“Crafting Winning Promotions”: Sales & Marketing |by: Tim Rohner | Club Solutions

Sales promotions — such as rebate promotions, discount offers and gift card promotions — are effective only as far as they guarantee relevance to your target customers.

Not all promotions, unfortunately, achieve the projected results in terms of acquiring new customers and fostering customer loyalty. The following essential tips can help in designing a winning promotional strategy so that you keep your customers from abandoning your brand in favor of another. These tips are also helpful in motivating customers to try your products and services, even in the face of aggressive competition or diminishing customer demand.

Design Different Promotions for Acquisition & Retention : 

In nearly every industry, more value (profit) is created by retaining customers over the long-term — yet more money is spent on acquiring new customers in the short-term through extensive advertising and promotions. In many cases, existing customers are completely forgotten. In the fitness industry, the key is converting new customers to long-term customers and the way to do that is through activity-based incentives. The banking industry has long known that customers that use direct deposit, ATMs and electronic bill pay are 10 times more likely to stay on board than those who don’t use these services. The time has come for clubs to pay for performance! Use promotions to encourage your customers to use your facility — you both will be glad you did !!

Crafting Winning Promotions

The Importance of Customer Segmentation : 

Since your product and service caters to a wide range of buyers, customer segmentation is an important step prior to devising any promotional strategy. Some customers, for instance, may be more price conscious than others. While some buyers prefer a short-term commitment, others prefer a longer-term commitment. Customer behavior data such as these can prove helpful if you plan to use incentives such as gift cards. Since promotions come in different flavors, segmenting your customers will keep you in the loop as to which offers are more relevant to which groups of buyers compared to others.

Use Promotions That Offer Real Value : 

Some companies limit their promotions to discounts, thinking that all buyers appreciate lower prices. While many customers do appreciate getting discounts, there is one clear disadvantage to this type of promotion — the value of a discount disappears once the purchase is made. In contrast, a promotional gift offers long-term value. A gift card can surprise your most loyal customers especially if they get something that they might not have purchased themselves anyway. Because a promotional gift offers value beyond the completion of a purchase, it will be considered valuable and more relevant by your customers. Most importantly, it will not cheapen your product in the same way that a discount would.

Connect With Customers to Foster Brand Loyalty :

These days, promotional incentives should not simply bring instant gratification benefits. It is crucial for any promotional tool to help build and cement customer relationships. A special offer will not only bring long-term value compared to a discount, it may also be used to convert leads and to save a sale that would have otherwise been lost. Customers are emotional creatures, and once you surprise them with something valuable they are bound to remember your brand or your product for a very long time. Consistent efforts such as these are useful in fostering brand loyalty, especially in the fitness industry, wherein you need to differentiate your product or service from sometimes identical offerings.

An exceptional promotional strategy is more than just discounts and rebates. It’s important for your promotions to be relevant and to offer real value to your customers.

Wholesale gift cards, when designed and customized the right way, can prove to be a highly-effective and budget-friendly promotional tool.

“Health-Club Sales” : What is the “Why” behind the “What” ? |by: Ryan Junk | Club Solutions

Far too often, our Club-sales employees try to impress our guests with their knowledge of fitness and the facility. However, we must ensure that they are genuinely interested in finding out exactly what our guests want. Far too often, we train our team members on just the process, and NOT the intent behind it. 

A few points to go over : 

  1. The correct way to greet our guests.
  2. What questions to ask when qualifying a prospect. 
  3. How to summarize and highlight our clubs while on tour.
  4. How to properly present membership options.
  5. How to overcome objections or concerns. 
  6. In training, we often skip over the fundamentals of sales. The fundamentals do TWO things : truly discover the needs of a prospect, and then communicate how those needs can be met through a membership — making it a win-win situation.
  7. When qualifying, the goal is simple, but very difficult if not prepared. Create a conversation that leads to the sales team member getting to know what their guest is looking for, while building a genuine relationship. 

What if your sales person doesn’t care ? 

Then you hired the wrong person. If you hired the wrong team member, and this sales person doesn’t genuinely care about helping people, then this training will fall on deaf ears. If they try to fake it, they will come across insincere, and in some cases, make their guest uncomfortable. 

Isn’t that why we prepare them with the correct questions to ask ? 

  • People buy from people they like and trust, and those that genuinely care about their guests will accomplish this. We just need to let them know how to convey it without sounding like we are just peppering them with questions. 

How do we get our sales team members to ask questions that lead into open conversations ? 

