Secret Shop your Business to create an incredible and consistent experience for your clients!

I worked at McDonalds for 5 years. I know, I know… that’s a story for a different blog! Anyways, when I worked there we would get Secret Shopped all the time and of course, you always wanted to get a high score. So you ended up just practicing the correct protocol all the time because you just never knew whether you were being shopped or not. So you became very good at always greeting with “Hi, may I take you order please” and always asking “Would you like some fries with that?” and finishing with “Thank you and have a great day!” We always knew we had to keep busy because “if there was time to lean, there was time to clean!” All large corporations utilize Secret Shops because they know it works to help create the kind of wonderful and consistent experience for their customers.

At Northwest Personal Training and Northwest Women’s Fitness Club, we also use a Secret Client Evaluation process which evaluates our team on whether we are delivering the type of service that we all envision. By keeping it ‘secret’, it ensures that our team doesn’t just shine when they know they are being evaluated but instead, they follow protocol and procedures all the time because they just never know when they are being evaluated. But it’s important to note that our team does know they are getting evaluated, they just don’t know when. Plus we give them the check-list of what they will be evaluated on so there are no surprises and the expectations are very clear.

We have a Secret Evaluation process for all important aspects of our business including an evaluation for the Initial Complimentary Training session, Initial Phone Call, Initial Tour, Ongoing Training appointments, Group Fitness classes and more. We have created a check-list of everything that should happen in each of these scenarios as the ideal vision for the client experience.

When we assign a ‘client’ to perform these evaluations, we have used:
• Actual Clients
• Friends
• Prospective Clients
• Business Associates

We provide them with a Free Personal Training session ($70 value) as a gift to them for taking the time to go through the process and to complete the evaluation form.

At Northwest Personal Training, we strive for world-class consistency and excellence in everything we do and have found this program to be invaluable for us. We hope it helps you too.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

ps. If you don’t want to have to spend the time to create your own evaluations and check-lists, we sell the license to utilize our systems. It will definitely save you a lot of time and be ready to implement immediately. If you’re interested, you can email our Fitness Education Director Kari Schunk at kari@nwpersonaltraining.com

Watch this Video Clip on how to Stretch out your Clients.

Hey Fitness Pros,

I’ve written in the past about the importance of spending at least 5-10 minutes at the end of every training session stretching out a client and/or utilizing tools such as stretching sticks or balls to provide a muscle rub-down. There is a reason why we make this a mandatory component of all of our training sessions at Northwest Personal Training – we know the clients love it and that is good for business!

So hopefully, you all understand the importance of this type of customer service initiative. Today, I’m going to give you some tips to take it to the next level.

Watch this Video Clip of my ‘Partner Stretching’ workshop at the recent CanFitPro conference in Toronto Canada. It will provide you an approach that will get your clients anxiously awaiting the last few minutes of their workouts with you!

If can’t open the video above, click on the following link:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXji9yWYMKA

Stretching out your clients is not only good for your clients but also, great for your business and overall client retention!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

Team Meetings that People Want to Attend

Most people dread meetings because they perceive them to be a waste of time and extremely boring. However, a carefully planned and orchestrated meeting can be one that staff look forward to, that creates a culture for success, that offers some excellent team building opportunities and is productive at teaching your team the skills they need to excel in their position.

So if you manage or work with a team, read the info below. Bottom line though – you’ve got to figure out how to make your meetings somewhat enjoyable and fun or else no one will come. So check out this video clip from our team meeting yesterday and see how I took an otherwise boring review of our company mission, vision and competitive advantage and made it silly and fun by splitting our team into groups that each had to come up with a company commercial. After you’re done watching, review all the info below and start planning your next team gathering.

