Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Do you Know your Business

The Importance of understanding your business

I still remember the days as a club manager, the end of the month comes and you spend half the day filling in reports for head office wishing the figures were different.  At the start I found it labourious but the longer I did the reports the more value and more detail I began to delve into the greater my understanding of the importance of the figures I was looking at.  As a leader of a club in a large commercial chain this meant a pat on the back, promotion opportunities and even a bonus.

By the end, I had created reports that’s went above and beyond what was required by head office as I realised it that by knowing the details I could influence the future performance of the business.  Gone was the guess work, the shock or surprise at the end of the month or the amazement as to how we had managed to scrape through another month.

There is a trend that appears to happen outside of the larger club chains.  This is that reports seem to be a burden and time consuming.  Understandable when independent clubs often have small payrolls, the owner is the manager and the personal trainer.  However, this oversight can lead to failure or additional challenges by simple not knowing where your revenue comes from and where the costs are.

There are some key essentials that every club should be reporting on.  Just to clarify, reporting is not always retrospective as any report should include your budget and forecast figures as well as any historical figures from previous years.  Every club is different in its location, its price, its demographics and its potential and so you should not make the mistake of comparing one club directly with another.  Broad comparisons are ok but failing to treat each club on its merit can also be dangerous.

Key elements:
-          The club’s budgets
-          The club’s previous year’s figures
-          Month by month Profit & Loss figures
-          Membership details, member breakdown, attrition and types
-          Membership sales vs targets and last year
-          Membership sales statistics, inquiries, tours, sales and referral figures
-          Sales source report
-          Your direct debit numbers,
-          Average Membership rates
-          Club forecast allowing you to manage your projections 3 months out and changing targets to suit
-          Class usage/studio data
-          Personal Training and other tuition revenue, including swimming lessons, sports massage & boot camps
-          Health & Beauty report
-          Any audit scores

Whilst this seems a significant number of reports, the completion would not take huge amounts of time if the reports are set up and ready.  The hardest part would be if no reporting was currently taking place as all old data, budgets and targets would need to be created first.  The work however, will be well worth it.

It is also advisable at this stage to suggest investing in a membership and club management system such as Club Right.  This type of system allows reports to be created quickly with all the information you require to add to your full club report document.

So, after setting up this report and completing it so it’s up to date, what can you do with it?

-          Analyse you club’s performance to ensure you are on track and you cash flow is safe
-          Identify key sales targets and challenge
-          Enable you to invest marketing spend in areas that show success rather than using a shotgun approach
-          By year end the report will enable you to create next year’s budget with a few simple formula changes in the report
-          You can create your business plan based on real data
-          You can gauge success or failure based on previous years’ actuals rather than intuition
-          You can manage your studio classes by actual numbers and change those classes that do not drive numbers and thus revenue
-          You can analyse revenue streams and identify which membership are more popular, do you need to review pricing
-          Allow you to set targets for your team and change the forecasts to consider any dip in business.
-          Identify costs or payroll challenges
-          Your beauty report will show your occupancy rates, average treatment cost, treatment popularity and retail sales percentages.
-          Allows you to manage your team members based on true figures, especially with the sales teams that should be all about targets and conversions
-           Allow you to prepare the club for sale if that time ever comes

These are just a few of the benefits you get that allow you to run your business like a professional.  By knowing your business, you can make real time change by identifying trends and upcoming challenges and potential wins.   Don’t wait to be hit by a major issue when you could spot it months in advance.  You will also find that by knowing your business, what works and why you will have even more success as you place your efforts into those areas that provide the greatest success.

Some clubs even find their whole business model changes over time.  This can be due to demographics or market conditions.  By knowing how your business is changing or needs to change the business can adapt quickly and allow them to take advantage.

I cannot emphasize enough how important knowing your business is.  Effective reporting is vital to gaining this knowledge.  Charlesworth consulting can help you create a bespoke set of reports for your business.  With access to your membership system and support from the club we can even complete these reports monthly for you.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

How can a Club Audit make a difference to your business?

Have you ever considered having your club audited? If not why not?

