“Bad member experience? Don’t blame the staff!”

By:  Karen Perlmutter, Executive Vice President, Smart Fitness

Well, at least not until you gather all the facts.

Ninety-nine percent of individuals I talk with each day talk about training their staff to implement better service standards – inevitably because they want their members to have a better “member experience” in their facilities. Of course, we all want to ensure our members are happy. But could you be focusing too much on the trees and not enough on the forest? In other words, in-person interactions may be more important to your members, but their experience with you starts from the first click on your website, and doesn’t end until your member cancels their membership. (Maybe not even then.)

Let me explain.

Members interact with several service “touch points” from your club, starting from discovery (which could be online) to in-person club visits, where the parking lot can affect a potential customer’s experience. Yes, the parking lot! In fact as our expert Blair McHaney explains in Smart Fitness’ Member Experience Course, your client begins formulating an opinion about you and your service from the very first interaction with you. Was your website user-friendly? Were they able to find your location easily? Was the parking lot too small? Did a member witness your employees parking close to the front door while they were forced to park far away?

The devil is in the details and as our Member Experience course explains, your customer touch points are everywhere.  Arguably, these non-human interactions with your club are just as important as in-person interactions. The cumulative data a member sees, hears, smells and (potentially) tastes all reinforce an opinion they are formulating about your club and your services.

It’s easy to blame a bad member experience on poor human interaction. That’s not to say it doesn’t weigh significantly on a member if they aren’t treated respectfully and with their “expected” level of service from your staff. (And, as Blair explains, there’s a danger in being satisfied with an “expected” level of service.) However, maybe it’s time to pay attention to the entire spectrum of the member experience, starting with taking a blind tour of your club starting from searching for your club online all the way to exiting the parking lot. Look at the details, see what brand new eyes see and then decide where you may be missing the mark.

smart fitness logo

Karen Perlmutter
Executive Vice President

karen perlmutter headshotKaren Perlmutter heads up business development and public relations for Smart Fitness. In this role, she has tremendous dedication to all facets of business development, public and industry relationships, professional development, and all account sales/management. She is an industry ambassador of customer retention and follow-up.

Previously, Karen was with The National Academy of Sports Medicine, where she acted as the National/Corporate Accounts Manager and Corporate Event Coordinator for 14 years. With 17 years in the corporate health club setting, she is dedicated to help improve the success of health club owners and operators in achieving their professional goals to change lives every day.

Prior to health and fitness, Karen worked in the dental field for over 15 years. Karen adores spending time with her two daughters, Allie and Jenna, who are both passionate about fitness, as well as being with family and friends. She is passionate about exercising, helping others, anywhere tropical, dancing, music, sushi, and always keeping a positive mindset. Her favorite quote is, “Happiness is a city located in the state of mind”.

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“60” IS THE NEW “90”

By:  Bill Jackson


For years the health & fitness industry has allowed receivables to age for 90 days before sending accounts into collections, but times have changed and the more sophisticated operators are starting to move accounts into collections at day 60 or sooner.

First Credit Blog

When referring to someone’s health and well-being, we always hear the old saying “40 is the new 30” or “50 is the new 40”, because as times change we all adjust our thinking and perception of age. Plus,  I’d like to believe we are all much healthier here in 2015, and living more active lives than the generations that came before us.

But, while thinking about age, and adjusting our perception of what we always believed to be true, I quickly try to figure out why the health & fitness industry has maintained a 90-day threshold as THE AGE” to refer past-due members to collection agencies. It just does not make much sense anymore! Of course you want to give EVERYONE ample opportunity to update their payment method if they are in fact a “soft decline” and did not purposely fail to  pay. But, members who truly care about their membership should only take at most 30-45 days to contact and help repair their payment method. In fact, most of the “paying” members offer new payment information within the first 15 days of their initial decline.

So, why do we still keep spinning our wheels and wasting time, money, and resources for the entire 90 days? My only guess, is that most gym operators are afraid to send someone to collections earlier than 90 days because they want to give every member plenty of time to pay and retain their membership, RIGHT?

