Anatomy of a Successful Shop

Some operators would argue that the pro shop is a pain in their assets. And, yes, the pro shop can cause headaches. Operators with pro shops have the responsibility of placing all the orders. They face the risk of potential theft problems. And they hear complaints from members looking for apparel in a size or color that isn't in stock.

Still, despite this, I say a pro shop is a necessary service for your members. Furthermore, a pro shop adds to your revenues, and increases your name recognition through apparel sales.

Three years ago, when we opened Results, the Gym in Washington D.C., our pro shop was the typical afterthought, offering a standard Fruit of the Loom T-shirt with our logo for $12, a similar pair of basic shorts for $15. We also offered one style of workout gloves and a few other odds and ends.

Realizing that our inventory and selection were definitely limited, we were open to member requests and would try to sell almost anything a member asked for. Now, three years later, our pro shop generates more than $60,000 a year in apparel sales and offers just about anything a member may need.

Getting creative with your inventory can be financially rewarding. We started offering things people requested - things you wouldn't normally associate with a pro shop. Day-to-day items such as socks, batteries, razors and locks really made our shop a place that members could rely on.

After realizing that the shop was a source of convenience to the members, we started getting creative. Our inventory expanded to CDs, books, gym bags, fanny packs, and lots of styles of clothes. The easiest way to learn what your members will buy is to listen to their requests.

To get these creative items, you must create alliances with local stores so you can buy these products in bulk. True, you may not be able to price these items as low as regular stores, but the convenience you offer will play an active role in the sales.

In addition to getting creative with products, you should get creative with your marketing. This can increase awareness of the shop. Hold "One Day Sales" and "Sidewalk Sales." Why? Some people have blinders on as they go through their typical daily routine. By putting the pro shop in a different place, "One Day Sales" and "Sidewalk Sales" can get these people's attention.

Another creative marketing idea is to print limited edition shirts and shorts, and have your staff wear these clothes on the floor. Limited edition clothing could include a different type of tank top, a pair of shorts that isn't the same color as the shorts you normally sell or even a shirt with a saying on the back that doesn't appear on anything else you sell.

A limited edition is usually cut off at 200 to 250 pieces and fetches twice what you would charge normally for a similar product. Let members know that these products are limited, and they'll go faster than Beanie Babies.

You can also get creative by giving new members a coupon good for 25 percent off their first purchase in the pro shop. Let them purchase as much as they want with that coupon.

There are two ways to increase your apparel sales. Offer the clothes at a very low price or offer really cool clothes, such as Calvin Klein ribbed tank tops. We do both! We offer one style of tank top made by Anvil for $12. We offer another style tank top made by Calvin Klein for $20. Both have our name and logo printed on the front and both sell.

Don't limit your logo to apparel. Put it on gym bags, fanny packs and water bottles. That way, when you sell these products, you make money and get some free advertising. Getting your name out on the street increases name recognition, which leads to greater success.

While a screen printer can handle apparel, you'll need a separate printer to put logos on those other items I mentioned. I've found that you can get these other items just by looking for companies in airline magazines. Then you can print your logo on just about anything and watch your sales take off.


Mission Statement

What's the master plan for a pro shop? Results, the Gym lives by this mission statement:

The pro shop should provide a service, and increase revenue and name recognition.


Security!

Doug Jefferies recommends that you spend some money on a good video camera and monitor system to protect your pro shop. Keep the security monitor very visible - such as at eye level near the check-in counter, so people see it when they enter the club. That way you'll keep your products - and profits - safe from theft.