  • It’s not the questions we need to worry about. Far too often our sales staff asks questions with the intent of using the guests’ responses against them later in the sales process. That’s listening with the intent to respond, versus listening with the intent to understand. Poor sales people just like asking questions to tie their guests down. 

If this conversation is comfortable and informative, the sales person now knows what parts of the club to discuss in detail, and which to give a quick overview on. The areas in detail will be conversations, as opposed to presentations.

If done correctly, this process will minimize the amount of membership options that your sales person will need to present, and make the enrollment process simple and painless for the guest. This also sets the foundation of two-way communication, so if the guest needs more information to make their decision, they can comfortably talk through it with the sales consultant.

To gauge your current sales team, try sitting down with them one-on-one. Tell them that you’d like to have a conversation on how they qualify their guests before taking them on a tour. If it sounds like an episode out of your favorite cop show, you’ll know where to start.

Why Does “every Gym / Health-Club, have a unique Equipment Requirement ? ” |by Rory McGown |GYMetrix

One of the early, surprising, discoveries that GYMetrix made, was that each gym we measured the equipment usage, the customers demand pattern was different, and therefore the equipment requirement was different.
We did not expect this, and it was particularly surprising with gyms that had identical demographics and were geographically very close to each other. We expected these gyms to have very similar demand patterns, but in fact each gym we measured was different.
This disproved 2 common industry assumptions:- 
WARNING: Demographics of neither existing members nor those of the surrounding population determine a gyms equipment requirement! 
WARNING: There is NOT a single “golden”, one size fits all equipment ratio model, each gym has an individual equipment requirement! 
Often we say the equipment usage information we provide operators is not the answer sheet but the question sheet. The answer is not ‘ This is what equipment usage is!’ rather the questions is ‘Why is equipment usage like this?’ and ‘What can we do about it? ‘ 
So when we were measuring different demand patterns at every gym we had to ask ourselves the question,“What causes each gym to have a unique demand pattern?” 
Viewing Each Gym Floor As an Ecosystem- 
We began by viewing a gym floor as an Ecosystem that has four components that interact with each other in a way that determines the overall demand pattern.
Gym Ecosystem
Then we looked at each individual element within the Ecosystem and asked what influences each element of the Ecosystem, starting with what has influenced Customers Equipment Choices.

Some of the Factors Determining Customers Equipment Choices:- 

Customer Equipment Choices

When we surveyed gym customers for one project we asked what had determined their equipment choices. 40% of customers responded that they were doing either what their original induction had taught them to do or what a past PT had taught them to do.

Induction programs and PTs play a hugely important role in determining the customers equipment choices, this role is far larger than what the demographics of the members is.  

Some of the Factors that have determined the Types, Quantities and locations of Gym equipment:-  

Influenced Types of Gym Equipment

Until GYMetrix started trading the sad truth for gym customers is that what their demand actually was for equipment was not a factor in determining what equipment, and in what quantities operators bought !! 
In the main operator were using the 7 deadly assumption when refurbing gyms – we now have hard data proving these to not work.
Some of the Factors that determine the influence Gym Instructors will have on Customer Demand Choices:- 
Instructors Influence
The influence that Instructors can have over gym customers equipment choices should never be underestimated: 

A single proactive, enthusiastic, persuasive instructor who is inducting customers thoroughly on equipment they think customers should be using, will have far more of an impact on the customers equipment choices than any demographic data of the surrounding population.

GYMetrix information on equipment usage is not just used to help operators match their equipment supply with existing customer demand, but in every project we look at where ‘Demand Side Management’ can benefit the gym and its customers through instructors changing the customers equipment choices through induction programs and education.

Examples would be: 

1) Where functional training equipment usage is low the answer is not to remove it to a level that matches customer demand, but rather the instructors educate customers more about how to use it, and its benefits, to increase customer demand.

2) Where (commonly) ab machines have high usage and therefore low ‘availability’ and this is creating customer dissatisfaction  don’t get another ab machine, but get instructors to teach customers alternative ab exercises with swiss balls etc or do ‘Ab Floor Classes’ in peak to reduce the demand on the ab machine.

This provides ” value add” staff interactions with customers educating them with better methods of working Abs. 

Conclusion: 

Once we look at all the different combinations and permutations of the influences on each element of the Ecosystem, and then realise that each element will be interacting with the other elements, we begin to understand why each gym has a unique demand pattern.

