How to Maximize Your Membership Sales

For Gym Operators

How to Maximize Your Membership Sales

Membership sales can make or break your business. Fortunately, there are some proven strategies to maximize your efforts.

Here we share best practices for gathering prospects and converting them into loyal new members.

The following is a summarization of an education session from the 2015 IHRSA convention, produced with full permission from IHRSA. The full-length video is available for purchase at ihrsastore.com.

About the Speaker

Tim Forrest is the President and Founder of Zone Fitness Club in Tampa, Florida. He has over 20 years of experience with executive fitness management. He is a recognized speaker who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Business.

There are three key club cultures that affect sales performance:

  • A monthly sales game plan.
  • Providing a club experience that wows members.
  • Selling solutions and value.

Developing a Game Plan

Maximize your membership sales by mapping out a complete plan for your club. Identify your “lead buckets” or lead generation sources to draw in sales. With a coherent plan in place, sales reps and other staff will find purpose, produce results, and move you closer to your larger goals. Motivation is critical for your members and your team. If they know exactly what’s expected of them, they will be more productive.

Do you have a sufficient number of leads to achieve your monthly sales goals? It is important to have an ongoing batch of prospects filling your lead buckets.

Lead Buckets

Referrals account for about 50 to 70 percent of the leads in a month.

Increase your referral rates by extending guest passes to members’ friends and families. Follow up with new members to ask for their guest list update. What gets tracked gets done, so keep track of how many referrals you achieve this way.

Corporate Organizations

Offer a "corporate partner of the week" program where you partner with a different company each week of the month. Offer health screenings and corporate membership cards for their employees. Offer wellness programs to the employees of the partner companies.

Former Members

The fitness business is a people business. Be nice when members leave and offer them options such as freezing their accounts temporarily for a discounted rate. Make monthly calls and send follow-up emails. If you present options and follow up with them, it is likely they will rejoin your facility.

In-Club Events

These events are fun, create a sense of belonging, and bolster culture. Host social events, parties and member appreciation days. 

Retail Partners

Partner with retail companies and restaurants to distribute guest passes to your facility.

Residential Passes

Generate leads from community involvement. Give new residents free guest passes to your club.

Medical Partners

Partner with physicians and therapists to offer free assessments with your personal trainers.

Community Events

You can gain leads by attending community expos or health fairs.

Marketing Campaign

Utilize direct mail, print ads, and online campaigns such as social media and email. Keep your social media campaigns light and casual, and avoid too many sales offers. The point is to engage and have conversations with members and prospects. 

Best Practices for Building a Game Plan

Select a campaign or theme to bring your efforts together to strengthen your brand.

  • Coordinate dates in the month to host events.
  • Set goals for the number of leads and sales expected from each lead bucket.
  • Adopt a consistent image and message for your campaigns to strengthen your brand and make it easily recognizable in your market.
  • Attach expiration dates on offers to create a sense of urgency. Share the plan with your staff.
  • Develop one month at a time.

What Do Members Want?

Gym members usually have at least one of three core motivations:

  • To lose weight.
  • To get in shape.
  • To improve health.

Members want results. They need motivation and a great experience in your facility. Provide this and it will separate you from other clubs, impact sales, and improve retention.

Create Raving Fans

Your reception area is the first point of contact for members and prospects and therefore should have the most friendly and helpful staff.

Greet members and prospects, explain the process of joining your club, offer tours, discuss goals, and make sure they leave with solutions.

New member onboarding is critical. Offer initial fitness assessments with personal trainers and make sure to follow up with new members.

  • Provide outstanding customer service during peak hours. All staff should be visible during a customer service power hour. Your sales reps should be on the floor building relationships, handing out water, energy bars, and other amenities, which define your club and culture. Create a "wow" experience where members feel appreciated and recognized. Have a fitness coach on the floor during prime time to help members.
  • Keep a cleaning team on duty. Clean during the day so your commitment to a tidy and sanitary facility is apparent to members.
  • Social events are your opportunity to help people become engaged and form relationships with each other and staff.
  • Communication is vital through social media, email, newsletters, and even calls by management staff to welcome or follow up with members. 

Sell Solutions and Values

Guests need to connect with you as a club before they spend their money. Identify their interests, goals, and the issues that brought them in. Ask questions on the tour about how they like to work out, their fitness goals and why those goals are important to them. Paint a picture of how they can achieve their goals at your club.

Sales Process

Meet and greet with a needs analysis. Your staff should be dressed in professional attire and have a helpful attitude. Identify interests and goals.

  • Tours demonstrate your equipment and features, and how they can help achieve members' goals.
  • Features and benefit presentations create an opportunity to engage guests with questions. Talk about rates, benefits and key features within your club.
  • Invitations to join your club should use a direct closing message such as, “Are you ready to join today?"
  • Professionally overcome objections. Be relaxed, repeat, empathize, make a statement that matches the needs of the guest, and offer a solution when you ask the potential member to join the club again.

Common Objections

“I want to think about it.” Isolate exactly what they want to think about. “When you go home to think about it, what exactly will you be thinking about when it comes to getting started?"

“I need to speak with my spouse/family member first." Offer them a guest pass for their family member to try the facility.

“If you sign up today, I can offer your spouse/family member a two week guest pass so they can enjoy the benefits of our club and decide if this is the place for them."

Power of Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is contacting specific people with their email address, telephone number or via mobile marketing. It includes Internet marketing, social media and personal selling. It is regarded as one of the best marketing tools in the fitness industry.

Fitness businesses usually operate within a community. If you can get people from the community directly into your database and communicate with them specifically, you gain value. Direct mail enables you to measure the response very quickly. Writing copy is a valuable marketing tool. Writing content for Facebook, Twitter, direct mail, email marketing, as well as persuasive content for your website is vitally important.

Email marketing is also a valuable tool for a profitable marketing campaign. It allows you to tailor specific offers to your target audience, and deliver content accordingly. You can link to videos and content from your website, offer guest passes or other offers in order to generate leads.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is everything you can do to get people who might be interested in your product into your sales system. One great marketing tool is the guest pass. It is a powerful way to get people into your facility, give them an opportunity to try your products, and then add them to your sales system to target them as leads. The only goal of guest passes should be to get a prospect in front of you to market directly to them. Create some urgency and awareness by advertising your guest passes.

Internet Marketing

Get enough of the right people to visit your website and create leads. Get those people to take the required actions such as signing up for special offers. Use the website to generate leads so you can target them. Consider using paid listings, such as Google Adwords.

Profitable marketing for a fitness business overview:

  • Make sure you have a firm marketing structure.
  • Make sure you have a great product.
  • Think strategically about your marketing and your target market.
  • Invest heavily in a sales system.
  • Use direct marketing to build a database and generate leads.

Equipped with a solid game plan for acquiring and converting prospects, you should see your membership numbers soar to new heights.

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