“Joining a Gym is About More Than Just Going to the Gym” By: Christie McPherson, ASF Payment Solutions

MemberSocial.jpgWhy do people go to the gym? Club members may go hoping to lose a few pounds or get in better shape, but being with like-minded, goal oriented people helps to propel those members towards a bigger and healthier picture of themselves. With increased attendance, these infrequent members meet more people, make friends, learn to develop better workout habits and most importantly, educate themselves to drop bad habits. They not only learn more about improving their workouts, but also educate themselves about nutrition and how the appropriate activity and diet can improve their lives.

The gym is also a state of mind, a refuge, and a social club. The gym is what you and your members make it. Let’s delve into the philosophy of going to the gym as motivation and encouragement to keep your members wanting more, and to attract new members through the culture and brand you want to convey.

The gym is about commitment

When prospects join a gym, they’re not assigned a number and receive a t-shirt. They’re making a commitment towards changing their lives for the better. It’s natural for clubs to push members outside their comfort zone and give them the ability to try new challenges. Your club should create an environment where members feel safe. Having early club engagment by introducing them to other members, you help them interact and join the social atmosphere of your club. This also helps to eliminate preconceived insecurities that members may have about joining a gym in the first place. All of this will ultimately lead to a member’s better health and greater self-esteem.

The gym is a lifestyle with benefits

Gym members eventually learn that fitness is a lifestyle choice, and not a quick fix. If they start to feel better, see results, get stronger and “buy-into” a healthier lifestyle, it will benefit other areas of a member’s life as well. Improving your level of fitness makes everything easier including simple tasks like carrying groceries, climbing stairs, or enduring a long walk, or hike with friends and family. These people tend to have a more positive outlook; manage stress better; have more energy; and generally feel better.

Gaining muscle and losing fat are not the only reasons people join gyms. Many people join for the fun and social interaction it gives them. People join gyms to form friendships through classes, group training sessions playing racquetball together, or just general workouts. If members look to their gym as a fun experience, they no longer consider their workout routine an arduous chore. When the experience is fun, your members will participate more often and retention becomes less of an issue for your club.

Conclusion

In the end, the gym is what you make it, and you should encourage potential members to join your gym for whatever reason they choose, but encourage engagement and fun. The idea that potential members can use your gym to get in shape; get their favorite smoothie; take part in a variety of classes; build comradery and friendships should be communicated upfront, not only to increase your gym enrollment, but to make it a fun and rewarding place to work for you and your team.

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Christie McPherson
Client Training Manager
christie.mcPherson@asfpaymentsolutions.com

ASF logoChristie 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.

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“5 Financial Musts for Any Fitness Business” By: Melissa Knowles, Vice President of Gym HQ- A ClubReady Company

One of the most common back office missteps occurring in the fitness industry is a lack of clear and consistent financials.  It’s amazing how many businesses don’t keep them at all!  Tax season presents the perfect opportunity to take a look at a business, determine where any gaps exist, and then devise a plan for improvement.  Solid financials provide an owner with a strong understanding of the state of a business.  From this foundation of understanding, strategies for improvement or growth may be built. Below we outline five musts to serve as a starting point for this planning.

5 Financial Musts for Any Fitness Business

  1. A Proper Business Plan.

You have a great idea; now it’s time to put pen to paper. Take the time to write a proper business plan.  Think through all aspects of your business paying very close attention to a well thought out proforma.  Put together some financial projections and compare them with your proposed capital expenditures.  Know when you should reach break-even and when you’ll turn a profit.  Have a plan to responsibly make distributions.  It’s a lot easier to make these decisions when the money is conceptual.

  1. A Working Budget.

What will your revenue be?  Are you making revenue projections or using sales goals?  These are two very different things.  Goals are pie-in-the-sky.  Revenue estimates should be realistic and conservative.   What can you afford to spend?  Is your spending in line with your timeline for break-even that you outlined in your business plan?  Are you over-spending?  Throw in a line item for contingency.  This will catch those unforeseen monthly costs.  If you don’t need it, great; but if you do, you don’t blow out your budget.  A budget provides a business with the structure/foundation upon which it can grow.

