What a Difference a Tour Makes

Why don’t they join?

It’s no secret that in order to run a successful health club business you need to continually gain new members. Attrition rates have stayed steady for many years and we know that over half of members are gone within 6 months of joining your club. Therefore it is critical to constantly have new members joining the club. The key to gaining new members is understanding why they do and do not join. Do you know the number one reason that a member will not join your club? If you guessed price or location you would be mistaken! The number one reason prospects leave your club without joining is that they don’t think they will feel comfortable there – that they won’t be successful. Research tells us that one of the top things prospects want is a flat stomach. You don’t even need the research because the prospects themselves will tell you this in their interview. If you overwhelm them with all of the things they need to do to achieve this, how do you think they will feel? Perhaps like they won’t fit in there? That they won’t be successful?

A New Perspective

If a prospect walked into your club, told you exactly what they wanted and you showed them you have it, would they join? Of course they would! Let’s go back to our prospect who told you they wanted to flatten their stomach – they wanted to strengthen their core. Instead of talking to them about the diet and cardio, what if you said “That’s great. We have a dedicated area in the club just for this – it’s called the Core Strength Zone. Let me show you!” And then you take them over to a few fun and effective ab machines such as the Ab Coaster or Ab Solo, and show them how it’s done. Don’t you think this will take the tour in a whole new direction? Now the prospect says to themselves – she listened to me, they have what I want here, I bet there are a lot of other great things this club has to offer! The prospect will now feel more comfortable and open to seeing what else your club has to offer. This approach doesn’t just go for people who talk about getting a flat belly. It’s what you could be doing for every prospect that comes through the door. Instead of a standard tour showing the things that you feel are important, customize the tour and gear it to what THEY want to see (based on their initial interview) and watch your closing ratios climb!


Profiting From Your Existing Members

Many club owners I speak with focus their non dues revenue around personal training and the ever growing Small Group Training. The member who uses a personal trainer is typically their most valuable member to the club, so naturally owners want to provide offerings that cater to this profitable group. This includes equipment selection and programming options. Though a sound plan on the surface, it has an inherent flaw. What percentage of your members participate in training? If you are a non studio facility the national average is around 10%.

That means 90% of the membership is not using these services yet the club is not being designed for them! It is this 90% that will typically spend less and be most likely to quit. If the equipment and program offerings at your club are being dictated by the needs of the personal training community you are risking the other 90% of your membership. That’s a horrible risk.

It is imperative that club owners listen to the needs and wants of this segment of the membership and make sure that they too feel comfortable and successful in the club. A great way to accomplish this is to create dedicated spaces in the club that the average member wants to use and can do so successfully. One example is the selectorized strength circuit. Though not overly popular with the training population, the general membership still flocks here because they know they can get an effective workout and be successful doing it. Another great option is having a Core Strength Zone – a dedicated area in the club for your members to train their abs and strengthen their core. Such an area can include 3-4 popular Ab Machines and some open floor space as well for non equipment based exercises. We have installed such areas in clubs world wide and members love it. The idea is to create a space where members can focus on a body part that is important to them and allows them to train in a comfortable, non intimidating environment.

It’s clear that providing your members and prospects with areas of the club where they can feel comfortable and successful will help you to grow and retain membership. It’s also clear that non-dues revenue is critical for the long term success of most fitness centers. Let’s bring it all together to create a well oiled, profitable operation. We know that some members will be coming in for the latest fitness activities such as small group training and high intensity interval training. We know others will want to work one to one with a personal trainer. Having these offerings inside the club walls is critical or they will seek them out elsewhere as the industry has seen. The question remains how do you increase the usage of these services to the 90% of members that are not currently participating? The answer lies in providing yourself with ample opportunity to offer training services to that other 90% of the membership. You can do this if they are coming to the club and are being exposed to it. They will only keep coming to your club if they are feeling comfortable and successful. Areas such as your strength circuit and Core Strength Zone do just that which is why we call them The Gateway. They bring the members in, keep them coming, and give you the opportunity to engage them in all the other great fitness options your club has to offer! Don’t ignore this very important aspect of club/member dynamic and you will stay on the road to success.


10 Reasons You Need a Dedicated Ab Training Area

Every person – members and future members – want to improve their midsection, and they all desire a lean, defined waistline. So it only makes sense to provide a separate area of your club that is focused on the core. Several successful Club chains have already figured this out and are now dedicating space specifically for core training. It is proving to be smart business because members love to work their abs. Still not convinced?

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Club Needs a Dedicated Core Training Area:

1. Everyone Wants Great-Looking Abs
Men want to get rid of the love handles and beer belly and to develop a lean six-pack. Women want a flat tummy and a slender waistline. Installing a dedicated Core training area in your Club will instantly appeal to your members’ desire to have great-looking abs.

2. Surveys Show that Health Club Members Love Ab Machines
Recent IHRSA surveys rank Ab machines as a top activity that your members value the most in their Health Club, right up there with treadmills, elliptical machines and free weights. The American College of Sports Medicine also released its top trends for 2015, and once again Core training is on the list.