If you can’t view the clip above, click on the link below to watch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0teUUELYgpA

Getting them There: First, we schedule our meetings one year in advance and distribute this list to our team so they can schedule the meetings into their dayplanners. This way, if they are planning a vacation and are flexible with dates, they can work around our team meetings. Our company meetings are once per month for two hours. Second, our meetings are mandatory for all team members. It’s important to note however, that in order to make meetings mandatory we have to pay our team for their time. So we have instituted a meeting wage which is just minimum wage and it enables us to at least compensate our team for their time. If someone can’t make it to the meeting, they are still responsible for meeting with us or their direct supervisor. This ensures they are up-to-date with all the meeting information and since everyone knows they are going to have to meet anyways, they might as well come to the team meeting and have more fun. Last, offer food and they will at least come to eat!

Agenda: In order to ensure you make the best use out of a meeting, it is important to be organized, plan ahead and know how you will spend the allocated time. Then create an agenda to help everyone stay focused and to ensure the meeting stays on track. At each meeting, we try to ensure we include the following topics:

Social Time: The first 5-10 minutes of each meeting, we allow our team to mingle, chat and share anything with the rest of the team. You would think when people work 30 plus hours per week together they would know everything about each other. But that’s not the case. During work hours, our team is focused on clients and often don’t get enough quality time to spend with the rest of the team. So during meetings we allow our team to share what’s going on in their life (ie. I’m training for a marathon, I’m graduating next week, We’re pregnant, It’s my 12th Anniversary etc.). This helps to create team camaraderie and to develop great friendships. When your team likes each other, if they ever leave, they’re not just leaving a job but multiple friendships. This can help reduce turnover.

Passion & Purpose: We also allocate a few minutes to read any cards, emails, or letters that clients have recently sent us bragging about one of our team members, listing all the results they’ve achieved since working with us and how we’ve helped to change their life. We find it extremely valuable to regularly remind our team why we’re here and why we do what we do. It’s important to remind them that it’s more than just an exercise program but in fact, we really are dramatically improving people’s lives. When we are all reminded of this vision, it makes it easier to come to work and give it everything you’ve got.

Customer Service:
The Personal Training industry is a customer-service based industry and any business who grasps this and practices it regularly will succeed. So we ensure our team understands that the customer is the boss and they must have a ‘drop everything for the client’ attitude. So at meetings we spend time to discuss how we can all pay attention to the little details that set us apart from others. We brainstorm on customer service initiatives we can implement. We may have someone read an article or book on customer service and then summarize it for the group.

Sales: As business owners, we know how important it is to be financially viable and successful. So we ensure we allocate time to role play phone calls, tours and how to help our staff overcome objections that clients have that are hindering them from getting started with us and achieving their goals. Most people don’t enjoy role playing but recognize how valuable it is. If you can get good in this kind of awkward, unnatural environment, imagine how good you’ll be in person. We may also have someone read a book or article on sales or listen to a Sales DVD and then give a report at the staff meeting.

“In the Know”:
Many employees at various companies complain that they feel they are out of the loop. They don’t know what’s going on and are often blind-sided by client questions. The worst response you don’t want a staff using is “I don’t know, I just work here”. So we always spend time making sure everyone on our team knows what’s going on and what’s coming up. We’ll review upcoming promotions, staff and client incentives, upcoming seminars, client events, staff events, travel schedules etc. This open communication is critical to ensure you have a team who takes full ownership of the day-to-day operations and success of events, incentives and your business in general.

Break Off
The above meeting components are critical for all members of our team. Once we’ve covered these general areas, we’ll often split into various departments and cover issues specific to that department. For example, the trainers and group fitness instructors might split up and someone might present some new exercises using a new, innovative fitness product. They might discuss a special population or medical concern and review exercise and program modifications that need to be made. The CSRs might split off and discuss some scheduling or computer issues. Or they might role play how to deal with an upset client.

We’ll often finish the meeting maybe watching a fun, inspirational video or just thanking people for their time and their willingness to make it to the meetings to help us solidify as a team.

Meetings are a time and financial investment that we feel are worth it to the success of our business and to our fabulous team environment that we believe is second to none. It costs us about $16/person totaling $640 in payroll costs per meeting (we have 40 team members between our two locations) and about $150 in food, not to mention our own personal time. But believe us, if we weren’t convinced it worked, we wouldn’t do it.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

What Women Want…

What do women want?