Indeed we can see how improbable two gyms having the same demand pattern are, and therefore the same equipment requirement ratio. The larger the gyms get the larger the variance there is.

From its inception GYMetrix has been getting asked what the ‘Golden equipment ratio’ is that is best for all gyms. What our research has proved is that there isn’t  a Golden ratio. One size fits all ratios will produce a sub optimal customer experience and a sub optimal return on operators equipment investment. 

To get the best customer experience and return on equipment investment the answer is to measure each gyms unique demand pattern and then accurately cater to it, otherwise there will be equipment shortages leading to customer frustration and equipment excess which is waste for the operator.

When buying gym equipment small mistakes cost a lot of money !! ” Lots of small mistakes cost huge sums of money !!! ” 

“Obesity is a disease”, doctors’ group says |by: Maggie Fox |NBC News

A new decision by the American Medical Association (AMA) to classify obesity as a disease could change the way doctors and insurance companies treat and cover obese patients. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman discusses what it could mean for people who struggle with their weight.

The American Medical Association officially designated “obesity as a disease” on Tuesday – a disease that requires medical treatment and prevention.

The organization doesn’t have any kind of official say in the matter, but it’s influential nonetheless, and the vote of the AMA’s policy-making House of Delegates is one more step in the evolution of social attitudes towards obesity.

“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” AMA board member Dr. Patrice Harris said in a statement.

One third of Americans are obese – and that’s on top of the one-third who are overweight. Obesity is more than just a matter of carrying around too much fat, says Dr. Michael Joyner, an exercise physiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“The fat cells themselves we thought of for a long time as just warehouses for energy,” Joyner said in a telephone interview. But they also secrete chemicals, including chemicals that can cause inflammation, raise blood pressure and that down the road help harden the arteries.

“More widespread recognition of obesity as a disease could result in greater investments by government and the private sector to develop and reimburse obesity treatments,” the AMA said in one statement on the issue.

“Employers may be required to cover obesity treatments for their employees and may be less able to discriminate on the basis of body weight.”

The downside, the AMA says, is that people may expect that should be able to take a pill and “cure” obesity.

That clearly isn’t going to happen, Joyner says. Pharmaceutical companies have tried and tried, but just a very few drugs are approved for weight loss and even they don’t produce spectacular results.

“It is very, very difficult, once people get fat, to lose fat and keep it off,” Joyner says. “We live in a low-physical-activity, high-calorie, high-food-variety environment,” he added. “We are bombarded with images of food.”

But designating obesity as a disease could make it easier for policymakers to make changes. This has happened before with public health – once with smoking, and again with driving safety.

With smoking, first the U.S. Surgeon-General declared that smoking could cause disease, then gradually workplaces and then public places began banning smoking. Taxes on tobacco and restrictions on who could buy tobacco products helped – and smoking rates plummeted from above 40 percent in the 1960s to 18 percent now.

With traffic safety, first speed laws, then requirements for vehicles to have seat belts and air bags helped reduce deaths, Joyner said.

Now something policy measures are needed for obesity, the AMA says.

“It changes the ways society looks at things. It gives people maybe a new set of tools,” Joyner says.

“Health-Club Industry Leaders”, make their mark on Capitol Hill & across the U.S | PR Newswire

Leaders from the health-club industry gathered on Capitol Hill during National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May. They pulled together to urge Congress to support public policies and legislation to help create a national environment that champions physical activity and healthy lifestyles—the building blocks for a healthy workforce, economy, and nation. Their gathering was part of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association’s (IHRSA) 11th Annual Summit.

” For two days in May, the health club industry was on Capitol Hill urging Congress to support legislation to promote physical activity in an effort to restore the health of our nation,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s President and CEO. “But every day, all across America, health club owners and operators are moving our country toward greater economic and national security by leading our local communities toward healthier lifestyles.”

Presentations at IHRSA’s Summit made clear that moving America back to wellness—and especially solving the dual problem of physical inactivity and obesity—won’t be simple. These are complex issues affected by many aspects of American life and influenced by all sectors of society.

Attendees at IHRSA’s Summit for a Healthier America clearly demonstrated that the health club industry is a critically important part of the solution. In fact, the health club industry is a composite of a million solutions—all working in tandem across America to reverse the plague of inactivity and unhealthy lifestyles that has undermined our nation’s health, economy, competitiveness, and global standing.

”  The health club industry is central to solving our nation’s physical and fiscal health problems,” said Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy. “And although not every club owner or manager is able to come to Washington, D.C.for the Summit each year, the role they play on the local level is both essential and valued.”

