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Conduct a Better Membership Tour Using the Peak-End Rule

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So, you have finally come to the realization that you need to improve your membership tour process, if you even have one to begin with. This likely occurred because you are not getting the results you want consistently. Your center probably has one or two “rainmaker” salespeople who seem to just be able to close more deals by what seems like magic, but the rest of the team is struggling. Likely your next step is to go online to find resources to build an improved tour.

If so, you’ll find there are a billion “experts” and conflicting pieces of information surrounding membership tours. So now what? Most managers just go back to drilling down on their teams about creating better rapport, sharpening price presentations, skillfully handling objections, etc.  And, your results will continue to lag. We end up blaming it on the competition, or some other factor that’s not really the crux of the problem.

Online I am often asked, “Where do I even begin?” Most centers do not have the budget to fly someone in to conduct multi-day workshops. Thus, without knowing anything more specific about a center, I will almost always recommend starting by utilizing the Peak-End rule.

“The Peak–End rule is a psychological heuristic in which people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.” – Wikipedia.

So, what does that even mean, you ask? It means if you conduct an hour-long tour, the customer will not recall the vast majority of it. This is known as duration neglect. Essentially, when the now hopefully new member goes home that night and tells all their friends about you, they are going to speak only about how they were greeted, what their favorite (Peak moment) or worst (Pitfall moment) experience was, and how you closed (aka invited them to make a buying decision today).

When you are looking to retool your process, leaders should start by working on…

  1. How the prospect is greeted at the front desk.
  2. Creating a peak moment during the tour and eliminating pitfall moments.
  3. How we encourage them to join and plug them into your new member experience.

The area some operators may struggle with is number two, “Creating a peak moment during the tour and eliminating pitfall moments.”

Have you ever toured LA Fitness? If you haven’t, I would recommend it. Nevertheless, you will notice that almost always, their cardio is on the second floor overlooking the first. They don’t do this because it just makes sense to put the cardio up there. They could just as easily keep it downstairs. Instead, LA Fitness does this because of the experience it creates — when they are on a tour with a prospective new member, they can stop there for a moment and just allow you to take in their entire kingdom. As you look down on this massive bustling center, you can’t help but be awestruck and excited to be a part of it. So, they don’t stop the tour there on accident. They don’t address how cool it is. But they know you are impressed and nudged just a little but closer to a yes.

The questions you need to ask yourself now are, “What is my peak moment?” and, “What experience on a tour can I deliver that will really create excitement in my prospect?” This will look different for different centers.

In a large facility, maybe it’s being on the second floor looking down at your pool. Maybe it is walking into a spin class that’s going on and having the instructor and everyone in class say hi in unison. Maybe it is introducing them to that trainer on the floor who will say, “Nice to meet you Jane Doe, once you are done getting signed up make sure to stop back over so we can get you going as soon as possible.”

Remember this when building out your tour model:

Not every experience needs to be amazing, as long as SOME of them truly are.

The first steps in the journey to a more perfect tour process begins by evaluating your greeting, assessing your close, creating the high moments and eliminating the lows.

Jason R. Stowell is the division director of fitness and wellness for JCC of Greater Pittsburgh. He is an award-winning fitness leader with over 20 years of successful experience providing strategic planning, talent management, and expert-level sales training in the health and fitness industry. Connect with him on LinkedIn here

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