Monday, 29 December 2014

Selling Leisure Club Memberships - Some Idea's

Be Unique

As with all sales there are some fundamental basics that need to adhere to.  There are a number of good books that are worth reading which will give you these fundamental skills.  the best of which is Casey Conrads - Selling Fitness.

We do not intend to go over these steps of selling as for most in the industry these are now seen as the basics. If you are not quite at that stage then pop onto Amazon and buy yourself a copy.  Then train your team to these basics.

What we thought we would do with this post would be to give you some Sales and marketing ideas that you could use and try in 2015.  These are tried and tested and in the most case work very well, it does though depend on your market and your efforts.  No use sending out letters if you don’t follow up with call?

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions

Social Media:
It goes without saying that you need to have a social media presence.  Most business does, how they do it though varies drastically.  Your success should be measured by the levels of engagement as well as the number of likes/followers.  There are many companies that will sell you leads by the thousands.  These are a waste of time if they are not customers who are likely to engage with your business and buy your products.
What you put on social media should be personal to your business and your clients, images where possible should be of your club/activity and not copied from Google and they should always include the name of the person posting.
Again have a plan, as trying to post 5-7 posts a week is a significant amount of work.  By having a plan that takes into account such things as people’s goals, any new classes or activities etc.
Social Media should be used to engage with your brand and not as advertising.  People don't want to be sold to they want to have fun, read interesting articles and watch videos.  Always remember that!

Online Directories:
There are now literally hundreds of online directories that you can load your business details onto. Whilst some may end up bringing no results it is worth ensuring your business is on as many of them as possible.  The more your name is out there the more likely you are to appear in the Google searches.  Some of these companies pay huge sums to increase their own search ranking and so why not let them boost your business for you
Be aware it is labour intensive but worth the effort. Sites such as freeindex are worth looking at first
For those businesses that have studio's also look at loading your classes onto such pages as Classfinder where you can load your whole timetable and which then becomes searchable.
If you like thinking out of the box, also look at who your customers are.  Always worth loading details on sites such as net mums who are happy to load local business onto their own directories.

Be cheeky and place your business banner on a site next to a main road.  It is best to choose a spot where traffic congests.  This means the traffic will be slow allowing for people to read your message.  On round a bouts are best.  Banner stands can be bought for as little as £150 and in our experience are rarely removed by local councils.  Whilst we are not condoning breaking the law, putting up a banner until you are asked to remove it seems a very simple approach.  
Your banner needs to be at least 3meters x 1 meter to allow for people to read it.  It also needs to be in colour with large writing.  Less is more with banners.  Offers and the telephone number is all you need.

If you are not texting your prospects then you need to start doing so.  There are a large number of companies offering SMS text message services that are simple and easy to use.  We have used 24x for many years but simply searching online and you will find a company that suits your needs.  For 4-6p per text you are able to get your message directly to the devise that most people will read, their mobile phone.

Online Advertising:
There are some massive benefits to using online advertising channels such as Google and Facebook. We must stress that before doing so to take advice or to read material that will give you an insight into how it works.  Do not go blindly into this as it could cost you a lot of wasted money.
We must also point out though that you do not need to pay someone either, the basics can be leant fairly easily it just takes some effort on your part.
Once understood though it can open up some great opportunities so we recommend spending the time to learn how to do it.
Always though know your budget, small businesses can never compete on finance with the large players but done properly you can compete strategically

You should aim for 25% plus of all your new members to be coming directly from referrals.  Those that are good at retaining clients and offer superb facilities and services will see this figure as high as 60-70%. It is far cheaper and easier letting your clients sell your business than you and your team having to do it.
Create a reward structure for members. It doesn't have to cost the earth but must have a perceived value to the person making the referral.  Such things as a free month’s membership, free personal training sessions work well and in effect cost you nothing other than time.
Some clubs offer gifts be careful as even cheap gifts costing just £20 (what can you get for £20 these days?) add up if you give away 20-30 of them? Can you afford £400 on gifts?

Printed Advertising:
Local and regional newspaper advertising can be expensive and often ineffective for smaller businesses.  Unless you have a significant marketing budget we suggest avoiding these options. What can be effective though are the local village magazines.  They have a bespoke readership, delivered to every door in your area and give you a presence of being a local company.
One of the biggest spending changes in recent years has been consumers greater desire to support their local business, by advertising in the village magazine alongside other local establishments you create the impression of being open for local people.  Keep the marketing in these publications focused on that audience and make them think you are there for them.
If you want to get in the larger papers, the best suggestion is to get in with a positive PR exercise.  Raising money for charity or doing something new and exciting in your community.  This is free and far more engaging that an advert that will be read by a few.

Corporate Clients:
Now more than ever, companies are starting to understand the importance of employee health and wellbeing.  The challenge many face though is that organising fitness memberships and having the time to process the details is ofetn a major stumbling block.  Your role is take away those issues and to offer them a service that makes life easy for them.
By this we mean to consider taking your services to them.  offer classes in their board room, pt outside in the company grounds,car park or local park.  Offer them Sports massage as well as fitness, if you are not trained then partner with someone who is.
Be prepared to make calls, e-mails and letters won't work.  You have to be brave and ring the company, ask for the right eprson and fight for the business.  Once in though it could be the making of any small company.  Check out projectbodyuk to see what servcices can be offered to your local cormpanies.

Be unique, Try new things, stand out from the crowd:
In 2014 the Fitness marketing showed a real shift away from the big clubs with a focus towards unique, different and bespoke business models. We saw Crossfit, Insanity, bootcamps and classses such as Kettlercise take off in a big way.  This is because people want a service that focuses on them. This is something smaller, private operators can offer.  We can be unique, we can be bespoke and we can be different.
This also means our marketing can follow suit.  Try new things, get out in your community, show people who you are, do classes in towns, in parks and in company car parks. Raise money for charity, invite the community in and let them use your facility for free, offer kids’ activities.
You are only limited by your own imagination and your own commitment. You don't need huge marketing budgets to be a success.  Getting you name out there requires speaking to people, getting the community to know who you are and what you can achieve.  

There is no greater time to be trying to sell fitness.  With only 14% of the population regularly exercising we have 86% left to work with - they are some great odds if you ask us!

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!