Sales: Three Mistakes Gym Owners Make When Hiring Sales Staff

Your gym needs to be system dependent, allowing you to plug in new employees when others quit or fail. But you also need to plug “good” employees into your system. And finding good employees isn’t as easy and simple as placing an ad, screening a few resumes and offering the job to the first candidate whom everybody likes. The process can be time consuming and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be. Let me write about three of the most common mistakes gym owners make when looking for sales staff, and what you can do to make sure you do it right.

Mistake number one: Poor job ad. Too long, too short, too vague, too many bullet points, I’ve seen it all. Your goal is to attract the most qualified candidates, so before you write the ad, sit down with all leadership staff and discuss what “qualified” means. Do you require experience? Okay, state it in the ad. Do you require a college degree? Put that in the ad. And what about hours? Most sales jobs in gyms are not 9 to 5. This does make it harder to find the best employees, but it is a necessary aspect of the position. So, put it in the ad.

“Fun and high energy fitness center seeks enthusiastic salesperson who enjoys challenges.”

That’s a pretty good headline when seeking applicants for a sales job at your fitness center. But in the description, include some details.

Mistake number two: Low pay. This is guaranteed to attract applicants who are too young, and/or applicants who aren’t exactly the cream of the crop. The old-school way was to pay a low base with a high commission structure. This eliminated some folks because they didn’t often trust gym owner’s predictions of the amount of sales that they would make. Also, gym owners would not want to pay a high amount of guaranteed money, fearing that the salesperson wouldn’t work hard to get memberships.

But here’s the deal in modern times: People who are comfortable earning the majority of their money from commissions are not looking to sell memberships in a gym. They are looking for pharmaceutical and medical sales type of jobs. They will bail when they find that job. The happy medium is to pay a good base wage and moderate commissions. A good rule for wage is $3.00 more per hour than local minimum wage. Local minimum wage is what the front desk clerk at the nice hotel earns or the Starbuck Barista. Email me at with some basics about your gym and I will reply with my recommendation for membership salespeople’s compensations.

Mistake number three: Inconsistent leadership. Nobody wants to be micromanaged, but that doesn’t mean salespeople won’t respond to “gentle” leadership daily. One of the most important things you can do with your staff each day is to meet for 15 minutes one-on-one. This meeting is to discuss how yesterday went and how tomorrow is going. Take it seriously, be positive, offer constructive feedback and uncover areas where your salespeople need coaching. Once per week, make this meeting an hour and do some training. Role play tours, calls, asking for referrals, etc.

A fourth mistake that I often see is keeping an employee around that isn’t producing and/or has developed a negative or bad attitude.

So if you write a proper job ad, pay your employees well and meet with them every day to discuss production, your membership sales will increase, your employees’ attitudes will improve and you will be less likely to see an employee dip their production and/or develop a bad attitude.

Keep changing lives.


1 Comment

  1. Leonardo

    July 14, 2015 at 6:07 am

    There as here! We have the same problems with sales teams in Brazilian gym clubs even knowing (or owners don’t know that?) that they are the core of the business, people who will be crucial to members decision whether or not to buy a membership.
    What I’ve suggested to them here as a sales consultant is to offer good commissions – owners would not bet on good salary and moderate commissions.
    Nevertheless, they hardly find good excellent employees and my last advice to them is to train, train and train their teams on how to successfully sell memberships.

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