The membership sales department's role is to get and keep members. Following are a few tools for your club to implement to do just that.

  • Review your membership sales staff job descriptions

    Rather than focusing just on new sales, your reps should develop an ongoing relationship with the membership pool, which means making regular calls to invite members to club functions, update them on programs or inquire how the club is serving their needs. Reps should make member calls daily and they should be trained to handle prickly situations that might arise during the calls. Reps also should attend all club functions as an ambassador to further develop relations with members. If your membership reps become defensive when you implement these tools saying they are too busy, then consider adding additional reps. By implementing these changes, referral sales increase because your members are being taken care of and they know to whom to refer their friends.

  • Implement dollars from day one

    Dollars from day one is a retention tool that includes referral prospecting. The first day of every month each membership rep should call all the members they signed up the previous month. For example, on Oct. 1, the rep will call all the members he or she got started between Sept. 1 and Sept. 30 (see the sidebar). This call allows you to stay in touch with every member you started at the club, as well as discuss referral opportunities with them if appropriate.

  • Schedule MBWA two times a day for 15 minutes each

    MBWA, coined by management guru Tom Peters, is an acronym for Management By Wandering Around. As managers of member relations, membership sales staff need to be out in the club talking regularly with members. By doing so, they create new relationships. The benefits? Getting to know a larger number of members, finding out what members are thinking, informing members about club happenings, and increasing referral opportunities. Keep these pointers in mind:

  • Avoid talking to the same people. Introduce yourself to those you don't know.
  • Set a goal for the number of members you will meet.
  • If you are not good at remembering names, keep a notebook handy and write down the names of the people you spoke with and a little bit about them.
  • Have a list of topics, such as upcoming classes, prepared to discuss to encourage conversation.
  • Recognize when a member does not want to talk and gracefully close the conversation.
  • Do not ask members you do not know for referrals. Build the relationship first, then work that into another conversation down the road.
  • Hit all areas of the club.
  • Remember, your goal is to get and keep members. The membership rep starts the relationship and needs to maintain it. These retention tools will increase your club's retention, as well as membership sales.

    Karen D. Woodard, president of Premium Performance training in Boulder, CO, is an international author, speaker and consultant. Karen provides on-site marketing, sales, service and management training and consulting to clubs. She can be contacted at 303.417.0653 or Karen@karenwoodard.com.

    Monthly Phone Checks

    The first day of every month membership reps should call the members they signed up in the previous month. The conversation should sound like this:

    MR: Bob? Hi! This is Karen from the club. The reason for my call is that I wanted to make sure you are finding everything and that you are enjoying the club. How is the club working for you?

    Bob: Oh man, I love the club! It's the best thing I've done in a long time. Thanks for checking in on me.

    MR: My pleasure. I just wanted to make sure you're comfortable and being taken care of. We talked about a lot of things when you joined and I want to make sure we covered everything. I don't know if we talked about our member thank you program. Each month we have a gift for our members who refer their friends. This month the gift is a fleece vest — you may have seen it in the lobby display.

    Bob: Yeah, I did see that. It is pretty cool. How do I get one?

    MR: It's easy. All you do is refer a friend who joins this month and it's yours. The promo goes until the end of the month so I wanted to give you plenty of time in case you wanted to get involved. Is there anyone you'd like me to call for you and extend an invitation to the club courtesy of you?

    Bob: Yeah, I have a few buddies that would be interested. Their names are…and their phone numbers are.…

    MR: Excellent Bob! I will call them and let you know what happens. And please, if there is anything I can do for you in the club or if you have any questions, let me know.