More Good Ideas from Club Industry Columnists

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The tour of Club Industry columnist presentations at CI 2010 kept right on rolling along Thursday with Eddie Tock and Thomas Kulp, who shared the spotlight for "Sales and Retention: The Key Dynamics to a Successful Club."

Tock, who regularly writes for our Business Builders department and is a partner with REX Roundtables, says he's still learning about this industry every day through books, seminars and webinars. Everybody can take 30 minutes out of their day to read and learn, he said.

The industry has gotten away from execution and accountability in the past 20 years, Tock said. He added that many companies are still trying to sell the "magic pill" idea that will solve everybody's problems regarding exercise—to no avail.

Tock had some good quotes and formulas for attendees to bring back to their clubs. "Don't sell failure" was one of them. Results = knowledge + execution + consistency was another. The real sale begins after members join, Tock said.

Tock cited Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, who cut expenses by 5 percent every year, no matter how good a year the company had. He also cited author/speaker Jeffrey Gitomer, who says more sales are lost by poor questions to prospects than by price structure.

Kulp, co-owner of Universal Athletic Club in Lancaster, PA, CEO of Members4Ever and a Step by Step columnist, said his club's mission statement is simple: success through involvement. Kulp said he has few rules but an awful lot of guidelines, and he wants his staff to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Kulp recounted a great exchange on what not to say when a prospect asks about the purpose of an enrollment fee.

Staff member: "It's part of the pricing structure."

Prospect: "Fine. Then I won't pay it."

In other words, staff members should tell prospects exactly how their enrollment fee will be used, especially if it involves perks, such as additional personal training sessions.

Kulp also quoted a former Club Industry columnist, Sandy Coffman, who says prospects often ask club staff: "Do you have other people like me here?" Universal has both fit and unfit people in the club, Kulp said, and members tend to stick with members who share their same capabilities.

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