Tired of Marketing That Just Flat Out Doesn't Work and
Wastes Your Valuable Time and Money?
I met Tom about 2 years ago. We bumped into each other at my local club during a workout. Tom's one of those "regulars" you see all the time. Keeps to himself. Doesn't talk much. He's just serious and intent on what he's doing.
When you look at time you'd say he's a pretty together guy. His weight is under control. He's in shape and I think he works in the area and comes in about the same time I do, 6:00pm before heading home. While I had seen him around quite a bit, we never said more than the obligatory "Hey, how's it goin'?" But that day two years ago was a huge turning point.
Tom always worked really hard at the gym. He moved from piece of equipment to equipment, jumped on the treadmill, hit the abs machine, pumped a little free weights. You know guys (and gals) like Tom. They're all over your club. It was a good thing he was around that evening. I was on a bench doing presses and got "stuck". Real stupid move on my part and luckily Tom saw me and gave me a hand. It was the last time I ever benched without a spotter.
We got to chatting. He was telling me how frustrated he was. Over the last year he saw no improvements. He was even working out longer and harder than he had in the past. With no success. Everything was the same or worse - strength, endurance, speed...everything. I then asked him a few questions like "What's been your strategy? Your plan? Are you doing anything new to get better results, faster?"
What Tom Told Me Next Is the Secret to Your Success
Tom said "I've tried everything. You name it and I've given it a shot. I go from one thing to another hoping that it will be what I need to take it to the next level." He paused, and then sighed "I'm frustrated and tired. I have no strategy or plan. You see me around the club; I just go from one thing to another hoping and praying to see improvements. Everything that used to work no longer does. It sucks."
I remember that moment as if it were yesterday. It brought total clarity to not only fixing Tom's problems, but also to exactly what club owners want and need to dominate their markets and be the best club in their towns. What Tom and I talked about next has been applied to every successful club I know. It is the secret to marketing and financial success for health club owners across the country.
Tom's Solution is YOUR Solution
Tom only needed a few things to fix his problem. He was too close to the situation to see it himself. It took 5 minutes with me (after he saved me from getting crushed on the bench!) to open his eyes and get him on the path to success. Of course, I didn't realize it at the time. But Tom thanked me just a few weeks later when I saw him again at the club.
Tom and I talked about a few things that lead to success:
1) You do only what's TESTED and PROVEN
2) SYSTEMATIZE it so it's simple and repeatable
3) TRACK your progress - incremental improvement
leads to exponential growth
Revealed: The Solution for Those Who've "Tried It All!"
That conversation with Tom was very revealing. It pointed out and clarified exactly what club owners need to be successful and to dominate their markets. If YOU want to make more money, save time and do the things you really want to do, once you're headache is cured, then you'll need to do what Tom did. You'll need to take a stand and make a few changes.
Here's exactly what the winners in the industry do:
^ Integrate all of your marketing and advertising
^ Start with your first points of contact - front desk, sales team and website
^ Eliminate trial and error marketing experiments
^ Use only what's tested and proven to work in the past
^ Systematize and streamline everywhere (KISS)
^ Implement Lead Generation Systems
^ Systematized your Sales Tools and Closing process
^ Get a Member Retention Plan in place
^ Create Up-Selling systems
^ Get it working automatically
You can build it yourselforhave it done for you. You'll know what's best for you. Do your research and trust your gut. It's usually right!
But don't be like Tom. If nothing changes...nothing changes. Do it now for your financial and emotional success.
The outside perception of your health club is what your current members, past members, prospects and the local community thinks about your health club. Perception is reality. Right or wrong doesn't matter. If you are perceived to be a run down dumpy gym, and you're really a state-of-the-art fitness center, you will get the results of a run down dumpy gym.
In fact, we venture to say that the crux of all marketing problems, including yours, can be wrapped up into one simple statement:
Most health clubs' outside perception
is NOT an accurate reflection of their inside reality.
The inside reality has to do with all the things your health club does that makes
you valuable to your customers from a product, operations, and management standpoint. The "inside reality" is about what you do and what you are that allows your club to perform better. It's what gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The reason we call it the inside reality is because the reality of what you do, and the customers' perceptions of what you do, aren't necessarily the same. These two words - reality and perception - are vital to this process of winning in business.
The inside reality encompasses everything you do and everything you are that makes you good. It's all your skills, your people, your expertise, your service to the customer-before, during and after the sale-your systems, your operational procedures, your commitment to excellence, your passion, and the way you conduct your business. You might think you're actually better than you are, or, you might not be giving yourself enough credit for the things you do well. Regardless, there is a reality of how valuable you are to the marketplace based on these things. That's what we call the inside reality.
If you asked your members why they joined your club, they'd tell you something quantifiable, specific, and instantly obvious. They could point to specific advantages
of joining your club and say, "That's why I'm a member here; that's why I refer my
friends to come here; that's why I'm a loyal customer of this place; that's why I don't mind paying more here; that's why I keep coming back." That's your inside reality.
