A profitable gym is only as healthy as its ability to bring in an ongoing stream of new members. When that stream of new members begins to dry up, you need to address the issue immediately. In this article, I’ll lay out the 8 most likely reasons that your gym sales have dropped off, along with proven solutions to get things back on track.

The 8 Reasons at a Glance

  • The Compensation Plan
  • Bad Sales and Marketing Alignment
  • Management Changes
  • Inconsistent Follow Up
  • Bad Hiring
  • Inadequate Training
  • Neglecting your Competition
  • Lack of Motivation

The Compensation Plan

The number one reason that you are not getting the sales closes that you want is likely to come down to the motivation of the salesperson. And the biggest reason for a salesperson to be lacking in the motivation department is that they are not getting adequately compensated. 

If you expect your sales force to be able to sell day in and day out, you have got to compensate them accordingly. That compensation plan should be based on performance. The commission that the salesperson receives needs to be enough to motivate them so that they know that if they are hitting their sales targets they are going to be making more money by sticking with you than they would anywhere else. 

In addition to the commission, you should provide your team with a retainer. When your sales member has the surety that their basic living expenses are going to be covered regardless of what happens that week, they are going to be freed up to perform optimally for you and for the prospective member. They won’t be selling out of desperation and, as a result, so long as you’ve hired the right people (more on this later), you’ll get the best from them.

When you provide your team with a retainer you are expressing your faith in both their ability to do the job and in your product.

Here’s an example of how a commission might work with one of your paid fitness class instructors. You provide a $35 retainer for a 45-minute class. Then for every person who signs up for the class, they get an additional $1.50. So, if 50 people take the class, your instructor will be making $110 for 45 minutes’ worth of work. Depending on the price point, you will be making a lot more than that. That’s a win-win situation if ever I saw one. 

The bottom line here is that you need your performing sales staff to make some serious money if you want them to perform.

Bad Sales & Marketing Alignment

You can have the best sales force on the planet but, unless your marketing is bringing in prospects, they are going to be spending a lot of time sitting around twiddling their thumbs. You need to be driving people into the gym so that the sales team can do their job. 

To bring in new members, you need to come up with initiatives and promotions that get attention. This might include offering two free weeks of training to the public. You could also offer heavily discounted fitness classes, such as 20 classes for twenty dollars. 

Promotions like this will create the volume that a highly motivated and 

well trained sales staff will be able to work with in order to produce the sales that you are after. 

On the other hand, you might be doing all the right sort of promotion to get bodies through the door but have a weak or ill-trained sales team who are unable to capitalize on the volume coming into the gym. In some gyms, it’s left up to the front desk person to take care of sales when promotions bring in new people. That is never going to cut it. 

Aligning your sales and marketing efforts is essential to achieving the sales that you need.

Outdated Selling Techniques

Selling today is very different than it used to be in decades gone by. Modern selling is all about being quick, easy, friendly, and seamless. Unlike the old-school selling techniques, modern selling is not about persuading or talking the prospect into the sale. Rather, it is about solving their problems, providing added value, and exceeding their expectations. It’s also about following up with specific appointments rather than leaving the follow-up up in the air. 

Even though you are there to solve the customer’s problems, you still have to ask for the sale. If you don’t do that, you will never get the result you are after. 

Management Changes

Whenever you make changes to the organizational or management structure of the business, you will interrupt the normal flow of business. This could include the changing of the area director or the marketing manager of the facility. Each of those changes is likely to change the focus and direction of the sales team. 

Sometimes, of course, changes do need to be made. However, your normal state of play should be to either change nothing in terms of the management structure or make changes subtly. When changes take place, especially those in management, the people who work under them will naturally be on edge and the normal flow of productivity will be interrupted.

Inconsistent Follow Up

The vast majority of the prospects who come through the gym door are not going to sign up on that first visit. In fact, it takes on average 5-12 interactions to secure a new gym member. The gym industry does a very poor job of following up with prospects. Often, a prospective member is not followed up with at all. 

Consistent follow-up on your prospects can result in a 20 percent increase in your sales. Gym owners may pay for leads and then do a poor job of harvesting that list. That makes bad economic sense. After all, you have already sunk the cost of the list so you owe it to your business to work it to life. Every person on that list should be followed up with and nurtured. 

