I recently went looking for a new gym. It's not that there was anything wrong with the last gym I belonged to. In fact, I will probably get a summer membership there to enjoy some of the amenities with my family. But, it was time for a change.
I spent a whole day looking at gyms in my area and came away with a feeling of dread. Not about my gym situation, but about the information we put in the pages of Club Industry every month — especially the Focus On Sales/Marketing pages.
I have read time and again the importance of qualifying the prospect; finding out about their needs and desires. I have read tips on how to give an effective tour. I have read about the process of closing the sale. Despite that, not once in any of the clubs I visited were all of these steps met. And when it came to qualifying and closing, neither was done in any of the cases.
Instead of asking me what I was interested in and what I hoped to gain from my experience as a member of the gym, I was repeatedly assaulted with numbers.
“We have 10 elliptical machines,” I was told. “We have more free weights than any gym in the area,” bragged one staffer. “We have 30 pieces of cardio equipment,” said one person — I didn't bother to count. “We have more classes than anyone in the area,” I was told — repeatedly. “We're never crowded after work because we have so many machines,” I was assured by one person.
All interesting facts, but if any of the salespeople would have asked me a few questions, they would have known some interesting facts about me. For cardio, I run outdoors all year. I don't like classes and never take them. I go to the gym at 5:30 a.m. in case I get stuck at work late. And while I do use free weights often, I have never been at a gym that ran out, no matter how busy, so it seems like needless boasting.
As for tours, most were sufficient if maybe too quick. Except for the one woman who left me while I toured the men's locker room. I finally found her back behind the counter mixing a smoothie for a member.
During the sales presentation I was read prices off of fliers at all my stops and given the literature to take with me along with a couple of one-week trial passes. The odd thing was that while I was ready to object and do the traditional sales dance, when I said thanks and started to get up, not one person tried to close the sale. I was never once asked to join the club while I was there…odd, I thought that was their objective; I know it was mine.
If the gym I liked best had asked for the sale that day, I would have joined. I still did a few days later, but I'm not the typical, deconditioned person venturing in looking for my start. Maybe they could sense that. But if not and this is still the way the industry is doing business, it is no wonder we are still trying to get 80 percent of the population to sign on the dotted line.