I attended a fabulous session with Karen Wischmann, the president and CEO of Total Fitness & Spa for Women, one of the most successful women’s only clubs in the world.

Since 54% of club members are female and 70% of Personal Training is purchased by women, it’s probably a really good idea to understand their needs and do whatever we can to meet them.

Let’s start with some interesting facts:

• 85% of all customer purchases are made by women
• 90% of all food purchases are made by women
• 55% of all electronic purchases are made by women
• 80% of home buying decisions are made by women
• Women use the web more than men (51% vs 49%)
• Women spend $3.7 trillion dollars per year

So what does that all mean to us? First, women seem to like to spend money – especially for something they want and feel they need!

Psychology of Marketing to Women:

Karen pointed out that generally, men shop for what they need right now. Women tend to shop for what will benefit them over time. Hence the popularity of lotions, scrubs, hair products, and anti-aging products with women. Compare a guy’s list of must haves for his daily routine – deodorant, razor, and a 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner and body wash and he’s good to go. Compare that to the products required for a woman’s daily routine and you’ll see the difference and how that relates to retail sales. Bottom line – men keep it pretty simple. Men want to look and smell good right now whereas, women want the same but they have the foresight to think about what they want to look like in the future.

Women generally need to understand the value of a product or service and this helps them feel good about the buying decision. For example, a woman doesn’t care how many treadmills or dumbbells your club offers. She wants to know that she is going to look and feel better by working out with you. She wants to know that her bone density will strengthen, her posture will improve, she’ll raise her metabolism making it easier to lose weight She wants to know that she is going to get toned and sculpted and fit back into her skinny jeans. She doesn’t really care that much about the workout and the program as long as it delivers results. She doesn’t want a membership or Personal Training, rather, she wants to get excited about the results and her new life! She doesn’t like to exercise – she likes how she FEELS when she works out and how her whole life is so much better when she’s in good shape.

A great line that Karen scripts her staff to use is this:

“It’s really simple. You just do exactly what we tell you and your entire life will change!”

Karen emphasizes that when selling to women, you HAVE to sell from the heart. You have to focus FIRST on developing a relationship and making a connection. You have to listen to her closely. What are her needs? What is she concerned about? If you focus on bending over backwards for a female member, she will be a client for life! Once you fully understand a woman’s goals, then you can show her how your service, membership, and/or personal training are going to help fix the problem.

Women often come to us after they have let themselves go due to kids, work and trying to juggle life. They have put their health and fitness on the backburner and they need us to help them get their life and their body back. They need to know that you understand this.

Specific Guidelines for the Fitness Industry:

There are certain areas of our clubs and studios that are women dominated. For example, the Kids Club, Women’s Locker room, and Group Exercise studio are used almost exclusively by women. Pay special attention to décor and cleanliness in these areas. Women want to know that the showers are cleaned regularly throughout the day – there is nothing more disgusting for a woman than walking into a shower with a clog full of hair. Women want their club to smell great so Karen suggested the Air Fresheners that send out a spritz of fresh air scent every so often – nothing too overbearing but something that just smells refreshing and good. Women want to know that the Kids Club area is cleaned and the toys are sterilized regularly. She wants to know that day staff are CPR certified and are women, preferably other mothers, that she can trust with her kids so she doesn’t have to worry about them when she’s working out. She wants to feel good when she walks into these areas so hire a designer to help choose warm colors, beautiful and inspirational art and perhaps paint meaningful quotes on the walls.
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Women will pay for quality: All women like a deal but will pay more for quality. Case in point, consider Whole Foods which saw a 1,552% increase in stock value. Women will pay a lot more for certain items and an atmosphere that is pleasant, customer-service oriented and offers knowledgeable staff. Karen mentioned that she often discusses the price issue with members in the following way:

“Are you looking for the cheapest club? Because we are definitely not that but we’re also not that much more than our big club competitors. But if you’re looking for value and results than we are definitely the place for you!”

Women love to be complimented.
It makes us feel great. But you have to be genuine and authentic. So when talking to a member or potential client, if you notice her cute shoes, fabulous purse or great hair cut, comment on it. There’s nothing more pleasing to a woman’s ears than “Your shoes are adorable” or “That outfit is killer!”.