Did you know that Collection Agencies well versed in the Health & Fitness Market have built MEMBER RETENTION into the collection process? In reality, a large percentage of the members that are contacted  by  a  collection  agency  express real interest in retaining their membership, and a good agency will help facilitate the relationship and help get that member back for you. Agencies are re-engaging members who purposely walked away from the gym with no plans of returning until the account was properly handled by a reputable collection agency partner. So, don’t be afraid to use a collection agency…, we know how to handle every member properly, and we actually work as a true MEMBER RETENTION tool. Just make sure you do your due-diligence and select an agency that fully understands YOUR business and understands the value of your members.

First Credit Blog pic 2

There are collection agencies out there that don’t know what they are doing when it comes to collecting health &  fitness member accounts, but the agencies that do have a lot of experience are trusted and valued business partners to the gym owner.

Almost all member accounts are fully resolved within the first 0-45 days, so from day 46-90 members just sit there becoming less collectable and the members become much less likely to return or reconsider their membership. The sooner accounts are sent to a collection agency the better. Look, if a member does not pay after you or your first party billing company contacts them, then they are just avoiding you until you move on to the next level and allow a 3rd party collector to step in and inform the member that you are serious about resolving the matter.  It does not seem fair at times, but consumers will continue to completely ignore the original creditor forever. But, once a 3rd Party Collection Agency steps in, a consumer quickly realizes that the debt is not going to just disappear, and they are much more willing to resolve the account and pay what is owed.

In summary, I think it is important to review your current A/R and analyze exactly what your return is from day 60-90, and if there is not a lot of activity (which is what you should anticipate) make a change, and start sending accounts to collections earlier. Sending accounts into collections on day 60 is the trend we are seeing from many gym owners, and it certainly makes a lot of sense.

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About First Credit Services, Inc. (FCS)

Established in 1993, First Credit has been the Health & Fitness Industry leader in Collections. We have always maintained a position as the Agency dedicated to staying ahead of the curve and delivering the most effective and compliant collection service the industry has ever seen.

Although times have changed, and the federal regulations have become so much more stringent, we have stayed way ahead of the game and developed standards which have allowed us to maintain a high level of service and trust within the industry that  our partners and clients deserve.

Bill JacksonBy: Bill Jackson
To learn more about First Credit Services Contact: Bill Jackson – Vice President wjackson@fcsbpo.com
371 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854
Office: 1-800-606-7066, Ext 2019

Original: FEBRUARY 11, 2014 / Updated JANUARY 3, 2015
60 IS THE NEW 90 – Health & Fitness
First Credit Services, Inc.

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5 Workouts to Give Your Cardio Equipment a Breather

By:  Erin Gray

January, February, and March is an awesome time of the year to work in the fitness industry! We are lucky to have the opportunity to motivate, inspire, and provide accountability to all of our new members.  Unfortunately, it is also a buzz kill at this time of the year, too.  The increased foot traffic is awesome, but the over-filled gyms can cause an increase of complaints.   Not to worry, we are here to help!

During your busy months, here are 5 great workouts that your members can do while they wait for their favorite treadmill, trade out for their normal machine cardio routine, or cut down on the time they need on an elliptical.  Feel free to print these off, post at your training check-in desk, and let your members know so they can get a great workout, even if “their machine” is taken.

Workout #1

What you need: Plyo Box

5 rounds

  • 12 Tricep Dips off side of box
  • 12 Box Jumps or Step Ups
  • 12 Push Ups with hands on box or a challenge with feet on box and hands on the floor

Complete all 5 rounds as quickly as possible.

Power Systems Feb. Blog compkettlebell

Workout #2

What you need: One Kettlebell (go for a moderate-to-heavy weight, starting lighter for beginners)

15 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible)

  • 10 Two Handed Swings
  • 10 Cleans on right side
  • 10 Goblet Squats
  • 10 Cleans on left side
  • 10 Round the Body Passes (go the opposite direction on alternating rounds)

Workout #3

What you need:  One Battle Rope

4 Tabatas, taking a one minute break after each completed Tabata, makes for 16 total minutes of work (20 seconds of all out effort, followed by a 10-second recovery, done 8 times to equal one Tabata)

  • Tabata #1: Double arm waves
  • Tabata #2: Jumping Jacks with Rope in each hand
  • Tabata #3: Alternating waves with alternating backward lunges
  • Tabata #4: Slams

Workout #4

What you need: One Jump Rope and one mat

20 Minute EMOM (Every minute on the minute)

Complete the number of reps within 60 seconds. If you finish before the 60 seconds is up, rest. If you do not finish before :60, then stop that exercise and begin the second exercise.

