5 Ways You Can Sell More Memberships for Your New Fitness Business

Published on: 
18 April 19
Posted in: 
11 min read

The two biggest hurdles that gym owners face when starting for the first time is generating leads and turning those leads into membership sales. We have talked about the importance of about the lead generation side with our Ultimate Fitness Marketing Guide, so now we wanted to go into what you need to when you get those leads in the door. The fact of the matter is that you need to learn how to sell if you are going to succeed – that is until you can hire a full sales team. And, as we saw in The Glofox Guide to Opening a Gym, you should have a sales strategy ready to go even before you open the doors of your fitness business. 

Globally, the fitness industry continues to expand, now worth nearly $90bn and with revenue growing at 2.6%. 24-hour-access big box gyms are responsible for the bulk of these figures, but the demand for smaller, more specialized boutique studios is rapidly increasing. Customers are looking for a more engaging fitness experience and its no surprise that the majority of gym memberships are never used. 

Therefore the way you sell your studios services will be different from that of the big box gym. Your desire should be for members to turn up, keep turning up and improve themselves in the long run. Your sales process should reflect the relationship you want to have with the prospective member when they sign on. 

Simply put there is no point putting in all the effort into your marketing campaigns if you are going to lose your leads when it comes to the sales process. In this article we will discuss:

Start with the Right Attitude

It’s essential, even when focused on sales, to remember that this is an industry with people at the heart of it. You are dealing with people fitness who have different fitness objectives in mind. Your approach should always be to do what’s best for them, and hopefully, they can do this in your fitness studio.

How Do You Create a Winning Sales Attitude?

Help instead of sell: People will trust you when you have their best interests at heart, rather than your eyes on their wallet. It’s obvious when someone is just looking to make a sale, so be sure that this isn’t the attitude that you take. Instead, be polite and friendly. As a gym owner, you are there to help this person improve their lives

Get to know their goals: Ask relevant questions about their fitness goals. Discover exactly want they want to get out your fitness classes. Do they want to get fit for a specific sport?  Lose some weight after the holidays? Or are they looking to relieve stress from work? By finding out their motivations, you’ll be able to offer them the best solution, and they will feel that you genuinely care.

Avoid being too “salsey”: “In your face” deals and gimmicks can be massive red flags for many customers. Don’t overuse tactics like expiring offers. While creating a sense of urgency generally works in sales and marketing, consumers have become wise to it. Trying to compete solely on price is unlikely to bring in much success either since the big box companies can normally undercut independent gyms.

Create realistic expectations: People considering your gym want to be confident that they’ll see results, but they may be inexperienced and naïve about the level of work involved. As an expert, you have a responsibility, to be honest with them and explain that getting fit will take time. Emphasize the importance of long-term commitment, since this will prove valuable both for their fitness goals and your recurring revenue.

Know Your Market

They say knowledge is power and this is no different when it comes to sales. You need to know the ins and out of who your customer is and who your competition is. By doing your research, you may find that there is a segment of the market that you didn’t previously know about, or that a particular aspect of your studio appeals so much that you should be doing more to promote it.

Who Is Your Ideal Customer?

Start focused and then expand out: Instead of trying to make a one size fits all studio, have a focus on the ideal customer you would like to target and tailor your lead generation and sales process towards this. Once you have built up a strong base of members through word of mouth and other marketing activities will attract those from outside your ideal customer profile.  

Consider other demographics: While you may have an ideal customer that you want to target, you may have to expand out to different demographics to fill up your member bases. Think of the slow hours during the day. Could you be selling memberships to the likes of stay at home moms, students, and hospitality staff?

Who Is Your Competition?

Other boutique studios vs. big box: Between 2012 and 2015, memberships to boutique fitness studios grew by 70% in comparison to memberships at traditional gyms that grew by 5%. This means that there will more than likely be competition from similar studios in the area. They will be more challenging to compete against as they are offering a type of service the same as or better than yours. A lot of the time it is your personality and your willingness to help the prospective member that could make the difference.

Personalize Your Offers

Now that you know who you’re trying to sell to you need to know the how. Making sure that your offers appeal to known demographics ensures you’re making the most of your marketing efforts. Doing this gives yourself the best chance to convert tentative leads into long-term, satisfied customers.

How Do You Personalize?

