Host your own event and watch your business prosper

Hey Fitness Pros.

I’m currently in the final preparation stages for our annual 6 mile Run/Walk and Live Concert fundraiser event at our studio this weekend. We’ve got the street in front of our business blocked off where we’ll start and finish the event, we’ll have a stage set up for the Live Band, vendors will be on site and it’s just going to be a blast.

It’s a lot of work – applying for city permits, finding sponsors, recruiting volunteers, event planning and more. But it’s all worth it.

The big question is Why? What do we as a business get out of hosting events like this?

1. We’ve got 200 people already signed up – that will be closer to 300 by the weekend. In addition, we’ve got about 75 volunteers helping out. Plus there will be spectators to cheer on their loved ones. So we’ll have about 500 people right in front of our studio, knowing exactly where we are, what we do and seeing what a fabulous, community-minded company we are. That’s got to be good for business!

2. We will also now have all the runners/walkers email addresses so we can continue to market to them and promote any upcoming programs and events.

3. Creating moments of magic. When the participants cross the finish line, they’re going to feel amazing. They’ll associate this memorable moment with us. If they are a client, this enhances client retention. If they are not a client, if they are thinking about taking their program to a new level, they are going to come to us.

4. Fun & Friendships: These types of events foster a fun environment that develops friendships. When people have a lot of friends where they workout, they are more likely to come which enhances results and they are less likely to leave and go elsewhere!

5. Supporting your community. People do business with people they know and like and respect. These events give our community a chance to get to know us. Plus if they appreciate a business that really takes care of their community, they will be more likely to want to train with us compared to another fitness club.

6. Offer a feeder into your Private Training services and programs. For example, we host a Triathlon. We also host the Triathlon Training clinic to help people get prepared for the Triathlon. We currently have 20 people signed up for our clinic and each paid $199 to participate. So it’s a nice additional revenue stream.

Next month, we’re hosting our Triathlon. After that, a hiking and cycling trip to Crater Lake. And can you believe, we get paid for this?!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

ps. If you’re thinking about hosting your own events, but don’t know where to start, you can purchase our systems for how we organize our events. Email kari@nwpersonaltraining.com and she’ll get you all set-up.

Father’s Day focus for Fitness Pros

Hey Fitness Pros.

It’s Father’s Day this coming weekend and that should be a big focus all week. I’ve cut and posted some instructions I gave to our team this week. Hopefully it will help you too!

High Priority: Father’s Day is this weekend so remember to suggest gift certificates and announce our Guys Bootcamp on Saturday June 20th. Encourage our clients to do something special with their hubbies, dads, sons, brothers…As people are coming and going, try “Did you need to pick up a Gift Certificate for Father’s Day” or “Do you think you can join us for our Dads Bootcamp on Saturday” or at the very least, “Would you like one of our complimentary Gift Certificates to give to those special guys in your life” That’s an easy one because it doesn’t cost them anything and they can give to their dad, brother, son, husband. We should be able to give out a ton of these and them we’ll have all kinds of new people coming into the facility to visit with our amazing trainers…And once they see a trainer for their comp visit, I’m 100% confident they will continue and that will completely change their lives forever! Trainers – this is a great way to build your clientele base so be sure to be on top of this all week. In fact, carry a bunch of certs with you all week so you can give them to people at the grocery store, your hair stylist, your neighbor etc. So let’s make this a team effort this week. Justin – be sure to have a ton in stock and give everyone at least 2 each to get them started.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

What’s more important – offense or defense?

If you watch sports like most people, you are probably impressed by the extreme athleticism, determination and focus of athletes from around the world. One of our favorite sports to watch and play is Beach Volleyball. We find that this sport can be used as an analogy for business excellence.

In the sport of Beach Volleyball, you only have 2 people. You rely and depend on each other closely. Each player must be a master of both Offense and Defense. Great offense would be the ability to serve ACEs, spike hard for the kills and play smart (ie. look for the open spots or weak links). Great Defense would be the ability to return serves, bump with precision, block aggressively and play with your heart and soul (going for those impossible digs). Since you only have 2 players, a team can’t afford to have one player specialize only in Offense and/or Defense and be extremely weak in the other area – they must be masters of both! The team who reaches 21 points first, wins. But let’s say you’re really good at offense and great at scoring points. Well, all it takes is for you to mess up once, the ball to turnover to the other team, and if you’re not good at defense, your opponent will quickly take over the momentum and win the match. And in contrast, if you’re really great at defense but not so hot at offense, you’ll have a difficult time scoring the points you need to win.

