This past August, I was fortunate to spend time with many of our industry's up-and-coming leaders while teaching at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) Institute for Professional Club Management in Wellesley, MA.

Most of the leaders, from the regional hospital manager to the enthusiastic new general manager to the visionary entrepreneurs, all had passion and enthusiasm at their core. In a group where the average person's experience level was at least 12 years, a passion for learning and enthusiasm for our industry stood out.

Most people wouldn't connect those attributes with a job, but employment experts say they are exactly what are needed for a successful career. Gregory D. Hayes, executive director of the career services center at the University of Dayton, says, “Passion is important because in any job, you have to be persuasive.”

Show your passion at your clubs by talking about your experience, education and skills with a clear love of what you do and want to do. Club owners want to hire people who feel as passionately as they do about their work. Enthusiasm helps make connections with others, whether we're selling a membership or training a new employee. It changes a lackluster salesperson into a top producer, a sluggish employee into a team leader and a tense environment into an energized workplace. I observed this first-hand in this group of more than 60 industry veterans, 90 percent of whom clearly demonstrated the drive, motivation and energy to continue to help our industry grow.

Remember that enthusiasm produces — and inspires — confidence. It puts a spring in our step and in our communication with others. We like to be around people who are enthusiastic. Extend that enthusiasm into your organization, your club and your services.

Keep asking yourself these powerful questions: What do I get fired up about? My job? The growth of my business? My services? Mentoring others? Watching employees develop and flourish?

Answering these questions might take some deep thought. The answers are critical. Connecting with those deep passions wakes us up, makes us feel fully alive and attracts others to us.

We might suspect that we really don't like running the business, or that we, at heart, think the guy next door has something better. Remember that most of the new growth in this industry will come from non-exercisers looking for help and guidance — not just access to a piece of equipment. The IHRSA study “Why They Don't Join” states intimidation is still the No. 1 reason that non-exercisers do not join a health club. The study says that members want to focus on maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle rather than on an “ideal” body weight or type. We need to make exercising in our facilities fun.

As an industry, we have an opportunity to affect everyone's life in a positive way. We need to position our clubs as a fun, vital health resource for our entire community. Consumers will spend more money today than ever before but only when they see value. People are willing to pay higher rates only when they understand how different one club is from all the other clubs out there and appreciate the value.

To successfully sell value instead of price, we need to have proven systems of sales, service and retention in place that can positively affect long-term growth. To communicate this to our community, we need passion and enthusiasm. Provide your customers an experience that is consistently positive and full of enthusiasm, and your business will thrive.

Ed Tock is a partner in Sales Makers, a marketing and sales training consulting firm that has worked with more than 1,000 clubs and won the IHRSA Associate of the Year award. He can be reached at 800-428-3334 or eddie@sales-makers.com.