Unfortunately, no quick fix for improving health club sales exists, but there are some things you can do when you find sales lagging. That was the case at a club I recently visited where a new general manager had just been hired. The club had lacked leadership and direction for an extended period of time. Although it was making some sales, the situation was chaotic, morale was low, customer service had struggled and the pressure was on to produce. To turn things around, the focus had to be on behavior, leadership and what could be done to have a quick impact. Here is a snapshot of what the general manager needed to do, and perhaps what you should do if you find yourself in a similar situation:

  1. Catch people doing something right. You should always be doing this, as it is important to reinforce the behavior you want to have duplicated.
  2. Create an environment that allows a motivated person to act. Help your staff focus on their assigned job—nothing more, nothing less. You must get your sales staff focused on making sales. Good sales fix everything, or at least, the other things won’t seem to take on quite the same level of importance.
  3. Simplify the job. Reduce the number of moving parts to get things done. Do you really need one more piece of paperwork or one more meeting?
  4. Don’t let the staff feel your pressures or frustrations. This is one of the keys to creating the proper environment. As far as the staff is concerned, you have everything under control, and expectations for success are high.
  5. Conduct regular training sessions for each department. Education and accountability will start to happen, but they will never be important to your staff until they are important enough to you to schedule and do regular training and follow-up.
  6. Play the hand you are dealt. As a general manager, you must perform under the set of rules given to you by the club owner. Get in the habit of seeking solutions and not talking about how the owner is wrong.
  7. Become a resource center for those around you. One of the more common behaviors I see is pushing, pushing and pushing for performance, but seldom taking the time to really help someone understand how and why things are done a certain way.
  8. Stay focused on the goal of your staff. If you help your staff get what they want, you will get what you want. Yes, we know everyone wants sales, but your staff also wants respect, to feel valued, to have their voice heard, good communication, etc.
  9. Do not lose sight of your super objective. Just like you do in the membership sales process, take the time to know and understand your own super objective. Why is this job important to you? Once you understand that, you will be able to look at each issue that comes up as a pathway to accomplishing that super objective. Remember, the super objective is the emotional reason something is important. Do not make it entirely about money because there will never be enough money.
  10. Keep it fun. In order to really be successful in the fitness business, it should be your passion. Keep it fun, and it will rub off on others.

Now, go get your club back on track.

Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars and workshops on the practical skills required to successfully build teamwork and market fitness programs and products.