I have been selling commercial fitness equipment for over 10 years now, and over that time I have learned a lot about how to buy…yes; I said “buy”. Jeffrey Gitomer, one of the greatest sales experts of all time, has said that understanding why people buy is more important than how to sell. Having taken that advice to heart when I was starting my career I have learned a lot about the thought process behind purchasing decisions. In general, buyers try to determine what their exact needs are, and then they try to get the best deal on the products that will meet those needs. It seems simple enough, but certain factors conspire to make this more difficult.
For many buyers gym equipment is merely furniture whose main value comes from not breaking down too often. Given this point-of-view, buyers often focus on getting the best deal. The thought process is that having compared “apples to apples” buy the apple that costs the least. The trouble with this tactic is that the buyer is often too quick to reduce the exercise of buying to a commodities game. This is natural; nobody wants to pay more for something than they have to. Further clouding the process is the naturally adversarial relationship between the buyer and the seller, which makes the buyer skeptical of any claims made by the salesperson. Buyers expect the salesperson of the more expensive product to claim that his product is made better, lasts longer, etc… These claims may be true, but buyers generally tend to believe the argument that supports spending less money.
I have seen this happen a lot over the last few years; the market has been flooded with “me too” products who claim that they’re as good as “x” but cheaper, or whose sales pitch is “you don’t need all those bells and whistles”. Furthermore, the industry trend away from expensive equipment or any equipment at all, supports this idea that good enough is all you need. This may or may not be the case, but I find that this has become the default setting for many buyers, and they’re doing themselves a disservice.
With the market maturing customers have a wider variety of needs, and those needs are more complex. Meeting those needs occurs on many levels, and the equipment in the facility can (and probably should) be a key factor in helping meet those needs. It’s not just about which equipment will break down the least. Your members interact with the equipment you choose, so it’s your job as a buyer to scrutinize how that interaction will occur.
The fundamental purpose of your business (gym, PT Studio, etc…) is to make your customer’s lives better, thus every business decision you make should be in support of that ideal. The thought process behind buying gym equipment has to be in line with this idea; you need to look at how it can contribute to the member experience, just as much as you look at how much it costs. Ask yourself if “good enough” is what you want your customers to say about your facility. It probably isn’t, so why is that your thought process when choosing the equipment they will be using?