Women appreciate the little touches
…thank you cards, inspirational emails, a motivational text message…

Women are social beings: Ramp up your social media outreach. Women in their 40s and 50s are one of the fastest growing segments on FaceBook. Start an educational, interactive blog and encourage comments from members. Make it mandatory that all new members go through a group equipment orientation. Not only is it better for liability insurance reasons but also, it allows the opportunity for relationships to develop. Regularly encourage and inspire women to participate in group fitness classes, host group events and get-togethers, offer small group training…It’s important to note that surveys show us that the happiest members and therefore raving fans are those that participate in group fitness and personal training so do whatever you can to get women involved in these programs.


Specific Marketing Tactics for Women:

• Women respond to soft and warm colors, they find sunsets, sunrises, golds, browns, yellows, and rust hues very appealing. Avoid blues and cold colors.
• Women respond to photos of beautiful but realistic women
• Women respond to lots of detail; women will read the text
• Women respond to an add that implies “Use this product/service and you’ll look like me”

Changing the world – one woman at a time!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

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Highlights from the IDEA Convention

Hey Fitness Pros.

I just returned from IDEA. My sessions were a blast and I also took a number of sessions. For those of you who couldn’t be there, I wanted to share with you some of the things I learned. I’ll try to post something everyday over the next little while to pass on any nuggets of info that I think you would benefit from. However, it is summer and CanFitPro is this weekend, so I’ll do the best I can. 🙂

Also, FYI, you can purchase numerous DVDs of the live sessions so you can still be a part of the event. Here’s the link. Two of my sessions were filmed if you’re interested “Partner Tubing” & “Fun Games and Drills for Small Group Training”.

http://www.ideafit.com/world-video-package-2009

Highlights from the IDEA KeyNote Presentation:

I attended the keynote with Matt Weinstein, a motivational speaker and author. He said the problem with all the self help books is that they’re too hard to remember – the 8 secrets, the 7 Habits etc…So he’s come up with the 4 unforgettable keys to a Successful Life. He promises that you will never, ever forget them! I thought I’d share them with all of you in hopes that it will help you live your dream life.

#1 Key to an Incredible Life: ‘ Row, Row, Row your Boat’
This is your boat – your life! And if you want something, you’re going to have to work at it – you’re going to have to row, and row, and row some more. You’re going to have to put some muscle into it. Rowing can be a challenging activity but you can direct which way you want that boat to go! This is your life to create!

#2 Key to an Incredible Life: ‘Gently down the Stream’
Go with the flow. Don’t fight so hard. It’s so much easier to row your boat downstream rather than upstream! You’ve got to Focus on your strengths – that will make everything so much easier.

#3 Key to an Incredible Life: Can you already guess it??!! Yep – “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily”
Be positive. Be content. Focus on what you have versus what you don’t have. Look for the good in everything. Notice everyday miracles. Incredible opportunities come to those with a joyful spirit. No one wants to be around or offer opportunities to those who are negative! Why? They are just going to complain about it anyways!

#4 Key to an Incredible Life: ‘Life is But a Dream’
Life should be a dream – a pleasant, beautiful, wonderful dream – Not a nightmare. Reality happens first in your mind. Dream big for your life. Make the life that you want so vivid in your mind that it’s easier to make it come to fruition!

That’s it! Four keys that you will probably never, ever forget. Simple but powerful messages! We’ve all heard it before and now all we have to do is live it! I hope it gives you a little boost for your week! Maybe you could share these tips with your clients and members. Stay tuned for more IDEA highlights…

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

Be a Lover of Knowledge and Win!

“Empty the pennies from your purse into your mind and your mind will fill your purse with dollars and keep it full forever.” Ben Franklin

It is no surprise that those that seem to spend the most on continuing education are also those that tend to earn the highest incomes in the fitness industry. So invest in yourself and reap the rewards.

