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Supplements are a $30 billion industry. However, a lot of those dollars are being captured by national retailers and online outlets versus gyms.
According to Chris Page, the co-founder of S3 Supplement Success System, there are a number of reasons why clubs struggle to sell supplements — the main of which being a lack of education by club staff.
“Staff may be uncomfortable with their lack of education in supplements or they have a false sense of knowledge of supplementation,” explained Page. “This may sound harsh, but the unfortunate reality is personal trainers and those with nutrition certifications simply are not exposed to supplement education as part of their curriculum.”
As a result, Page said the responsibility lies with clubs to put an education program in place that brings all staff up to speed on the products they sell, the benefits those products provide and the problems they solve.
“For example, probiotics increase beneficial microbiome, which in-turn help to improve nutrient absorption and decrease digestive bloat,” said Page. “Bad gut bacteria are linked to virtually every disease that ails us, which is a great reason to build pre and probiotics into all our nutritional programs, but we’ve found very few facilities carrying these good bugs. Probiotic sales in the U.S. are nearly $40 billion, that is equivalent to all other supplement sales combined.”
For Page, having staff who are well educated on supplements, take ownership of the profit center and buy-in to your club’s overall mission is key to success. “You must have a staff that lives and breathes your mission, vision and core values,” he said. “They must understand your ‘why,’ the benefits, and exactly how your supplement program marries to all your other program offerings. Get these pieces only half right and the results can be financially rewarding.”
In addition to educating staff on supplements, Page said it’s key to have an education program in place for members as well. He suggested a dialed-in system that takes members on a “value-ladder” 90-day journey.
Just like any new program you bring on, Page explained maxing out the full potential of supplements as a profit center takes time.
“Since 70 percent of adults consume supplements on a regular basis, set your expectations for 50 percent-plus for total customer buy-in,” continued Page. “Imagine the revenue generated from supplement sales if you increased from 2 to 50 percent? And, like any new program there will be a time and money investment to build a system from scratch, develop a staff education program and customer value-ladder, implement the program, adjust and re-implement.”
As a former health club owner with his wife, Page knows the value of a solid system for supplement sales first-hand. “When we owned our health club, it took us 3 years to develop, implement, re-develop and re-implement,” he said. “But we increased our customer buy-in from less than 1 percent to over 70 percent, ultimately generating 34 percent of our net profit coming from our supplement program.”
Follow his advice, and you may crack the code to profitable supplements as well.