Powerful Pro Shops

webFor health clubs that execute them properly, pro shops can be powerful tools for not only establishing a brand, but also growing it.

According to Derek Gallup, the SVP of fitness and retail for UFC Gym and New Evolution Ventures, the UFC Gym Store, UFC Gym’s pro shop, is an extremely vital component of the company. That is because the UFC Gym Store serves as a source of branding for UFC Gym that can’t be found elsewhere. “When people are having fun in their gym, getting results and feeling good, they are proud to wear our products,” said Gallup. “People will ask about UFC Gym when they see branded gear. It is a powerful branding and marketing tool for us.”

World Gym’s pro shops are also important to its branding. After all, World Gym’s famed gorilla has been almost as recognizable as its name since the company’s founding in 1976. Unsurprisingly, World Gym’s gorilla T-shirt is one of its best sellers. “People like the logo and the brand, so they want to support it,” said Wes Hodgson, World Gym’s gateway partner for Canada.

However, branding isn’t the only benefit of executing a successful pro shop in your facility. Pro shops can also serve as a profit center for any club. “It’s essential to have a diverse set of items in our facilities that generate non-dues revenue, and the pro shop is a great addition at each of our locations,” said Erin Clark, the executive assistant for Mountainside Fitness in Phoenix, Ariz.

To maximize profitably, selling an assortment of products that appeal to many members is key at Mountainside Fitness. “We have items to fit every members’ needs, from apparel to headwear and gym bags,” said Clark. “Merchandising is important and we like to make our pro shop more than the place to go when a member forgets their socks — this is a place they come for the latest trends and quality fitness wear.”

A partnership with Under Armour has helped solidify Mountainside’s goal of selling both trendy and practical fitness products. “Under Armour was a great fit for us originally because it’s an active brand that also has a style component to it,” explained Clark. “Mountainside is conscious of price point when it comes to our offerings, and with Under Armour we can provide a combination of less expensive, basic pieces and higher-end specialty pieces.”

At UFC Gym, capitalizing on the club’s MMA-founding spirit has proved to be fruitful. According to Gallup, MMA products don’t only appeal to the clubs’ elite athletes. The UFC Gym Store boasts products suitable for a diverse family. “In the UFC Gym Store customers will find a vast assortment of MMA products from UFC Gym and the UFC, along with popular, high-quality gear for everyone from beginners to experienced MMA athletes,” said Gallup. “Members and guests will also find great workout apparel and accessories. Because we have so many kids as members, we offer a wide variety of MMA and workout items especially for kids.”

Just like any other profit center, clubs that treat pro shops as such (instead of just as an after thought), will see higher ROI. “Pro shops are a revenue source for us, and we need [them] to be successful,” said Hodgson. In fact, pro shops at each World Gym location are expected to generate about a quarter of a million in revenue per year. As a result, World Gym invests in product quality, staff training and marketing.

To encourage its pro shops’ success, World Gym’s staff is given some of the responsibility. “I think the big thing for us is our staff have daily goals,” said Hodgson. “[Our]staff needs to be motivated to sell the product. A good rule of thumb for our pro shops is [to generate] $1,000 per day (per location).” In addition, the World Gym staff is encouraged to wear World Gym-branded products that can be purchased in its pro shops. “That’s worked well for us,” continued Hodgson.

For Gallup, it makes sense to sell products, such as TRX bands and yoga mats, that members are already buying elsewhere. “Studies have shown that 80 percent of people with home workout equipment are gym members,” he said. “Offering these products provides a great opportunity to teach our members how to take fitness with them on the road, or use in their homes, when they can’t make it to the gym. The most important message is that our members get results with our help and motivation.”

However, it’s important to pay attention to what is selling well, and what’s taking up valuable shelf space. “It’s important you get an accurate reflection of what is selling, what isn’t, and to manage your loss,” said Clark. “It’s also crucial to plan your ordering so you aren’t stuck with large amounts of back stock or items that don’t move. Knowing your customer really helps when it comes to ordering for your location — knowing their style, sizing, etc.”

Club management software that allows for POS tracking and reports can be extremely helpful in terms of monitoring the success of specific products. “All items are entered into our computer software that allows me to see what items are selling, and what items aren’t,” said Clark.

Just like any profit center that sells products of any shape or size, pro shops must be protected. “Protect your business,” cautioned Gallup. “Unfortunately, shrink (loss of product) is part of the retail game. Understand which products have the highest shrink and take steps to combat it. For example, put a door chime on the drink coolers to alert your team members that someone is grabbing a beverage. The number-one way to reduce shrink is through great customer service. No one wants to steal from people who are nice to them and provide stellar service.”

Despite the risk of thievery, pro shops are great for branding and additional revenue. “If I can make margin on a product, and also get members to wear my logo, that’s great for me as a club owner,” said Hodgson. “Our members are buying these products elsewhere, so they might as well buy products that have our logo on it.”

By Rachel Zabonick

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