Similarly, winning clubs and training studios must be good at offense and defense. In the fitness industry, offense refers to the ability to sell and defense refers to the ability to maintain members and clients. Great offense refers to Sales (scoring points) – the ability to effectively take incoming phone calls, perform inspiring tours and complimentary sessions, to ask for referrals, to suggestive sell event participation/energy bars/shakes/HR monitors etc, to network in our community, and to effectively advertise/market… Great defense refers to Client Retention (keeping the points you scored) – the ability to keep members/clients happy and returning/renewing customers (Results/Energy/Passion/Relationships/Small Details – (Cleanliness, Efficiency, Accuracy, Amenities), calling back clients who have discontinued/canceled – showing we care.

Larger clubs may be able to afford to have specific individuals specialize in either sales or customer service but still each player on your team needs to embrace the skills of both areas. And for smaller clubs and training studios, because your team will traditionally be smaller, it is imperative that each member on your team understands that they need to develop retention and customer service skills.

In a club or training studio, if you have great sales skills but poor customer service retention, you’ll lose clients as quickly as you sell them. It’s called the revolving door syndrome – 100 new members in each month, 100 members cancel each month – and you never actually get anywhere. And if you’re great at customer retention but poor at sales, you’ll have a difficult time growing your business or hitting sales goals as you lose clients for reasons outside of your control (ie moving, financial etc).

“68% of customers decide to no longer do business with a particular organization because they perceive an attitude of indifference by the employees!”

• Greet all clients warmly and by name. Do clients/members know that you are happy to see them? Ask yourself how many people you know by name and likewise, how many members know you by name.
• Get to know all clients/members – develop a strong relationship so they know you care about them. Make a point of conversing with each member/client by offering a compliment on their consistency or their appearance, inquiring about their workout plans, asking a question, inviting them to a new class, informing and inviting them to an upcoming event…”I’d love for you to join us…It’ll be so much fun!)
• Call members/clients when they don’t show up for workouts – let them know you missed them
• Call clients/members just to talk to them and see how they are doing
• Introduce clients/members to each other and foster an environment where friendships are developed. People will be less likely to leave if they have a lot of friends at the gym.
• Say goodbye to all clients as they leave. Ask them how their workout was. Tell them we can’t wait to see them again.

Manage your Moments of Magic

• Every moment is a potential moment of magic
• Go the extra mile – ask yourself what you can do for a client/member to make it easier, more convenient, require less of their time etc.
• Do your due diligence – Make the extra effort with clients by contacting physicians, coaches, researching information, providing educational materials…
• Call clients/members on their birthday
• Send birthday, holiday, congrats and thinking of you cards
• Inspire clients to participate in Outdoor adventures and events that will create long-lasting lifetime memories
• Do more than clients expect

Managers and Directors can help their team embrace this thought process by going through the following drill at an upcoming staff meeting. First start by discussing the concept and the importance of each team player developing offense and defensive skills. Then split off into various departments (ie Personal Trainers, Sales, Customer Service Reps, Day Care, Group Fitness Instructors) and have each department come up with ways that they can be masters of Offense and Defense in their department. And then regroup and have each department share their thoughts. If you are alone in your own company, do this drill yourself. It will help you stay focused on the two most important aspects of running a successful fitness business – getting new clients/members inspired and keeping them happy and loyal customers.

Summary – It’s not enough to be good at just sales or customer service, you have to be world-class at both to succeed!

Testimonials, Testimonials, Testimonials!

Hey Fitness Pros,

Whether you’re trying to create a flier for a new program, update your website, or pull together your brochure, testimonials sell far better than a bunch of company text.

So figure out what you want to say, and then have someone else say it for you. It’s much more genuine, authentic, trust-worthy and believable when someone else is bragging about you and your services!

So start asking clients for written, audio and video feedback and use it as often as you can. Be a collector of testimonials and success stories.

Testimonials prove that you can and will do what you say you’re going to do.

Here are some examples from our websites to give you some ideas. Just cut and paste into your browser so you can check them all out.