Education comes in many forms…

1. Academic knowledge…Associates, Bachelors, Masters, PhDs
2. Experience – learn by doing
3. Conferences and workshops – in person (the most fun!), online, correspondence
4. Articles & Books
5. Mistakes & Trials – sometimes your best learning opportunities
6. People – surround yourself with amazing people and glean from them!
7. Stepping out of your comfort zone – the sink or swim model..you may not know it now, but jump in and you’ll learn it quickly!
8. Doing what you preach – it’s hard to grow when your life doesn’t line up with your message.

On that note, just getting ready to head out to IDEA and then directly afterwards to CanFitPro – the Top Two largest and most amazing fitness conferences in the world. If you’ve never been, you have to promise me that you’ll put it on your list of Must-Dos. It will absolutely change your career and open your eyes to so many opportunities and possibilities.

www.ideafit.com

www.canfitpro.com

Yours in health, fitness & business,

Sherri McMillan

Think outside of the Box!

Hey Fitness Pros,

Do things differently. Get clients laughing. Make workouts an experience.

Check out the following video clip. Notice how clients are laughing, interacting, and smiling all while getting a great workout. Also notice the bonding that happens at the end of the workout – when clients are friends they will never want to leave you because they’re not just leaving a trainer and their workouts, they’d be leaving all the friendships they have developed.

So host fun outings, client appreciation nights, awesome adventures and specialty classes. Give clients something to talk about! You can’t buy that kind of word of mouth advertising!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

ps. I hope to see you at either IDEA or CanFitPro conferences in the next few weeks. Please find me and introduce yourself. I love putting faces to those I’m working with to inspire a healthier world!

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Create Moments of Magic for clients

Hey Fitness Pros.

I’d like to encourage you to have all your clients complete a Fitness Bucket Wish-List…all the fitness related adventures they’d like to do before they die.

And then help them train for these events and/or adventures. It will solidify your relationship with them, and create moments of magic that they will never forget which will drastically enhance client retention.

At Northwest Personal Training we like to get our clients together as often as possible. By doing this they feel part of a family or community. We host a variety of events to encourage them to mingle together such as running clinics, hiking clubs, biking treks or indoor rock-climbing events. By providing an environment that fosters the development of friendships, they will want to continue training with us because if they decide to discontinue our services, they just won’t be leaving us as their training company but also, they will be leaving all the friendships they’ve developed. And on top of that, when they participate in a beautiful, magnificent hike or snowshoe or bike ride, when we get to the top of the mountain, they’ll always remember that we were the ones who helped them get there. In fact, when we’ve been invited to clients’ homes, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many framed photos on our clients’ walls were from events or adventures that we hosted. You know the memories have to be pretty special for them if they are going to frame and post the photos in their house. We create and facilitate these ‘Moments of Magic’ and that develops a sense of loyalty. These activities also give our clients the opportunity to get to know each other. It cracks us up to watch how the conversations always seem to eventually center on their workout sessions. They start to compare notes and we’ll hear things like “Does your trainer make you do those crazy lunges too?” or “Don’t you love that new piece of equipment” or “He really can’t count can he?!”

In addition, hosting events and adventures can be a profit center for your business. For example, we just got back from taking 14 of our clients to Crater Lake for a hiking, camping and biking adventure. Each paid $149 to attend and that only included our organizing and fitness tour guide time – they were responsible for all other expenses including food, travel, rentals etc. So do the math – 14 people x $149 for a weekend of fun! At the very least, we get a wonderful free vacation out of the deal. Here’s a video clip of that trip to give you some ideas for what you could do with clients. And remember, we were ‘on the clock’ for this trip – gotta love it!

So start by having clients write down anything they have ever thought of achieving with regards to their own individual health and fitness. Which goal, if they achieved it, would make this year unbelievable? Have they ever wanted to hike the Grand Canyon, complete a marathon or triathlon, cycle through France, learn to Scuba Dive or inline skate or rock climb, cycle the Oregon coast or would they just be happy with working out 4x/week consistently? What are their health and fitness wishes? The only rule with this wish list is that none of their goals can be related to their body. Have them stay away from listing a goal such as losing 10 pounds or 4 inches off their hips. Keep this list positive and focused away from body image.

