If you have kids, you know the thrill they experience when you talk about going to Disney World. You know how enthusiastic they are when they beg to go to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal or to play in the ball pit. You may even remember being that little yourself and the same emotion and joys that sprang to life at the simple mention of either of these places.

We can create a similar thrill when our members think about coming to our fitness facilities. All it takes is a little LOVE. LOVE stands for leading, options, value and experience, as in leading the member, explaining their options, ensuring the value of your product and taking charge of their experience.

LOVE starts with your sales team, who must keep the following in mind:

Leading the member means staying in control of the conversation by listening and monitoring them so we can offer solutions that will lead to their happiness in your facility. We must keep in mind both an immediate and a longer-term focus by monitoring their faces, speech and body language to better understand I the specific questions or needs they want answered. We cannot treat, listen or give a tour to every member the same way, and we cannot close without connecting to them through a personal needs interview. Great salespeople connect with prospects and are able to lead them to solutions by analysis and not through coincidence.

Explaining options for members is the first step in getting them involved. Prospects look to us as experts who can fix their problems and lead them to the change they desire. We need to teach them that we are a resource for them without causing them to fear they will be sold something every time they speak to a trainer or staff member. Your trainers must build a relationship with members (even those who are not their clients) by offering guidance and by being approachable. By developing this rapport and trust with members, they will come to your trainers when they are ready for personal training.

Value is always key. We lose members when the value in their mind—not ours—falls below the monthly price of membership. When we build the value upfront and reinforce it on every visit, it eventually becomes like home utilities— something they cannot live without. Keep the value high and they will stay.

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Taking charge of the experience is the culmination of leading, options and value. Every month, ask new members what they expect from the facility¡ªand listen to what they say. By being interested in their thoughts and concerns about their experiences, you show that you care about them. And when you implement a change because of something they said, then you not only show them that you listened to them, but you also improve the experience for other members.

Many of our markets have changed during the last five years and will continue to change. Price alone is less and less effective for luring members. Prospects demand more from us. They want to know that you will solve a problem for them. They need to know that you have the resources to do so.

Because of these changes, the motivation of many sales teams must change. Instead of just focusing on closing the sale, they must focus on ensuring they hear the prospect and that your facility can meet that prospect's needs. It is about closing the right people every time.

These prospects are puzzle pieces picked out of the right box that will create a synergy between the company and the client. When we start to focus on the right customers, we increase the chance that they will become raving fans that become referral machines, which is one of the best ways to build successful businesses.

Walt Disney, founder of Disney World, and Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's, didn't create their empires because of what they physically supplied. They built them because they created experiences that were unique, special and thrilling to customers. The LOVE formula helps you create loyal, satisfied members that build business by in turn spreading the love.

That's what LOVE is all about in its simplest form. It is thrilling that customer and meeting their individual needs so that they recommend the experience to their friends.

BIO

Thomas Kulp, formerly the chief motivational offi cer at Universal Athletic Club, Lancaster, PA, is the director of Solution Consultants. He can be reached at 717-799-5155.