Relationships Are the Foundation of This Business

Ginger CollinsHello Everyone;

As we have completed the first month of the year ahead, many of you have shared that January kicked off very strong and that you are very encouraged about the upcoming season.  This is great news that I am not surprised to hear.  Success takes drive and dedication and all of you have it.  You know your members and your market and have consistently responded to their needs.  You make improvements to your club to enhance the member experience, whether it is through making capital improvements, adding new programs or services, or focusing on new types of marketing to attract new members.  You’ve acquired an amazing staff and have trained them to exemplify your mission, vision and purpose.   And then there are those things that you do in your communities to make a difference.  Bringing fitness and wellness into supporting local events and national causes is part of your DNA.

You are in this business because you are passionate about improving the life and health of others.  People who come into the business purely to build something great and be a financial success is just not a sustainable thought process.  It takes a huge commitment to others be successful as a club owner.

That is why the GGFA is here to support each of you that open your doors every day to make a healthy contribution in your communities.  The association is built on relationships and as you’ve heard me state our strategy, “to create conditions for franchisees to thrive.”  The Supplier Partnership Network was created early in 2008 in answer to your needs.  It is built on relationships too and has developed and matured since then.  In 2014, we created the Premium Club and invited our SPN member community to consider participating.  It is limited to five suppliers, who are Gold Level members.  They must be in the SPN for at least 3 years to be considered and their club status runs from January through December.  Last month we introduced the 2016 SPN Premium Club members, but today we would like to share with you what they think about being part of the GGFA.

Please read what they have to share and you will see how their support of you and your association are a mirror of the support you give to your members, your staff and your communities.

Your business was started with a passion for fitness, and its growth has been built and is sustained on relationships.  Everything that the GGFA does for you is also founded in relationships.

Ginger Collins
GGFA Executive Director

 

“The GGFA is such an important organization to be part of and plugged in to so members and suppliers can be informed.  It is amazing to see the growth of the GGFA and involvement of all the Franchisees.  I cannot think of a better way to support the brand and be part of the educational process.  Matrix values the GGFA relationship deeply and appreciates all the opportunities that it brings.  Matrix wishes all of the Gold’s family a great year in 2016.”

Seth Robinson
Matrix Fitness
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“Through the years, ASF Payment Solutions has been honored to be supporters and sponsors of the GGFA.  Everyone in this organization continues to be a pleasure to work with.  Our commitment to GGFA and the individual owners grows with each year through the incredible events that are put on by their staff.  Relationships are the ultimate foundation of any partnership, and ASF is fortunate to have nurtured those friendships with GGFA and the owners!”

Jason Abucejo
ASF Payment Solutions

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“It’s been over 6 years that Europa has been part of the GGFA and wouldn’t trade a single moment of it.  The relationships that have been forged through this network truly mean the world to us.  The word relationship to Europa is not a corporate word that we use in marketing or punch lines but the core of who we are and governs the many decisions we make on a daily basis.  Partners like the GGFA help guide those decisions because of the work that’s been invested on both sides that extend beyond the all mighty dollar.  Many of the things we put effort into for Gold’s and its franchises are simply because 25 years ago its where we started.  Our owners, Eric and Jeff built those relationships with people like Ted & Nancy Capp and Steve Roten.  So when you fast forward to today and see the relationships that take shape with people like Dusty Mason or Joe Harrison you can understand why continuing to partner makes as much sense as it did then as it does now.  We look forward to working and getting close with each member of this organization because it’s as much family to us as our own employees.”

Justin Weeks
Europa Sports Products

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“For 10+ years Les Mills and the GGFA franchisees have been partners in over 185 locations nationally. Events such as the GGFA Owners’ Conference and Regional Workshops have given Les Mills the opportunity to forge stronger relationships with our GGFA franchisee partners. We appreciate the support that the Gold’s Gym owners and operators have given us over the years and the GGFA has been a very important part of the support structure that strengthens those relationships.”

Erin Kelly
Les Mills US

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“Fitness Underwriters has been a member of the GGFA Supplier Partnership network since 2008 and we are proud to announce that we have taken that commitment to the next level with our Premium Club sponsorship in 2016!

