Category: Fitness Center Marketing

Fitness for everybody

Two weeks ago, my “new customer promo rate” with my home cable & internet service with AT&T U-verse was coming to an end and my bill was set to increase by $60 per month.

Yup – same service for a higher price. Obviously I wasn’t having that.

In their defense, AT&T did offer me a new lesser discounted rate going forward, but after a year of lackluster service, I decided a change would be for the best. So I reached out to my only other option, Comcast XFINITY, for a summary of their services and pricing.

Not only would I be saving $20 per month over what I was originally paying, but I would be receiving a more “feature rich” offering.

Weary of change & being somewhat comfortable with the “devil that I know”, finding out that Comcast offered a 30-day money back guarantee made my decision easy.

Sign me up!

If I followed through on my end (that is, if I kept the equipment in good working order), I would be refunded all setup and first month service fees upon return of the equipment.

Health clubs have the same opportunity here.

According to information reported by IHRSA, prospective new members (and former members) do not have a good perception of the sales experience when joining a health club.

In fact, fear of “high pressure sales tactics” is one of the five fears of joining a gym, identified through an IHRSA-commissioned research study. So offering a “money-back guarantee” of sorts can help to alleviate that fear.

Some gym owners already get this.

Brick Bodies in Maryland, for example, provides new members with a “14 Day Comfort Guarantee”.

Another includes AussieFIT in Columbus, OH. AussieFIT offers a 30-day “Feel Good Guarantee” to new members.

“The Comfort Guarantee – or Feel Good Guarantee as we call it – removes the need to make a joining decision on the first visit to the gym. This allows the prospective member to experience the club at least two times per week for four weeks. And if they are not completely happy at that point, they can request a full refund,” according to Geoff Dyer, AussieFIT Owner. “On average, we see less than 1% of new joiners canceling each month under the Feel Good Guarantee.”

And the concept is alive and well in other parts of the world, too! For example, Fitness First in Australia provides new members with their version of a “14 Day Comfort Guarantee” promising “If you’re unhappy and change your mind within your first 14 days of joining, you can have your money back on your weekly dues.”

But how does this contribute to member retention? I thought you’d never ask!

Well remember my Comcast story? The stipulation in place for the money-back guarantee was that I return all equipment in good working order. In the case of the “feel good guarantee” new members must typically commit to some regular usage of the club during the guarantee period in order to quality.

This accomplishes two things:

  1. It ensures that members are using the club EARLY & OFTEN after they sign up and keeps them motivated during the initial onboarding period.
  2. It sets them off on the right path to meeting their fitness goals so that they ultimately get results.

And, as I covered in The Secret Member Retention Tool that the Big Gym Chains Don’t Want You to Know, three of the top reasons people stay at a gym – a) getting in shape, b) improving overall health and c) making progress towards fitness – are directly impacted by the above!

Does your gym have a money back guarantee in place? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

If you missed the last post I published on LinkedIn Create a One-Click Guest Pass Using Twitter Lead Generation Cards, be sure to check it out! In it, I cover how you can use this FREE Twitter resource to garner leads directly from Twitter, requiring just 1 user click!

Easy. Frictionless. Fun.

If you’re not familiar with Twitter Lead Generation Cards, check out: What are Lead Generation Cards.

And you can find step-by-step instructions on creating your first Twitter Lead Generation Card in Twitter’s Help Center.

My suggestion is to follow the instructions in the above link to upload your image, enter a brief description (“Try out Club XYZ with a complimentary pass!”), your call to action (“Get Guest Pass”), your privacy policy URL (get it from the footer of your website) and your Card details (Fallback) URL (the link to your online guest pass request form).

BUT HOW DO I CONNECT IT TO INTOUCH!?

I thought you’d never ask! When you get to the optional “Data settings” section, that’s where the magic happens! Follow these 5 simple steps and you’ll be in business!

