by Jeff Russo
After consulting for over 60 different independent health and fitness club organizations since 1998, I can sincerely tell you that the single biggest problem to their success is the failure to realize that they are in the sales business. Club owners and staff will spend a large percentage of their time on managing facilities and programs and far less on tracking and training sales on a daily basis. We tend to celebrate our education, certifications, conferences and spend the good part of the day patting ourselves on the back in terms of our continuing education as we discuss the latest training and nutritional tips. Yet, if I was to ask the majority of staff including Trainers, Fitness Consultants and Front Desk Staff what the club has on the books in terms of gross sales and dollars in the old bank account for the day, week or month, I would get the same response, “I’m not sure”.
The fact of the matter is that everyone who works in a fitness club is in the sales business, we just happen to be selling health and fitness. As so many failed, out of business fitness clubs have experienced over the years, no matter how qualified and passionate your fitness team of professionals are, the doors will eventually close when the sales are not there. The reason that any business or individual fail is that we end up doing second things first. I don’t blame the staff for the culture that is often created by fitness club owners who do not stress the importance of this concept , and who do not motivate and manage the sales process on a daily basis. How many of your clubs have a white board in the lunch room or in a private area with your current sales totals for all departments? Do each of your staff have industry specific goal planners and have you set sales targets both as an organization and for each individual? What are the repercussions of not achieving sales targets, or do we simply accept mediocrity, and allow individuals to keep working in these roles because we like them and they are nice people? You have a moral obligation as a fitness club owner to successfully run and grow your business and to sell health and fitness services to your community that actually gets them results and works.
One of the most successful organizations, that I had the opportunity to work with and manage, had a full time personal training team of approximately 40 Trainers. Their monthly average in terms of personal training revenue was between $300,000-$400,000. Now here’s the most important ingredient of their success. If you were to ask any of those Trainers what business they were in, they all had the same response, “we’re in the sales business, we just so happen to be selling personal training.” I would have been confident to take that same group of motivated and qualified men and women and put them in any other sales company and we would have dominated that market as well. Recently I went to one of my facilities to help run a PT staff meeting. I brought sales statistics from my online web based software and asked the team if they knew what the sales totals were for the last 3 days of the month. The reality was that no one realized that we had put up goose eggs all 3 days and that concerned me and the owners. It would be no different than opening up your restaurant and retail store and doing no sales for three days. We would not call that success and probably be quite alarmed.
If you have an organization that doesn’t like the word sales or thinks that they are above and beyond reading sales materials and taking sales seminars regardless of their position, I can guarantee that you will have a very short business life. Don’t believe me, just ask the owners of a local club in Bolton Ontario, the Bolton Athletic Club that had their facility shut down and their equipment seized last month. This is serious business and it doesn’t help your community or your members when you don’t create a sales culture and the manage the sales process first and foremost.
Jeff Russo has been involved in the fitness industry from 1986 and has worked with over 60 independent health clubs in Canada and the United States in terms of improving customer service and profitability. His Pro Fitness Program has revolutionized the way fitness clubs operate with an emphasis on selling education results and knowledge as opposed to facility and price. Jeff has been a regular speaker for IHRSA and Can Fit Pro. His business consulting systems have created more full time fitness careers for independent club owners than anyone in history. If you would like more information please inquire at www.profitnessprogram.com
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