business is too much talk and not enough action, especially when it comes to
getting a new or potential member into the system. We are in the fitness
business but if you think about it all we do when client inquires is give them
a single workout on machines and them pitch them hard about a membership
routine for most clubs is to get the potential member immediately in front of a
salesperson, who then performs the rehearsed tour and also the final close.
This encounter normally takes anywhere from about 20 minutes for a lousy sales
person to about 30-45 for a more skilled person.
training clubs have their own version of this process but it involves a mere
walk around the facility and then begging for a credit card at the front desk.
Most trainers are willing to give one workout but these workouts are seldom
designed to inspire or sell. The problem with this method is that it is doomed
from the beginning because the potential member/client is never engaged in the
process. He in essence receives the workout instead of gaining insight or
We are in the
fitness business, which I believe has a rulebook somewhere stating that to get
action and results someone has to get sweaty somewhere in the process. A good
fitness tour is like good sex: it you aren’t sweaty then you probably aren’t
doing it right. This might be a strange analogy but how many of you are shaking
your heads going, "I think he might be right about the sweaty thing. I can’t
wait to go home and get sweaty tonight with the one I love.” I had a tee shirt
once that said on the front, "Get naked and get sweaty” but I was much younger
then and it made sense at the time. Now I would be a pathetic old man who would
be better off with a pom pom hat and plaid pants.
process is what the potential member should go through to get placed correctly
into the club. If this is done efficiently, the club will have a higher sales
close and also have members that are less likely to leave the club during the
first 90 days. This is the step that should happen after the potential member
meets the client but before he takes his first real workout. We leave out this
step and we suffer accordingly because the client never had a chance to get
grounded in our culture and system.
words, induction done correctly leads to more clients now and a higher
retention rate later during the period when the new member is most likely to
lose interest and fail. As we explore this concept keep in mind that we are
seeking a overall closing rate of 60% or higher for a mainstream club and 70%
or higher for a training club.
example, are the steps a potential member should go through in a mainstream
• Meet the
• Become a member if a buddy referral (she is then given 30 days of unlimited
training as part of her new membership)
• Become a trial member if not a buddy sale (she has 30 days of unlimited
training as part of her trial)
• If she is a buddy sale, she is turned over to the second sales team
consisting of a sales/trainer that can do the assessment tool
• If she is a trial, she starts with the sales/trainer to get her assessment
and then placed into 30 days of unlimited training
• If she doesn’t buy early she is then placed in regular group workouts in the
club. She will me more effective and have more fun in these because she had an
hour worth of education prior to her first real workout
First of all,
in a typical mainstream facility, you will end up with only about 60% of your
potential members/new members who will go through an assessment. Here is the
breakdown based upon 100 new members or potential members:
• 20 too
stupid to change and will do the same weight routine they did in high school 25
years ago. The female equivalent is the one who is surprised that the club no
longer offers the same classes it did when she lost those 20 pounds 20 years
• 20 will go to the club’s group programming, matching your club’s total
penetration rate into group. If you average 20% membership penetration into
group, then allow for about 20% who will chose this at point of contact.
• This leaves about 60% who are lost souls and who will respond to the chance
to have an assessment done as part of the induction process.
people only have one option and that is whether she will become a client or
not. The failure rate is determined by how the first contact goes. Most
trainers, and many club trainers, are too anal to work in public and have to
understand the sales process at hand. The goal of the first encounter is not to
dazzle the person with a mind-boggling workout but to build confidence in you
and their ability to actually get into shape.
The goal of
any assessment process designed to get the potential member properly inducted
into the system has to be an experience created to encourage and motivate the
person. This process is also designed to lead to a sale and should not be a
one-hour trauma session illustrating how good a shape the trainer is in and how
bad shape the client is in.
There are two
tools that are guaranteed to kill a first sales encounter: body composition and
any form of a movement screen that involves a test. Yes, I want you to do both
of these later to establish baseline, and no one believes in a functional
movement screen and Gray Cook more than I do, but use these tools as a baseline
once the person is placed into the system and not as a tool to humble someone
during the first assessment.
comes to the club/studio looking for help. She is 20 pounds overweight and
hasn’t worked out in about 10 years. She is nervous, embarrassed at her weight
and intimidated by everyone in the club. She is only there because she finally,
after waiting for over a year, raised the courage to step through that door and
ask for help.