This is a page from our Northwest Women’s Fitness Club website. Notice how we use video and written testimonials. We’ll continue to use more video – it really brings a testimonial to life!

http://www.nwwomensfitness.com/subs/success_stories/success_stories.php

Here is a page from our Northwest Personal Training website.

http://www.nwpersonaltraining.com/subs/success_stories/success_stories.php

Here is a page from our Northwest Fitness Education site.

http://www.nwfitnesseducation.com/subs/testimonials/testimonials.php

Infomercials sell a ton of product and if you’ve ever watched one, you’ll realize all it is, is testimonial after testimonial. People think “Hey, if they can do it so can I!”

So before you finalize your next flier, brochure, website or ad, ask yourself, where is the testimonial?

Yours in health, fitness & business,

Sherri McMillan

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The #1 way to get & keep clients!

The biggest problem working in the fitness industry is that we are offering a product that most people hate. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not like to exercise! So as fitness professionals, each and every one of us has to do whatever we can to make the exercise experience as enjoyable as we possibly can.

We have to be in the business of getting our members and clients to really like each and every single one us, enjoy being around us, enjoy our environment and how they feel every time they come and see us.

The statistics show that 80% of people who stop coming are NEW members or clients. They join with great intentions of coming regularly and for whatever reason, we weren’t able to help integrate them into our ‘family’. They stopped coming because they didn’t feel comfortable, didn’t feel welcomed, didn’t enjoy their time with us…Ultimately, we did not deliver what they expected or needed. No one will ever leave us for any of the following reasons:

“I stopped coming because I had way too many friends there. Every time I go, people want to talk and laugh and go to lunch after.”

“I quit because the staff is entirely too friendly and fun. They’re always introducing me to other people…Always trying to help me… Always making me laugh.”

So we’ve got to do whatever we can to make the exercise experience fun! Here’s some ideas:

• Laugh – Kids laugh 300x/day and adults only laugh 15x/day. Change this! If you laugh, others will laugh too!
• Joke around with your co-workers, members & clients (in an appropriate manner of course). The fun energy will rub off!
• Incorporate fun drills that get clients/members laughing, having fun and getting to know each other.

Check out the 2 minute clip of my Outdoor Bootcamp program above to give you some ideas. I’m giving them a great workout but notice how they are also laughing and joking around while I’m kicking their butts!

• Participate events so you develop strong relationships with clients and staff which will ultimately create an awesome work and working out environment

Check out this photo of me and my clients participating in a 5km Fun Run and finishing second in the costume division this past weekend. We enjoyed a fabulous workout and had a TON of fun! Can you believe we ran 3 miles in this thing!

Keep it fun people and your clients will keep coming back!

Yours in health, fitness & business,

Sherri McMillan

We’ve got to start with the kids!

If our goal as Fitness Professionals is to inspire the world to fitness, then we should definitely involve the kids!

I had the opportunity to work with some Vancouver kids today to teach them that working out and eating healthy can be a ton of fun. Check out the video above. It’s so cute!

Here’s the reality…

These days kids hardly get any activity. Most schoolwork involves sedentary activity and with television and video games as after-school pastimes, the temptation to sink into couch potato-land becomes pretty overwhelming for our kids. Check out these startling stats:

* Children today are approximately 40% less active than they were 30 years ago
* 20% of children and teens are overweight enough to threaten their future health
* One report states that the number of overweight children ages 6-11 has increased by 50% in the last 15 years and by 40% in those ages 12-17. Lack of exercise is considered a major contributing factor
* 40% of children already have at least one risk factor for heart disease and reduced fitness due to an inactive lifestyle
* Children spend an average of 26 hours a week watching television and also spend 25-30 hours a week sitting behind a desk

Kids who exercise can experience the following benefits:

* Daily physical activity builds a healthy heart and stimulates muscle and bone growth
* Healthy, fit kids have more energy, sleep better and often have better eating habits than their sedentary peers
* One six year study found that the academic performance of students who exercised regularly had significantly improved compared to students who did not participate in regular physical activity
* It appears that children benefit from better concentration, memory, creativity, problem-solving ability and overall mood for up to two hours following exercise
* One report states that exercise can boost a child’s self-confidence and self-image. It also reduces aggression and decreases anxiety and depression.

So consider volunteering to lead a kids fitness program or launch a Kids Bootcamp class. Do what you can to start them young!

Yours in health, fitness & business,

Sherri

ps. As a side benefit, their parents may also start working with you!

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People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!

What is the easiest way to enhance team morale, increase job satisfaction, boost someone’s confidence, make a client feel great, increase a loved one’s inner joy and cure the world’s problems?

