Sales is so important to your business’ success. After all, membership dues are your bread and butter. That is why Jason Linse, the founder of The Business of Fitness, believes all clubs should have a sales-first culture.
“You can shout at me at the top of your lungs that it costs more to find a new member than it does to keep a current one, and I will agree,” said Linse. “Then I will tell you that no matter what you do, you will still have attrition, and if you don’t wake up every day and think about finding new lives to change, your sales will eventually drop, you won’t be able to pay the rent, and 100 percent of your members will no longer be your members.”
Of course, Linse advised paying attention to customer service, but to never let sales fall to the wayside. “You can put a ton of energy and resources into something as simple as a weekly member newsletter, check-in calls, training staff to smile and help, and you will still lose members to economics, low usage and relocation,” he said. “Focusing first on sales, even if only by a slight margin over service, will keep your business moving forward and prevent it from falling back.”
Ethan Smoorenburg of Anytime Fitness in Lafayette, Louisiana, has a counter narrative to Jason Linse’s, stating that customer service should instead be the No. 1 priority, over sales. Why?
Reason #1: Customer Service Increases Retention: “Using people as resources for members is an overall victory for everybody. Value is added to a facility, and members will stay long term when they can seek guidance through a caring staff. Compete with an experience, not a price.”
Reason #2: Customer Service Creates Brand Advocates: “Providing gold-standard experiences for members creates opportunities for them to promote your facility to their favorite people. Consistency in service creates consistency in sales.”
From Lisa Groft, BS, ACSM-certified exercise physiologist at Baptist Milestone Wellness Center.
From a Trainer’s Perspective: “When possible, make sure the clients in the group are close to the same fitness level. Programming will be much easier and have a better flow. Also, if you have someone in the group who is not as ‘fit’ as the others, it could slow the progress of the group down.”
From a Manager’s Perspective: “Small group training often requires open floor space. If possible, provide areas within your facility that don’t have too much equipment or machines. Take a look at your facility and consider reducing the amount of machines that you have and open up the floor space to allow the trainers to get creative.”
From a Trainer’s Perspective: “During the sessions, try to keep the topics of conversation geared toward fitness and nutrition. Make sure you clear it with the clients ahead of time that they’re okay talking about their personal goals in a group setting. They can help hold each other accountable if they know each other’s goals.”
From a Manager’s Perspective: “When choosing trainers to lead small group training in your facility, choose those who are charismatic, energetic and able to think on their feet. Small group training is a totally different dynamic than one-on-one, so the trainers must possess specific skills to be able to keep their groups on track.”
Success in small group training is all about differentiating the experience from other group formats. There are three key areas to look at:
People: leverage hungry, passionate, sociable and fun trainers to deliver the experience.
Spaces: create specific areas that are welcoming and efficient.
Programs/workouts: it’s not about the “props” you use, it’s about how your staff leverage them to create “ah-ha” moments and emotional connections with clients.
Ryan Damon, Vice President Global Sales, TRX
“Facebook is a pay-to-play platform, no question about it,” said Regos. “Incorporate custom audiences and video ads in your paid advertising strategy to achieve better results. Make sure you are thinking mobile first with every single post you create. Use Facebook Insights to analyze your activity on a weekly basis and adjust your content strategy accordingly.”
“Instagram just changed the way images will be displayed in your newsfeed,” said Regos. “They are moving away from showing you everything chronologically, to displaying the images they think you will be most interested in (a la Facebook).”
With this in mind, Regos said it’s more important than ever to create and post images that your customers will engage with.
“The engagement rate will determine how many people see your images and videos,” she said. “Test paid advertising on Instagram that is currently available to small businesses. Alternatively, develop your influencer outreach to increase your reach.”
On Twitter, it’s extremely difficult to grab consumers’ attention. “Tweets have a very short life span, and it takes time to constantly add tweets that provide value,” said Regos. “Look into tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you manage the constant flow of tweets necessary to stay present on the platform. To get the most out of Twitter, engage with people instead of just sending out status updates and use it to listen. You’ve got to be in it to win it.”
According to Regos, LinkedIn is the place, particularly for small businesses, where you can establish yourself as the expert.
“First, establish your presence with a LinkedIn Company page, then grow your followers and finally, share content they are interested in,” she advised. “The hardest thing for most businesses is to grow your followers. Start with your employees and then convert your customers into followers.”
Regos also said to be sure to add a LinkedIn Follow button to your website and email signatures. Also, “Participating in LinkedIn Groups will increase the reach of your company page,” she added. “Experiment with LinkedIn ads, as you can get extremely targeted on the platform and reach the right audience.”
“The latest research from Bloomberg, Jan 2016, shows that Snapchat nears Facebook levels for daily video news,” explained Regos. “In addition, Snapchat users are engaged with 65 percent of them uploading photos to the platform daily. With 76 percent of millennials using Snapchat, small businesses need to look into the platform if they have the resources for it.”
Regos believes other platforms still take priority over Snapchat for small businesses, but it’s a good option if you’re trying to reach younger audiences. “Try contests, behind-the-scenes peeks, coupons and new team member intros,” she said.