  1. Accrual over Cash.

Accrual accounting is a method that measures the performance and position of a company by recognizing economic events regardless of when cash transactions occur. The general idea is that economic events are recognized by matching revenues to expenses (the matching principle) at the time in which the transaction occurs rather than when payment is made (or received). This method allows the current cash inflows/outflows to be combined with future expected cash inflows/outflows to give a more accurate picture of a company’s current financial condition.  Accrual accounting does a much better job presenting a clear picture of performance.  It also may offer better tax benefits.

  1. Capital, retain some.

This is much easier if you head into a business having already thought through a retention and distribution process.  Navigating rough business waters is much easier with a bit of a cash buffer.  This prevents the dreaded capital call.

It’s easier to always think about capital retention in terms of preparation for a business down-turn, but it can be argued that it’s even more important to maintain a solid book balance for opportunity.  This allows a business to be nimble and capitalize (get it?) on any exciting ventures that pop up on the horizon.

  1. Reconcile, reconcile, reconcile.

“Watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”    This old proverb still rings very true today.  Businesses work so hard for their money:  driving sales, watching retention numbers, and pushing for non-dues based revenue; yet, many times fail to ensure that all of those dollars are making it to their bank accounts.  John mentioned that he’s witnessed occasions where merchant holders miss a remit and the reason is never found.  When there are thousands of transactions happening on a given week, it’s easy to imagine a few slipping through the cracks.  You can’t track down what you don’t know you’re missing.  All invoices should be checked and signed off on each month.  It’s amazing how many times over-charges occur.

Banking and check fraud are at an all time high.  Only a full bank reconcile will uncover a fraudulent charge or check clearing your bank.  It may also be prudent to consider a feature like Positive Pay or ACH filters.  Positive Pay essentially serves to protect your account by allowing you to be the gate keeper for all outbound checks.  Nothing clears without your approval.    Though much more work on the front end, it affords the business owner the peace of mind that his account isn’t in jeopardy 24 hours a day.

Finally, if something can’t be reconciled, it’s a symptom of something wrong.  Books should balance.  A missing dollar today could be a missing thousand tomorrow.

 

Melissa Knowles
Melissa Knowles
Vice President
Gym HQ / A Clubready Compnay
GGFA Think Tank Panel
Melissa Knowles has over a decade of industry experience, her knowledge spans many areas: strategic operations, development of staff training materials and programs, cost savings analysis, reporting development and implementation, gym hqfitness 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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“2017 Gold’s Gym Challenge – Finish STRONG!” By: Dave Kenyon

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Okay all,

The time has come, and man did it fly by!  The first flight of the Challenge is finishing this week.  Is it me, or does every year seem to go a little faster??  Maybe it was the blizzard here in the northeast that we had to deal with, right in the middle of it!

Now that it’s upon us, don’t forget why you started it and got all those members excited back in January.  This is the score card of how well your members did in the Challenge; The results!!

Make sure your team is on point in calling every participant and getting them to finish, even if they didn’t do as well as they would have liked.  Hit your social media posts and get them as excited about finishing as they were to start.  As part of this preparation, be sure that you have the same people in place for the end measurements and photos that were there in the beginning.  Consistency is the key for them to get good results, so we should be consistent in our approach to document them.

Speaking of documenting things, I hear and see lots of social media posting in the document your journey contest. Keep your participants going with this as they get their results and brag on social media about how well they did.  People love to see and hear what others are doing as inspiration, so encourage everyone who finishes to post and talk about their experience in the Challenge.

This was only a sprint in the marathon of their healthy lifestyle journey.  Remind them of that and let them know that it’s okay not to be perfect in a short 12 weeks.  They worked as hard as their life and circumstances would allow, and they should be proud of what they accomplished.

Each year we see amazing changes in people’s bodies as well as their lives, and we can’t wait to see what this year’s results will bring.