Over the years, we have enjoyed the unique opportunities that events like the Owners’ Conference and Regional Workshop provide us.  The team at Fitness Underwriters truly values those opportunities to stay connected to and strengthen relationships with our clients as well as creating new partnerships with all of the franchise members.

We are the GGFA’s biggest fans and believe that Ginger and her team are second to none!  We truly value the relationships we have built with the entire GGFA organization and we look forward to many more successful years together.”

Jeff Kerxton
Fitness Underwriters
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“FITNESS PAYMENT SOLUTIONS: TURNING PROSPECTS INTO NEW YEAR MEMBERS” By Christie McPherson, ASF Payment Solutions

Now that you’ve got prospects coming into your club, it’s time to convert them to members. People are looking to YOU, the fitness professionals to motivate and inspire them to reach their fitness goals.  So, in keeping with your New Year’s fitness goals, it’s the perfect time to act. Get your GroupX instructors and Trainers pumped up. They need to build energy and to drive member/guest traffic into the club, along with the GroupX and Training programs.

One idea is to start the New Year with a GroupX Team Spirit day. Have members and guests wear their favorite sports team jersey or T-shirt every Saturday for the month of January. Have the GXIs present one member per class an MVP award. This awarded member could be someone who brings guests; who has tons of energy; or is someone who has come a long way on their fitness journey. Showcase these members for the entire month and make them feel special! Put a message in your check-in system, “MVP in Les Mills Body Combat” to alert the front desk when one of your MVPs checks-in and coach your staff on congratulating them and asking them to bring their friends to share their love of “Les Mills Body Combat.” Enthusiasm is contagious and creates new members! Post pictures in the club and on social media with hash tags. Of course get the member’s permission first. Make an impact on your members because everyone wants to be recognized, so get them excited in achieving their goals, while at the same time promoting your club. Celebrate your rock star instructors! They are the catalyst to your success! See http://www.asfpaymentsolutions.com/blog/how-to-continually-inspire-a-motivated-group/ for employee motivation.

You not only want to drive guests into your club, but you want to make them successful and keep them coming back to your club. Your GXIs/Trainers should be doing the following to acclimate guests into your club culture so they don’t give up and want to come back.

  • Make sure your guests feel welcome. Motivate and help them achieve their dream of looking and feeling fit, as well as healthy. Be genuine!
  • Don’t call new people out in front of the class. Sometimes it takes a lot just to get someone to participate in a group fitness class, or even step foot in a gym. Acknowledge new members and guests before or after class, and compliment them during class.  Make sure to thank them for coming into your class and invite them to participate again. Genuinely show you care about them.
  • Introduce a new participant to one of your rock star regulars that can tell them more about your class. Help the participant get set-up and provide a safe environment for their questions. Sometimes people are self-conscious about speaking up with instructors/trainers and asking for advice.  For this type of situation your regulars can be a sounding board. Try to provide great motivation and cheer your regulars on during their workouts. There’s a reason why they are your regulars! People love to workout in a friendly and encouraging atmosphere. Make that possible for them!
  • Encourage your guests and regular members to “friend you” on social media to build a sense of community and a fitness support system. This engages them and keeps them part of the club.
  • After a workout or a class, congratulate new participants for their hard work and give them some guidance on what kind of workout they can do the next day. Cross-promote other classes to compliment what they’ve already accomplished that day. For example, if they have just completed a strenuous strength workout, tell them about a great Cardio or Yoga class. Let them know about the value of cross training. This helps to meet their goals faster.
  • The next time the guest comes to your class, congratulate them for making it back and tell them you’re excited to see them. On the other hand when they do miss class, welcome them back and let them know you genuinely missed them. Be authentic!
  • Run your Attendance reports in your Fitness Payment Solutions software to see who has signed up the previous week and hasn’t checked in. Have your staff email them, or extend a more personal touch and reach out to find out what’s holding them back. Show you care by giving them the encouragement they expect from a fitness professional.
  • Now is the time to give your members the convenience of using your payment solutions scheduling portal, and/or a Mobile App so they can sign up for classes, or buy PT sessions from their mobile device. It is also a great way to build a sense of community of like-minded people from your club. Members will be able to take fitness challenges, and log their workouts to share on social media as well. Members and guests inspire each other and keep themselves on track. More importantly, they keep coming back to your club.