Many of those Leisure & General Managers who have work for the large health club and fitness chains will have at some point experienced the dread of the auditing team announcing themselves at their property.  The hotel and hospitality companies often conduct these as a 2-3 day mystery shop prior to announcing and huge emphasis is placed upon the scores.

So why would these large corporations spend huge sums of money to have all their hotels and clubs audited.  Just to point out at this point, auditing does not need to be an expenses process but with examples such as Marriott Hotels these audits cost millions of dollars to conduct due to the 5000+ hotels in their ranks.

The bigger groups will conduct these audits to:

1) To Ensure the brand is being represented as it should be
2) To ensure continuity of standards across all its facilities
3) To show their business owners and share holders that standards are being maintained at that the business is worth investing in
4) To reduce the potential risk of litigation due to unsafe or illegal practices
5) To judge service standards that could otherwise not be determined by a management walk round
6) To reduce the risk of loss of business due to poor standards in operations
7) To learn to the true challenges within a business
8) To understand the client experience
9) To drive sales.  By mystery shopping the sales process you can ensure the delivery of the membership process is as strong as it can be

So why should leisure businesses follow the example set out by the hotel industry?

Simply put, because it works.  Manager can easily become blind and complacent to their business challenges.  By employing an independent team to review your operating standards, your operating procedures, your service delivery and member experience you can look to make positive change.

Independent auditors and mystery shoppers give you exactly that, a fresh review of your brand, product and service.  There is a saying I learnt very early on "Perception is Reality", meaning that whatever the client sees is what they believe to be the reality.  A dirty changing when, staff who don't engage with clients  or broken kit that's not fixed in a timely manner can all give members/clients the wrong impression which can lead to higher attrition and lower profits.

A manager cannot be expected to see everything or to find a solution to every challenge.  Knowing what their challenges are though will help to guide policy and procedures that lead to an effectively run business.

Audits should be seen as a way of improving a business, not a way of finding fault in a business.  The sign of a strong business leader is how well they take feedback and implement change.

As a consultancy service we always advise our clients to have their business audited at least once a year, preferably twice a year to ensure they are on the top of their game.  Membership sales mystery shops should be carried out monthly to make sure the team remain focused on their challenge and continue to deliver the same exceptional service every single time.

With more and more fitness products entering the market, every member is vital for survival.  If a business is able to get a client to make contact you need to ensure every effort is made to convert them to a member.  losing members due to poor process and standards is unforgivable.

In conclusion, we believe every club owner, regardless of size should employ an independent team to audit and mystery shop their business.  Knowing your weak points and finding solutions will drive standards, reduce attrition, increase sales conversion and ultimately improve your client experience and more importantly to you, increased profits!

The large chains would never engage in such a process simply to show owners they are good at their job, they do it as it drives profit! simple as that

Monday, 4 May 2015

Why should you join an independent Health and wellness centre?

Since I joined the health and fitness industry over 15 years ago it has been dominated by the big players.  The likes of david Lloyds, Esporta. Next Generation, Virgin Active and even some of the smaller clubs such as Fitness first, Marriott Hotels etc.

Independent gyms used to be your traditional "spit & sawdust" gyms that catered for a market that did not want the big health club

In recent years though there has started to be a massive shift away from these clubs as people hunt out new ways to exercise and more fun ways to spend their leisure time whilst still engaging in fitness.  This had led to an upturn in the fortunes of the independent club.  It may also be that fitness is following the trend of a lot of retail and leisure spending in that people are incraesingly looking to spend their money locally, within their own communities and with people they trust.  Cost is not the issue but value is.

So why should you join an independent club?

