Health Club Management – Coaching your Team towards a Goal

Health Club Management

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of consulting with club owners in regards to club management. This is one in particular that I’m very passionate about, mainly because that’s where I got my start in the fitness industry. It really drives me bananas when I walk into a health club and there are no systems in place. I can only imagine how aggravating it must be for the members and employees to be part of a chaotic environment. So that being said let me stop venting and give you a couple of tips that will help you on the road to developing in house marketing, sales and management systems.

First things first, let’s look at marketing.

A few rules to remember when marketing for new gym members.

1. Sale Solutions – When a member joins a fitness center they could care less about how fancy your equipment is. Planet Fitness has proved this. If you walk into any Planet Fitness you will find the same boring cookie cutter equipment. So why are they so successful? The answer is because they are selling a solution. The solution is an environment that anybody can feel comfortable in. That’s there brand and that’s the secret to their success. A good marketing piece we’ll sale a solution. Here are a few examples of the solutions people are looking for when they buy a gym membership: low price, weight loss, risk free money back guarantee, great social scene, no pressure environment, etc.

2. Go Big or Go Home – A fitness center’s marketing budget should be a minimum of 10% of your current draft per month. You may be asking yourself, “How can I afford to spend that much on marketing every month?” A better question would be, “How can you not afford to spend that much money on marketing?” I know some great and inexpensive ways to market your health club that I will go into in a different post. The main thing I want to get in your head is that you have to spend money to make money. And your marketing should be both proactive and reactive.

3. Budget, Budget, Budget – Setting up a marketing budget is the key to successful marketing campaigns. So you ask, how should I go about setting up a marketing budget? Well, I already gave you one key: spend at least 10% of your monthly draft on marketing. There’s a lot more to creating a marketing budget for your gym, so feel free to shoot me an e-mail or give us a call and I can give you a few more free tips.

Next we’ll look at sales.

While in Texas last week I met with three different health clubs’ staff and I was shocked to find out that there were no goals set in place. No weekly sales goals, No monthly sales goals, no goals, period. I thought I was being Punked! I thought any minute now Ashton Kutcher was going to jump out from behind a wall with a big camera and I would be completely embarrassed and have to say, “Hi, this is Joshua with Fitness360 and I’ve been punked!” But to my surprise, it wasn’t a joke. To top it off these were big 20,000 square feet health clubs that were all doing well just because of their sheer size and quality of equipment. This is the exception, not the rule. Normally, if I consult with a club in those conditions, they are taking huge loses and on the verge of going out of business.

So my number one rule for managing a productive sales team is “MBO”, (Management by Objective). In a nutshell managing by objective promises to help the club manager and a sales manager improve communication and leadership by setting specific goals with club personnel at all levels. “MBO” allows the manager and his personnel to identify common goals and define each person’s area of responsibility and return of results expected of them or standards of performance. “MBO” focuses directly on results. That is the fitness consultant will be responsible for keeping a specific set of goals that are unique to him. He will not be compared to another consultant when these goals are defined.

Here is a brief description of the six steps in implementing the “Management by Objective” system:

1. Have daily, weekly and monthly meetings between management and fitness consultants. At these meetings you’ll go over daily appointment quota, daily prospecting quota, presentation quota, sales ratio goals, sales goals, etc.

2. Make the goals specific and easily understood. And the most important part is make those goals achievable.

3. Make a plan of attack with your staff. The last step was, “What to do”, and this next step is, “How to do it”. Make a road map and follow it. Set out verbally and on paper your marketing strategies and goals so everybody on the team has a clear understanding moving forward.

4. At this point both management and consultants need to make a commitment verbally to do whatever it takes to meet the expectations set forth. The thing to keep in mind is that the commitment from your fitness consultants need to be supported by a commitment by the managers. It takes everyone involved to achieve goals, and if someone isn’t pulling their weight or following through, the whole team will suffer.

5. This is the most important step of all. Your job as a manager is more clearly defined with the title of a coach. When your fitness consultants do good praise them. When they do bad correct and motivate. Never compare fitness consultants to each other or correct them in front of other staff or members. If you do your throwing a wrench in your own machine, trust me. The performance of your team will be directly related on how well you accomplish this step.

6. After completing the goals set forth your fitness consultants by nature are going to be looking for a reward. Their paycheck is not necessarily a reward, that’s compensation for doing their job. A type of a reward that you should consider could be a gift card to a restaurant, movie tickets, a cruise for two to the Bahamas, etc. The size and nature of the reward is very important. Can you imagine if you gave your top salesman for the month a trip for two to the Bahamas and then told the staff that whoever makes salesman of the next month is going to get something even better. You would have a team of headhunters out there doing whatever they could to attract new members and to exceed the goals set forth by management.

So “MBO” sets goals and expectations, gives a map on how to achieve those goals, coaches the team through the hurdles they may face, and then rewards for achieving those goals.

So this last thing I want to talk about is health club management. As I stated before, management is the same as coaching. Most health club owners believe that to be a good manager you have to be a dictator and nothing could be farther from the truth. Leaders learn to understand people first of all. They’re obvious good communicators and have an incredible ability to find individual needs in people and create an environment for those people’s needs to be met. Thus a manager is able to get more productive work accomplished in less time, while his employees enjoy doing it. Leadership is a learned skill, and can be developed by study and practical experience. Below are two factors involving an effective leadership:

* Expert Power -This is associated with the managers expertise, special skills, and general knowledge. These qualities gain respect and cooperation of peers and subordinates. This form of leadership can be acquired and developed.

* Referent Power – This is associated with intangible personal qualities that attract followers who admire these qualities and wish to be associated with them. This type of leadership power, often called “charisma” is more likely to be inherent, however, can still be acquired and developed through hard work, and persistence.

Great coaches are also excellent leaders. By focusing your efforts on club productivity, profitability, and discipline yourself to always doing the most productive thing possible, like staying on the front line, working your proposed schedules, training your employees, scheduling and attending meetings, praising and reprimanding employees, and creating an environment which is productive for career and personal growth are attributes of great club managers. By doing these things your staff will respect and will in return follow your direction enthusiastically.

In closing I would like to remind everyone that Fitness360 is a full service health club marketing and management company. Our reputation in the industry is second to none. If you’re a club owner looking to step away from the day to day operations or would just like to become more profitable, we have solutions that meet every need. With our strategic partnerships and “out of the box” thinking, we are currently managing hundreds of clubs around the U.S. We’re also rated #1 in the industry in converting clubs to the low price model. A conversion to the low price model is not as easy as just lowering your prices. We have developed a complete package for health club management, low price conversions, gorilla marketing, etc. We also have the teams and personnel to implement those systems into your health club if you so desire. Feel free to contact us today to see if your club qualifies for our club management program or low price conversion model. I think you would be shocked to find out how profitable your club could be if managed correctly.

Also feel free to leave a comment on this article. Anyone that leaves a comment, positive or otherwise, will receive a one hour free phone consultation for your health club.

Here’s to your success…

God bless


Joshua Fleming
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Joshua Fleming

Coaching Gym Owners at
He is a Dad of 3, Marine & Serial Entrepreneur. He has 25+ years of extensive experience in the industry.

He's spearheaded the opening of 100+ gyms and is responsible for selling over 100,000 gym memberships and collecting over 300,000 buddy referrals in his career.

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Joshua Fleming
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