Okay so maybe I’m going overboard there but telling and showing someone how much you love, respect and appreciate them goes a really long way! The best part is if you’re struggling with this economy and on a tight budget, it doesn’t cost much if anything!

So whether you are a personal trainer, fitness instructor, manager or owner, here’s few ideas:

*Give a thank you card or letter to a client or team member who has been with you for a long time to tell them how much you appreciate that they are in your life.

*Pick up a few $10-$20 gift cards from Itunes, Starbucks, Movies etc to give to staff to thank them for going above and beyond.

*Order some water bottles, t-shirts etc with your logo on it to give to loyal clients and staff – a great marketing initiative too!

*Send a short, impromptu email to a client or team member to let them know you recognize how hard they’ve been working.

*Post client testimonials and success stories on your website, on a bulletin board at your studio and in a scrap book to be displayed at your studio.

*Plan a staff thank you party and/or a membership/client appreciation get-together or BBQ to let your people know how much you care about them.

*Wildly celebrate all client and staff successes & special moments like birthdays, anniversaries etc.

If you’re like most leaders (and yes, you’re a leader), it’s easy to forget to do these things. So put it in your calendar so it is ritualized. For example, you might decide that every Thursday, you are going to email 3 people to thank them or the first of every month, you are going to purchase a few small gifts to give to those people who you really appreciate or every quarter, you’re going to host a party. Write it down and then make it happen!

Yours in fitness, health and business,

Sherri McMillan

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Hey Fitness Pros.

Sorry about that monster huge head shot that arrived in your inbox yesterday. It must have frightened you! No one needs to see that! And I definitely did not like to see my face that big on the screen! Yikes! Anyways, I had the settings incorrect on our new enewsletter system and I believe I’ve corrected that. You must have thought I was so vain when you received that! My goodness…

Right now, I’m getting ready for our Girls Night Out that we’re hosting at our Portland studio tonight and it made me think that I should mention how important it is to your business to host social events like this.

I had a client email me recently who was diagnosed with breast cancer and was going through chemo and radiation treatment. One day she noticed that all of the friends who were visiting her in the hospital during her treatments were gals that she never knew before starting to workout with us at NWPT. And now they are inseparable and the best of friends. She was just emailing to thank us for creating such a great opportunity for friendships to be developed. Isn’t that cool! So we have the opportunity to create so much more than just an exercise program or class. We are LITERALLY changing peoples lives!

Plus when you create situations where friendships can be fostered, it truly enhances client and member retention. People are less likely to leave your studio, club, class, or program because they would be leaving so much more than just an exercise program, trainer or building. They would be leaving a lot of friendships and no one ever wants to do that! Can you imagine someone say “I’ve got to stop coming here. I just have way too many friends and it’s just too much fun!”? I don’t think so!

So do whatever you can to ensure your clients/members get to know each other, laugh together, have fun together and become friends. Here’s some tips:

1. Host a Night Out like we’re doing tonight
2. Organize a group hike or bike ride
3. Host a grass-roots fun run, triathlon or obstacle challenge
4. Organize an exercise-a-thon fundraiser
5. Heavily promote partner and small group training
6. Offer an Outdoor Bootcamp program
7. Encourage all members to participate in group fitness classes

Last, as often as you can, introduce your clients to each other. Make that a daily part of how you run your business.

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

You’ve got to sell to succeed!

On Tuesday, I spent a few hours role playing with one of our interns, Remy, who will be starting with us in a week. She’s been shadowing trainers, taking mock clients through workouts and learning all of our systems. She is passionate, smart, kind and caring and is going to make an incredible trainer. Out of her entire internship, the time we spent on Tuesday was probably the most important. She took me through an initial training session with me pretending to be the prospective client with the goal of trying to encourage me to invest in her services. Then we practiced various ways to show me the value of her services and to help me overcome any obstacles I presented. We role played for about 3 hours and I am 100% confident that the time we spent together is going to help her help so many more people!

I was fortunate enough to work for GoodLife Fitness Clubs in Canada for the first 5 years of my career. They are the largest and most successful fitness club chain in Canada. They achieved their level of success because the owner, David Patchell Evans, understands the critical importance of developing the sales skills of his entire team. In fact, when I worked there, every week I would meet with my manager and we would role play various scenarios. I did this for 5 years!! We also met as a team monthly to do more role playing.