Inside or Outside?
You may need to innovate your club so there's a reason for people to join. Many
popular gurus do a great job of teaching you how to do those things. But here's the
problem: Just because you've achieved "WOW!" doesn't mean customers are going to flock to your business. You still have to market your business. And that's where the "outside perception" comes into play.
The outside perception is how customers and prospects perceive your company. The outside perception is developed by all interactions somebody has with your Health Club. Customers will draw on their past buying experiences to form their outside perception. The industry on a whole has a negativeperception. Most of it is not the fault of the health clubs, but more so the members fault. Most prospects have belonged to other clubs. When they join and stop showing up, get frustrated, they blame the club.
But even if your customer service is great and your members love you, none of it
means squat to a prospective member if (1) they don't know you even exist as an option, or (2) they can't distinguish your value because of your inability to market yourself properly. They perceive that you are no better or worse than anybody else.
Marketing ineptitude creates a chasm between your inside reality and your outside
perception. To your buyers, they are totally different. Take your pride and stick it on
the shelf for a minute. Regardless of how good you are or how good your "inside reality" is, your prospects can't figure it out based on your marketing. You appear on the surface to be just another place that sells fitness. The prospect will more than likely be apathetic at best, resistant or hostile at worst.
Most health club owners know what their customers want, but can't communicate their "inside reality" to the outside world. They can't take their WOW and lead prospects to the conclusion:
"I would have to be an absolute fool to join anywhere else, regardless of price."
Think about your health club. Your ability to know what your customer wants is
what has made you as successful as you are now. You have good classes and/or memberships and you fill a market need. You've studied your market, your prospects and your business for years, and you have solutions that add value to you customer's life. Why, then, aren't you making all the money you deserve? Because you're an expert at what you do, not a marketing communications expert.
Advertising executive Rosser Reeves once said, "To be effective, you've got to make the product interesting, not just make the ad different." That's something too many of the books, gurus, and agencies don't understand. Visit an ad agency or a media sales rep and they'll say, "Just bring me any product or service and a big bag of cash, and we'll guarantee you that we'll spend all of it." They put all their creative effort into making the ad different, with no thought for the inside reality of the product or service.
It's A Balancing Act...
You've got to work on both sides of your business -the inside reality and the outside perception. If you concentrate all your efforts on the "inside reality" but you don't know how to market properly, you set yourself up for frustration and failure. You'll be pulling your hair out trying to figure out where your money vanished to, or you'll feel like the "best kept secret in town."
Or, if you're focusing all your efforts on the "outside perception," you may have bought some advertising or direct mail books, or you hired a PR or ad agency, or enlisted a media sales rep. Now you'll have customers, but they'll hate you because you're selling them a lie! You must balance both sides of your business.
Most health clubs could stand some improvement in both areas, but they struggle most with the outside perception. In reality, they have a good club and offer good value, but they don't differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Look at your marketing and advertising. Is it instantly obvious what makes you better? Can you show what makes you unique and different and how prospects should judge your offer, what factors they need to consider when deciding, and how you provide value? If not, you have some work to do.
Ensure that your outside perception is an accurate reflection of your inside reality and convince prospects that you are the obvious choice.
Okay. Picture this. You just came off a month of high activity, new members, and a pop in sales after a slow August. Now what. Most clubs see a drop in sales after a nice burst for of a list of reasons:
It's getting nice outside;
It's crummy outside;
It's vacation season;
The ______holiday (you fill in the blank);
People are going away;
Kids are home from school;
It gets dark earlier.....
You've heard them all. Better yet, you've said them all. Here is the bottom line. If you think this month will be slow or if you think this month will be busy; you're right.
Speed of the Boss is the Speed of the Crew
You don't need 17 excuses on why it is slow, you only need one. Just pick the one you like and tell it to your staff and we're done. See you next month!
So Why Are You Still Reading This? Oh, I get it, you must be one of those 10%-er's. The cream of the crop. The owner who wakes up everyday with a knot in your stomach. The type that got into this business to do something special. To be someone in the community. To bring value to people. To make a difference on this earth. Well join the club. I'll keep going then...
Be a Leader!
People NEED to be led. We are all born dependant. Some people stay that way and others choose the tougher road. If you accept the fact that you are already a leader, because of that choice, then you can accept the fact that people will follow your lead. Good or bad, they will follow. So here are the rules:
Set a Goal: Make this month the best month EVER! Make a Plan: Spend 10 minutes (right now not later) being creative Get Your Whole Staff on the Plan: You will need EVERYONE to break a record. Create an Event: (Sell it like it is the invention of toilet paper) Commit To It For a WHOLE Month: (Remember speed of the boss...)
Now some of the 'leaders' who are reading this, clicked off and said "I get it" and they are off manufacturing the greatest month in their history. Others are still looking for more direction and help. Others are saying "What the hell does this have to do with marketing?"
The 5 steps above are the same five steps we ingrain into our clients. Substitute this current month with the next 12 months and you'll get the picture. But you say, "I don't need you... I can do it on my own."