“What we do on the national level in Washington affects clubs and the communities they serve,” Durkin continued. “But what clubs do on the local level equally affect what happens in Washington. As our Summit’s keynote speaker reminded us, ‘Politics is local.’ Health club professionals are the foot soldiers for change in America. Collectively, we have the power to create a national groundswell for increased physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and primary prevention. From Main Street in our hometowns—to K Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Capitol Hill in Washington, DC—we are the drivers for positive change in America. We are a vibrant and healthy ‘change’ industry.”

During the two-day Summit, health and fitness industry leaders spoke to Members of Congress and their staffs about specific pieces of legislations, including the Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act; the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act; and the Physical Activity Guidelines Act. Industry leaders also requested full funding for the Carol M. White “PEP” grants.

IHRSA and many other health-promotion organizations—which have been working tirelessly to foster a national climate wherein physical activity and healthy lifestyles become the easy choice for all Americans—applauded Congress on May 23when it introduced three bills aimed at promoting physical activity: The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG) Act, the Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids (FIT Kids) Act, and the Promoting Health for Youth Skills in Classrooms and Life (PHYSICAL) Act.

The Impact of America’s Health Clubs : 

Change operates on the ripple effect. And all across our country, health clubs are working in their local communities to affect change toward a healthier, more prosperous America.

Because of health clubs : 

  • More than 51 million Americans are finding support and encouragement to exercise and live healthy lives.
  • More than $21 billion are being pumped into economies across America as more than 30,000 health club facilities work to inspire millions of Americans to embrace a culture of health and wellness.
  • Hundreds of thousands of families are providing their children with the memories and legacy of enjoyable physical activity and active lifestyles.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Americans with diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis and other illnesses are finding it easier to manage their chronic conditions and enjoy life.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Americans confronted with stress, anxiety and depression are finding a healthy way to cope—along with the social and professional support of other club members and fitness professionals.
  • An unstoppable movement of wellness—and the belief in a strong America for generations to come—is taking hold across the country, one health club and one healthy community at a time.

How Health Clubs Create a Positive Domino Effect on Wellness in America :

When people exercise :

  • They improve their health. Wellness goes up. The risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, dementia, depression, anxiety, osteoporosis and even some cancers goes down.
  • They better control their weight. Fitness goes up. Obesity goes down.
  • They build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints. Mobility and its enjoyment go up. Immobility and pain go down.
  • They decrease their likelihood of falling. Balance improves. Fall-related injuries drop.
  • Their energy levels go up. Enjoyment and productivity on the job increase. Presenteeism goes down.
  • They are more productive at work. Employees succeed. Employers profit.
  • They stimulate their creative thinking. Ideas are borne. Solutions are found.
  • Their mood lifts. Feeling good becomes a regular part of life. Quality of life improves.
  • Their stress levels go down. The ability to cope improves. Stress-induced fatigue, illness, and unhealthy behaviors diminish.
  • We all enjoy the benefits of wellness. Healthcare costs are contained. Dollars are saved. The vision for a healthier, more prosperous America is realized.

About IHRSA :

IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA is committed to taking a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to America’s health and the battle against obesity and disease.

Health-Club Operators Beware “Refurb’s 7 Deadly Assumptions” | by: Rory McGown | GYMetrix

GYMetrix has now proved, with hard data,” 7 – Assumptions” many operators use when refurbishing gyms are False ! – ‘Not Fit For Purpose’. 

LA Fitness Weight Machines

1) Equipment Suppliers know what equipment, and in what quantities customers want. They don’t-customers do ! 

When Tesco restocks its shelves it uses information on what customers are buying, restocking more of the popular products so there aren’t shortages, and less of the unpopular products so there isn’t waste. Tesco doesn’t ask their suppliers what they should stock and in what quantities – Why do operators in the fitness industry ?

(Matrix & Life Fitness, are now partnering with GYMetrix to ensure their clients accurately match their equipment capacity with their customers demand.) 

2) There is a ‘one size fits all’ Ideal equipment ratio model. There isn’t one ! 

Each gym has a unique demand pattern. It is produced by the interaction of all of the different influences on Customers, Instructors, Available Equipment, and the layout of the gym floor – the gyms Ecosystem. These influences are different in each gym, producing a unique equipment demand pattern for each gym.

3) The demographics of the population surrounding a gym accurately determine the equipment requirement. They Don’t ! 