1) They are more likley to value your custom, treating you as a member and not a number.  Small business owners value every penny as that is what is paying their mortgage and their bills at home as well as work.  They do not have the limitless resources to allow them to continually chase new members.  they therefore tend to value the ones they have
2) Their membership numbers tend to be smaller, this gives them more opportunity to offer a more personalised service to their customers
3) Quite often the business owner is a part of the community and so already has a social link to many of the people using their services.  This creates a genuine atmosphere within the club rather than one that is falsely created by the management
4) Before setting up their enterprise the business owner will have had and still does a passion for what they are doing.  if they didn't they would not have invested upwards of £100,000 in the new venture. with passion comes excitement an d a desire to see others succeed.  That passion rubs off on others.
This is one of the biggest issues I have found in larger clubs, its a job, there is little ownership of the monmey spend or the losses in membership. There ends up being a distinct seperation between those using and those running the clubs.
5) They have a personal investment in your success.  if you achieve your goals you are a walking advert in the local community.  What better marketing is there?
6) Independent clubs find it easier to move with trends, try new things and adapt to their members. Large corporate clubs ofetn have to follow the lead of their senior managers and this can take a while to filter down to the clubs.  Corporate image and corporate values can get in the way of success sometimes.
7) Investment in kit is ofetn well resarched.  They do not have the opportunity with regards to money to make mistakes so they invest wisely.  Larger clubs ofetn hedge their bets and end up with too much of nothing.
8) They allow you to find a neish that suits you.  Instead of trying to be everything to everyone smaller clubs often focus on key strengths.  Cross fit clubs are a perfect axample of this. They have found a market and stuck to it.  The success of this is emmense.  None of them are massive clubs but most are very successful and solid profit centres for their owners.
9) Small clubs allow communities to flurish.  becasue there are less members it is more likley that the group that does attend become closer, better friends with few clicks.  We have certainly found this isn our business.

Even bnefore we set up our new facility we have ben advocates of shop locally.  We ensured we only hired local builders and local suppliers where possible.  I believe this is the trend moving forward. More bespoke offerings in smaller settings with a greater emphasis on value and retention.

I am not saying the big club is dead however if you are looking for a long term love of exercise with a buzzy, friendly atmosphere, then try out your independent club first.  You may very well be surprised,

Monday, 29 December 2014

New Year Sales

The New Year will soon be upon on us, and so will the most important business period for the leisure and fitness industry.  At this time of year people sit down and work out what they want from the year ahead and for a large majority of the population this includes such things as a new job, a better social life, quiting something bad or getting more healthy.

As an industry we have made the New Year Resolution our own.  We have created the perfect match for many of the late night, last minute promises people have set themsleves, most based on feelings of regret, poor self image and a desire to be better.

The important thing to remember is, that whatever the pain that has casued someone to decide to change, we have the perfect tool to achieve it!  Never under estimate the power you have as a fitness or leisure club owner, personal trainer or fitness professional.  You can change lives and inspire peoiple to change others lives.  

Now the important bit.

You are not the only one trying to attract this new, excited and motivated group of people.  Its a competitive business with huge numbers of gyms, leisure clubs, leisure centres, freelance personal trainers, boo tcamps, fitness classes...... all of which believe they have a service or facility to offer those who want to change a way of doing so.  How will you make sure you are ahead of the game?

Well, there are a few things you can do to ensure you are ahead of the game:

1) Plan: It may seem simple, but by sitting down and creating a marketing plan you will be ahead of almost 50% of the competition.  It never fails to amaze us when you speak to a client and ask to see their plan and one simply does not exist? A plan does not and should not be set in stone, it should be a working dopcumnet whereby successful activities are continues and unsuccessful ones discarded and replace with new activity.

Your plan should include CORE activities, those things that should be completed every month/campaign withoput fail. These include:
  1. Changing the club marketing to the new campaign materials
  2. Letters, texts, emails and calls that should be completed for all campaigns
  3. Newsletters
  4. Updating any e-commerce channels and directories with the latest campign
  5. Changing retail displays
  6. etc etc
Secondly should be your MONTHLY actions.  These actions will change depending on the time of the year, your offer and your business focus.  These will detail:
  1. Your exact offers
  2. Your referall campaigns
  3. Any advertising such as Google adwords, local paper etc
  4. Any internal activities
  5. Retention programs
  6. New promotions
Fore each of the plans you should consider the distinct business models you have.  Most businesses have mnore than one revenue stream and so you should consider each of these in isoltaion and not as one large plan.  This creates focus and direction for each revenue area.  For most leisure and fitness clubs you should look to consider:
  1. Membership
  2. Tuition (Personal Training, Group Fitness, Swimming lessons, Boot camps)
  3. Retail
  4. Guest Fees
  5. Rentals (studio rental, facility rental)
  6. Spa
  7. Food and beverage (bar, snacks etc)
  8. Miscelaneous (Sunbeds, Creche)