Now I know you didn’t become a fitness pro because you’re passionate about selling but rather your drive is all about helping people. Well, you can’t help anyone if you can’t convince them to invest in your services, program or club. And if you’re having a discussion with someone who is on the fence with getting started with a fitness program, if you don’t try to help them through whatever stumbling blocks they are experiencing, you’ve done them a disservice. You’ve got to ask questions, you’ve got to probe deeper to find out what’s holding them back from making the commitment to their health and fitness. Most fitness pros freeze when confronted with a potential client’s obstacle (ie I need to think about it, I’ll talk it over with my hubby, I don’t think I can afford it, I don’t have the time etc). They don’t know what to say and they don’t want to appear too aggressive so they use the “I totally understand. Here is my business card. Give me a call once you’ve decided” approach. And the person goes back into thinking, contemplation mode vs doing and taking action. It’s our job to help them take action!

So how do you get good at influencing and motivating someone to take action? You practice and practice and practice – just like I did with Remy. So if you work with a team of fitness professionals, make the commitment to regular role playing. If you’re a solo fitness pro, rally a friend or family member to role play with you. It can actually be fun! Trust me – it totally works!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

ps. We have some great resources (books, webinars etc) on how to specifically improve your sales skills in the fitness industry including sample scripts for role playing, what to say, what not to say guidance etc. If you’re interested, email our Fitness Education director at kari@nwpersonaltraining.com

Get FREE Press!

I just sent out a Press Release to our local media reps. It made me think that I should send out a Blog to you about how to do this to get Free Press in your community. Here’s the premise and approach…

Who has the money to take out ads in magazines or newspapers or create a commercial for the radio or television? If you’re like most fitness businesses, you don’t! But there is a way to get free advertising but you have to work for it.

• Develop a list of key local media contacts in your area including print, radio and TV

• Complete regular mail-outs, emails and fax-outs to develop relationships. Tease them with some health and fitness information. For example, state “I was just at IDEA, The International Health and Fitness Conference in Las Vegas and I learned some of the most incredible exercises for the abdominals. It’s stuff you’ve never seen before. Call me if you’d like to hear more about it” or “I was just at the IHRSA show in San Francisco and I’ve got to tell you about some of the hottest and craziest equipment new on the market” or offer a human interest story about one of your clients and their success- with their approval of course. Just wet their taste buds and you can expect at least one or two call backs from each of your efforts. Of course each time they run your idea, you are mentioned as the Health and Fitness expert and you can also ask for your business and your number to be listed so people can contact you if they have further questions.

• Offer to write a free weekly/monthly fitness column. The time spent writing the article will be well worth the advertising value.

• Offer key media contacts a couple complimentary sessions so they can try out your services and see what it’s all about. Perhaps propose a “Media Fitness Challenge” or “Getting into shape” challenge and rival reporters and producers of various networks against each other. The press you get will be huge.

I can use myself as an example of just how much free advertising you can get. When I first moved to Vancouver, BC, and developed my new business, I started doing regular fax-outs and mail-outs. In the beginning the response was poor. But after a few months, I started to get at least one or two call backs from every effort. Soon I was being quoted in various sources and being asked to appear on local radio and television shows for 3-5 minute guest fitness appearances. In the beginning, I wrote so many free articles and did so many free appearances but the exposure I got was priceless. Then I had my first big break. The Province Newspaper, our daily Provincial newspaper in British Columbia, with a very large circulation, asked me to write a weekly fitness column for them. And get this, they were actually offering to pay me! Can you imagine how much it would have cost me to actually purchase the type of exposure I have received. Then as a result of the newspaper exposure, I was asked by a local publisher to write a book. One-year later “Go For Fit – The Winning Way to Fat Loss” was printed and launched. I started being asked to write by national magazines like Chatelaine. Then I gained interest on the international scene and was asked to do some work with the prestigious Shape magazine. I co-founded and edited a local health and fitness magazine, Go!

Then I got married and moved to the states and had to start all over from scratch. So I repeated the same process. Took about a year of these weekly press releases and teasers and then we got our big break. We were asked to write the weekly fitness column for the Columbian, our city newspaper. Did that for about 3 years. Then got our next big break when the Oregonian, our state newspaper, asked us to start a weekly fitness column. Been doing that for years now and the exposure is incredible!

And all of this exposure by just committing to do some work for free in the beginning. Sometimes new trainers expect things to just happen. If you want to succeed, you will have to work at it. Remember this, what goes around, comes around. And your efforts will not go unnoticed! Short team pain for long term gain!

Posted in Marketing, personal training, Sales by Sherri | 2 Comments