Monday, 30 October 2017

How to Outreach for my Gym or Leisure Club

I work with a range of different fitness clubs from Hotel leisure clubs, private gyms and franchised fitness clubs.  When I first start working with most the key challenge is not their sales techniques (although this is often a challenge) but the volume of new prospects they are generating.

There is no point implementing a world class tour and prospect follow up process when the club cannot generate leads in the first instance.

The most common excuse is that the marketing isnt working, "we've tried Facebook", "We have sent e-mails", "We have sent out Flyers" but nothing is working!

The first thing I always ask is "how much outreach have you done?"  The answer is is usually very little or it doesnt work.

Well, I have news for all of you out there who say this doesnt work, IT DOES! the key is how and where you do it.

What outreach isn't:

  • A waste of time.  Any activity that is well planned and done well that enables you to gather potential new customer information can never be a waste of time
  • Leaflet Distribution. Your team are there to get prospects name and numbers and not to simply hand out flyers
  • An annoyance to the public.  Your team need to want to angage and therefor ecourage the public to want to engage with you too.
In order to ensure you get the most from any outreach activity, the following rules need to apply:
  • Activities need to be planned.  Where you are going, what tools do you need, do potential customers need informing prior to your arrival
  • How are you going to attract customers to you or getr them to stop and talk to you.  Do we have freebies to give away, a prize draw, a competition, an activity to try out
  • What are your goals for the visit? how many leads are your planning to generate
  • Do you have permission to go to the location you are planning to be.  In the UK some councils require you to buy a promotions pass in oder to do outreach on the street
  • Do you need to get insurance for conducting activities such as bootcamps and fitnes activities away from the club
  • Enthusiasm, a smile and a team who is energised.  No will will talk to an introverted team standing in the middle of the street waiting to be approached.  It is your job to make things hapen.
Some examples of activities that have been proven to work.  Please note, every market is different and so you may need to adapt these ideas to suit your area.  The key is always to make it fun, make potential clients want to find out what your are offering.

  • Corporate Outreach - By contacting local businesses you can often arrange to take a stand to their site.  Usually located in the canteen you have the chance to push corporate memberships.  the best way to do this is provide blood pressure, heart rate and body fat measuring to employees.  Take a Bosu ball, Battle rope, exercise bands, something they wouldnt normally see and make it a feature.  get potential clients to try the equipment and if possible get colleagues competing
  • Street activities - With the right permit a great way to show your club is there is to get onto the street.  Anytime Fitness do this well by dressing their team members in a Purple Running Man suit.  A great way of being visible and memorable.  Whilst you don't need a suit, you need something to make you stand out.  This could be flags, a stand or a banner.
    • Street activities can include: Competions, beet the instructor challenges, charity fund raising activities, free gifts such as water bottles, t-shirts etc
  • Free Bootcamps - Why not try running a free bootcamp once or twice a week in the local park or town square.  Works well for clubs in pre-sale who don't have a gym to show off but do have some amazing staff
  • Supermarket Stands - This is a great option to reach large nuymbers of people in a short space of time.  Supermarekets have huge volume and whilst prospects focus is often on their stomach and not exercise, its a great way of hitting volume.  Other ways to make this more focused is to do bag packing for charity or havinga  spin bike in the main foyer and getting people to help ride for charity.
  • Train Stations - By doing outreach outside train stations at commutter times you have a similar opportunity to the Supermarkets due to the large commutter numbers.  Try having fruit or water to hand out to clients as its either the start or end of their day and they will appreciate the gesture.  Just add a flyer or guest pass to them and give them a gift once you have their name and number.
  • Link or sponsor to local sports clubs. Not only should you be able to get a banner on their pitch side but they will also often allow you to go along and talk to their fans.  Whilst a premier league football club is great. Often the best ones are the local league clubs who get 500-1000 fans.  People are more likely to be local and being supporters of their local sports club be more likely to support small local businesses.
  • Sponsor or offer to do the warm up at your local running, cycling, obstacle race.  They are often keen to have others do their warm ups as this means the organisers can be free to manage the event.  in exchange they are happy to let you flyer to their participants.
  • Primary schools - These are a great way of getting flyers out to parents.  Whilst you wont get names it is a good way of increasing awareness.  To add to this offer to support the schools healthy food and exercise week.  Most schools have these now, if not then maybe suggest they do!
  • Farmers or X-mas Market stalls - For the small outlay these markets often require, they are a great way of getting in front of local people.
  • Lead boxes - work with other loacl business outlets who are willing to allow you to leave a drop box in their business. Essentially you should run a competition that encourages their clients to fill in the entry.  
As a rule, a club should be doing atleast 20 hours of Outreach a week and look to gather 70-100 leads.  Whilst this is not the only solution to achieving your prospect numbers it is a great way of putting your club out in front of your local community.  It has been proven that people respond best and more quickly to marketing conducted in person, what better way will you have than getting out in front of people.

