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

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Staff Engagement

The Importance of Employee Engagement

You will read in many business leaders autobiographies about the importance of your employees to the success of your business.  Richard Branson put it best when he said:

No business will fully achieve their pinnacle without the input and the growth of their employees.  No matter how energetic, clever and hard working the manager is, without an engaged and effective team the true potential can never truly be reached.

We live in a world where everything is measured and the end result is what counts most.  I agree with the sentiment to a point but I must stress at this point that success is not always measured by reviewing the balance sheet.  For example, many clubs saw a down turn in their business during the height of the recent recession.  This down turn was not caused by a sudden change in staff morale, effort or skills but by something far more powerful.  Believe it or not but managers were still dismissing staff for missing targets and budgets based purely on paper based performance criteria. I my mind this was utterly ludicrous!

Many outside influences can impact the success of the business and it is the manager’s responsibility not his/her teams to control these the best they can.  A manager should take responsibility for the success and failure of the business.  Those club and managers who take a realistic approach to business and manage their teams based on effort, idea generation, retention and service standards as well as the bottom line are far more likely to have long term success than those who don't.

So what is that you are looking for?

1) Train your team: Whatever their role they should be trained to the highest standard.  This does not mean spending huge sums of money but does require investment in time.  Not just time to deliver but time to plan.  If you want the training to be effective and meaningful then it needs to relate to your business and the context in which you want the new skills to be delivered.

For example, there is a wide range of sales based skills that can be trained.  Leisure sales are specific skills and so should be trained as such.  Break down what is expected and how you want it to be done. 

By breaking down your expectations on how you want the process delivered you can then manage effectively against this.

2) Set your expectations but make them realistic: You should set out the individual and teams goals at the start of the year so everyone is aware of what needs to be achieved and what is being expected.  However, remember that your goals are not always your team’s goals.  You cannot simple pass down all your managers’ expectations of you to your team.  Often only you can influence those goals and so it will only de-motivate your team.
Also don't make stretch goals where you feel the targets are already a challenge.  Over cooked expectations will have a de-motivating impact right from the start and can have devastating impacts on performance.

3) Get buy In - You should involve your team in the developments of the annual business plan.  Whilst you are there to guide the process and ensure the key elements are included you should allow your team to develop the overall plan and have a massive input in how you plan to achieve your goals.  Letting go and allowing input is not a weakness but in fact the opposite.  It shows you value your team’s idea and allows them to feel they are part of the team’s success and not yours.
There is nothing worse than working hard all year for the manager to take all the credit

4) You need to make it fun.  We spend a significant amount of our adult life at work. If it is not fun then what are we doing. We work in one of the best industries in the world for encouraging fun and enjoyment, clients count on us to make their leisure time fun so why is it that we don't encourage our staff to play at work.  (To learn more read the FISH book)
You do not have to compromise standards to create an environment where your team feel they are able to be themselves and have fun with members.  You want to encourage interactions with members, any interaction will encourage retention and those ones that build friendships are like gold dust and should be cherished.
Only you will know your team, but you should look for opportunities that will build on this premise.

5) Show your team loyalty.  You are responsible for the business performance not your team.  You should push your challenges on too them.  You are there to protect your team from senior managers and ensure you create a bonded team ready to fight for success. 

6) Manage performance: you should manage performance fairly and with understanding.  Harsh & intimidating meetings to discuss a previous month with only make the employee nervous and overly concerned about the end action.  You want this person to perform and achieve, you will only do this by offering support and guidance.  It won’t work with everyone, but if you hired a person for a reason then quite often that gut feeling was true.  Work with them and in time you will find that star quality.

7) Celebrate success: Don't under estimate how impact celebrating success is.  It may be a small milestone for you but it is often a big one for the team or individual.  Get superiors to congratulate the team or employee, it can work wonders for them to feel they are being recognised by senior members of staff.
Enter awards, compare your team against other clubs in your business and pick out what you do best.  You can always find things you are best at.  If not then that's where to start with your goals.  

8) Create competition; we are in business to be successful are we not.  To quantify success we are all compared to others.  Whether than be other clubs within your business or against industry statistics it’s important you compare.  This also allows you to create competition, a them versus us attitude with a drive to be the best can have profound impacts on success.  Getting those last few sales at month end to beat your fellow club can be just the incentive you need.
Enter industry competitions, when we won the Flame awards the whole team bought into the process and the need to win.  That period was probably the most enjoyable 12 months in business as everyone was sold on the idea and the need to win and achieved it.  A brilliant feeling

9) Don't be afraid to hire people more qualified than you:  I hear all the time "they are over qualified".  How can this be the case?  Until you interview someone you can never understand their motive for wanting to work for you.  They may want less stress, less responsibility, be coming back from time off with kids.
Ultimately, you have the potential to employ someone with great skills on paper and who could offer a key to future success.  Don't miss an opportunity because of your perceptions of threats to you and your position.
Be brave!

We all want success; bullying and old school management is not the way to do it.  It can be easier to discipline and try and force performance.  In the long run you will end up with far more stress and anxiety, an unhappy team often with the same challenges as you started with.

Change your attitude, look and plan for success and let your team take you there.  Your job should be to assemble, guide and encourage.  Hire experts to do a job and let them do it.  Your life will be far more enjoyable and the success with be far more satisfying.

Project Body UK Consulting