Fitness Industry Disputes Controversy and Knife Fights

Seriously. This is no exaggeration. My sordid past involving other fitness industry veterans, fake cops, real bank robbers, machine guns, and knife fights is enough to write a book about.  Not really, but I got your attention. Getting your audience’s attention is what this article is all about. Before I get started, let me wish each of you a happy and prosperous 2012.

As we head into the New Year, you’ve got to be asking yourself, “Is there a better way to run my operation?” After being in the fitness industry for over 40 years, I’ve seen a lot of things – many that made me shake my head and wonder what the heck some of you are thinking. Yes, there is a better way to do a lot of what we do on a yearly, monthly, and daily basis.  Please read on.

Over the past couple years, there has been much talk about the poor state of our economy; therefore, as you head into the New Year, it is more important than ever to analyze where you have been and where you are heading. Ask yourself a few questions while reading this article and decide if you’ve been letting the negative information hitting the airways and print media influence your decisions as a business owner. In business, even in the fitness industry, there are always ups and downs, and, no matter what people say, that’s healthy.

There are no crystal balls. I wish there were. But during these uncertain economic times, you can choose to do nothing or you can choose to become a better business manager. The choice is yours.

I’ve always been told that there are three types of people in the fitness industry – people who make it happen, people who watch it happen, and people who don't know what's happening at all.
This unprecedented economical downturn may last for several more months or even several years. As a business owner and/or manager, you've got to take advantage of this time period and become better than your competitors. You’ve got to be one of the people who make it happen.

However negative the predictions may sound, the truth is that people will still be shopping for a fitness facility or a fitness-related service. To ensure that you have the best possible chance for success, it is imperative that your staff is trained - and trained correctly.

So, what does a fitness business do to ensure they have the very best possible chance for success? Here is the answer. Be the best you can. Jim Rohm, a motivational speaker, once said, “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

So if I‘ve got your attention, and you are open to new ideas, and ready to make a few changes in your operation, check out the following information and make it happen:

Advertising, Marketing, and Sales - Traditionally speaking, you should be spending 7-10 % of your gross income to further the branding and growth of your business, and the monies should be spent equally internally and externally. You may be asking yourself what I mean by internally and externally. Internal spending means that you promote from within; you do something for your members or customers and in return ask them to do something for you. Promoting externally would be email marketing, radio, yellow pages, television, newspaper, direct mail, flyers, etc. With both strategies, you should be measuring the results, and the return on investment. Be aware, however, that some of the benefits, again speaking about both spending strategies, can’t be measured because the exposure alone will continue to brand and further promote your business.

As technology has evolved, many of the traditional methods of advertising seem to no longer work as well as they did in the past. Every company spends a substantial amount of money and effort in its marketing and advertising campaigns. Since this crucial area involves huge investments, everyone looks for the most efficient options. Email marketing has emerged as the major marketing tool during recent years. Don’t get me wrong, you should still dabble in traditional forms of advertising, but not to the degree you have in the past. Research clearly indicates that modern approaches, such as email, are the key to your future success.
Think about the last time you bought something online or visited an interesting web site. How did you learn about the product or web site? There is a very good chance it was from an email. Like it or not, email marketing is still the most effective form of marketing from an ROI perspective.

In fact, according to research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, no other form of advertising or marketing produces a higher return on investment than email marketing.
There are several reasons why email works better than all other forms of direct marketing.
First and most importantly, consumers are constantly being bombarded with advertising messages, and the competition for their attention has never been more fierce. When you finally have consumers’ attention, you've got maybe two seconds to keep it and communicate your message. Generally, when someone opens an email, the marketer has the viewer’s full and undivided attention without distracting banners, audio or competing messages. It is not surprising that email converts more prospects to sales at a lower cost.

Email marketing is all about the cumulative effect. This effect is even more successful when the email marketing is complemented by other forms of advertising. The results and success of any email-marketing program is dependent on the offer, the time of year, the competition, and many other factors.

My recommendation to you is to put email marketing into the mix for the next nine months or so and see how you do. Trying to measure how successful your email campaign was after sending out one or two emails isn’t the right approach. Results from your advertising efforts don’t always mean you will be flooded with telephone information calls and/or walk-ins. Results can be as important as branding your business on a weekly or monthly basis. You have to constantly and consistently put your name out there. That’s what email can do for your business.
Secondly, email is cost efficient. Check out the GFA e-Marketing advertisement on page 50. Pricing is one and one half cents per email sent, based on sending out your email campaign once a week for four consecutive weeks.

Finally, email marketing allows you to build a relationship with your prospects through repeated exposure. Focus on providing valuable information that builds your credibility as an expert in the fitness industry.

Effective Follow-Up and Communication (the most overlooked and most important topics in the fitness industry) - Never forget your members, prospective members, or customers. Effective follow-up begins immediately after the sales presentation, when you call or write to say, "thank you." Beyond this, there are several effective ways for you or your staff to follow up that ensure your fitness facility or business is always on the customer's mind:

1. Let members and customers know what you are doing for them. This can be an email or it can be more informal, such as a phone call. Whatever method you use, the key is to constantly stay in touch.
2. Write former customers personal emails frequently. "I was just sitting at my desk and your name popped into my head. How is your exercise program going? Is there anything I can do for you?” Or if you run into a former customer at an event, follow up with an email: "It was great seeing you at the Group Fitness Seminar. Hope you enjoyed it.”
3. Keep it friendly but professional. Emails make it easy to communicate, but the personal touch is often lost.   
4. Remember special occasions. Send birthday cards, anniversary cards, and holiday cards.
5. Share information. If you read a fitness article or hear about a new book a customer might be interested in, email to let them know.
6. Use emails to build your business. When you contact existing customers, always ask for referrals.  With everything your existing customers can do to help grow your business, there's simply no reason not to stay in regular contact with them, so follow-up.
7. Focus on retention, not just making sales. Salespeople, especially those who get paid on commission, focus on closing sales instead of the quality of the service. Remember, a long-term member or customer is more important than merely closing a sale. Research shows it costs six times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.
It’s time to surrender to modern technology. The strategies you learn and practice now, when the economy is flat, will serve you now and many times over in the future.

For more information on this subject, give us a call at 925-672-4800 and we will gladly do our best to answer your questions. You can also visit our website at for more information. 

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