CONCLUSION:

This is the time of year when you want guests to stop being doubters and make them successful and above all, to help them feel their inner champion.  You want them to smash through any barriers to achieve their fitness goals and to accomplish more than ever what they thought possible. When those guests fall in love with fitness and the community that you’ve created for them, you’ll have members for life.

Now go get ‘em!

 

Christie_ASF-490x365Christie McPherson is client training manager for ASF Payment Solutions. She spent a number of years in a senior management role on Wall Street working with mutual funds. McPherson has been with ASF Payment Solutions for 15 years as a client training manager and focuses on providing the best systems training in the business. Product development and system quality assurance are also an integral part of her responsibilities at ASF. She enjoys working with a staff that genuinely cares about helping clients grow their businesses and is happy to promote teamwork, fitness and a healthy lifestyle, which fits her core values as a certified Schwinn cycle instructor. She can be reached at: Christie.McPherson@asfpaymentsolutions.com

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Affordable Care Act Reporting Requirements for 2016

If you’re panicking over the reports the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires your business to produce this month, you’re not alone.  We’ve received numerous questions over the past few months from clients and blog readers.  In an effort to make the process easier, we’ve prepared the handy guide below.

How do I know what size employer I fall under?

For some, it’s very clear that you’re a small business.  You have 10 team members (both full and part-time) at any given point in the year.  For others, it can get a bit cloudy.  Here’s what the ACA says about your business size:

  • Small employers are those with fewer than 50 FTEs.
  • Applicable large employers are those with at least 50 FTEs.

First, you’ll need to determine how many full-time equivalent (FTE) employees you have.  Start by counting all full-time (30+ hours per week for at least 120 days) employees you had at the height of your employee count for the year (if your number of staff members/payroll has fluctuated).  Next, calculate your FTE employees; employees who worked less than 30 hours per week for at least 120 days of the year.  Take the payroll data from several payrolls throughout the year and do the following:   Add up all part-time employee hours (for those working or expected to work 120 or more days).  Divide it by 30.  Add that number to your full-time count, and you have your FTE number.  Look at several payrolls and go with the highest.  The IRS has a calculator to help with this:  https://www.healthcare.gov/shop-calculators-fte/

Which reports do I need to send?

Take your FTE count and your knowledge of the medical coverage your business currently offers and determine which reporting group you fall into:

  • Small employers (those with fewer than 50 FTEs) with a self-insured health plan must complete and file Forms 1095-B (Health Coverage) and 1094-B (accompanying transmittal form) with the IRS, as well as provide employees—specifically, those who are taxpayers responsible for showing they had health coverage during the year—with a copy of Form 1095-B.

Form 1095-B is used to report certain information to the IRS and to taxpayers about individuals who are covered by minimal essential coverage and therefore not liable for the individual shared responsibility payment.

The 1095-Bs will be provided by insurance companies for fully insured plans.

  • Applicable large employers (ALEs) with at least 50 FTEs must complete and file Forms 1095-C (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage) and 1094-C (accompanying transmittal form), and provide each full-time employee with a copy of Form 1095-C.

Small employers with fewer than 50 FTEs also will be required to file Forms 1095-C and 1094-C if they are members of a controlled or affiliated service group that collectively has at least 50 FTEs.  This means if you have several different legal entities all operating under one brand and one management umbrella, you’ll need to count all of these legal entities’ FTEs together for reporting and coverage requirement purposes.

When are the reports due?

Reports due to the employees must be provided by January 31st.  Reports to the IRS are due by February 29th.

While the coverage requirements and penalties for 2015 only applied to applicable large employers (ALEs) with at least 100 FTEs, reporting is required for those with at least 50.  And in 2016, employers with 50 or more FTEs are subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.

