There are two things I’d like clubs to know about pro shops:
1. Pro shops and retail walls enhance club culture. A clean and organized retail wall that offers plenty of member conveniences at low prices, tells the members you care and are thinking of them — not just about profits.
2. Pro shops and retail walls should be about the member. In other words, the products offered should be about conveniences. For example, if your club has people that sweat, then offer towels. If you have audio jacks, then provide headphones. And if you have a tanning bed, then offer lotions and eye protection wear.
Many clubs view the pro shop only as a profit center, instead of a retention and referral station. The big picture, as well as the big profits, is in referrals and retention. For this reason I view the pro shop as another tool that helps clubs retain and refer.
A club can help retain members using the pro shop. Give items in the pro shop as tokens to members that have gone out of their way to help the club. For example, if you notice a member doing positive acts in the club, such as helping others, cleaning equipment or picking up weights, then give them a few “club bucks” that can be used to buy pro shop items. The member will love being recognized, and in turn, will love their club. Not only will this person stay a member longer, but they will also refer others.
There are other ways pro shops can help with referrals. For example, use the items on the retail wall as giveaways in exchange for referrals. Post a message on the club bulletin board informing members that if they bring the names and phone numbers of five interested friends then they will earn a T-shirt and headphones. Another idea is to give away items in exchange for seven-day passes. The message might read: “Encourage your friends to make fitness a part of their lives. Bring a friend in on a seven-day pass and earn $7 in club bucks to be spent at the pro shop.” Be creative and turn the pro shop into a valuable asset.
To encourage members to pay your pro shop a visit, I think it is important to have a pro shop or a retail wall that is close to the main entrance. If your member forgets headphones, a towel or tanning goggles, then he or she will be reminded before their workout.
Paul Vandiver is the President of Cardio Headbuds and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901.606.2580.
There are three things I’d like club owners to know about pro shops:
1. You can improve retention with a smart merchandising strategy. According to the 2012 IHRSA Trend Report, 60 percent of members stay at their health club to get results and are more likely to cancel if they aren’t reaching their goals. A simple club retention strategy: offer resources to help members achieve their goals. From techy fitness devices for increasing daily activity to low-tech journals for tracking progress, offer a product assortment that appeals to a variety of members. Members who don’t see results quit, so give them the tools to reach their goals — and in the process, your club will meet yours too.
2. Support efforts in the gym by bringing nutrition into the fitness equation. Clubs have an opportunity to impact their members’ health by bringing in vendors to sample health foods, offer products for proper portion control, and educate them on pre- and post-workout nutrition. Popular products like protein shakers, supplements and snacks are top-sellers in any pro or smoothie shop. However, consider stocking products like meal management bags or food scales to ensure members are eating healthy at home and on-the-go.
3. View the pro shop as a service, not a revenue stream. While incremental spending by members beyond monthly dues adds to your bottom line, try implementing a merchandising strategy that offers them what they need — not what you think will sell. For a busy member who is always rushing to the gym, the odds of forgetting essentials are fairly high. Selling items like workout socks, headphones, water bottles, razors and hair ties provides members with what they need, when they need it.
There are three common mistakes club owners make with their pro shops:
1. Marketing predominately to men. Women make up 85 percent of consumer purchases and given that they make up half the market for club memberships, gyms need to be smart about merchandising products for women. While big tubs of protein powder may stoke your serious male gym buffs, those products may intimidate a woman. Consider retailing products that help women feel more at-ease at the gym, such as a yoga mat for class, cycling shoes to try indoor cycling, or apparel that will entice her to sport her new gear.
2. Offering the same products that you can buy anywhere else. “Showrooming,” or shopping in-store and comparing prices online, is now standard practice. By offering commodities, your customers will shop purely based on price. Offer unique products that add value so they shop frequently, versus bypassing products they can get anywhere else (for less).
3. Marking products up too much. Retail is an incremental spend and should be looked at as a service for your members, not a way to reel ‘em in and rip ‘em off! It’s worth offering products at a competitive price and getting slightly lower margin than training your members to think your products are overpriced.
Angela Manzanares is the founder + chief fitlosopher of fitlosophy, inc. and can be reached at email@example.com or 714.716.6107.