Odd Minutes: 100 Single Unders (aka Jump Rope Rotation) or a challenge of 50 Double Unders

Even Minutes: 10 Burpees

Workout #5

What you need:  Hanging bag or free standing bag, boxing gloves, and one mat

15 Minute Cardio Fight Gone Bad

1 minute of each exercise. You’ll be moving continuously from one to the next without taking a break. After all 5 exercises are complete take a one minute break. This equals one round.  Complete two more rounds.  Train like a fighter does!  Treat each minute as though it is the only minute.

  • Exercise #1 One minute of Alternating Jabs on the bag (Go all out!)
  • Exercise #2 One minute of sit ups
  • Exercise #3 One minute of Alternating Upper Cuts on the bag (Keep going all out!)
  • Exercise #4 One minute of Jump Squats
  • Exercise #5 One minute of Alternating Hooks on the bag

With these workouts, your trainers will have a chance to shine and show their expertise with your clients. Giving them options not only helps break up their routine, but also opens up the paths of communication between trainer and client. Win-win! And, if you’re uncertain about some of these moves, you can search for any of them by name on YouTube for a quick demo (hint, hint).

About the Author: Erin Gray is the Education Coordinator at Power Systems, Inc., and is an industry professional with over seven years of experience. When she isn’t helping Power Systems employees learn about the latest and greatest products on the market, or working a trade show, you can find her researching all the latest fitness trends, teaching a cycling class, or doing CrossFit.


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“Software Doesn’t Sell Memberships. People Do.”

By:  Jason Abucejo

Jason Abucejo_headshotI can’t tell you how many times someone has approached me at a trade show looking for software to help sell more memberships. In a digital age, more and more people are forgetting that while technology does help us streamline our work it will not do the work for us. And while club management software can be a tremendous tool in your club the bottom line is – software doesn’t sell memberships, people do.

If there’s one thing we cannot lose sight of in our industry, it’s that personal touch and connection are the mainstays of a service-driven industry. You can automate all the emails, text messaging, Facebook posts and referral programs you want but without setting goals for each of these mediums and outlining a definitive plan of action for your sales people, the messages you send out will get lost in the white noise of today’s overloaded, tech-driven society.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all phenomenal sales and retention aides, but if you aren’t holding yourself and your staff accountable and are relying on a “set it and forget it” mentality, you’re getting complacent. Automation is a great way to get your information out but how you follow-up on the success of those deployments makes all the difference.

For example, if you’ve initiated an email or texting campaign, are those messages getting through? Are they going to spam? Are you tracking responses? How are you handling the prospects you get from these campaigns? Do you have a system in place?

If you’ve got a prospecting system with your software, you HAVE to keep working it. Make sure you are entering prospects; setting up next actions; connecting personally with the prospects; practicing a timely following-up; offering incentives, and asking for the sale.  All too often we see people entering prospects and not following through, leaving them to wonder why their conversions are low.

The reason I am bringing this up is that we recently rolled out our new online Pass-A-Friend® member referral program, and we’re having a dialogue with our clients about how to best use the program. Passes are emailed to members and members can give them to friends and family. The reality is that it takes more effort than hitting the “send button” to convert the passes to sales. Clubs have an easy, low cost method to bring in an exponential number of prospects, but a definitive sales action plan for the program will make ALL the difference in conversions.

An analogy I like to use has to do with the gadgets people buy and wear to track their fitness levels, as well as the apps people download to track nutrition and workouts.  You, more than anyone else know that these gadgets don’t lose weight for people. They don’t make them healthier. They are just tools being used to help the process along and assist in gauging the effectiveness of their fitness and eating plans – most likely outlined by professionals like you. Systemization is great for tracking results, but it won’t get butts off couches. The people using these tools have to make the commitment to put in the work, and our industry provides the facilities, follow-up methods and staff to help them get the work done.