Dave Kenyon

Thank you,
Dave Kenyon
Gold’s Gym Challenge Chairman, Gold’s Gym Dutchess County

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“IHRSA Will Be Next Week In Los Angeles and It’s Going To Be Great !” By: Bryan O’Rourke

imgThe many benefits of attending IHRSA, outside of GGFA’s awesome reception of course, include connecting with colleagues, seeing friends, meeting vendor partners, hearing great speakers and learning about the latest and greatest trends and exciting ideas that the health club industry is pursuing today.  For #IHRSA2017, this year in Los Angeles from March 8-11th, it’s going to be even better.

First check out the keynote speakers including Seth Mattison, Martin Lindstrom , Johnny Earle , and Soraya Dorabi . From brand marketing to technology and creating great experiences, these folks understand a lot and will be sharing valuable insights with all of us. There are also going to be some great educators and presenters from within our industry space (please consider attending my networking and technology roundtable on Thursday from 11:30 am – 12:45 pm, or you can attend one of my multimedia presentations Thursday afternoon from  3:30 – 4:30 pm or Friday morning at 7:40 am). Some great folks are going to be sharing details about how to, what to, and why to regarding everything in the health club industry.

Second, see the array of vendors available for you to peruse and explore, offering everything from new classes, different and innovative equipment, cool technologies and a host of other items and services to make your club become even better. This year there are more vendors than ever, so no matter what you’re interested in seeing or learning about, it’s at #IHRSA2017.

Third, check out the Industry Leadership Council (“ILC”) meetings at IHRSA this year. You may want to contact Meredith Poppler of IHRSA about it in advance. The PHIT ACT has a shot at passing this year, which I recently wrote about, and the ILC along with other organizations are behind this legislation. The meeting can fill you in on how gym memberships being tax deductible could be a huge windfall for us all. Get behind the #PHITACT so we can #PASSPHIT.

Finally, the GGFA hosts a cocktail reception for its franchisee members and as an appreciation celebration for its supplier members.  This is one event I love attending and really enjoy seeing all of you and sharing our love for the Gold’s brand and for the industry.

On a final note, of course we all support the Bash for Augie’s Quest to fight ALS which will be Friday evening at 6, and I know many of us will be there. What a great and important cause to support.

So what are you looking forward to at #IHRSA2017? If you need to see me there to catch up just tweet @bryankorourke and I’ll connect with you. Safe travels to LA and we’ll see you there!

unnamed-3Bryan O’Rourke is an executive, advisor, keynote speaker, author and investor, who has successfully consulted to and driven global brands for over 30 years. He is widely published and quoted in periodicals like Inc. Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and is CSO of a well-known Houston based health club chain. Join him at the IHRSA 2017 convention in Los Angeles March 9th and 10th where he will be presenting on the fitness and health club industry. Bryan along with the Fitness Industry Technology Council support the Fitness + Technology Podcast . Check it out today. He and his partners launched Vedere Ventures, a boutique private equity firm in 2016 . Get his recent book, 9 Partnership Principles, written with his partner Robert Dyer and other top fitness industry leaders. To learn more visit bryankorourke.com or follow him @bryankorourke .

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Gold’s Gym Challenge Message By: Dave Kenyon, Challenge Chairman

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Dave Kenyon

Hello everyone,

All of your Challengers should be on their way and things should be “buzzing” in your clubs. There should be lots of members walking around with their Challenge shirts on, working out a little harder and a little longer to make changes.

Make good use of the different offerings that our sponsors have given us, as every tool will help our members make changes.

One of the tools is social media and the new “Document Your Journey”. This is a great addition to the Challenge as it brings technology into it and gets members to see each other’s progress and struggles. Nothing is better than knowing you are not alone in your pursuit of improvement. This makes the journey more tolerable for all involved as they see others going through the same things they are. The other great thing about the “Document Your Journey” campaign is that is keeps more people from quitting as they see how others are dealing with the exact same things as them and not giving up.

All of the other tools are helping also, as I see people with their Mio watches on, as well as utilizing the great products from Gambia.  Thank you to all the vendors involved this year! I’m hearing and seeing very good things.

This is our time to shine! Show them how good you are; get them involved in the club. This is who we are and what we do, Changing People’s Lives!!