GYMetrix has now completed many studies for operators with gyms close to each other and the surrounding demographics being virtually identical. We have found no link between demographics surrounding a gym and its equipment requirements.

4) Refurbishing gyms according to the “Male:Female” membership base. Gym-Floors have more males than females in peak. 

Many women join a gym mainly to use classes; this means that for most gyms, in peak, the gym floor is majority male, unlike the membership base. It has resulted in many men being frustrated by shortages of the equipment they want to use with, across the industry, lower customer satisfaction scores than women.

5) Experienced operators or Instructors “Gut Feel” for equipment requirements is accurate. It isn’t customer equipment usage data is ! 

Sure operators and instructors can observe certain areas are busy and others quiet but their ability to quantify the equipment requirements for these areas, without hard data, have proved to be inaccurate and costly. The lack of objective equipment MEASUREMENT and REVIEW has led to a false confidence in this regard.

6) Experienced operators and Instructors know what equipment is best for customers. 

This may be true, but there is a big difference between what customers ‘should’ want and what they ‘actually’ want. Accurate MEASUREMENT and REVIEW is necessary to identify where instructor intervention is necessary to align the two.

7) Because functional training is the next big trend if operators create space and buy the equipment it will get used. No it won’t ! 

A lot of systematic education is required to create customer demand for functional kit.

Facing “Stress” in Personal & Professional life | by: Deepak Chopra, MD

I don’t want to open the vast discussion of stress that now exists, except to make two limited points :

1. Stress isn’t good for you.

2. The vast majority of people do not deal with their stress effectively.

Coming to grips with these two things is important for anyone who wants to create a conscious lifestyle. To be aware is to be open, alert, ready to meet unknown challenges, and capable of fresh responses. When you are under stress, these qualities are compromised. Raise the stress high enough and they are reversed. The mind closes down as an act of self-defense. In that state it is very difficult to be alert and open.

But stress is bad for you in far more basic ways. The hormones that are released in the body’s stress response, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are meant to be temporary. Their effect is to galvanize the fight-or-flight response, which is triggered in a primitive area of the brain, because fight-or-flight is an inheritance from our pre-human past. In the stress response, a privileged pathway is opened for dealing with emergencies, while at the same time the brain’s higher responses are temporarily suppressed.

No one can healthily sustain the heightened alertness, quick burst of energy, rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and other marks of the fight-or-flight response.  Physically, the hormone rush must come to an end, leading to the opposite state – you become drowsy, lose energy, and have a hard time remaining alert and focused. So-called adrenaline junkies deliberately induce an aroused state because they enjoy being highly aroused, and they presumably value the courage, euphoria, and killer instinct that the stress response brings.

What they overlook is the down side. They may also be unaware of the physical damage done to various parts of the body, since various processes (e.g., growth, digestion, oxygenation of muscles) are temporarily shut down during fight-or-flight, which must be considered an abnormal, unbalanced state – no one would deliberately stay there. As stress experts have asserted for decades, the low-level stress of modern life fools the body into triggering a borderline condition of fight-or-flight that isn’t good for us. “Normal” stresses like being stuck in traffic contribute to hypertension and coronary artery disease, along with susceptibility to infections, insomnia, and much else.

So those highly competitive types who boast that they thrive on stress are living in a fantasy world when you consider the potential for damage to their bodies. The most recent studies on the genetic effects of exercise, diet, meditation, and stress reduction conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish, a national expert on reversing heart disease, suggests that a positive lifestyle produces beneficial output form as many as 400-500 genes. This implies that the same genes are adversely affected by a negative lifestyle that ignores stress management.

We are only now beginning to understand that subjective states like pain and happiness are not standardized. In fact, as we constantly reshape the brain and nervous system through everyday experience, each of us is structuring a unique response to the world, including our response to stress. This implies that there are people with high tolerances for stress and people with low tolerance, just as there is for pain.  But if you put soldiers under the high stress of battle, eventually all of them will become shell-shocked unless they are given time away from the front lines. The firefighters and police who responded on 9/11, a group self-selected to go into stressful situations, suffered very high rates of post-traumatic symptoms.

Therefore, don’t try to make stress your ally, either by toughing it out or turning your back on the problem. The conscious choice is to recognize that modern life is a battleground of low-level stress, sometimes peaking into high stress, that will have a damaging effect over time unless you deal with everyday stressor’s in a consistent, effective way.

We’ll talk about the best ways to manage stress in this series of posts.

(To be cont.)