Club Insider

Bounce-Back Strategies

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Gary PolicGary Polic

We are in unprecedented times, and we do not know what the future will bring. It is natural to be discouraged at this time, but our industry WILL BOUNCE-BACK. WHY? Because our industry has too many stellar leaders spearheading the effort, coupled with the fact that, "exercise is the most significant factor contributing to the health of the individual," stated by the American Medical Association. People will continue to seek out clubs to work out in, because there is an inherent motivation that comes while working out with others that no online virtual fitness program available can compete with.

An Opportunity to Begin Again

When you first open a club, every member is treated like gold, and the customer service is spot-on! The desire for customer service being held to a high standard exists at most club companies. Always bringing it to fruition daily, though, is where many clubs fail. Inevitably, this is due to the focus on new member sales always being at the forefront. Enter COVID-19, and the biggest commodity we have are our current members.

After the numerous phone calls I've made throughout the industry before beginning this article, the clubs that are hanging in all say the same thing, "Our members love us." Retaining them is literally essential for a club's survival. What is happening in the world right now with the pandemic is new territory for all of us, so we must adapt and change. Even after the miracle of a vaccine is here, we must never take our current members for granted ever again.

How Do We Begin?

We need to team up with our departments to mastermind a "new paradigm shift," and subsequently, create a new Mission Statement. Begin by creating a Proud Ownership Theory by corroborating with your teams through group decision making. It needs to be a BIG DEAL, because it is a BIG DEAL. It also needs to be a group decision, because people will give their all when they are a part of the solution! I learned this valuable method of leading teams from my mentor/COO, Doug Cash, when I was the National Sales Director at TCA, now Midtown Athletic Clubs.

In addition, if the leaders from the top down are not spending time in the trenches, then what are they doing at this critical juncture!? Do not get me started about this... The "boss" tells you what to do but cannot do it himself? There were too many "ivory tower" leaders before COVID. Well, guess what? Those days are over. We are all responsible to WALK THE TALK and get back in the trenches with our teams from the top down!

Sales Department Musts:

1. Every new member receives a follow up every 30-60-90 days by call or text. Each call or text must be specific to the members "needs" by "providing solutions." During this correspondence, the club provides complimentary services to educate (possible upsell). This needs to be tracked and followed up on by management DAILY! Also keep in mind, each new member should be scheduling a 14-30-day appointment with the sales rep to guarantee their expectations have been met at Point of Sale (POS)! This is another opportunity to present referrals and potential upselling depending on their goals, AND it is the best way to truly SERVE.

2. Referrals from the current members need to be supported by "internal sales promotions."

3. Referral presentations at POS need to be adhered to, tracked and followed up on by management DAILY. Now, you may be saying, "We know this and do this already!" Most clubs I visit have the standard implemented; however, there is no "inspecting what you expect DAILY!" The follow-up by management in these respects are in reports supported by the software. It sounds good, but having your referral sheets presented at POS or to a current member needs to be manually tracked DAILY and inspected as well! Entering names in the computer is essential, but again, the manual inspection of the sheet's written referrals is paramount in the inspection process. In addition, think about this: If the same enthusiasm were presented at the POS referral presentation as it is to sell PT or a new membership, how many more referrals would be received?

4. Utilize a current "Member Survey Engagement" sheet by "walking the floor" daily. Would your team be able to answer the following questions when you walk into your club and ask them while your pointing to a member on the floor? Again, have this manually tracked for follow up DAILY.

  • What is that member's name?
  • Do you know how long has he been a member?
  • Is he aware of the new protocols that have been adopted since COVID? Does he feel safe?
  • Do you know what his goals are?
  • If there was one thing he would change regarding exercise results, what would that be?
  • Where does he work, socialize or worship?
  • Would he recommend the club to a friend?

5. Call Cancels and Freezes. Cancels receive a 30-day trial. Freezes receive a 60-day trial. Call all check-ins. Personal training sold at the POS.

Some Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Are you listening to your employees and empowering them to push forward? Are you allowing them to vent, and are you providing inspiration and direction?
  • Is your business pivoting for the present and the future because the future is now? Virtual fitness is here to stay!
  • Is your senior leadership team building confidence with your team? Are they involved in every member and non-member interaction when possible?
  • Is your Senior Leadership Team providing "mastermind solutions" daily or weekly on scheduled assigned conference calls or in person? Or, are the calls all about the negatives? THIS IS A BIG ONE! Leaders need to be encouraging and hands-on in the clubs DAILY! It is AMAZING when a Senior Leader must be in the trenches for a week (bell to bell) how much more they are willing to listen and provide hands-on "quantified" solutions!

Is Your Team Understanding and Supporting the Ownership's Needs?

With the draft, new member, PT and ancillary revenue at an all-time low, the team MUST understand the "crunch" the owner is in considering cash flow. No, they do not need to know the actual numbers. However, they MUST understand that their position is a blessing and that ATTITUDE and EFFORT is essential to the wellbeing of the future of the business and their employment. If the employee is not COMMITTED, then changes need to be made. ONLY PASSIONATE, SELFLESS, DEDICATED PEOPLE NEED BE EMPLOYEED! On the other hand, EMPLOYERS MUST treat their people like GOLD! It is the lifeblood of their existence and survival at this point!

Now is the Time to Engage and Bring Your Community Together

Now is the time to absolutely LOVE OTHERS while expecting nothing in return! Also, consider there is strength in numbers by pulling people together! Become your corporate's and community's "GOOD-WILL SOLUTION!"

It is time to get out into your community and meet all the local merchants in a half-mile radius of your club. Meet the Mayor, Police Chief, Fire Marshal and your Congressperson. Now is NOT the time to stay sheltered in your clubs and wait it out.

Make a list of the influential people in your community and call, email or visit them. Bring them all together in your club and have a press release promoting your brand and allowing the community to see that you are being part of the solution. Join the Chamber and Rotary Club. Your places of worship and corporations would love to provide a trial membership pass or virtual fitness programs to their members and employees, respectively.


Here are examples of what you can start doing immediately:

  • Creating an APP for any member social group or association.
  • College and HS athletic programs have NO place to work out.
  • Corporate "build your immune system" program.
  • Loan out equipment.
  • Social media FACEBOOK groups cross-promoting with other local businesses and tying into each other's database.
  • Focus on nutritional guidance at this time of slow club traffic.
  • "Healthy Habits" virtual coaching.
  • Allow your club to be the central hub in your community to support businesses and the people. For example, your club could become the distribution center for a local food drive or flu shots.

Create an excel spreadsheet of all your contacts with detailed information. In time, these connections and the "giving back" to the community will pay off big dividends! Do not dismiss the people who are unemployed. Now is the time for them to focus on their physical wellbeing and to better prepare themselves to interview and get the job. Do you have a membership specifically designed for them?

The Law of Reciprocity

All throughout history, we have seen that it was during the toughest of times that we found out WHO WE WERE AND HOW DEEP OUR RESOLVE CAN BE. It is a perfect time to "give back" and allow the seed of the Law of Reciprocity to be planted for tomorrow's gain!

Remember, THIS TOO SHALL PASS, and when it does: Will your clubs be SETUP to capitalize? It is all about engagement and service in the community! Timing is everything! NOW IS THE TIME to guarantee your future success by truly applying the LAW OF RECIPROCITY!

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