Establishing a routine process for all marketing mediums is essential for creating the cornerstone of your sales plan. The software is an exceptional tool, chocked full of reports and data helping you gauge where your prospects are coming from, what they’re interested in, and so on. Use that data to your advantage. If you initiate an email campaign from your software program, talk to your members and ask them to keep an eye out for promotions, or member referral incentive programs in their inbox. Track the overall success of the campaign and use that data to tweak future marketing efforts.

Get to know your software program, and find out what reports give you the best data to develop marketing campaigns. Use the tools you have to track and measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Here at ASF we are always willing to talk with clients on how to best use these features. Don’t hesitate to ask your provider, or tech vendors for advice on how to best track results.

The bottom line is that we are in the people business. Whether you are using our software, another platform, text messaging services, email programs, or any other tech-driven marketing tool. Use the tools to get your message out. This “behind the scene” automation was developed to make your job easier – to sell memberships. The real deal starts when those prospects take their first step into your club. There’s no automation in the world that replaces a genuine, well-trained staff member who understands that every touch point in the club relates to a member experience and engagement. Those touch points can lead to greater sales, retention, revenue and profit.


Jason Abucejo is the Senior Executive in Sales at ASF Payment Solutions. He can be reached via email at Jason.abucejo@asfpaymentsolutions.com or by phone at 800-227-3859 ext. 738.  Visit www.asfpaymentsolutions.com for more information on the products and services from ASF.

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“Run Your Personal Training Department by the Numbers!”

By:  Rick Mayo

“What gets measured, gets managed”- Peter Drucker

 Rick Mayo Headshot 12.4.14Assume for a moment that we were on a call today to discuss your personal training department. I would begin this call by asking you a few key questions about your personal training numbers. These questions would revolve around the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that we use to measure progress (or lack thereof) of your PT programs.

Let’s look at the 4 KPI’s that you should measure each month and why:

  1. Memberships sold- This one is easy! The PT sale begins at the moment the potential member walks through your doors inquiring about membership. We consider the new member as an opportunity to sell training. The more memberships we sell, the more opportunities we have to convert those new members into personal training clients.
  2. Book Rate- How many of your new members were booked for their first appointment with your Director of Training (DOT)? The DOT is the person who is responsible for selling PT. If we can’t get them to the DOT, we have no shot at convincing them that they need more than a slow walk to nowhere on the treadmill and the inner/outer thigh machine to reach their goals. How do we improve our book rate? First, we measure. We make sure that our membership sales team understands that not only are they expected to sell memberships, but they are also accountable for the book rate. Now, we have to give them the proper tools to make this happen (training centric tour, gift to the PT dept., tech solutions around the scheduling process sand etc.) and then we have to hold them accountable to our target percentage. The number is 70%. So, 70% of all new members must be booked for the first appointment with our DOT.
  3. Show Rate- What percentage of the booked members actually show up to the appointment with the DOT? Our goal is again 70%. This is 70% of the members that booked. Basic math tells us, based our 70/70 formula, that half of all of our new members will show up for their appointment with the DOT. How do we increase our show rate? Confirmation email, confirmation text message and a phone call from the DOT the day before the appointment. There are many tech solutions available that can automate most of this process
  4. Close Rate- So we’ve done our job at membership and booked a time for the first PT appointment and our tech solutions and confirmation process have delivered the new member to the DOT. Now, what solution, if any, did we sell to the member? If we run our scripted first appointment correctly, we should expect to close 35% of our first appointments into some layer of our PT programs. Again, the simple math tells us that this final percentage is around 17%. We like to be a bit more aggressive and shoot for 20%.

This means that if you run your processes correctly, 20% or 1 in 5 of all of your new members should end up in one of your PT layers. If this does not happen, measure and adjust.

Keep in mind: Don’t just measure your numbers to see where you are having problems. Also use them to pinpoint what you are doing well in the process and reward those that are responsible.