1. Paste this link into the Submit URL:

app.intouchfollowup.com/intouch-webapp/api/weblead/form/

2. Change HTTP Method to POST

3. Change the Custom Key Name of the three primary fields passed from Twitter to the variables expected by InTouch:

Name = firstName
Email = email
Screen name = lastName

4. Add three custom hidden data values (see below):

UUID = Your Club’s UUID
leadSourceType = Web Referral
leadSourceDetails = Twitter Card

*Not sure what your UUID is? Log into InTouch, click Admin, Club and it’s the second line down … a long string of letters and numbers.

Your screen should look like this (click to enlarge):

Twitter Card Data Settings

5. Click Save! That’s it!

Twitter will automatically send out a test. If all is in order, you should see a new lead with your Twitter Handle created in your Incoming Leads in InTouch!

InTouch Lead

Your brand new Twitter Lead Generation Card is now connected to InTouch Follow-Up so that any leads you capture via your new card will automatically be captured in InTouch and will be nurtured according to your automated follow-up process!

Give it a shot and tweet me @JoeTampa with a link to your new Twitter Card! Here’s one that we created for AussieFIT, one of our health club clients in Columbus, OH.

Twitter Card Example

In a future post, I’ll cover ways that you can actually promote your new Twitter Card.

A few final thoughts:

1. If you have multiple clubs and multiple UUIDs, you’ll need to create unique Twitter Cards for each location. A minor inconvenience, but not a show-stopper.

2. The above assumes that your Web Referral Email in InTouch Follow-Up is active and configured with your free pass so when a lead is added via the Twitter Card, the user gets an autoresponder with your guest pass. (Give me a call if you need some help getting this set up!).

3. When the prospect actually visits your club, your membership sales folks will need to update their first and last name in their lead record. Since Twitter passes the entire name as a single string, that will end up in the “first name” field in InTouch. And their Twitter Handle will end up in the “last name” field.

Join my Fitness Marketing Newsletter for weekly tips on generating leads, increasing sign-ups & improving member retention

Exakt Fitness Marketing | Picture of Gym Staff

Remember Jared? The twenty-something membership sales rep I talked about in my last post The A.B.C.’s of Asking for Member Referrals?

You know. The one who didn’t really listen. Who was more concerned with getting me signed up than SETTING ME UP FOR SUCCESS. Who was more interested in making sure I signed in all the right places than he was about MY FITNESS GOALS.

And then he asked for the names and numbers of three of my friends. Yeah, right.

THAT Jared.

In this post, I’m going to point out things that Jared could have done to achieve trust, build relationship capital and create incentive before asking me for referrals.

Follow these 5 tips and I promise you’ll have far better luck getting member referrals than Jared does!

1. Pay attention to the basics. Greet me by name. [Truly] Listen when I speak. Find common ground (do our children go to the same school? do we both like sushi?). Most importantly: show genuine interest IN ME! (P.S. You can’t fake genuine interest. It comes off as insincere and condescending at best).

2. Explain what is going to take place during my visit so that I know what to expect. I fear the unknown! Tell me that you’d like to get to know me, what I’m trying to accomplish, show me the club and get me started off on the right path so that I ACHIEVE MY FITNESS GOALS!

3. Give me SOMETHING VALUABLE in every interaction. When we meet at the door, ask if I’d like some coffee or some water. During the tour, introduce me to a few other members. Volunteer to meet me before my first group fit class so you can introduce me to the instructor.

4. SHOW ME how you’re going to treat my friends and family. Be kind, passionate, caring, engaging and fun! Through our discussion, calm my fears, reduce my anxiety and get me pumped up about joining your health club!

5. Talk more about me and my goals than about the facility and the process. SO WHAT that your club is 25,000 square feet?! SO WHAT that you have 300 classes per week?! SO WHAT that you have a pool and a basketball court?! WIIFM (what’s in it FOR ME)? That’s what you need to focus on.

Do you have any other tips to on building rapport with potential gym members? Please leave them in the comments below!

