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Jim Thomas Fitness Management and Consulting

It All Starts With a Simple Call for Help

How one health club systematically improved sales by over 30% with just a little expert advice.

Story Capsule:

Club Nutrition & Fitness
Fitness Management & Consulting

Kevin Walker, a successful personal trainer with an envious book of business, decided to expand into the health club business in 2004. However, he soon found that his talents as a trainer and his energy and commitment weren't necessarily sufficient to succeed in attracting and retaining club members.

Several sales managers later, with sales still flat, he sought professional help. Jim Thomas, the founder of Fitness Management & Consulting, with his 25 years of experience helped Walker punch through the sales plateau, even without a sales manager. No, not by spending a dime more in marketing or advertising, but by fine-tuning the advertising message, writing new sales scripts for the existing front desk staff, and implementing new standards and procedures throughout the club.

Consulting has always been a face-to-face format, and today it still works best. However, the costs of jet travel and living expenses can make expert advice expensive. Thomas introduced a new multi-media approach that strips much of the overhead out of it. He often uses conference calls and email to help clients adhere to their goals and stay informed of the latest best practices.

Now, 6 months later, Kevin Walker is 30% - 37% ahead of last year's sales, and that's without placing his sales manager yet.

A Club Snapshot:

Club Nutrition and Fitness
Springfield Missouri
  • 20,000 square feet
  • 12 personal trainers doing 700-800 personal training session per month.
  • Private personal training room
  • Dedicated spinning room
  • 2 group fitness rooms.
  • Martial arts studio
  • Over 150 pieces of equipment

  • Showcase dealer for FreeMotion Fitness
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Private label of nutritional supplements
  • Child care
  • Cardio Theater on equipment
  • Massage therapy
  • Tanning beds
  • Smoothie & espresso bar

K evin Walker has a love for fitness. It all

started when he was only nine years old and doing strength training to improve his motocross racing. He soon became passionate about body building and nutrition and kept improving himself until he ultimately became Mr. Missouri in 1996.

It All Started With A Passion for Fitness and Nutrition

That award gave Kevin great qualifications to pursue a career in personal training. After receiving an undergraduate degree and all his certifications, he started his own personal training business and quickly built a strong, loyal following.

In July of 2005 he took the plunge and opened a multi-purpose "health club" in Springfield, Missouri. In addition to his personal training practice he was now venturing into the uncharted waters of club members. He soon found out that this was a dramatic departure from his experience in personal training.

To compete with nearby established clubs and hospital wellness centers, Walker offers a lavish club complete with FreeMotion strength equipment and cardio equipment with entertainment systems. He quickly found that "if you build it, they will come" does not work in the health club business - even if you build it well.

Great Amenities Don't Necessarily Assure Success

Club Nutrition & Fitness Walker and his investors purchased a beautiful 8-month-old club that was still pristine. It was so attractive that it was voted Best Club of 2005 by 417 Magazine of Springfield. Walker had a stellar reputation as a personal trainer, and had gained national prominence for having trained an EAS Body-For-Life champion. With these impressive workings: an award winning club and enviable personal training qualifications, one would have thought that club members would be storming in. In reality though, the membership side of the business just wasn't gaining traction.

According to Walker, "I was concerned about new member acquisition, as well as the loss of existing members, which wasn't terrible but we didn't achieve what we wanted the first year."

The referral model is the backbone that grows personal training clients and Walker has it in spades. Though the personal training aspect of his club is envious, with 12 personal trainers doing between 700 and 800 personal training sessions per month, those revenues weren't going to carry the total overhead.

He quickly realized that although club marketing and sales weren't necessarily his forte, they were going to be indispensable for survival.

Spinning His Wheels with Sales Managers

Club Nutrition & Fitness personal training At the start, Walker tried his hand at hiring sales managers, but his success was brief. He quickly found them to be "order takers" not essentially increasing sales over what would have walked in the door anyway. Even worse, he found that their aggressive nature caused problems later on at contract time. Many miscommunications led to disgruntled members and sleepless nights for Walker.

Worst of all, the club fell far short of its targeted sales in the first 1 ½ years and Walker found himself training 12-17 personal training clients per day just to help keep revenues coming in.

After completing his first sub-par year and the prospects for the second year looking just as grim, he pondered a solution.

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