We would also suggest that when writing your plan you get your team involved if you have one. This creates energy, desire and buy in to the challenge ahead and how as a business you plan to perform. Don't be afraid to show the team the budget numbers for the year and ask for their ideas. Successful businesses are only as good as the teams  that achieve them.  Whilst you may believe you are the best at what you do and in many businesses you may be the best there.  That does not mean though you know everything and that you always have the solution.  Nieve minds are ofetn best at comingt up with th best solutions as they have no past experience of what works and what doesn't and therefor no pre concieved ideas of what will and won't work.

When starting to train a new team we always encourage the managemnet team to sit back at first and see what the team come up with.  You will be amazed!

There is probably not much time now to get prepared for the January rush, however there is sufficient time to ensure you have a plan in place and your team are ready.  the rush tends to start around the January pay weekend and not the first week. Be ready for it and you will be ahead of the game!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Why Should Hotels and Fitness Businesses Consider Hiring Consultants

The first thing that always used to strike me when i was contacted by a consultant was "why would I need a consultant?" I was was the club, some years we had success, some years were tough but ultimately my bosses were happy and there was no risk of unemployment.

As I went further through my career I learnt that hiring the right people for the right roles meant I could put my focus in the right areas of the business to ensure we maximized success.  Quite often though I found I was hiring individuals on later to utilize their skills to plug a different skills gap.

It led me to the belief that my approach was right, round pegs for round holes.  what was wrong was that I was having to train and develop these pegs first and fit them into the right holes.

Then came the recession and impact that then had on sales and flow through to our profit.  With no realistic prospect of driving the top line it meant that something had to give, this was costs and ultimately like most businesses the payroll.  I am not aware of any hotel or leisure business that has stood up to the recession and said they refused to cut costs and not to lose staff.  Either by natural attrition and then not replacing them or by much harsher decisions such as stricter management or redundancies.

Now that we begin to shows signs of recovery, many businesses are again looking for growth on their sales lines but are still nervous about employing the resources to achieve this growth.  There is certain level of commitment that is needed when starting to employ to deliver growth and challenge which often holds back decisions such as this.

This is where an industry consultant can make a huge difference.  Consultants may appear expensive and i guess if you hired them full time to achieve what you wanted then they probably would be! However, that is not how you should use them and the benefits to your business can be massive.  This is why?

1) There is no commitment other than that signed by you and the consultant.  This can be short or long term or even results based if you both agreed
2) They are industry experts so other than your own business protocols require little or no training
3) They should require little or no supervision
4) They will bring with them an array of idea's, techniques, information and knowledge that can be passed on to not only bring success but lead to long term gains, long after they have stopped working with the business
5) As they are likely to work less days the costs is often far more palatable that if you hired a full time Manager in that role.  There is also no holiday, sick or pensions to consider paying
6) Their cost would not have to appear on the payroll line.  This is often important as most business leaders see this as a key driver with regional and national Directors making reduction of payroll or productivity scores a massive focus.  By invoicing for services an accounts team could choice where to place the cost.
7) They would bring with them potential solutions to other parts of your business that may help solve challenges you have faced in operations etc
8) They are impartial and could therefore give accurate and direct feedback regarding your operations as well as providing the solutions to the challenges.  Employed staff are unlikely to offer up their own failings and often spend huge amounts of time and effort covering them up
9) They are able to provide insights into competitors
10) Their work schedules are often more flexible and Freelance staff will work around when you require them in the business
11) Consultants are often branded with no having the same desire to see success in a business as they are not part of the team.  What needs to be remembered is that their reputation is built on your success.  If they fail with their projects their work dries up.  It is therefor in their vested interest to ensure you are successful. So even if for purely selfish reasons (which is rarely the case) it is important they buy into the product and deliver you success
12) Finally.....and probably most importantly, they will pass on this vast knowledge to your teams so that when they leave your team will be set up for success

I used to make the mistake of seeing consultants in the wrong light. World leaders, Governments departments, Large public companies all use them.  So should the Hospitality industry!  We have seen great change over the past 5 years and so maybe starting to embrace the opportunities that a consultant can give  is worth exploring

Project Body UK Consultants

Success is paramount

A Nottingham based Leisure, Fitness and Wellness Consultancy.  We aim to provide a innovative solutions and a results based approach to driving success for our business partners.  
An awards winning team with over 25 years experience in the leisure and fitness industry within small clubs, hotel based environments and large 5000+ member facilities we have the experience and know how to enable your business to be successful.  We have also run our own fitness and well being company for the last 7 years both with the Natural Group and Project Body UK.
We understand the pressures and difficulties faced by a modern health and well being business, let us guide you along the right path.