Many clients take this approach – ‘As soon as I lose the weight/get fit, then I’ll start doing the things I’ve always wanted to do”. But we take the opposite approach. Let’s set the goal and in the process of training for the event or activity they’ve always wanted to do, then they lose the weight and get fit! And it’s such a positive, motivating focus. For example, let’s say a client sets a goal of finishing a 10km fun run. Setting this kind of goal, because it has a deadline, provides a compelling reason to stick to the program and not miss workouts. In contrast, if the goal is to lose 10 pounds in 2 months, if the client gets off track, they can negotiate with themselves and say, “Well, I guess I can wait an additional week or two to achieve my goals.” But if they get off track with their training program while preparing for an event, they can’t call a race organizer and ask them to postpone the event because they aren’t going to be ready. A client knows that every workout or skipped workout with either positively or negatively affect their performance and their ability to achieve their goal. In addition, once he/she crosses the finish line, that’s something no one can ever take away from them. They will always have their medal, t-shirt and photos crossing the finish line. Whereas, with weight loss, someone could lose the weight and then gain it all back next month and feel like a failure. There is a lot of status associated with conquering a tough challenge or finishing a event and so a client’s confidence and self esteem receives a huge boost providing them with the belief that they can achieve the next goal. We have also found when someone succeeds at a goal such as this, they then inherently look towards the next goal – it’s just human nature. So they make then desire to attempt a half marathon, full marathon, a challenging hike, biathlon, triathlon etc. It’s a positive spiral. Whereas, with weight loss, it’s a negative spiral. They lose the 10 pounds but they are still not happy. They then desire to lose another 5 pounds and get rid of this fat and so on and so on. Some of our clients who have had the most ‘perfect’ bodies have been those that struggled with their body image the most! For all these reasons, we try to keep the focus away from Body Image and instead focus on behaviors, events and actions.

When you have enough clients who want to do the same type of adventure, organize a group event. I encourage you to start with one adventure and see how it goes. For those of you who already do this on a regular basis, feel free to leave your comments for others to read and be inspired by.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

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You are so fortunate!

Hey Fitness Pros.

“If you love what you do, you never have to WORK another day in your life!”

Today, I just wanted to build you up by reminding you what a blessing it is to do something that you’re good at and that you love! You’re making a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives and that’s worth millions! Just remember that what we offer the world is SO much more than just an exercise program.

Plus, your job could be a LOT worse. Check out this photo!

Keep making a difference and helping people reach for their personal best!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

Social Media your way to PT Success

Hey Fitness Pros,

So I’m quite the dinosaur when it comes to social media and new technology. However, I am open to learning and have made a strong commitment to utilizing tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and You Tube to help grow our business.

I even went online and purchased a number of resource books so I could learn how this all works. I’m such a dork but it has been helpful.

So I got myself a blog – you’re reading one right now 🙂 I also have a blog for our clients “Shape up with Sherri”. I read a book all about the ins and outs of blogging. Still don’t quite understand who has the time to read all my blogs plus all the other millions of blogs out there but I’ll keep going with it. Some of our clients really like it and email me to tell me it helps them stay motivated. Others just unsubscribe…

I also posted a personal and business facebook page and am slowly developing our fan base. It’s created quite a little community amongst our clients. This has actually been quite fun and can be addicting so be careful. It’s easy to get pulled in which can negatively affect your productivity.

I’ve been twittering but I totally don’t get this. I post a twitter usually once per day but who has the time to read about what people are doing multiple times per day? But apparently this is a really fabulous way to grow your business outreach. I’m not sure how so I bought a book on Twittering. Will read and keep you posted on why you need to Twitter.

Last, YouTube has been fun to post testimonials, exercises, footage of events etc. This was surprisingly easy to learn to use so this is a definite keeper.

So my suggestion is yes to Blogs, YouTube and Facebook….the jury is still out on Twittering.

Are you an expert in this area?? Please leave comments so we can all learn. I’m no pro at this stuff and would love to learn more!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

Posted in Business, personal training by Sherri | 4 Comments