Keeping all that in mind, it's important that your club is able to speak their language. This means that your membership sales staff needs to present everything honestly, logically and positive and utilize terms that the prospect can relate to and is comfortable with.
For example, as an industry we have counted free one-day passes and free one-week memberships as a part of our sales arsenal for a long time. Some clubs say, "We don't use those things. We don't need to." This is a poor assessment of an outstanding tool if used properly. As an industry we have used them so ineffectively for so long that almost everyone involved in membership sales has a lukewarm feeling about them.
The problem is that we have continued to use antiquated thought process about each one of these tools. Most sales people have found that free one-day and free one-week passes have either never been utilized (in spite of expiry dates, follow-up and all the other techniques associated with the use thereof) or have been utilized by chronic free one-day pass/week abusers.
In order for either of these tools to be effective there is more detail and effort required to maximize the opportunity. As mentioned above, the terminology used should be revised so that they are more in keeping with the language that sounds familiar to prospects.
Maximizing Effectiveness of Free Day/Week Passes
In order to maximize the effectiveness (and they can be extremely effective when used properly) of a free one day/week, the terms pass or membership must be eliminated. In Prochaska's model, most people entering the club are not in the maintenance category. That means that if they ever did try a club, they failed. If they never joined a club yet the term membership may be uncomfortable and unfamiliar. In a one-day/week pass opportunity a term such as a "first steps" program will be much more comfortable and be more in keeping with what they may have expected. Many have tried weight loss programs before. The weight loss industry does not really use the term membership. They call their packages programs.
So, the terminology makes a difference. So does the granting of the opportunity to the membership prospect. In granting the first steps opportunity, the time available must be controlled by the membership sales person from start to finish. Giving someone an opportunity to use the club for seven days may sound great…but few use it. Changing the terminology will help, but the amount of control will help more. The membership sales person should make specific appointment for each day and try to see the person on each visit. The prospect is buying the membership sales person more than anything else!
Continuing The Terminology Modification Through For Memberships As Well.
Memberships can be explained in many ways. For the person who has never exercised before or who has failed in previous attempts (most prospects) a program will sound more appealing. Additionally, a non-member spouse who may be an obstacle to the person joining will buy into a program mush more than a membership. Some clubs don't like the idea of anything less than one year. The fact is that a one-year term membership turns off a lot of prospects and even if they join they feel uncomfortable. Look up industry numbers as to the life of the typical membership if you want another factor to consider this approach
A program can generate more revenues for the club than memberships. Furthermore, it won't matter what a competitor is charging for their membership if you are selling a program! For example, if a one-year membership has a $150.00 enrollment fee and dues are $51.00 per month, over a three month term the person would pay $303.00. Then if you charged $349.00 for a 12 week (12 weeks is the a common term for successful lifestyle modification programming) the club would collect more money and be able to offer more up front programs to encourage use by the new member.
One membership does not fit all. If the club offers several levels of programming each type of prospect can see themselves as a part of one of the programs.
Level One Program - 12 weeks - For those who have never exercised before
Level Two Program - 12 weeks - For those who have exercised before but failed to accomplish their goals
Level Three Program - 12 months - automatic renewal - For the regular exerciser - Traditional pricing
Level Four Program - 12 months - automatic renewal - For the advanced exerciser - Traditional pricing
This approach also opens the door to encourage the new exerciser to try to progress to the next level. That then encompasses 24 weeks (Six months of participation) at a revenue number that continues to exceed regular membership sales numbers and yet is much easier to sell.
The landscape is changing quickly. Those who adapt to the evolving conditions will benefit greatly. For the others, there's the discounted membership wave coming on strong. It's your choice!
About Geoff Hampton
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