True. But you won't. It is a lot of work and time to go from good to great. Great leaders are great at delegating. If you could get someone to do this for you, month after month for a year, you'll go from good to great.
If you follow baseball, a good hitter ends the year with a .280 batting average. A great hitter ends the year with a .300 batting average. The difference? 12 singles over 600 at-bats. That is mind blowing. A dozen little singles are the difference between good and great. The .300 hitter takes the most batting practice - everyday. The .300 hitter hires extra coaches and trainers to push him, motivate him and help him stay focused.
It is okay to be just "good". The world needs a lot of "good" health and fitness centers. It is not as hard to be good and you're still better than most if you're good. But if you want to be great... You have to tune up your leadership skills and work smarter, everyday.
Managing is Not Leading
We have rolled out great systems in many health clubs of all sizes. Why is it the exact system has fantastic results in some, average in others and mediocre in others? The answer is leadership. Remember step number 5 above. COMMIT to it for a month. A leader commits. They go all in. They sell out. First in and last out. A manager doesn't. They say things like "I like it but my staff won't do it". You can lead a horse to water but you can't make 'em drink. (No, but a leader will figure out a way to make them thirsty).
The road to success has many disappointments, but the person who rises to the top is the one who NEVER gives up.
You Get One Chance to Make A
Great First Impression
Think of ALLLLLL the new people coming through your doors this week, hoping
and praying you can help them to get fit and lose weight for the Fall.
Where do over 90% of your prospective members first connect with your club?
Who gets the only chance to make that CRITICAL first impression?
Nope. It's your Front Desk Team. Most health clubs fill the position with someone who's credentials consist of nothing more than the ability to wake up early. Big mistake.
Every owner we speak with asks us, "Why is customer service so difficult?" or "Why are most people so bad at it when all it is, is just common sense?" It's a fact that front line employees in nearly every industry make between $6-$16 an hour. Yet you typically don't see many of these people flying first class, staying at five-star resorts, or driving a Lexus. However, you expect these same people to deliver world-class service to your members, who often experience these types of things. Common sense is relative to your life experiences. Often times the challenge is created when management assumesemployees know how to deliver great service in all situations when in fact, most front line employees haven't even experienced real, world-class service before.
That doesn't mean you are supposed to pay everyone $100k to perform front line duties. Nor does it mean you need only hire a certain class of people. The ability to deliver world-class service has everything to do with a person's "service perception." How I define service perception is a person's ability to recognize opportunities and exceed a customer's expectations, regardless of the circumstances. The key being "regardless of the circumstances." When an instructor calls out sick, the power goes out, or you are shorted staffed. It is then that the front line employees need to be able to think on their feet. It is then that one's true service perception is revealed.
We had the pleasure of starting up with a new client as soon as they returned from an over due vacation. They were raving to us about the service they received from this island resort. "We were treated like royalty!" they exclaimed. As soon as they returned to the health club they had a staff meeting to re-train their staff on customer service. A noble effort. The problem was they were trying to explain an experience, not a technique. Their great message fell on deaf ears. How can a person who vacations in a cabin understand the ability to make someone else feel like the most important person in the world in a 5 star resort?
There is a high-end hotel in New York City ,which has a database of every client who has ever stayed with them. When new client books a reservation, they begin to create a report of EVERYTHING they can find out about that person. The staff is then trained on WHO you ARE, before you arrive. If you book your room under the name Robert, they will find out what you PREFER to be called and you will be greeted by every staff member you pass with a very sincere "Good Morning Bob".
Health Club Retention is in Direct Proportion
to the Level of Customer Service Provided.
Granted, when selling memberships, customer service ranks very low on a prospects hot button list. But once the sale is made, renewals are tied in directly to customer service. If your membership is ready to expire and you feel like the 'invisible member' because no one even says Hello when you arrive, it is much easier to skip renewal and try out somewhere else. If you belong to a club where everyone knows your name, it is much more difficult to leave a place where you will feel missed.
It is that simple (yet, the hardest inside reality change you'll ever implement).
Find out what they want and give it to them.
There is Hope
In order to truly be world class, health clubs have to develop learning and training programs based strictly on service and soft skills that remove gray areas and personal interpretations. This is done prior to any training specific to the functions of the actual job. Club's must first settle on what their customer service training program should be modeled upon and stick to it. Why reinvent the wheel?
An example of customer service training is a Service Boot Camp, which may piggyback new employee orientation. New (and existing) employees should receive training manuals listing all the company's customer service standards, or "non-negotiables." All team members should be tested and required to get over a certain score before they are allowed to start training for their specific role and come in contact with customers. This training should be an annual requirement for all existing employees with constant refreshers quarterly, ensuring continued awareness of your company's world-class service standards.
Some of the BEST health club's in the U.S. spend as much money on staff training as they do on advertising. Why? It is much easier and cost-effective to get an existing member to last longer than it is to get some lazy slob to turn off the TV and join your health club.