It is summer, and for centers with aquatics programs or those located in vacation destinations, that may mean business heats up. But for many centers, it means a slowdown in business as prospects and members opt to exercise outside.
However, that does not have to be the case. If your center provides services that keep people coming back and if your sales team has a full pipeline, your summer will sizzle with happy members. Here are five strategies that can help you improve your summer sales:
1. Give them a reason to join. Does your membership team jam in calls so that they all sound the same and have the same poor outcomes? Do they sound like this: “Hi, Bob. It’s Bonnie from Club B. Just wanted to see if you’re still interested in membership. No? OK, well I’ll keep in touch in the future. Thanks anyway.” Instead, encourage your membership team to tell prospects about special programs, such as better back classes, parenting programs or a boot camp, that prospects might need. By asking about the problems prospects have and finding programs that your club offers that could help them, your sales team can give prospects a reason to join and members a reason to come back.
2. Offer big special events monthly. Offering special events each month brings people together for social activities. Try offering a mega-master group exercise class. Bring in top instructors and advertise the classes to the public. Offer free child care during the classes. Have a few family picnics or outings for members and guests. Create clubs-within-a-club for the different types of members, i.e. golfers, yoga aficionados, endurance runners, masters level swimmers, etc., and have quarterly open houses for each group to which guests are invited. Have a (low-fat) ice cream/frozen yogurt social for members, guests and prospects – families one day, maybe just for seniors another day.
3. Create a pipeline of leads. Stay in touch with prospects that do not join. You can do so via newsletters, Facebook, email and phone once each month for years. Keep the relationship going, share educational health information that is important to them through a library of articles that your center should have in place. Send a birthday card with a special offer even if they have not yet joined.
4. Track every detail of a prospect. Keep track of contact information, interests and goals for each of your prospects. In addition, keep track of every contact you have with the person, paying careful attention to the last contact, and tasking yourself for the next contact. Sales managers should be looking at last/next actions to ensure their membership teams are unlike the 95 percent of sales people in fitness centers who follow up once or not at all with a prospect.
5. Listen, coach, review reports for success. Listen to recorded incoming telephone inquiries. See how a question is handled from reception and is handed off to membership. Then, listen to how your membership person responds. Your membership person should have a long list of potential questions at the ready to ask the prospect for more details about why he or she called. Review production reports daily. If there are few telephone inquiries, check referrals, outreach plans and your marketing strategy. In most centers, 50 percent of leads should come from external marketing; the remainder should come from outreach and referrals. If telephone inquiries are not translating into appointments, coach your membership person to create a sense of urgency to get people in. And if people are coming in but not joining, have someone come in to “mystery shop” your club and tell you how the membership person did. You could also videotape a presentation so you can see where the membership person needs to improve.
Chances are good that you already have some of these ideas in place, but if your club is sweating meeting its membership goals in the summer, strive to implement all of these recommendations. A well-managed and executed membership plan with these components will create more success for your sales this summer.
Bonnie Patrick Mattalian is president and owner of the Club and Spa Synergy Group, which is comprised of selected industry consultants. A recognized industry veteran with more than 20 years of start-up and operational experience in more than 100 clubs and spas across the United States and around the world, Mattalian is renowned for improving fitness center performance through innovative and customized operational, sales, Internet marketing and ancillary revenue generating strategies. She is a sought-after speaker with training techniques for increasing staff motivation and production. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.