“But Ben, many of my members lost their jobs and they don’t have sustainable income to hold a membership. I don’t want to throw thousands of dollars into marketing if no one is buying. Should I wait until this all ends to start selling?”
The conversation still is vivid in my memory for a couple reasons: first, the owner was scared. His business was already failing before COVID, and second, he wasn’t sure how to fix it before a pandemic. As a consultant, my first goal was to build trust. Selling a studio owner on following my process is no different than convincing a prospect to use my studio. Across the country I have had a chance to collaborate with some of the best in the industry that have given some fantastic tips on how to proceed in moving your business forward without being tacky, and pushy… yet not too soft and timid.
Here are the four things you need to do NOW to find that balance:
- Hold your staff accountable on what they should have been selling from the beginning, which is RESULTS. Even before the pandemic, many of my sales trainings included my personal experience in having over 100 gym memberships in my lifetime and during the discovery process only being asked what my goals were a handful of times. So why don’t studios or gyms ask about goals? Is it because your company doesn’t care about results? Is it because all you care about is money? Of course not: it’s because your system lacks accountability. How often do you audit new guest questionnaires? How often do you listen to recorded calls? How often do you role play the discovery portion of your tour or studio information session? You can train your staff on this topic all day long, but establishing a habit, and accountability to it, is the only way to drive new member sales once you get people in the door.
- Know what to market and what not to. Yes, the competition will have changed and some gyms and studios will shut down and some members will change gyms due to new preferences, but this will be a misconception for salespeople. Why fight over the 1% of members in this scenario when only 14% of Americans had gym memberships before this? 86% of people have had most of their hobbies taken away and schedules cleared for the past 8 weeks… how about we market to them instead? Create marketing messaging that isn’t promo related, doesn’t over-emphasize the cleaning initiative, and for heaven’s sake, don’t bash other gyms or studios for what they are or aren’t doing. Focus on a welcoming and fun environment with results at the center.
- Train your staff to be direct about cleanliness, but to refocus the conversation to goals. Have you ever taken an incoming call about memberships? What is the most common topic when it comes to dealing with customers on the phone? PRICE. So how do I build rapport and see how I can help the prospect without throwing a number at him or her? Using this same system, just change the topic of “price” to cleanliness! When I’m on tour or on the phone with a prospective client, I need to be direct and confident that he or she will see how clean and safe our facility is, and once I have done this, it’s my job to follow up my response with a confirmation of understanding and agreement that they will see the cleanliness when they come, and then go right into another open-ended question pertaining to the client’s goals.
- Now more than ever, follow up is going to be imperative. This is truly a lost art in sales: most owners/managers/sales people never call members they have brought on board, and ones that do, don’t know what to say, so you get the generic “How is everything going? Well… call me if you need anything!” If you think retention was a battle before, you better get ready for a bigger one now.