*The employer shared responsibility provisions—also known as the employer coverage mandate—are the employer penalty provisions under the ACA. Penalties apply if an employer fails to offer minimum essential coverage that is affordable and provides minimum value to full-time employees working at least 30 hours per week
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What else do I need to do to prepare?

Before you start working on your required forms, here’s one last recommendation, get your employees prepared.  Since this is the first year they’ll be required to report coverage with their tax filings, chances are they’re not prepared.  A little communication can go a long way.

Three primary messages to convey to your employees:

  1. Here’s what to expect. You will receive Form 1095-C for the first time in January 2016.
  2. Why you should care. You will need information on the form to prepare your 2015 taxes.

Be on the lookout. Watch for the form in your mailbox in January or for it to be delivered by hand at the worksite

 

Melissa Knowles.jpgMelissa Knowles serves as the CEO for Gym HQ.  With over a decade of industry experience, her knowledge spans many areas:  strategic operations, development of staff training materials and programs, cost savings analysis, reporting gym hqdevelopment and implementation, fitness department overhaul, client retention systems, and corporate management.  She’s especially well versed in all operational and HR focused areas; and she holds an HR certification through SHRM.  What makes her uniquely qualified as an industry leader is her time spent “in the trenches”.  Melissa is a graduate of the University of West Florida and holds an MS in Exercise Science and a BS in Sports Medicine.

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2016 Is A Presidential Election Year. What Can We Learn From the Process?

 

2016electionAre we ready for a plethora of primary elections? Constant media coverage? Robo calls? A reminder if we are in a dedicated “Red” State or “Blue” State? More information about the personal lives of a bunch of candidates from both sides? Accusations and name calling? Lots of TV debates? And lots of verbal discussions amongst your friends?

 

2016 is under way. Many are already turned off by the whole political scene. But, there are some analogies here. Many clubs are telling the same story without highlighting points of differentiation. Typically, the media is full of new stories or advice about exercise, diet and the “new you.” Lots of research studies are emerging about exercise or diets, so the average adult is being inundated already. And it’s only early in January.

 

The Presidential Election process has some lessons for us. They are strong in setting overarching goals and then setting specific sub-goals. They are creating playbooks (like professional football) with tactics and detailed messaging. They are organizing by state and key cities. They are polling and doing regular research. The analogy is perfect for the gym owner and operator. Goals, sub-goals and tactics need to be created. Ideally, they should have been before the start of this year. The tactics should be broken down by department and area of the gym. Detailed and measurable yardsticks must be created now if the gym is to monitor its progress all 12 months of the year.

 

The gym needs a game plan to “win” by year end. It needs 2-3 specified tactics per each department and 3-5 overall gym goals. These need to be realistic and achievable. They should include one or more “reach” goals, so that the staff needs to come together to make a challenging objective truly achievable.

 

We will elect a new President in November, 2016. You need to achieve a “win” by December 31, 2015. We may learn some lessons from the political world to help us in our own industry.

Rick Caro
Rick Caro 
President & Founder
Management Vision

Rick Caro is the President of Management Vision, Inc., a leading consulting firm specializing in the club industry. Management Vision is widely regarded for its feasibility studies, business plans, loan proposals, valuation of the worth of clubs, assistance in the buying and selling of clubs, operational analyses of existing clubs and financial acumen. Management Vision has experience with small and large-sized clubs, single activity and multi-sport facilities, suburban and urban sites, owned and leasehold properties and start-up and take-over business situations all over the U.S. and other countries.

Rick Caro is a 38-year veteran of the club industry. He previously was the owner of an eight-club organization of multi-sport clubs in the Northeast U.S. which he successfully sold in 1983. Over the last ten years, he has consulted to over 1,500 clubs. Mr. Caro was the Founder, Past President and Director of IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association), the trade association of over 9,750 clubs in over 78 countries. He is a frequent writer for various trade publications and the author of the book, Financial Management, targeted for the club industry. He is also a well-known lecturer for the industry.