Rick Mayo


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“Think Like An NFL Football Team Owner: Plan The 2015 Season”

By:  Rick Caro

Rick CaroMany of you are pro football fans and support a local team. My apologies to Angel and Willy Banos, who have been without a home team for too long. Others of you are Fantasy Football fanatics. Our Canadian neighbors have their own Football League. We recognize that an NFL team owner has a few practice games and then a 16-game season to qualify for the play-offs.

The preparation and planning for that season is analogous to what each Gold’s Gym owner should go through to plan for success. It starts with a review of the senior executive staff (the Head Coach and Key Offensive and Defensive Coordinators). It is critical to have the right leadership in place. A review of the physical plant and equipment (i.e. the stadium, the parking lot, the concession stands, the bathrooms, the seats) to maximize the member experience. Then, the owner has to review his financial resources to be able to operate for the season. Then, the rest of the coaching staff is reviewed and trained (the Assistant Coaches, scouts, videotape analysts, trainers, medical staff, etc.). Pricing is reviewed and changed (including all types of pricing–tickets, parking, concessions, programs, sponsorships, executive suites, special events and rentals). Marketing and sales are then studied to sell seasonal tickets, limited game packages, individual games, etc. Systems are studied and how they impact the customer from security to check-in to ushering to one’s seats to concession purchase, etc. Maintenance and housekeeping functions need to be thoroughly examined, especially with respect to restrooms.

Finally, clubs need to create playbooks for each of their regular 16-game opponents, with equal attention to both offense and defense. This is analogous to a Gold’s Gym 12-month detailed budget with written back-up assumptions. Obviously, it is not a re-hash of 2014 as the opponents change, the marketplace has changed and all of the above considerations need to be taken into effect.

The webinar on Thursday, January 15th at 1PM (EST) will help prepare you to succeed in 2015 and make you eligible for your own Super Bowl.

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“Good Deeds …”

Ginger Winter Pic bioIn addition to the spirit of the season and wishing everyone a happy holiday, we would like to share what some of our SPN’s are doing in their community.  We hope you enjoy reading and sharing their stories.

Happy Holidays!
Ginger Collins

By:  Steven (Buck & Affiliates Insurance), Seth (Matrix Fitness), Patty (Power Systems) and Tim (Precor)


From Steven Meisner:

Buck & Affiliates Insurance is proud to announce we are supporting a wonderful Veterans Group, Burning Boots Trail Club that is ran by Veterans for Veterans. The purpose of the Burning Boots Trail Club is to provide wilderness excursion trips and activities for Veterans, including those who could otherwise not afford, or participate on their own.  The Burning Boots Trail Club was founded by two army Veterans Kellie Richardson & Steven Meisner. There activities include, but are not limited to, backpacking, hiking, mountain climbing, snowshoeing, canoe/kayak events, cabin/camp retreats, hunting, shooting and fishing. Please visit their web site today www.burningboots.org and learn more about this great group of Veterans. Should you want to donate as to their cause you can follow this link https://secure.piryx.com/donate/rb95nKhX/Burning-Boots-Trail-Club-/ like we did.


From Seth Robinson:

As part of an overall 30 Days to Wellness program at JHTNA (North American Matrix brand headquarters), employees participated in donating money to the Toys for Tots campaign. An upcoming holiday party will feature a food drive for the local food pantry, with JHTNA matching all employee donations of $1 per pound of food!

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From Patty Daugherty:

Power Systems, Inc., in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley, has granted over 100 Angel Tree wishes to the Tennessee Valley’s neediest children, this past week. Wishes range from much-needed clothing and special needs gifts, to other wished-for toys. Julie and Bruno Pauletto, Owners of Power Systems, take pride in what the company is doing, saying “we are so blessed to be able to give back to our community. Every child should have their wishes come true at Christmas time.”

Precor Full Colour Logo 10-17-13

 From Tim Block:

Precor believes in the overwhelming returns of sharing. The company is active within its community within Washington State during the holidays to spread joy. For the past 14 years, Precor has participated in a holiday giving with Secret Harbor, where employees bring in an unwrapped toy for a foster child. The employees bring in canned goods to donate to Northwest Harvest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to hunger relief in Washington.

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