#018: Designing and Implementing a Gym Ambassador Program

#018: Designing and Implementing a Gym Ambassador Program

This week on Gymwright LIVE, we interview Brittany Welk of Midwest Performance and break down the why, what and how of implementing a gym ambassador program that not only empowers your most loyal members but helps solidify the integration and retention of new members.

This show was recorded live on The Network on Friday, February 2, 2017. You can also watch the entire show directly from this link.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

gym ambassador programIMAGE CREDIT: MIDWEST PERFORMANCE 

3:30 What is an ambassador program?

Brittany and Markus explain that a great ambassador program is simple and powerful. It’s a strategy that focuses on 1 key role and that’s integration of new members into your gym community. An ambassador program is a systemized relationship building strategy that brings loyal members in relationship with people who are just trying out your gym for the first time.

gym ambassador programIMAGE CREDIT: MIDWEST PERFORMANCE 

5:10 Why should gym owners care about implementing something like this at their gym?

According to Brittany, the average lifecycle of a member at your gym is about 18-months. So, the question becomes, “how can we extend that period of time when they’re enjoying the fit lifestyle at our facility?” That would be a win-win for everyone. Brittany suggests making it almost impossible for that person to leave. And no, not like the way some globo gyms literally make it hard for you to get out of a contract with them. We’re talking about creating a relationship with your members that’s so genuinely important to them, that they won’t be lured away by new shiny gym syndrome (when a facility with that delicious new gym smell opens down the street.)

This is so important, especially for functional fitness gyms because their members tend to be early adopters of the next best thing. While your gym may not be the “next big thing,” you have something on your competitors and that’s community. An ambassador program just accelerates the relationship building process. It still has the organic feel, but it has a little boost that’s happening in the background.

Having a rock solid ambassador program takes a lot of the pressures off of you and your team when it comes to the sales process. If you don’t have a huge staff, chances are you’re juggling a lot of operational balls in the air. When everything seems like a priority, the new member experience has a tendency to take a back seat.

The last thing you want to do is let members slip through your fingers, so operationally an ambassador program makes a ton of sense. You have maybe a dozen more people on your street team making sure that the integration process is as awesome as it can be.

When you’re caught in the business of gym owner life, another aspect of your gym’s experience can be loyal member retention. An ambassador program that’s filled with perks and communicated the right way is an awesome strategy for keeping your VIP members fulfilled and feeling like they’re contributing to the community they love so much. When you create a great community, these leaders will naturally emerge. Look to those leaders to be your first ambassadors

 

gym ambassador programIMAGE CREDIT: MIDWEST PERFORMANCE 

9:15 How is a great ambassador program structured?

Here are Brittany’s tried and true steps for structuring her highly successful ambassador program:

  1. Find yourself a great Program Coordinator. This is someone who can organize and lead the program and make sure the process is followed. This could be a staff member or a veteran member.
  2. Create a basic step-by-step SOP (standard operating procedure) that your ambassadors can follow without issue or hesitation, use the KISS principle. Type this out and keep copies you can hand out to each ambassador.
  3. Find your evangelists. You want your ambassadors to be your best people. Find your very best member and supplement that team of 1 with others in your gym that have the same awesome qualities you feel are important in someone who’s a representative of your tribe. Don’t expect people to just fall into this role. You need to be willing to ask and also offer some valuable incentives.
  4. Be the first ambassador and lead by example. This will help your staff and the other ambassadors see exactly what the process looks like step-by-step. Some people learn better by observing how it’s done.

 

gym ambassador programIMAGE CREDIT: MIDWEST PERFORMANCE  

12:30 What are some examples of ambassador perks?

Brittany and her team offer Midwest Performance Ambassadors a 10-15% discount on membership, 10-15% discount on supplement line, and 10-15% discount on apparel. These are already people who’re highly invested and are already buying swag from your gym so a discount incentive should look like a really good deal for them.

 

gym ambassador programIMAGE CREDIT: MIDWEST PERFORMANCE 

13:20 What does the actual ambassador role look like?

Brittany suggests making sure you have all of your ambassadors’ names and contact information in a place that’s accessible for the front desk and trainers. When you have new people coming into the gym for a free trial, you want to easily be able to assign this prospect to their ambassador buddy.