Furious brunette looking at camera on white backgroundI remember the last time I joined a gym (about a year ago). Jared, a twenty-something college student and part-time membership sales rep was nice enough. He showed me the facility, had me sign the contract & release and smile for my mug shot.

I had already decided that I was going to sign up before walking through the door, so I was a pretty easy win for him. Our interaction was polite, but very process-oriented (vs. “me-oriented”; remember, it’s ALL ABOUT THE MEMBER!).

There was no rapport established. No trust. It was simply a transaction.

As Jared worked through his checklist for signing me up, he got to that dreaded last step and popped the question: “Would you like to suggest the names of three friends or family members that might be interested in joining the gym? You know, research shows that people who work out with a buddy are more likely to get results. So this would really help YOU.”

“IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DO NOT RECEIVE”.

Ah yes … the “member referrals mantra” touted as gospel by so many fitness marketing professionals.

And it’s true. But that is NOT THE WHOLE TRUTH!

Trust me … in my case, Jared asked but he DID NOT receive!

Just asking is not enough. The “asking” has to happen at the right time.

The dialogue during the entire sales process needs be focused on:

ACHIEVING trust
BUILDING relationship capital
CREATING incentive

Otherwise, you risk a reaction like the one I had in both cases:

“I don’t know you. And I certainly don’t know you like that. So No. No YOU MAY NOT HAVE THE NAMES AND NUMBERS OF THREE OF MY FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS.”

Stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll share some tips on developing the rapport I mentioned above – specific steps you can take to implement the A.B.C.’s of member referrals.

Brazil can teach us a thing or two about being singularly focused!

Brazil’s loss at the World Cup 2014 teaches us many valuable lessons … not the least of which is to be sure we’re not singularly focused when it comes to, well … anything!

Because the five-time winner of the World Cup hadn’t experienced a home defeat in over 39 years, they lost focus on tactics, their ability to adjust their strategy to compensate for the loss of key players and emotional preparation.

They were singularly focused on their track record vs. what needed to be done to claim another victory, and we see how that ended. Congrats Germany, by the way!

That very same concept applies to health club marketing. Focus your marketing efforts solely on new member sales and at best, you’ll be missing opportunities; at worst, it will be your demise! To be effective, your marketing needs to encompass at least three other key focus areas including member retention, personal training (including private and semi-private/small group) and other products and services!

The real impact comes from leveraging the right tools with the right message with the right audience: Online vs., offline. Informational vs., sales-focused. One-time vs., regular. You get the idea!

Compare your marketing approach with our “Health Club Marketing” infographic to see if you’re missing anything critical!

Health Club Marketing Infographic - Fitness Marketing - Exakt Marketing

Questions about how you can better leverage your gym marketing efforts? Drop me a line at joe [at] exaktmarketing.com or give me a call at 888-949-5487 x701.

Gym Members - Exakt Marketing - Fitness MarketingMember retention.  The ultimate challenge for club operators today. There is no doubt that retaining members is critical to your gym’s success. A deeper look into the economics paints the picture.

Recently I had to deliver the unfortunate news to one of our new gym clients that the first 30 members that they had signed up for the month didn’t even count. Translation – $10,000+ per year in lost dues caused by attrition!

Because they didn’t have a solid member retention strategy in place, they couldn’t even begin looking at gains in revenue until after the sales team signed up new member number 30!

The client I describe above is not unique.  Interestingly, we have found this to be a real problem for GMs who are so heavily focused on new member sales, that they forget that members have much bigger expectations from their clubs these days.

So giving them a reason to stay HAS TO BE A TOP PRIORITY!  When equal focus is given to member retention, more of those new member sign-ups move your gym toward growth mode, rather than just keeping you at the same level (talk about “spinning your wheels!).

If you happen to be one of those GMs that may not have been equally focusing on member retention, you may be wondering where the heck to even start. The answer might even seem to be a bit counterintuitive, but I’m going to walk you through it.

Member retention starts with the new member orientation.