Our Key Services Include:

  • Full Consultancy service - a root and branch review of the operations, sales, staffing, H&S, plans and performance.  We will create a plan to develop the business and to achieve success.  We will work closely with you and provide the tools and expertise to deliver results.
  • Auditing - a detailed analysis and feedback on your current operations, sales & membership processes along with support and tools to enable change.  We will also help ensure company and industry audit compliance by carrying out those audits prior to the official dates and ensuring challenges are managed.
  • Retention - a review of your retention statistics and current processes to ensure a detailed understanding is ascertained followed by a workable and effective plan to enable you to reduce attrition to satisfactory level.
  • Mystery Shopping - the best way to understand your business, its challenges and successes is to allow us to mystery shop your club or business.  Not just as a prospective client but as member of regular client.  Businesses that invest in an effective mystery shop program show massively improved focus and standard from employees and ultimate drastically improved results.  
  • Operations Support - a large range of operational tools made available to allow your business to improve every aspect of its operations.  These include daily operations and safety check, gym checks and standards, full range of weekly and monthly reporting tools, booking processes and operating procedures and risk assessments.
  • Sales and Marketing - a full assessment of the businesses current practices with support and guidance to improve these and the results.  We can provide full training, new processes, marketing plans and ideas, support with online presence and social media.
  • Business Planning - setting your business up for success is often missed to to lack of time or expertise.  Doing so often leads to the challenges that business then faces.  We can help create that road map to success.
  • Training - a range of training courses available including sales, first aid, lifeguard, operations, H&S, pool plant
Our team are dedicated to ensuring our clients achieve results.  A successful business is shown not only through its profit but also by its members loyalty and feedback, its staff engagement and its reputation in the wider community. By investing in our support we will ensure you obtain a greater understanding of your business position as well as a wide range of solutions.

For more information on how Project Body UK can help get in touch or log onto or call 07929369658

Monday, 23 June 2014

Selling Health & Fitness - Why People Buy

Successful business are started with bringing in clients. By no means is this the only way to ensure success but without clients you can't build a business to then work on your retention, [personal training, gym challenges etc. Over the next few articles we will run through how you can improve your membership and club sales and start to take control of how you sell your club.

Why people choose to buy

The success of any fitness fitness business, in fact any business throughout the world is based on its ability to encourage customers to purchase their product or service.  This basic premise is standard throughout all industries, business types and scale of enterprise. Without customers making a conscious or even sometimes unconscious decision to purchase as business does not exist.

So in order to understand this it is important to first appreciate why a person may decide to buy your services or product.

Needs vs Wants:

Needs are those things that as living things we need to survive and to ensure we have a basic quality of life. These include such things as food and water, shelter, clothing.  We need to purchase these items to be able to survive the world and so are seen as essential purchase.
Health and fitness services do not not unfortunately fall into this category and so become a want, something that a client needs to desire, one which has an emotional rather than logical attachment and one which involves feelings and thoughts.

An example being:
Buying a new car. No one really needs a £50,000 Jaguar or Porche to get to work.  the basic need is a car that will allow them to get from a-b.  The reason why some people will spend huge sums of money though is linked to feelings and emotions.  These could be anything from wanting to show off their extravagence, it makes them feel successful, it might attract the fairer sex.  Who knows, what is important is that it is driven by an inner desire and not a basic need.