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2015 Good Deeds

Ginger Collins
As we get ready to welcome the New Year we would like to take this opportunity to share some of the extraordinary things that some of our franchisees and suppliers have been doing in their communities. We wish everyone a wonderful and prosperous New Year!

Ginger Collins
GGFA Executive Director

matrix-logoMatrix and parent company Johnson have donated time this year to many organizations like the Human Society, Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, United Way, and others. Read more about their generous contributions here:  Matrix Volunteering

Precor Logo“Precor believes in the mutual respect and the overwhelming returns of sharing. As part of that commitment Precor matches employee donations to registered non-profits such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, American Diabetes Association, and Habitat for Humanity and World Vision through the Precor Gives program.  So far in 2015, employee donations and Precor Gives matching totals $185,018.

During the holidays, we partner with a local non-profit organization to help spread holiday cheer to the less fortunate.  For the last three-years, we’ve partnered with Secret Harbor who works with older kids who are in the foster care system to ensure that they have something special for the holidays.”
Jennifer B. Davis, Precor

Wacky 'sweaters' trot for tots_Page_1Gold’s Gym Wenatchee
This year the first Gold’s Gym “Ugly Sweater 5k Run/Walk” was introduced. Over 150 runners in the Wenatchee area participated, giving donated toys to local charities. Wacky ‘sweaters’ trot for tots

Gold’s Gym Family-Bloomington, Normal, & Pekin, IL
 Gold’s Gyms
Bloomington-Normal & Pekin IL
“We participate in the
Salvation Army’s Winter
Coat Drive.”
Suzanne Kosik

Gold’s Gym Spokane, WA
“We keep a barrel that members fill up with food and is picked up monthly.  We also assist Veterans with moving.”
Alethea McCann

 

PSlogo_color_2015_hi_res 2  2.13.15.jpg“For over 10 years, Power Systems has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of East Tennessee to grant hundreds of wishes for special “angels” on their Angel Tree. This year, Power Systems and its employees came together to fulfil 40 wishes. Gift items included winter clothing and coats, toys for boys and girls, footballs and basketballs, dolls, and board games.

In addition to the Angel Tree, Power Systems also gathered items in Power Systemssupport of the Big Red Bow Project. The Big Red Bow Project benefits Alzheimer’s Tennessee, an organization created to serve those facing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, to promote brain health through education, and to champion global prevention and treatment efforts.  Items gathered for the event were: jumbo puzzle books, jumbo coloring books and crayons, card and memory games, winter accessories, small purses and bags, and throw blankets.”
Amanda Waterous, Power Systems

Dutchess CoGold’s Gym Dutchess County
“This year, Gold’s Gym Dutchess County partnered with Angels of Light (http://www.angelsoflighthudsonvalley.org), whose mission is to provide Holiday Giving for Children and Families with life threatening illness in the Hudson Valley. We’ve placed a Giving Tree in the lobby of both clubs with gift ornaments on each. Members and Staff have been taking the ornaments home to purchase gifts from the family wish lists.”
Michelle Martinetti  

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“We are proud at Europa Sports Products to be able to contribute to many charitable endeavors over the year. Many of our employees initiate and lead these efforts such as our Stop Soldier Suicide Campaign, Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes, Winter Coat Drive as well as our annual Toy Drive. It’s a testament to our employee’s generosity and their willingness to give back to their community.”
Tammy Tufty, Europa Sports Products

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“This year, ABC Financial has teamed up with Arkansas Children’s Hospital – Festival of Stars Toy and Donation Drive. The employees raised over $3,000 dollars and purchased over 350 gifts to donate to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Founder and Chairman, Jim Bottin, challenged the entire ABC family to donate as much as possible, as he matched all contributions to this great charity.”
Jennifer Hutchinson, ABC Financial

 