Yes, that’s right!  Member retention starts long before the member has completed even one workout or one group fit class or one personal training session at your facility! Why?

It comes down to the top reasons why people stay at a gym (to name a few):

  • getting in shape
  • improving overall health
  • making progress towards fitness

As Nick Murtha, Account Executive of MBSC Thrive put it, ”If people are getting results, they are likely to remain members. So why not start new members off in the right direction from the beginning to ensure the highest possible likelihood that they will get results and meet their fitness goals.”

Seems like a no-brainer, right? But we can all agree that getting people to first, schedule an orientation and second, to actually show up, are quite a challenge!

What if I were to tell you if you make just one simple adjustment to your sales process – the secret member retention tool that the big chains use – that your new members will not only willingly schedule orientations … they’ll actually follow through and show up!

Here’s the secret: Build the value proposition for the new member orientation (aka fitness assessment) from the moment the sales rep comes in contact with the new member.  So technically, this means that the value proposition for the new member orientation has to be built before the prospect even becomes a member.

“Too often, I see membership sales reps go through the entire pre-tour, tour and post-tour process without even mentioning the orientation. Then as a last step of member sign-up, they say something like ‘ok, let’s get you scheduled for your orientation,’” commented Murtha.  “This rarely results in a successful outcome, especially in cases where the new member has belonged to a gym in the past and either believes that they do not need the orientation or that it is a loosely veiled attempt to sell personal training services,” he continued.

I’m going to share with you the exact steps we used to take the client that I mentioned earlier (that was losing $10,000+ in member dues) from losing 30+ members per month to less than 15: a 50% improvement!

Meet with your sales team right now and have them do this:

1.  When meeting prospects at the front desk, the membership sales rep should explain the process they will go through (“we’ll discuss your background and goals; I’ll give you a tour of the facility; we’ll review membership options; then I’ll get you signed up and scheduled for your orientation to make sure you start off with a plan in hand to accomplish your fitness goals”).

2.  During the pre-tour process, make sure your reps are identifying and understanding the prospect’s fitness goals and looks for opportunities to relate them back to the orientation.

3.  During the tour, your membership reps should stop by the training area and introduce the person or people who conduct the orientations, saying something like “This is John. He’ll be helping you with your orientation to make sure you start with a plan that will get you the results you’re looking for.”

4.  At the close, your membership rep should politely “assume the meeting” and say “we can schedule your orientation with John tomorrow at the same time. Does that work?”

The goal is to make the orientation so valuable all through the process that by the end, the new member not only gladly schedules it … but they eagerly show up!  If you are getting 75% of your new members to schedule an orientation and 50% or more of them to show … you are making a significant investment in member retention long before your new members hit that plateau or get busy with life and stop using their membership.

Need help implementing the above changes into your membership sales process or want to discuss other ideas?  Please drop me a note at joe [at] exaktmarketing.com or call 888-949-5487 x701 to get a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation.

For some health clubs, paid trial memberships seem like a no-brainer: give people a low-cost taste of your product that goes beyond a complimentary workout in the hopes of their committing to a longer term membership when it ends.  But is your paid trial membership really helping to generate additional leads and full memberships at your gym, health club or athletic club?  Maybe not!  If your club meets any of the following criteria, it’s quite possible that a paid trial membership is simply prolonging the buying process!

  • Your monthly dues are $50+ per month
  • Your facility is “the only game in town” at your price point/value level
  • Your club provides differentiating amenities beyond your competition such as tennis courts, a pool, a gymnasium, functional training, etc.

Put yourself in the shoes of your perspective member and imagine you are making the decision of whether or not to join. Given the above circumstances, it is nearly impossible to “comparison shop”, meaning that your decision will either be a “yes” or a “no” vs. “should I join club A or club B”.  Does the gym offer the equipment, programs and amenities you desire?  Is it clean?  How is the energy?  Is it overcrowded?

