $700 divided by six months equals monthly payments of $116. This would be tracked in a separate account outside of the membership receivable. At some point, this number might surpass the club’s membership base.

Scott can ask for $116 down and set up payments at $116 a month for five months. The goal is to keep the payments for John at about $100 per month, which makes it very easy for him to say yes. In John’s case, it is probably not desire that prevents him from using a trainer; it’s the cost and the fact that he has to lay out so much money all at once.

Yes, the training will be over before the money is paid. Get over it; credit is the American way. And yes, you might lose a few points a year, but how much will you increase your total training revenue by over the next 12 months using this system?

Jeremy also refinances when the training is over. In this case, he might have Scott go back to John at the end of the training and ask him if he would like to keep going? John will reply that he still has payments left. Scott will then offer to roll the last payments into a new program and just extend the time out a few more months keeping the goal of making the payment about $100 per month. The new program might include 12 more training sessions but now be financed over nine months.

Consider the NFBA 3 Day Business Workshop in Chicago October 21, 22 and 23, 2010!! The seats are already filling so call the office today to get more information 800-726-3506

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