Gold’s Gym Jackson, TN
“2015 was a very big year of giving for Gold’s Gym Jackson.  In August we Jackson TN racedonated over 100 backpacks filled with school supplies to children in the community.  In October we raised over $15,000 for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides campaign (that is coming off of last year’s donation of over $10,000).  In November, on Thanksgiving Day, we held our 11th Annual Gold’s Gym Turkey Day 5k, where we raised approximately $15,000 for RIFA, an organization that feeds and clothes underprivileged and Jackson TN.pnghomeless people in the community.  There were 855 runners at this event.  It was our largest one to date, and since its beginning we have donated almost $65,000 total to RIFA!  We are currently working on Christmas for 35 children by way of an Angel tree in the gym where they will receive toys and clothes from our members and staff.”
Steve Roten

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“Stop Running in Place” By Keith Catanzano, Co-founder & Partner, 2 River Consulting Group

No single retention program will keep all your members coming back to Golds Gyms month after month. Real improvements require using your plentiful customer data to design a more personalized and relevant approach. Big data isn’t just for big companies. 2River Consulting Group can make your data work for you. (www.2rcg.com/fitness)

Member attrition is expensive.  Every year many clubs have to replace 30% to 50% of their members just to stay even.  You’re running in place.  Every replacement can cost a few hundred dollars to attract.  You aren’t left with many resources to grow. Improving retention is the only way to break this cycle and start growing. But how?

Well, there’s no magic bullet. No one program will keep all “at risk” members coming back. Members leave for different reasons at different times. A program that is effective at retaining a new member may have no effect on a seasoned user who has decided to explore other options.

But, there’s hope if you let your data be your guide. Fitness clubs have a comparative advantage when it comes to data. You have a wealth of customer information — usage data, membership profiles, billing information, user surveys – right at your fingertips. Your members are all unique individuals. But when you examine this data, you will find they fall into natural segments with other members who react in similar ways often for similar reasons. It is possible to identify, within these groups, member lifecycles and predict at which points on their lifecycles members might quit. It is key to catch members at these points before the urge to leave takes root. And often these groups’ characteristics can help you decide how valuable they are, establish their natural usage level, and identify some of the triggers driving them away.

With this new intelligence on your members, you can improve retention by reaching the right member, at the right time with the right, relevant message.  Rather than one size fits all, your retention program will be directed and nuanced, but still cost effective.  And quite frankly, in the digital marketplace, it is what customers expect. Consider your email inbox last week as the holiday shopping season launched. No doubt it was chock full of emails from retailers who used every scrap of information they have about you — your on-site behavior, past purchases, amount spent, location, age, gender, etc – to craft a personalized, relevant message. In today’s noisy and crowded market, a message with an irrelevant offer is just spam.

So, how might a more personalized approach to retention work? First, remember, every club, including each Golds Gym, will be different.  Your club won’t be exactly like these examples that are composites of several very different clubs.

In some clubs we see a spike in attrition 60-90 days after a member joins. The member started strong…and then life got in the way; perhaps the member joined because of $0 down…but didn’t build a strong habit. Further analysis of these members can uncover different groups.  That allows you act decisively in a targeted fashion.  Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Generate a list of members who have been with you for 90-120 days and whose workout habit degraded after their first month.
  2. If any of these members didn’t complete the free fitness screening you offer during on-boarding, schedule a time with them.
  3. If in their first month they tended to work out Mon-Fri at lunch or before/after work, let them know what programming you have that fits their schedule.
  4. If they used kids club in the first 30-60 days, let them know what new programming you have for kids (make their kids happy and they’ll be happy).

Attrition isn’t just in the first few months.  Our analyses have identified danger points later in the cycle.  Exactly when varies depending on several factors – dues level; club culture; target audiences.  But 12, 18, and 24 months out, some members will get restless.  Again, it is possible to identify and group these people.

Identify groups of members who seem similar in many ways, but one group terminates at a higher rate, can prove particularly helpful.  It turns out that subtle differences between these groups can lead to exciting retention programs. For example, long-term members working out more than once per week tend to have much better retention than those working out only once per week. So, Golds Gyms should create programs to encourage the “once a week” member to become a “twice a week” member.