Ambassadors should be contacted to meet with their newbie at the gym 10 minutes before class to get to know each other a little better, to answer questions, get them set up with a locker, and to show them around. Brittany’s team likes to give their ambassadors at least 24 hours notice so they’re prepared ahead of time. Click here to download the email swipe file you can send your free trial attendee letting them know about their ambassador partner.

Someone on the Midwest Performance team always does the introduction of ambassador and newbie when they first meet so the handoff feels more natural and flowy. The ambassador is there to partner up with the potential new member during any partnered exercises and is available to answer any questions during class if they feel more comfortable asking their new friend rather than the trainer.

After class, the ambassador texts or finds the newbie on Facebook and asks how her experience was and how they’re feeling. This follow-up is one of the most fun steps in the process. Brittany’s team always gets awesome feedback from newbies who feel very taken care of even after they leave the gym.

 

gym ambassador programIMAGE CREDIT: MIDWEST PERFORMANCE 

17:08 How can you build and implement a program like this if you don’t anything like this in place yet?

  • Download Midwest Performance’s Ambassador Program template and customize it so it works for your gym. This is the first step and sometimes the hardest.
  • Secondly, trial and error is a necessary phase in this process. Not all gyms and members are created equal so your program may look different than Brittany’s but customize it to your audience and your gym so it flows smoothly.
  • Meet with your staff before you implement the program and make sure you set the expectations up front. Your staff needs to understand the importance of a program like this and how it can help them operationally and be a great experience for your members.
  • Introduce it in a fun way to your members. Get them invested and involved. Do a Q & A on the program live on Facebook or even at your gym to get people the information about the program and perks.
  • When you confirm classes with your leads via email, set the expectation with the lead in the email that they will be assigned an ambassador at their first class, so that they are prepared for that when they show up.

 

gym ambassador programIMAGE CREDIT: MIDWEST PERFORMANCE 

22:09 Get creative with when this program fits into your members’ experience

While this is part of Midwest Performance’s free week trial, this method can apply for any new member as well. We’re in a relationship based business and the point is to help people create those relationships. They’re joining a tribe, not a gym.

 gym ambassador programIMAGE CREDIT: MIDWEST PERFORMANCE 

Q&A

Louis S.: When else can this fit into the sales/new member process?

Answer: If you offer an 1:1 intro session (a great model especially for higher-end gyms) and your prospective members go through an on-boarding course, they should get an ambassador after that program. The ambassador wouldn’t be able to do those classes with them. Once they transition to group classes, that’s when they should get their ambassador.

Taylor B.: What’s the number of ambassadors you would have? Is it based on total membership (like a percentage)? Or do you base it on class times (like 2 ambassadors per class time?)

Answer: Brittany doesn’t put a cap on the number of ambassadors. “The more the merrier! If your members want to be a part of it, let them be in it.” There are more popular class times and there are times ambassadors can’t make it to class – having more people in the crew is better so you always have availabilities. Markus also suggests having a quarterly ambassador meet up or dinner to get feedback on how to improve the gym or just to hang out so they continue to feel like they’re contributing if new client intake is slow.

Louis S.: Are the incentives on a recurring basis as long as they’re an ambassador? Or are the incentives only as good as long as they’re performing their ambassador duties?

Answer: Brittany’s ambassador team have to be active with at least 2 people per month to get the incentives.

Markus: Do you quality control or manage how well your ambassadors are doing?

Answer: Brittany gets feedback on the backend to see how the experience was after a new member signs up. Brittany also likes to reach out to new members via text right after they sign up. It makes people feel special to know that they’re being thought about after they’re out of the gym. Ultimately you’re the tribe leader so you the owner or the head coach should be checking in as well.

> Click here to download her Ambassador Program Template <<

About Brittany Welk

Brittany Welk is one of the co-owners of Midwest Performance which is HQ’d in Schaumburg, Illinois. Her gym is a boutique style fitness studio exclusively for women.

Brittany and her partner Marciea Allen opened Midwest Performance in August of 2016 and have made a huge impact on their community in a fairly short period of time. They currently serve 300+ active members – many of which are evangelists for the gym and are the lifeblood of their highly successful new member integration strategy which we discuss on this show.

 

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Jessica Depatie About the author

Jessica is the marketing maven here at Gymwright. She's a business consultant and holistic marketer for fitness businesses. She specializes in the decision-making psychology of what makes everyday people want to optimize themselves. She dives deep into how people seek out growth in the pursuit of living happier and healthier.

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