Having a steady flow of potential new clients is the goal for every gym, but how do you get those clients to pick you and to convert to a long-term membership?
Client education and buy-in are essential for increased and maintained membership volume. The word “closing” may seem strange in discussing this process, but fitness is very much a business. In this sense, “closing” the client means achieving the desired outcome; the client commits and joins. A strong demonstration of value calls for a soft sales process to ensure growth. Learning the proper approach to this process is vital for success.
I’d like to share with you the 6 Steps to Educating and Closing the client. These steps are to be implemented throughout your first visit with the potential new client, and reinforced constantly and consistently throughout your gym to ensure a higher percentage conversion rate, greater retention and improved programming outcomes.
Dress for Success
An inappropriate outward appearance has the power to change a person’s perception of your gym and your business. The image of your staff, your front desk, and the individual departments must be evaluated with an objective eye. Try to observe everything through the eyes of your clients.
The Entire Staff
Because each staff member may have a different idea of what “business/professional” attire entails, a uniform will remove any confusion. It is my philosophy that a uniform creates a congruent, professional appearance that enhances productivity and accountability. Additionally, when care is taken to be clean, well-pressed, and well-groomed, it shows others that you care about them as well. An appropriate uniform includes name tags and matching apparel for all staff members and administrative positions.
In the gym, as a whole, strive to keep the décor clean and appropriate. Choose decorations and designs that fit with the services you provide and the demographic that you want to attract. Organization is paramount and clutter needs to be eliminated in every way possible.
Being proactive is one of the most important elements of effective communication. In educating and closing clients, a proactive approach will allow you to be prepared for any situation that may occur. You want to avoid the reactive approach that has you running around, putting out fires, and trying to fix problems or explain situations on the fly.
As you will see, when you are proactive, you are an expert in the products and services offered in your gym, and you are skilled in guiding and leading your clients through their programs as you match your client’s needs and wants with the products and services you offer. It all starts with proactively being prepared and educating yourself.
Understand the Client’s Needs and Wants
Members may always know what they want, but it is up to you and your team to know what they need. Everyone in the gym should know the needs and wants of the client so that everyone can guide and lead the client to what is best for them. This needs to be done from the professional perspective, and most importantly, from an emotional perspective.
In order to accomplish this knowledge, you must be able to answer several questions about each client:
First, what important aspect of life motivates the client to feel his/her best? Does the client have children or grandchildren they want to play with? Do they love their active job? Are they looking forward to participating in the city’s annual marathon?
Second, what brought the client into your gym? Is the client unhealthy and were told they need to get fit? Are they unable to perform a certain duty? Are they overweight? Are they looking for a new workout or trainer? Did they see an advertisement that sparked their curiosity?
And third, how is this problem or challenge affecting his/her life? Are they missing activities they’d like to participate in? Are they missing out on playing with, or even lifting their children or grandchildren? Is their sleep or health affected?
In asking these questions you will learn the client’s wants – based on who they are, why they are in your gym, and how they are being affected – and their goals, even their goals beyond reaching a functional outcome. Now you can discern their needs based on a physical assessment, workout plan, and their feedback and improvement.
You must be able to empathize with them in order to best help them receive the proper programming. You need to understand his/her emotional reasons for getting fit. If the client loves to golf, or run, or wants to get back to their job, use this desire to motivate them to stay on course in their workout plan.
Be an Expert on Your Products and Services
As an expert on your products and services you can guide the client to the right fitness decisions. Everyone on your team needs to be an expert as well; they must also present as an expert. People perceive what you present. If you or your staff are sending mixed messages, or are unsure in your descriptions of workouts or services, you will create an unsure or uneasy feeling in the client.
Create a fact sheet, or a glossary of terms, that includes every service and product that you provide with an explanation of what the product or service involves. This ensures that everyone in the gym is speaking the same language and describing things in that same way.
Without taking this step, you run the risk of confusion for both your client and your staff. Imagine telling a client that they will be receiving a specific workout, yet when they arrive at the front desk and ask a question, no one can describe the workout or even reinforce how important it is in the workout plan. This lack of staff education leads to lack of client education, as well as a lack of confidence in your gym, and inevitable client fall-out.
Match the member to the Product or Service that Best Meets Their Needs and Wants
Now that you have established the needs and wants of your client, and you are an expert on all the products and services provided by your facility, it’s time to put it all together. What products or services offered in your gym match the needs and wants of the client? Be specific! Remember: Your convenient prescheduling protocol, ensuring that the client always has a future, reserved workout, is an invaluable service…Your mobility or flexibility class can help bring the swing back into their golf game…Your yoga or dance class can help keep them excited and give a needed change to their workout routine…that new foam roller you offer in your retail section can help them work at home to avoid injury or setbacks.
You know their wants, now you can specifically meet their needs through your products and services.
As you are aligning these two elements, you are now demonstrating the value and benefit of what your staff and facility will provide to the client, but value and benefit does not stop here!
Demonstrate Value and Benefit
The value and benefit of the services you and your staff provide extends to every aspect of your gym, and everyone in your facility should be able to identify this for each client.
Value and benefit may seem obvious in the fitness world. For instance, a client receiving specified workouts to help lose weight or increase cardio capacity may understand the value and benefits. But, does the client see the particular value and benefit specific to what YOUR team can provide? Does the client realize that hip and core stabilization for a knee injury could quickly result in the decrease in pain and increase in mobility, even though you aren’t working out their “knee” and that this is of intrinsic value and benefit providing them the long-term path to fitness? As an expert on your products and services, you must be able to demonstrate the value and benefit to each and every client, and do this with specificity to the needs and want of each client.
As you can see, these steps are not simply a checklist or a plan to follow. When implemented correctly, these steps become a philosophy for your gym, leading you to greater success, a higher close rate and greater retention. Why would the client choose to go anywhere else?
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