Ya’ll are killing it!! Sorry that was Ginger coming out a bit.

Keep it up and stay tuned for more.

Thank you,

Dave Kenyon, Challenge Chairman

 

 

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“3 Ways To Retain Gym Members After the New Year’s Rush” By: Stephen Wilson, Marketing Manager, ASF Payment Solutions

ASF logoIt’s no surprise when a flurry of new members comes through the doors after the New Year. Whether it’s a resolution to lose weight, or a challenge to start the New Year healthier, it’s hard for new members to build the habits they need to keep coming to the gym. That new year’s rush is an opportunity for every gym to convert members who may not have the determination to keep going after the first few months and for you to create a healthy lifestyle for them. Let’s look at three ways to retain gym members after that rush.

Offer the right type of memberships2017keyemailimage

When setting up memberships for the New Year, consider that many new members will back off from their routines and fall to the wayside. Begin with a fitness assessment to determine a level of membership that best fits them. Be ready with several membership options that you can offer. It would also be good to include some incentives such as a limited number of hours with a trainer or group class. This is especially true because you want to get them quickly engaged, building habits, and get them into the workout mindset to continue as a long-term member instead of “3 months and done.” Once you both understand the incentives, goals and the commitment, you’ll be able to offer the appropriate gym membership level.

Encourage your members to set goals

From the moment a new member walks through the door, work with them to create a safe and comfortable environment. Start by talking to them about their goals, expectations and time commitment. Set three and six-month goals, regardless of how long their membership lasts. Re-evaluate these goals as they begin to make strides; change goals as necessary; and invest time in the personal relationship you’re establishing with your members. Introduce them to other members and make them feel welcome into your club community. You can also have trainers give them feedback on their goals that can turn into future training sessions down the road and additional club revenue.

Ongoing Member Engagement

Continue engaging members after they’ve been coming to your gym. Review their personal training sessions, group classes and general health club attendance through ASF’s My Reports to check their frequency of visits. Review their goals and cross-sell them on classes and personal training that compliments what they’re working on. Educate them on other equipment in the gym that gives them variety and makes sense with their workouts. Help them to fine-tune their workout plan. Members left alone tend to drift away and lose interest. You’re providing the “juice” and coaching to keep them engaged. This does not require an inordinate amount of time by your staff. Look at the member’s file when they check-in. Have the brief conversation, be sincere and give them the time they need.

Conclusion

Retaining members after the New Year’s rush doesn’t have to be difficult for your gym. By supporting these members in the subsequent months, you can build personal relationships by simply connecting with them the moment they enter your club. By doing so you’re demonstrating that you care about their health, their wellbeing, and want to help them achieve a more fulfilling lifestyle. When you engage members and start to build a relationship, you’re not only establishing good will, but also club community, which only increases your membership retention after the New Year rush.

 swsmallStephen Wilson
Marketing Manager
ASF PAYMENT SOLUTIONS
steve.wilson@asfpaymentsolutions.com

Click to download a FREE Trends in Member Enrollment eBook

Steve joined the ASF team as a veteran of marketing communications where he was Director of Creative Services at an advertising and public relations agency focusing on branding and strategic communications. He has worked in a wide variety of industries and concentrated on health and wellness for a number of years. His work on national marketing and advertising campaigns has earned him many accreditations and awards.

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“Consistency in Sales Skills Makes a Good January a Great January” By: Karen Woodard Chavez

There is no doubt January is busy. Sooooo busy that at times it feels like you can’t fully do your job. Which means certain elements may get missed or be omitted. That is a big mistake for your sales success.

Make sure you are consistent with the following 5 tools with each and every prospect/member. Consistency is the key to making a good January a great January and a great January a strong February, March and April.