Johnson’s case, do you really think that doing a full body fat comp and having
her go through a screening process that will absolutely guarantee she will feel
like a subhuman misfit effective? She already feels bad about herself; do we
need to humble her even more by proving that her body is dysfunctional and she
can’t move and do we need to make her take her shirt off and do a nine point
body comp, done by a in-shape trainer, that proves what she already knows. She
is there because she is fat and she does not need confirmation with cold
calipers or a laughing trainer.
These are, of
course, excellent base line tools and every club in America should have the FMS
system as part of its core philosophy, but don’t use it before the person
becomes a member. Remember, the assessment tool is designed to build confidence
leading to two things: first of all, we are patient and experts and will spend
time with you, and two, we will spend time teaching you how to workout so you
gain confidence as a member of this club.
process, again defined as the tool we use to convert a potential member into a
paying member, is a system that allows us to make a professional recommendation
as to where we place the client. Do not make weak suggestions; tell the person
where she needs to be in your system to accomplish her goals.
We call this
tool an assessment because we are telling the person that we are trying to
properly place them into our system, but first we need to find out exactly
where they are in their fitness journey. We are assessing confidence, ability
to be coached, need, interest and base fitness level. We do this by using a tool
that allows us to present ourselves as true professionals. We can’t help you
Mrs. Johnson unless we first know where you are and where you are going.
tool with a typical club that offers two workouts and then you have to solo. If
you are not able or interested in being a one on one client, then you are given
a card, put on a circuit and are now doomed to fail in about six weeks. This
system dates back to the 80’s and is why our retention is poor and why most
clubs have to beg on your bloody knees to get referrals. We rent equipment, we
don’t help people and very few mainstream clubs have any systems in place that
aren’t stupidly priced to help people get results. Keep in mind that what we do
in this industry in the big box world was never designed to get results but to
Here is what
the assessment looks like. It should take an hour to do or longer if you are a
training club. The goal is to convert 60% of these assessments into a higher
priced program. First of all, use this price example as the club’s membership
model. Trainer people ignore the lowest price. I have also left out the
membership fee for this example:
$39 a month
for 12 months (this is the simple membership or simple access)
$69 a month
for 12 months (this is group personal training/you can have a trainer every
time you come into the club for only $30 more a month)
$99 a month
for us to write you a program each month and you are on your own
$119 a month
for small group training with 2-4 people
$240 a month
for four 1/1 sessions and includes supplements and powders
$699 a month
for unlimited 1/1 training including full support of supplements, powders, and
obviously priced for a smaller market. Bigger city folks go higher and trainer
people go higher yet.
Look at the
model and adjust the price for your market.
Here is the
assessment model as we have used for two years. We have validated this model.
If you change it, still make every assessment person do it exactly the same way
each time so you have a baseline to determine if your person delivers the
system correctly instead of the problem actually being a system that changes
with each and every client.
• 10 minute
meet and greet. The goal here is to get to three questions. This is done
sitting down with the client. You are trying to determine: their personal goal,
their time line and their commitment as defined as how many days he or she can
get to the club each week.
• Then go to
7-12 minutes of a set dynamic warm up. Use the same format each time but vary
the length due to conditioning
• Then go to
about 20 minutes of strength: Use the kettle bell swing, overhead pressing
movement, goblet squat, pulling movement such as a kettle bell row, lunge and a
dead lift movement. I like these because the person hasn’t seen them at most
box gyms, they give the chance for the assessor to illustrate expertise and the
person probably has seen these on television on any of the fat shows. The goal
is to teach and educate, now give the person a workout but they should still
end up sweaty.
• Do a big
finish between 10 seconds and 3 minutes to illustrate the concept.
• Take the
person back to the table, coach cardio, which they will have stupid ideas
anyway in their head about walking endlessly on treads and then go over goal,
time line and commitment again.
• Based upon
gathered information, place the person into the program they need to be in.
• The key
question to ask them is always this: Do you prefer to work with a personal
coach or would you prefer to share the coast of the trainer with other people
and work in a group situation.
• 60% of
these folks need to buy a program that is $69 or higher in the model above.
Most clubs fail at the induction process. It really is the missing link between
marketing and sales. The emphasis in most box clubs is always more on a simple
sale instead of meeting the needs of the client and engaging her beyond just a
membership and price.
however, is in slowing the process down and engaging the client. Your total
sales will be higher, and your average sale will be much higher, if you use a
set induction system based upon need and coupled with sales. In the age of low
priced guys willing to cut your throat for $9, it would be in your best
interest to review your induction phase and see if this can be improved.
assessment person should be a full time person who does nothing but place
people into the system. They should be paid a high hourly base and high
commissions. This person should not be training many clients if any at all.
time looking at your existing system and try and look at it from the client’s
viewpoint. She comes to the club looking for help and guidance and ends up with
just a salesperson. Most clubs mangle this transition, therefore, cancelling
out the effect of their marketing. Based upon just a sales encounter alone,
most clubs will only close about 38% of their total leads in the club.