Although you may have a very large group of long-term members who aren’t using the club at all, we recommend focusing on the members who are working out at least once a month. This is both cheaper than focusing on members who haven’t worked out in months (there are usually lots of those members) and has a better chance of working because you are focused on members already working out. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Find out what time of day they come in and let them know about other programming at those times on other days.
  2. Let them know about events your club is involved in within the community (races, outdoor classes…).
  3. Ask them to provide input on programming they’d like to see (sometimes simply asking for their opinion helps them engage…and may give you some new ideas).

Remember, this is a long run – not a sprint.  One size does not fit all. But, by taking advantage of your existing data to understand and target the natural segments in your membership, you will have a dramatic impact on retention. Creating programs geared specifically to them will pay off. Combine this with an understanding of your most valuable members will let you create targeted pilots using your scarce resources to the get the greatest benefit for your club and for your members’ health.

Keith C

Keith Catanzano
Co-founder & Partner
2 River Consulting Group
http://www.2rcg.com

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“Creating an Opportunity for Success vs. Wishful Thinking” By John Custard, President, The Gold’s Gym Franchisee Association

Every year health clubs cancel millions of people. These people overcame intimidation as well as other obstacles, joined and yet left. So how do we overcome this dilemma?  As we know, the cost of acquiring a new member is much more than retaining one. In this article we will explore some key retention rules.

What is success?  I think for the purpose of this article it is important that we define it. 1) The fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame. 2) The correct or desired result of an attempt. 3) Someone or something that is successful. Let’s assume the second definition best fits the majority of our members and prospective members.  For us as franchisees there would be a multitude of definitions.  Success may be different for some of us but I think we all would agree that changing people’s lives for the better and getting people results would be at least one measure of success. Monetary benefit would be a side effect of doing this well.  Let’s talk about wishful thinking.  An attitude or belief that something you want to happen will happen even though it is not likely or possible. I am not going to go into creating opportunities for success or wishful thinking from an economic standpoint.  Lease negotiation, pricing, location and other factors will determine if any location has a chance.  So if the basic economic factors are correct.  What next?

I would like to start with wishful thinking as it relates to the member experience.  When a member signs up, they are under the impression that they are going to get to their goal, yet that possibility is very unlikely.  They start excited, almost like a child on their first day of school.  The difference between a child going to school and a new member is that there is structure and guidance for every child when they begin.  Of course they have parents that make them go.  That doesn’t exactly work with grown people.  What do we do to ensure an adult’s success as well as a health club?  If we can create the best opportunity for success for our members then we will surely benefit.  Please understand that the suggestions in this article are not meant to be a catch all for success or indictment of what anyone may be doing wrong.  These are simply points that I know our company needs to work on, any others may have witness and overlooked.

There are several keys to creating an opportunity for success.  Three main points to keep in mind:  community, results, and habit creation. Having an on boarding process that includes an introduction to all the communities in your club is essential.  Doing the same thing with your new employees is just as important.  Keep in mind whatever we do for new members and new employees we must also do for our existing members and staff repeatedly year in and year out.  Back to the 3 main points.  Some communities already exist within our clubs.  GGX, kids club, free weight people, swimmers, basketball players and the juice bar crowd, are just a few of the communities we have.  We have to mine our data to truly know who is in what, or how many communities.  Once we have the data, then we can start communicating to pull them in to the things they want to hear about.  If the data is not available, then we have to depend on our departments to collect it.  The next point is results.  If someone is getting results, then they generally will stay a member.  Getting them involved in personal training is important, but getting them involved in nutrition is imperative.  Nothing happens without nutrition yet it is the most overlooked area by most clubs and trainers.  Nutrition is part of every major training certification and must be a weekly part of any training programs to achieve results.  The last component, habit creation, could be accomplished by getting to the first two.  Unfortunately, sometimes people have a sense of community, and get results but still leave because they have not made exercise a habit.  Consistent communication and a great gym experience should complete all the factors of creating your best opportunity for success for your member and your club.
John Custard

John “JC” Custard
Operating Partner
Gold’s Gym Ashburn, Sterling, Herndon, VA.
President, Gold’s Gym Franchisee Association

 

 

 

 

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