Your facility stands on its own and either delivers or doesn’t.  You simply need to give people an opportunity to make this determination.  A 30-day paid trial is very unlikely to be any more effective in landing new members than a generous “all access” guest pass program.  So in this case, just offer the free trial!

Chicago Athletic Clubs, whose monthly membership rates start at $75 on the low end, does not offer a paid trial but instead provides potential members with a one-day all access pass to the club location of their choice.

Bill Higgs, General Manager of Shula’s Athletic Club in Miami Lakes for the past 33 years, agrees that paid trial memberships have their place.  “For us, [at Shula’s], we’ve concluded that paid trial memberships are simply not very useful. We offer a very known, unique product in our local market and the decision to join our club is unlikely to be impacted by a paid trial membership.”

Rather than offer paid trial memberships, Shula’s offers a one-day all-inclusive guest pass, giving potential members the ability to experience the facility, the energy and group fitness classes free of charge. And since their price point is on the higher end ($59 – $69 per month, depending) and there are no other options competing in that space, members who join Shula’s are there because they want to be. “Our product is strong and there are no other providers in the area which match our value,” noted Higgs.

Not sure if you should employ free or paid trial memberships to generate leads or to increase sales at your club? Drop me a note at joe @ exaktmarketing.com or give me a call at 888-949-5487 x701 to get a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation!

As fitness marketing professionals we stay in tune with social fitness trends. There are some social media fitness trends that you should familiarize yourself with in order to achieve an online presence that fosters unique experiences.

  1. Prompt questions that members may have — and answer them! Some may call this “Q & A” but if you come up with a creative way to introduce questions they won’t get mulled over. Post just one question per status or tweet in order to get a true, organic conversation going. It wouldn’t hurt to get involved in a TweetChat about fitness either: check out FitFluential on Twitter.
    Where This is Important: Facebook + Twitter.
  2. Customize the material you post. Recycling generally rocks but don’t snatch up other’s health + fitness material and reuse them with the simple copy and paste. This is especially true when dealing with photos. Don’t use a photo if you do not have the rights to it (with the exception of ‘sharing’ or retweeting).
    Where This is Important:
     Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
  3. Organically stay on top of fitness trends or movements, i.e: Paleo diet, themed races, Warrior Dash, CrossFit, etc. Do your own research on what is up and coming and create a way for your members to get involved or at the very least, talk to them about the trend.
    Where This is Important:
     Everywhere
  4. To supplement #3, you should quietly and carefully observe your competitors. If it happens to be that they are ahead of the game with social fitness trends, it’s better to know than not.
    Where This is Important:
     Everywhere
  5. Listen, yes really listen, to what your members are saying on social media. Companies listening and responding via social media is a trend in itself and you don’t want to lose members because you’re not doing that. Questions, comments, and concerns on social media can and should be addressed in real time.
    Where This is Important:
     Facebook
  6. Photos have been hot for a while, but short videos are also inspiring. Take the time to do a photo shoot or video shoot with one of your trainers doing a particular exercise, a trainer leading a group fitness class, or all of your trainers talking “fitness.” Utilize your ability as a fitness center owner or manager to access free marketing.
    Where This is Important:
     Facebook, Instagram, Vine (if you haven’t yet, check it out)

If you have any questions about the social media fitness trends that we’ve picked up on and how to apply them to your online presence, please feel free to reach out via TwitterFacebook, or call me directly!

Pay attention to what your members are saying.  That’s it.

No really.  That’s it.  Pay attention.  Sometimes simple is just better, so I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail.

But I can assure you that in our experience of providing fitness center marketing services and health club marketing services, we have witnessed member retention rates improve. And as a result, recurring dues increase by simply paying attention to what our clients’ members are saying and developing ways to address their feedback if nothing else.

Online reputation management allows us to also monitor the feedback from members of our clients’ competitors in close proximity.  Think about it, if you already have a roadmap of what members want or are complaining about, then you have the prescription to improve your member retention – because they’re happy.

The opportunities are out there.  It’s up to you to seize them.

 

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