When prospective members come in to your club as a result of your telephone cold calling efforts, attempt to enroll them just like you would a walk-in. Assume they're going to join your club when they first come in. Don't assume that all they want to do is try the club and then they'll join when their trial membership is over. Eight out of 10 people won't use their trial memberships because it's human nature to procrastinate starting a regular exercise program.

If they've shown enough interest to come into your club, they have fitness objectives that they believe your club can help them achieve. Give the prospective member a complete tour, present the prices and convey the conviction that your club will help them improve the quality of their lives. If you've aroused enough desire, you can enroll them by offering them an incentive to join. Consider allowing them to apply the monetary value of their free trial membership toward a regular membership. The biggest mistake I see salespeople make with trial memberships is not giving a complete presentation and tour, and more important, not asking every person to join the club. The worst thing that could happen is the prospective members want to use their trial membership before they commit to join, which is fine.

When attempting to enroll prospective members who want to try the club before they join you need to do four things:

  • Get them to commit to using the club at least twice a week. “Mr. Prospective Member, to make it worthwhile from an exercise and a money standpoint, you need to use the club at least twice a week. Does your schedule allow you to work out at least twice a week?” “Great!” “You won't be able to get all the results we've discussed in just two weeks, but if you continue to use the club on a regular basis, you'll definitely see the results you're looking for.” Here's your closing question: “If at the end of the trial membership you have used the club at least twice a week, will you be ready to join at that point?”

  • Find out what's going to happen over the trial period that will cause them to want to join. “Mr. Prospective Member, it's two weeks from now; what's happened that's caused you to want to join?” The reason this question works so well is that your prospective members will tell you what needs to happen in order for them to join your club, and you can use the answer they give you as a closing tool.

  • Make sure your trial members get the proper introduction to the club. If you don't give trial members the attention they need and deserve at the beginning of their trial, they won't be comfortable using the equipment, and because they won't know how to use the equipment, they won't work out. If you really want to insure that your trials convert into full memberships, set up an appointment for every workout and personally take them through their workouts. This personal attention will make them feel good about your club and ultimately cause them to join. If they want to work out on their own, keep in touch with them by phone and when they come into the club to make sure they're comfortable and enjoying the club.

  • The final step to successfully converting trial memberships is to offer them an incentive to join. Let's face it: we all like to feel as though we're getting a little extra or getting some kind of a bargain. For example, you can give them an incentive to join by adding two weeks, or even a month, to their membership, give them a free T-shirt, or offer them a couple of free personal training sessions. The idea is to make them feel as though they're getting a little something extra.

  • Properly using incentives, coupled with personal attention that insures prospective members are using the club, results in a higher conversion of trial memberships into full memberships. Do these four things and watch your member enrollments soar.

    Jim Collins is the president of Health Club Training, a consulting company that provides proven sales systems for health clubs. He can be reached at or at 561-262-7676.

Suggested Articles:

More Americans plan to participate in self-care activities in 2021 than in 2020, including exercising outdoors and at a gym.

Eighty-four percent of Americans surveyed said that they were making a 2021 resolution. Of that group, 91 percent were making one related to fitness.

IHRSA has released a playbook for club operators and members of state fitness alliances who want to lobby lawmakers about the industry's importance.