Getting new members.
This is a touchy subject for a lot of gym owners. It’s how we are able to sustain our business, and it’s how we make money.
Everyone wants to believe that s/he is doing it the right way.
And I’m not here to tell you how you’re doing it is wrong. I will also be the first to admit we have some pieces of our on-boarding process that could use improvement.
That being said, whether you subscribe to eight weeks of on-boarding, three personal training sessions, a long 101 session, or something else, many of us gym owners still share fundamental principles throughout our sales process.
How we express these principles varies, and that’s okay.
If you’re bringing in members and keeping them successfully, then who is to argue with you? I won’t. If you’re happy, I’m happy.
Since we went to an affiliate owner seminar in October, we started tracking our conversion rate. Specifically, what percentage of people who walked into our gym signed up for a membership?
With an average conversion rate of well over 80% (this month sitting at 98% with 27 new members), we’ve realized that consistency in our principles and our process has worked well for us.
Again, our process isn’t perfect, but it works. We’ve refined our sales process in conjunction with implementing an actual retention program, courtesy of Vive Group/Affiliate Solution, so we’re excited to see how we can continue to extend the life cycle of our new members.
I started writing about five principles important to any on-boarding process, but when I got to page 72 of my novel, I decided to cut it down. 🙂
Today, I’m going to focus specifically on the two things that will make your sales process successful not only today but in the long-run, too.
1. Constant Engagement
There’s something called a Waiters’ Race that takes place around the world, where waiters see how fast they can move while carrying a loaded tray that they must balance.
If you don’t believe me, here’s a clip from Japan.
As funny as it it is to watch, the Waiters’ Race is a lot like a good sales process.
You want to keep everything on your tray balanced and upright, but you also want to keep moving forward as quickly as possible. Move too quickly, your tray will tip, and you’ll lose the race. Move too slowly, and, well, you’ll still lose the race.
A good sales process delicately balances the need for speed and the need for accuracy.
You want to get as many quality members into your gym as possible, but in order to do that, you need to slow down, just a little, so your leads have confidence that you truly care about them as they embark on this journey as a potential lifetime member at your gym.
You don’t want to push your leads through something resembling a puppy mill, but you also don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy on any given lead, especially if it leads nowhere.
Whatever your sales process is and however long it is, you must engage your leads quickly, confidently, and take off running from there.
If there is anything we drop everything to tend to, it’s a lead.
During waking hours, we respond to inquiries immediately. By immediately, I’m going to be conservative and say no more than two hours will go by without a response from us.
Why is this so important? Why can’t you just have a bot do it instead?
Because other gyms aren’t having bots do it instead.
That’s right – your gym isn’t the only show in town. I’m not a big advocate of focusing excessively on other gyms and what they’re doing because it only dilutes the beauty of the product you offer.
However, the reality is that any given lead has probably shotgunned a number of gyms within a certain radius and is waiting to hear back from any one of them.
The early bird gets the worm.
We learned this early on, when we took over a struggling gym and were simply trying to get more leads. This has always worked in our favor, and we continue to get feedback from people who come in and say, “You were the only gym that responded!” or “You were the first person to respond!”
Don’t get your feelings hurt by this.
Yes, your gym is super, super special, but people may not realize it quite yet. Right now, your gym is just a place to work out, just like every other fitness facility in town.
Now that you responded to your lead, firmly guide him/her to the next decision point without being a pushy jerk. When can they chat on the phone? When can they come in for a free trial/no-sweat intro/etc.? What do they think about signing up?
There is as much art as there is science to sales.
This can make it elusive and frustrating, but it is also something that gets gratifyingly better with time and practice.
Especially in our world, people don’t want the stereotypical car salesman treatment. They’re turned off by it. People want to be heard, they want to be understood, and they want you to give them the confidence that you have the answer or solution for them (or, you don’t!).
2. Be the Gatekeeper
Sales is a lot like dating. You don’t want to be too thirsty, but you also want to enthusiastically showcase what you have to offer.
Same with sales. Leads can smell desperation, and no one wants to be apart of that.
That being said, having confidence is crucial to not only gaining members but also keeping the wrong ones out.
In running a CrossFit gym, you’re not simply selling equipment and space.
You’re selling community.
You already know this. However, what do you think contributes to the wholesome, tight-knit community you’ve bred over the years?
Keeping out the ones who don’t fit.
I won’t go as far as to say bad people. Because oftentimes, the people you don’t want in your community aren’t straight up terrible people. More often than not, they just aren’t a good fit with your community.
For example, someone comes in and says he’s looking for a hyper-competitive gym, where he can be around Regional and Games-level athletes to push him to the next level.
You look around at your community of stay-at-home moms and working professionals who are trying to stave off chronic disease, and what do you do next?
Take him in anyway? Because, hell, you can find some competition programming online to feed him on the side, right?
Politely direct him to your friend’s gym, the hyper-competitive one down the road, which you know, love, and are very different from.
If you’ve had a gym for a few years, these are the lessons you learn the hard way.
As gym owners, we all have visceral memories of those few bad apples who made our lives (and maybe other members’ lives) a living hell for a stretch of time.
I interviewed a gym owner in the UK recently who said when he made a big change to his business, he lost 13 members, who called him colorful names on the way out, but he also regained 21 ex-members who had only left because of those 13 members.
Don’t underestimate how vital your role is in being the gatekeeper for your community.
After all, a good community is part of any great retention plan.
Next week, I talk about the three big principles we inculcate in all our leads throughout the on-boarding process, to get them ingratiated in our culture as quickly as possible.
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