Even the box
chains that claim more really don’t have a much higher average than this due to
the fact that they just can’t connect with the client in any meaningful way in
a 20 minute high pressure sales pounding.
the ultimate goal for any box club is to get to the point that 12 months from
now your training monthly revenue exceeds your monthly membership income. Get
there and you are hard to hurt
I posted thought
facebook but it did not make it here. Maybe it will take some time from
facebook to down load. Weird!
Thanks for the
great thoughts Thom. How do you implement this in a club with 4000 members and
keep costs in line. Bottom lines are getting squeezed these days. I’m open to
new ideas. When is the Chicago seminar?
Sorry I missed this
Mark and hope you get back and check. I have been on the road and not checking
back this far.
One person can generate about $25 k a month in paper and cash,
which more than pays for this position. This person simply feeds the rest of
the training staff. You are willing to feed a sales team, why not feed a sales
team that can generate higher gross revenue than the regular sales people?
The question really is how can you not do this and move beyond
just sales into literally doubling your revenue by developing this separate
With your number of members, you will need at least 2 full time
people to get this done. Jeremy Klugerman, who I have mentioned in other blogs
and who is the talented owner in Canada, uses one sales/trainer person and a
team of others who do nothing but do the assessments/inductions. This might
work better for you.
We will be in Chicago in May for our two-day, which is teaching
this business system, and again in October for a 3-day where we work on
implementing this. Jeremy will most likely be one of our instructors in
Thank you again for the question. Sorry I overlooked it for so
The group people should get a flat rate depending upon the
market. Most would range between $25-40. The trainer is not paid per member
since he didn’t fill the group. You should use the same program for 30 days
written by your head trainer. You do not need to change these everyday. I like
the Crossfit idea of doing something different everyday but for these groups I
like progressions and consistency for the clients.
Small group, designed as 2-4 clients or members, would pay about
$15 for the base and $5 for each paying client. The trainer would not get paid
for the guests. I want the trainer involved in helping us get turning them into
members and I need to keep costs down anyway. Small group does do well with the
workout of the day done on a blackboard. This gives you the chance to ad new
exercises and excitement to the small groups.
Pay the 1/1 people a flat rate, no splits, no percentages. Try
and new about 40% after payroll and taxes.
I know this is a
big question for the blog (and I plan on making it to a seminar for the in
depth answer) but here it goes.
We are in escrow to get out of our small space to a 13K
standalone building and we want to nail it when we launch this spring.
It would actually
work well. Just drop the $39 to $19 and bring everything else accordingly. The
goal is to sell at least one out of four at a higher price. If you show $19,
but generate an average EFT payment of $40 or higher, you win. You state a low
entry fee into the club but still have layers on top that drive up the average.
The key is to also track the numbers separately. I have had a lot of offlilne
questions on this blog. Yes, you can create a training income stream that is
higher in one year than your membership stream if you create two sales teams
and put the same effort into selling training as you do memberships.
I like the idea,
especially if You had 1/2hr & 1hr packages for the unlimited training.
The ½ an hour is the worst thing a trainer can do in may ways.
It sets a bad example of service, most trainers don’t stick with it anyway
pissing off the next client and it is not cost effective. We only added those
to show a lower rate anyway. Create a price that gets a strong return and don’t
be afraid of the unlimited. The average person trains about 10 times per month
(9.6) anyway. You want the person to come more often. If they come more than 8
times they will stay longer and pay longer. Also using the term "unlimited” is
powerful when you are selling training. In this system, you can have a trainer
every time you come to the club, shared by others, for only about $30 more per
month than a regular membership. If you can’t sell that turn in your "I do t
his for a living” badge and sit on the bench little dog.
Thanks for writing John. Rethink the ½ hour. It is not our best
work in the industry.
About the first
assement so go through a workout and then place them in the right program
first. So that should be like the fundmentls class? After what time fram should
you do the fms? I like setting them up with a follow up eval after 4 weeks so
we can upsale them? I like the program for $99, I want to talk more about this
when on Tuesday.