  1. Complete pre-tour – in every selling conversation there is the pre-tour, tour and post-tour. The pre- tour sets the stage for success in the tour and the post tour. If you do not do it well and completely the rest of your selling conversation will be adversely affected. A complete and well done pre-tour reveals to you precisely what will make the prospect say yes to joining and what will make them hesitate to join. Thus, you know precisely what to discuss/show them on the tour and how to build in solutions to their hesitations and have it feel more naturally conversational versus the strong-arm technique of “overcoming objections” at the end of the selling conversation. A complete pre-tour includes questions that reveal the prospect’s Interests, Needs, Urgency and Motivation – all the reasons they will say yes. It equally includes questions that reveal the prospect’s potential hesitations such as Eagerness, Decision Making Ability, Time Availability, Financial Availability and Other Limitations.

You can see that if you ask these questions and take good notes on the answers then you will be able to create a sales presentation that is about the prospect and not just about the club. Far more compelling for them then the boring club tour.

  1. Early and often – the concept of early and often relates to anything you want to have happen in the sales presentation today you need to bring up early and often. The things you want to have happen include having the prospect join today, having the prospect feel comfortable enough with you that they want to participate in your New Member Guest Privilege program, as well as purchase an intro program to personal training/pilates/swim lessons/small group training, etc. The mistake we make is that we may present these elements at the end of the selling conversation in a harried manner because we are just trying to get through all the joining documents, and the importance of getting involved in these programs gets lost and you do not earn the sale or the commission. Begin the conversation about these points while you are on the tour and do it multiple times. By doing so, you eliminate the “let me think about it” response that you likely get by presenting it only at the end of the conversation.
  1. Zip up the next step – if your prospect does not join today (this assumes you have had a discussion about their hesitations) then you need to have the follow up plan zipped up. What that means is that before they leave the club you have invited them to be your guest to do something they expressed they would like to be doing as a member. If their Interest is Yoga then you will specifically invite them to the 10am yoga class tomorrow or the following day as your guest. They will agree and you will now have an appointment with them. Most membership sales people simply give the prospect a guest pass to come back to the club without scheduling a specific time or event. By giving a guest pass, you give away all of your influence and ability to manage your time and leads. By scheduling a specific activity at a specific time you will shorten your sales cycle, manage your time more effectively and provide a better experience for the prospect to become a member.
  1. NMGP – the New Member Guest Privilege is something that should be done early and often with every prospect. There needs to be a value difference between a NMGP and regular guest passes. For example, the NMGP might be three-day access for three of the new member’s friends that allows them to participate in small group training and is only active for the first 30 days of their membership. This is different than a guest pass for up to three people. It has value and urgency. You can arrange this in several ways – either through a link that you send your new member or the good old fashion way of having them write down the names and contact info of the folks they would like you to arrange the privilege for. The latter creates a lot more work for the sales person. The link sure makes it easier.
  1. Set appointments – please, please, please avoid the mistake of having people “stop by” when you are responding to their web inquiries or phone inquiries. It places you in a position of providing potentially terrible service when you have to make the prospect wait as well as does not allow you to manage your time well when someone just “stops by”. As discussed earlier, January, February and March are a verrrry busy time of year and you want to maximize every opportunity you can as well as provide the best service you can. Set yourself up for success by finding out very early what the prospect’s Interests are and what time of day they prefer to exercise. Then, you invite them in to do what they want to do at the time they like to do it as your guest. Let people know that, “We are in our very busy season and we want to provide the best service to you possible, therefore, we are scheduling appointments”, and there you go…you have an appointment. If they buck and ask for a guest pass instead of scheduling an appointment, then you will respond by saying, “Yes, we do have guest passes and I can leave one for you. However, they are $25 per day. If you would like to be my guest, which is by appointment only, then there is no fee. Which would you prefer?

 

Practice these 5 tools consistently and you will close more sales, shorten your sales cycle and create more guests that turn into members for the months to come. If you would like 5 more tools to create a great January, February, March and April please join Karen in a free webinar hosted by Matrix on January 18 at 2p MST. To register please click on the following link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1741224376624596482

Karen WoodardKaren is President of Premium Performance Training in Boulder, Colorado and Ixtapa, Mexico. Karen has owned and operated clubs since 1985 and now consults and trains staff throughout the world on sales, service, management and leadership. These services are offered on-site, online and through her books, manuals and DVDs. Karen can be reached at karen@karenwoodard.com or 303.417.0653.

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