Embrace flexibility: Offering more flexibility, or customizable options might be the key to attracting specific customers. If you have lots of students in your studio who might not want year-round memberships, the ability to freeze membership might help them to save money when they’re away during the holidays. Professionals will want the chance to visit on their lunch breaks or either side of the working day.  

Target people nearby: One of the significant factors in gym attendance is convenience—people want everything quickly and on their schedule. Having a gym on the doorstep is likely to be a big pull that many other gyms can’t offer, so be sure to take advantage of your surroundings. Whether you’re in a residential area or a business park surrounded by offices, there are bound to be some potential users nearby. Going door to door with flyers may seem old-fashioned, but it can still be useful! Equally, ad-targeting is so specific then you can easily use social media ads to target people precisely.

How Can You Involve Others?

Attract friends to build accountability: Many people struggle with accountability when it comes to going to the gym. It’s easy to sign up, but it’s much harder to visit and get the most out of a membership consistently. You need to do everything to make sure they do commit to regular visits (so that they keep their membership instead of canceling) and having a gym buddy is a great way to be held accountable for attending. Refer-a-friend schemes can work well and are an easy way to attract new customers. It also increases the chances that existing customers who refer their friends will stick around.

Offer deals to groups and teams: Group and corporate discounts are another way to attract people along in bulk who are likely to motivate each other. Consider what discounts or offers you could provide to people that sign up in large groups. Companies often have corporate fitness initiatives that you may be able to tie into and take advantage of. You could even sponsor a local sports team or club and encourage them to work out with you.

Have a Process to Convert Leads

Once you’ve actually received an expression of interest from someone, be it through a conversation, trial signup, or a referral, it’s essential to have a clear process for convincing them to take the next step and become a permanent member of your studio. Even if moving customers through a sales funnel like comes naturally to you, formalizing the process will allow you to get other employees on the same page, bring in business even when you’re not directly overseeing operations, and ensure a consistent experience for everyone who encounters your gym.

How Do You Create This Process?

Ask for small commitments from the prospect: Research shows that people are more likely to commit to something large and significant if they already committed to a similar, more modest idea. It’s the logic that makes the saying “Give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile” a plausible and common occurrence. This escalation of commitment can be seen in plenty of sales and marketing tactics with good reason—it works!

Many marketers will ask for an email address and nothing else as the start of a sales process that slowly makes the prospect more likely to commit to more significant actions. Applying this tactic to your process may mean that you get someone’s email, get them along for a free trial, or in a phone call or face to face discussion about their goals, and suddenly they have a sense of commitment to you and your gym. Consider what commitments you can get leads to make, starting with as small a step as possible, and see what effect it has on your eventual conversion rates.  

Keep following up: Gradually building commitment and engagement requires multiple contacts and touchpoints with a lead. Within the fitness industry, it’s not unusual for owners to contact a lead up to 15 times before throwing in the towel. People often have perfectly reasonable and understandable excuses for not responding to your first offer or even your first few messages. That doesn’t mean they never will! For the effort involved, a few additional emails will quickly pay for themselves if you get the person to sign up. Be persistent without overwhelming them. Then you’ll gradually build a level of trust as they come to expect to hear from you. 

Mix up your approach: Not every offer will appeal to every demographic. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by assuming that everyone would prefer to be contacted via email, or that they would all feel comfortable coming into your gym for a trial early on in their relationship with you.

Try a few different methods and record what works best for any given prospect—can you tie this to the demographic they fit into? Ideas for getting in touch could include a personalized text message or email, a phone call at a convenient time, or even a physical letter through the mail if you know their address.

Keep Existing Customers Happy

Our last tip may not seem like a way to sell more gym memberships to new leads, but it can actually be one of the most effective methods around! There’s no big secret behind it either, merely the fact that engaged and satisfied customers make great ambassadors for your gym. Happy, regular visitors are more likely to recommend you to their friends, and these voluntary and personal recommendations from a trusted contact are far more likely to be acted upon. Set up a referral program to maximize on good customer sentiment. According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust referrals from people they know. On top of that,  74% of people regard word of mouth as a key influence on their purchasing decision.

What’s more, retaining members is far more cost effective than trying to attract new ones. This means that many gyms can improve their revenue. The marketing efforts involved in finding, contacting, and converting a new member are likely to be far higher than the cost of a few simple measures or gestures that could keep a handful of existing gym-goers satisfied enough to stay with you.