For that to happen you need to have people on your sales team who are prepared to pick up the phone. Then they have to be trained on how to communicate with the lead. Here’s an example of what your salesperson could say …

Hi Jenna, this is Steve Jenkins from Ultimate Bodies Gym. I noticed that you called in for some information recently about the gym. Did we manage to answer all of your questions?

From there let the discussion progress naturally to schedule a session in the gym to follow up further. 

Bad Hiring

At the end of the day, your sales success comes down to the skills and abilities of your sales staff. The people who you put on the payroll are part of your brand – they represent you and your company. To get the best people, you can’t just leave it to chance. You need to have a plan in place to recruit them. If you simply hire to fill an empty slot, you are probably going to make the wrong fit. 

A couple of suggestions that will allow you to filter through your applicants to find the best person is to require in your job advertisement that the job applicant sends you the following:

  • Their resume
  • Their income expectations
  • A 30-second audio or video file that answers the question “Why am I the best person for this job?”

You should be looking for people who have a winning attitude, a strong work ethic, and who are coachable. 

Inadequate Training

Once you have got the right people, it is then up to you to train them. Training, though, is not a one and done type of thing. It needs to be ongoing. Make the training of your sales team a regular weekly event. The training should be authentic and based on real-world scenarios. Have role plays and rely on your most successful sales members to share what’s working and what’s not working. Foster an atmosphere of openness, encouraging ideas from the sales team on how things can be better streamlined and more effective.

Neglecting Your Competition

Your competition is not going to disappear if you ignore them. Rather, they will capitalize on the market segments that you are not catering to. As a smart gym owner, you need to be carefully studying your competitors. Identify their position in the marketplace, what their strengths and weaknesses are and what they are doing better and worse than you. Zoom in on what you are or can be doing better than them and make this a focal point of your marketing message. 

Having identified what sector of the market your competition is targeting, look for a portion of the market that is being underserved and set about marketing to them. Differentiation in your marketing message will set you apart from the competition so that you are no longer competing with them – you will have a whole area of the market to yourself.

Lack of Motivation

As a gym manager, you are tasked with the job of creating an atmosphere of energy and positivity where all of your staff, from the front desk person to the sales closer, are motivated to do their best for the business every day. The way to create this type of positive atmosphere is to show genuine value to your staff members.

Too often we catch members doing the wrong thing. Make it your policy to catch them doing the right thing. Create a culture of recognition. Be liberal in the giving of praise. Use the same strategies that you do with your members to keep your staff engaged and motivated. Provide them with little gifts on the anniversary of their employment and on their birthday. Ask for the opinions of your staff and then listen attentively to what they have to say. 

In order to motivate your sales staff, you need to set goals for them. You should have specific goals in place for the gym and also for each individual sales rep. Then every single day, the sales staff should be working toward those set objectives. 

You should also allow your staff members a measure of freedom to make decisions. When staff don’t have to check with the boss on every small decision but have the authority to make an on-the-spot decision, they not only facilitate a more seamless operation, but they feel as if they are trusted and valued by the management. 

It is impossible to understate the value of trust in keeping your sales force motivated. Seeking out and showing that you value their opinions is key to building that trust. Ask your team members what they would do if they were the owner of the gym and how they would change things. 

Recap

The 8 main reasons that gym sales drop off can be summed up as follows:

  • The Compensation Plan
  • Bad Sales and Marketing Alignment
  • Management Changes
  • Inconsistent Follow Up
  • Bad Hiring
  • Inadequate Training
  • Neglecting your Competition
  • Lack of Motivation

Summary

Don’t leave the closing of your sales to chance. Take advantage of the information presented in this article by performing a systematic audit of your sales process. If you aren’t having regular sales training sessions, make that the first thing to implement. Then, why not go through this article with your sales team, using it as the basis for a vigorous, open, and free discussion of how your gym stands in relation to each of the points that have been raised? Doing so will help you to generate a list of action points that will set an agenda for the immediate future. Implement them consistently and you will be amazed at how much more healthy your gym sales figures will become.

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