For more information on how to improve your membership sales and your club performance log onto

For all Anytime Fitness Franchisee enquiries, please contact 360 Degree solutions

Monday, 23 October 2017

Take advantage of your quiet times

Dont be caught out by the Christmas Joys!

November and December are notoriously quiet for the Health and Fitness Industry as prospective clients shift their focus from personal wellbeing and joining to partying and Christmas purchases.

So with this in mind in never fails to escape me how many clubs join this Christmas spirit by switching off and relaxing.  In fact this is the perfect opportunity to prepare your plans and train the team ready for the New Year.

Whilst it is not as vital as it once was, January and February are still the busiest time for membership sales and a failure in this early period will have an impact on your clubs performance all year.  It was not uncommon for many hotel leisure clubs to back load their budgets so that any poor performance did not have an early impact and any big success put the clubs on a real footing for the year ahead.

So what should you be preparing?

1) Your Budgets
2) Your sales and Marketing plans for the year.  These can obviously change as you go but having an annual plan allows you to to deliver rather than be planning as you go.  Adapating to changes is far easier than having to create a new plan every month. Especially if its busy.
3) All of your internal and external marketing material. Book your leaflet drops, create and print your mail drops, create newsletters and media adverts and press releases.
4) Train your team.  This is a perfect opportunity to take the team aside and work on any operational challenges, retrain the sales process and the customer journey.  Work on customer service standards and instill new practices.  It is also a great time to send team members on CPD courses, first aid, pool lifeguard and pool plant as the club will be quiet allowing for skeleton staff shifts.
5) Carry out club audits and ensure any preventative and essential maintenance is carried out now.

I still remember the old saying FAIL TO PLAN, PLAN TO FAIL

This quote ring so true when it comes to the New Year for most leisure Clubs.  This rings even more true for those in Hotels where traditionally November and December will be one of the busiest times for the hotel.  Come January the hotel business dies off and leisure pics up.  Its therefor easy to get caught up in the hotel's hecticness and fail to put in place what is needed for the clubs busy period.

Working hard now will pay dividends in the New Year!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Vist the Franchisee Show

Ever wanted to own your own exciting Fitness Business?

If so come and speak to Anytime Fitness at the Franchisee show at the NEC

13th/14th October

360 Degree Solutions will be there to discuss how we work closely with Anytime Franchise owners to achieve great success

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Your Club Customer Journey

The Client Journey

When setting your fitness business up for success, do you consider the client journey?

Many businesses I speak to set out their clubs, their culture, their processes based on operational requirements, staff coverage and sales.  Quite often never even considering the experience from the client perspective.  This is despite many spending hundreds of thousands of pound to create a great facility.

As human beings we have 5 main sense yet we often don't consider these and quite often it's simply visual aspects we look at.  The club is well painted, bright lights, new equipment that looks great. We offer services we think they want such as a range of classes, personal training, social events and more. Whilst this is very understandable you could be missing more effective ways of ensuring success for your club

Now consider the impact if you could have if you look at our senses and the impact it can have.


This is important in the client journey as it will depend on who your market is.  It is harder if you have a broad range of ages and cultures, however, if you are appealing to a specific market your music needs to match.

Having the right music or sometimes lack of music can have an immense impact.  Your gym music should change depending on the time of the day and the clientele you have. No one wants rave music at 6 am in the morning, we are simply not ready for it. Many of the larger chains will, in fact, have audio systems designed to work on beats per minute depending on the time of day.  The system will then play the appropriate music.

Consider different music for different area's, the reception area should be low music and inviting, pool areas are often quiet and tranquil.  By getting this right you can set the tone of your club.


People react to smells differently and can have a profound impact on their experience of your facility. It's a basic that no clients want a smelly gym or changing room.  However, this is not about just preventing smells but actually creating a memorable experience.

Your entrance should be inviting and can be designed around the season, mown grass, strawberries etc, your changing rooms should be fresh, such as fresh laundry, or male/female scents, the gyms should smell clean and vibrant, a citrus or orange smell often works well.

A good example of doing this is the Nike shops in America where they use mountain smells in their outdoor section, Wimbledon uses strawberry smells to sell their strawberries and cream, florists use flower smells to increase the desire for the product, these are not the actual flowers but scents that are sprayed out.

If you have a bar or lounge it can be a clever trick to have the smell of coffee or bread near the entrance to entice customers in


This can be anything from the type of carpet you have to the furnishings people sit on to the heat of the facility.  You want clients to have a suitable environment to train in.  Changing rooms should be suitable for your facility, if you have a pool they will be higher than if you just have a gym.  The pool should be suitable for the activity its used for, is it a training pool, if so it will be around 21 to 25 degrees whereas leisure pool will be around 30 degrees.