3. Abs Sell
The next time you are in the supermarket, check out the headlines on the covers of popular magazines. Many of them feature articles about getting a trimmer waistline, such as: • How to Get Flat Abs Fast • Blast Belly Fat • Two Weeks to a Tighter Tummy • Six Pack Secrets The magazines use Abs and belly headlines because they help sell Millions of copies. People want great-looking abs, so marketers use abs to sell. With a dedicated ab training area, your Club can do the same thing.

4. Dedicated Ab Training Areas are Becoming Popular at Successful Clubs
Ab training areas are becoming mainstream in several club chains across the country. Both Planet Fitness and Retro Fitness offer a special area or circuit dedicated solely to ab training, and the trend continues to grow. More clubs are jumping on board everyday because members love having a dedicated zone for core training.

5. Training Variety is Key
There are many ways to train the abs and, like any muscle group, the key to improvement is Variety in Training. Installing a dedicated ab circuit area provides your members with a place to work their abs many different ways with different types of machines.

The last 5 reasons your club needs a designated core zone! Should we do this?

6. Members Want to see Results

Before you hire another salesperson or run more generic ads with price discounts in the hope of increasing sales, you should first consider this: People care about seeing results, and they love to work on their abs. Appeal directly to the needs and desires of your members by installing a dedicated ab training area and showing how to get great-looking abs.

7. You can offer Short-term Ab-focused training programs
Increase your membership and generate more revenue from existing members by offering short-term ab-focused programs in conjunction with a dedicated core training area. This will enable you to deliver to people what they really want: great-looking abs and a slender waistline. By offering short-term ab-focused programs to prospects without the long-term membership commitment, you will attract people who probably never would have stopped by your club. These programs also work for your members who need a little challenge to get them back on track. Just make sure your member price is less than the nonmember price.

8. Ab Machines are “Silent Salesmen” that help Close Deals
A dedicated Ab training area with innovative Ab machines can become your “silent salesmen” to help new prospects get excited about joining your Club. Think about the key decision moment for new prospects – the Club Tour. People understand the Cardio area is for your heart, the Strength area is for your muscles, and there are rooms for fitness classes such as Spinning, Zumba or Yoga. Most clubs have all of these things. Now, imagine showing them an area in your Club dedicated to core training. What better way to complete your Club Tour right before you begin reviewing various membership options.

9. A Thin Waistline Means a Healthy Heart
A slim, strong waistline is not just about looking sexy. Many studies show that a healthy waistline also is an indication of heart health. In other words, where fat is located on your body matters when it comes to health risks. Researchers have found that people who have high amounts of fat in their abdomens compared to other parts of the body have higher risks of cancer and heart disease. The bottom line: You are not just selling vanity when you are selling abs—you also are selling good heart health.

10. Ab-Focused Marketing Works
When you focus your marketing message on what people want, you can dramatically increase the number of sales you make. That means, focusing your Health Club marketing on showing your members how they can achieve a lean, sexy waistline with a dedicated ab training area in your Club.


Ab Seduction

The next time you are in the checkout line at your supermarket, take a look at the covers of the fitness magazines on the racks. The headlines scream out to you: “Flat Belly in 7 Days,” “Shrink Your Belly Fast” and “Secrets for a Sexy Tummy.”  Publishers use these headlines to get people to buy lots of magazines. How does this work? The answer lies in human beings’ basic desire to look their best, and flat abs area part of that package. The bottom line for marketers is this: the promise of a flat midsection is one of the most powerful motivators when it comes to health and fitness. Health clubs can use the same type of marketing strategy utilized by magazines. Several successful club chains have already followed suit.

For example, a Planet Fitness owner in New York decided to give members what they wanted — an area in the club dedicated to core training. When Planet Fitness corporate saw the results of member excitement, the company decided to recommend that all of its new clubs add this area.

Another major health club chain, Retro Fitness, has created an area in its clubs called “Retro Abs” so that its members can work on core training in a dedicated area of the fitness center. Many other independent club operators are doing the exact same — setting up a dedicated space in their club with innovative abdominal machines where members can focus on core training. If you want to use this strategy to increase your sales closing ratio, here are a few things for your club to try:

  • Start focusing on abs when marketing. Let members know that you can help them lose weight and earn flat abs.
  • Create a dedicated ab area in your club just for ab machines. The more variety, the better. When touring prospective members always finish the tour with, “And this is our ab area, where our trainers can focus on ab training and the importance of losing belly fat.”
  • Before leaving the club, get your prospect to try an innovative ab machine. Once your prospect feels their abs burning, they will be hooked.
  • Show “before” and “after” photos to prospects of some of your members who have lost weight. Then focus on the positive side effect of losing belly fat, such as a healthier heart, greater energy and more.

These successful health club chains understand that catering to their members is the key to good business. Giving your members what they want will help retain membership rates and also increase new memberships. Ab-focused marketing works.