Brian Eisenberg identified 20 reasons why people buy:

Basic Needs – We buy things to fulfill what Maslow describes as the bottom of his hierarchy; things like food and shelter.
Convenience – You need something now and will take the easiest or fastest path to get it. Think about the last time you were running out of gas, or were thirsty and found the nearest beverage of choice. This could also be choosing the safe vendor (no one ever gets fired for hiring IBM), purchasing something to increase comfort or efficiency.
Replacement – Sometimes you buy because you need to replace old things you have (e.g., clothes that don’t fit or are out-of-date). This could be moving from a VCR to a DVD player.
Scarcity – This could be around collectibles or a perceived need that something may run out or have limited availability in the future. Additionally, there’s a hope to gain a return on investment, such as collectible or antiques; anything that accrues value over time.
Prestige or Aspirational purchase – Something is purchased for an esteem-related reason or for personal enrichment.
Emotional Vacuum – Sometimes you just buy to try to replace things you cannot have and never will.
Lower prices – Something you identified earlier as a want is now a lower price than before. Maybe you were browsing for a particular large screen TV and you saw a great summer special.
Great Value – When the perceived value substantially exceeds the price of a product or service. This is something you don’t particularly need, you just feel it’s too good a deal to pass up. (Like the stuff they place near the end caps or checkout counters of stores.)
Name Recognition – When purchasing a category you’re unfamiliar with, branding plays a big role. Maybe you had to buy diapers for a family member and you reach for Pampers because of you’re familiarity with the brand, even though you don’t have children yourself.
Fad or Innovation – Everybody wants the latest and greatest. (iPhone mania.) This could also be when someone mimics their favorite celebrity.
Compulsory Purchase – Some external force, like school books, uniforms, or something your boss asked you to do, makes it mandatory. This often happens in emergencies, such as when you need a plumber.
Ego Stroking – Sometimes you make a purchase to impress/attract the opposite sex; to have something bigger/better than others, friends, etc. To look like an expert/aficionado; to meet a standard of social status, often exceeding what’s realistically affordable to make it at least seem like you operate at a higher level.
Niche Identity – Something that helps bond you to a cultural, religious or community affiliation. Maybe you’re a Harvard alumni and Yankee fan who keeps kosher. (You can also find anti-niche identity by rebellion, assuming you’re pretty comfortable with irony.)
Peer Pressure – Something is purchased because your friends want you to. You may need to think back to your teen years to think of an example.
The “Girl Scout Cookie Effect” – People feel better about themselves by feeling as though they’re giving to others, almost especially when they’re promised something in return. Purchasing things they don’t need–or wouldn’t normally purchase–because it will help another person or make the world a better place incrementally is essential certain buying decision.
Reciprocity or Guilt – This happens when somebody–usually an acquaintance, or someone rarely gift-worthy–buys you a gift or does something exceptionally nice and/or unnecessary. Now it’s your turn to return the favor at the next opportunity. Examples:
  • Event – When the social decorum of an event (e.g., wedding, bar mitzvah, etc.) dictates buying something or another.
  • Holiday – ‘Nuff said.
Empathy – Sometimes people buy from other people because they listened and cared about them even if they had the lesser value alternative.
Addiction – This is outside the range of the normal human operating system, but it certainly exists and accounts for more sales than any of us can fathom.
Can you think back to the last time you bought something and fully explain the reason why?
Fear – From pink Taser™ stun guns to over-sized SUV’s to backyard bomb shelters–and even stuff so basic as a tire pressure gauge–are bought out of fear. So, before you go knocking “fear” as a motivator, ask yourself: Are you Y2K compliant?
Indulgence – Who doesn’t deserve a bit of luxury now and then? So long as you can afford it, sometimes there’s no better justification for that hour-long massage, that pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream, or that $75 bottle of 18-year single malt scotch other than “you’re worth it” (best when said to self in front of mirror with a wink and/or head tilt)
Now you may wonder why it is so important to identify peoples motivations to buy? The simple answer is so that you can adapt your sales technique to the individuals who walk through your door or view your products online.  A person entering your club/facility is not buying the pool or gym that he will no doubt use. They are the emotions and feelings that using these facilities will give them.
Your challenge is to determine what those emotions are.  What is the key driver that has brought them into your facility? How do they want to feel or not feel, which is often the over riding factor.

Next time we will review Communication styles and personality traits

Any questions please get in touch at