If you want people to hang around in your bar, make it relaxing, make the client comfortable not just have standard chairs.  Make it feel like their lounge at home?

This is also where you consider your staff culture, the hello and goodbye, the friendliness and feel of staff can create that unknown feeling of warmth and value for clients.  Not all clubs though want warm and friendly, some want vibrant and exciting, others quite and professional.  Chose what you want to be and work hard to create that feel.  Make it happen not let it happen like many clubs do.


What you see is vital for those clients who are very visual by nature.  This does not mean all clubs have to be bright and vibrant.  again chose your style for the clients you want to attract.  It's not a 1 size fits all.  A hardcore weights gym needs to look that way, an upmarket country club again needs to match its market expectations.

However, you still have a massive role in creating this experience, through having the right equipment, the correct branding and design of marketing materials, ensuring the club is clean, signage and literature is well presented and staff are appropriately dressed.

When you look at the journey you need to consider setting the club out to be effective.  If your client base is mixed think about how your nervous client will feel training next to your body builder type. Consider access to the studio and who can see.  Do you want the classes on show to create a real vibe or kept away to allow privacy

The journey itself:

When looking at creating the journey you need to consider the points above.  These will be determined by what your culture is. There are many different types of facilities from upmarket spa to hotel clubs, from cross fit to budget clubs.  Whatever your style/culture you still need to understand what your client will feel and what type of client you want to attract.

Once you know this you need to put in place elements that can impact every part of that journey. consider:

The arrival
The meet and greet
Club facilities - parking, reception, changing rooms, gym, pool, spa, studio
Staff contact points
Service contact points
Other member interaction points

You need to map fom start to finish what you believe the member journey looks like and how and when you want to intervene and influence that journey

From there you can develop your culture and have a direct impact on your clubs future

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Managing The Membership Sales Cycle

Managing the Membership Sales Cycle

Almost all Senior and club managers within leisure will have seen and often received training on the membership sales cycle.  It clearly outlines the key focus points of selling a membership from the initial inquiry to closing the sales and beginning to find new prospects again through such things as referrals.

The questions you have to ask are:

1) How often do you review this process within your business?
2) How do you review the process and ensure it is alive within your sales teams?
3) Do you manage this process through statistics and detail or through anecdotal evidence?
4) Do you focus on one area more than another?
5) How do you train this within your team?
6) Do you put emphasis on one area more than the other?

It's important to train the process out first and ensure your team understand each of the 8 steps.  All of the 8 steps are important and work together to ensure each and every inquiry into your business has the best chance of success.

Whilst on the outset you may think the tour and the closing the sale are the most important.  to put into context though remember these points.  People buy from people, someone will make a first impression within 10-15 secs of meeting your team.  A poor first impression can stop the sale in its tracks.

The needs analysis, if done effectively will provide the information for a tailored tour but also overcome many objections even before they are raised and so be making closing the sale so much more effective.

Overcoming objections is a key skill to master as most people will have queries and barriers to signing up straight away.  This is not a reason to not ask for the sale but an opportunity to confirm some additional details for the client.

The sales does not end with the paperwork, with referrals at point of sale being one of the most cost effective and highest conversion type, the sales process ends with prospecting.  

So as you can see the cycle makes sense, it fits together and all parts are equally important.  How you manage this cycle though and how you keep it alive will determine how successful your membership team will

So How do you keep it alive?

In order to manage this process you need to do exactly that, manage it!

1) Train it and retrain it.  Practice it in its part and in its whole with your sales team.  Either during sales meetings or 1-1's.  I was always taught that repetition is the mother of all learning.  By repeating the process and the techniques the skills become and instinctive behaviour.  Some may even have heard that the process becomes "unconcious competence", like driving the skill just hapens.

2) Get your teams to practice with each other.  They will learn from their colleagues and add more skills to the armoury

3) Have your team provide the needs analysis sheets to you after each tour, for those who did not join they need to provide a genuine reason for not joining. " Want to think about it" is not a reason.

4) Instill KPI's into the process.  Important once to consider are:

- Inquiry to Appointment conversion
- Tour to Sale Conversion
- Sale to Referral 
- Total sales to target

With sales being a numbers game, those with better stats will more than likely have a better grasp on the process, will be generating more of their own inquiries through word of mouth and referrals and this will show.  Those with weak sales performances will need a greater focus on the process.  

However, by managing and focusing on the sales cycle you can identify where the training is needed and provide the guidance for improvement.

Too many managers these days focus on the end product which is the sales number on board.  Go back a few steps and put the focus on the process and the skills and the numbers will look after themselves

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