#008: Increase Premium Service Sales at Your Gym w/ Shayne Jasper
When gym owners think about premium services, the first thing they usually think of is usually personal training… and of a lot of unpleasant sales pitches to get them there. In real life, premium services include nutrition coaching, custom program design, massage therapy, or any other value-added service your box provides.
The system we’re breaking down today applies to anything of that nature that you want to sell, and Shayne Jasper joined us on The Network Live Facebook Q&A to break down a really simple ascension model for premium services, in a non-salesy way.
Table of Contents
- 0:10 Meet Shayne Jasper
- 4:48 Deciding What Premium Services to Offer
- 11:10 But What About My Money?
- 14:00 Extending the Client Lifecycle
- 17:05 More Client Contact = Better Results
- 19:04 Comparing Potential Premium Offers
- 21:17 Have a Proper Sales Event
- 23:15 The Cultivation Process for New Members: Planting the Seed
- 30:03 Watering the Seed
- 40:30 The Cultivation Process for Established Members
- 50:15 Viewer Questions
0:10 Meet Shayne Jasper
Shayne started his career in the training department of a Globo Gym, and he’s now 18 years into his specialization in training. Though he started off as a personal trainer, he switched his focus to group training because it was a way to have a positive impact with more people, and to be able to offer it at a lower price point. Once he discovered that functional fitness is where it’s at, he dedicated himself to spreading the CrossFit gospel as widely as he can.
In addition to having owned and operated his own box for almost six years, Shayne founded two of his own related businesses. The first is Hard to Kill Athletics, where he puts on competitions for athletes in the CrossFit space, giving them a place to train when they want to compete for fun. Shayne is all about focusing on the fun of fitness. The other is The Gym Exchange, which connects people who want to sell their box with people who are looking to buy a box.
Shayne decided to sell his own box in 2016 so he could work full-time on business development for gym owners, which is basically his favorite thing. He sees it as his mission to promote the notion that good human movement is fun, so that the functional fitness movement stays around for a long time. He’s also a Gymwright Business Coach. Spread that good news, Shayne!
4:48 Deciding What Premium Services to Offer
As a gym owner, once you get your client growth where it needs to be, the focus should naturally move to adding value to each membership. How do you decide what services to add?
When we bring up premium services, owners jump right to, “I know, I know, I need to offer more personal training,” but that isn’t true for every box. Does it align with your gym’s mission and goals? Does your staff have the time for that? Whatever your premium offer is, know why you’re doing it and how it lines up with what you want out of your box.
Factors to Consider
What’s your staffing configuration? When Markus was at Active, the initial thought for premium offers was personal training. But the team’s schedule, availability, and skill set didn’t align. It would have taken good coaches off the floor during the group program and burned out the staff. They learned that group programs were a way better focus for their gym. But they knew they had a couple of all-stars at program design, which allowed them to make some coaches full-time staff members and scale the gym in a smart way. Before you default to personal training, ask your coaches if that’s something they feel comfortable doing, or even want to learn how to do. And “no” is a perfectly fine answer! (“When you’re a hammer, everything is a nail.”)
Three of Shayne’s coaches at CrossFit Tire Factory came from a personal training background, vs. one coach with strictly functional fitness group-class experience. It worked out as a great hybrid — three were all about ramping up PT, and the coach who’d come up entirely in group fitness got to maintain and cultivate that preferred focus.
11:10 But What About My Money?
You don’t ever want to be in the position of saying, “I’ve got to jam 100 more members into my doors in order to make the kind of money I want to make.” Growing your members necessitates growing your business cost. As your membership grows, cost is proportionate. Adding services for existing members is generally the smarter way to grow.
Look at who’s already there and how you can improve their experience, thereby improving your revenue. You can easily add 30-40% to your revenue by having a solid upsell program. Figuring out what will work with your gym’s model is key to growing your business.
The traditional box “sweet spot” for an overall community size is 175-225 members. This is where you’re making money without having to move up to the “big gym” costs. But this number is unique to every box, and you have to find the number that works best for you. You may do best as a boutique experience, or you may find that billions of members is really the way to go. Once you’re in the sweet spot, whatever it is, it’s time to improve your value per member.
With larger gyms, owners often have trouble with coach buy-in for premium services. Not like they’ll outright object to it, but they may not get as excited as an owner would like. If they’re only there for a few classes a week, even if they love it, they’re not inclined to get there early, stay late, and be as invested in the gym’s success as you. The enthusiasm needs to start from the top (you) down. If you can provide your staff with the equivalent of a full-time career, where they don’t have to run out and go work at the coffee shop as soon as their session is over, the enthusiasm for your gym works its way to your members. Ideally, everyone in your box will be all about your box.
14:00 Extending the Client Lifecycle
Your clients are your billboards. They’re going to get better results if they’re utilizing more of your services, and their friends are gonna ask them why they look so good. Answer: your awesome programs. They’re going to help you grow your base when you focus on investing in their experience.
By adding premium services, you not only earn more revenue per client, you extend the client lifecycle. Around the 18-24 month mark, members inevitably look for what’s next. Hopefully, you’re providing that internally so they don’t find it somewhere else. Markus’s goal at Active was to never let someone get past the 12 month mark without them exploring custom program options. That way, when the interest in new realms hits, they’re already on a path towards value-added services that are completely tailored towards them and their goals. It’s a great, individualized way to extend their interest. When you provide more value for longer, you win the game.
17:05 More Client Contact = Better Results
No ifs, ands, or buts: If we have more contact with our members, we’re going to be able to help them get better results. If we open a gym with the intent to help people with their health and fitness, we have a responsibility is to help them in whatever way possible to get the best results they can. And if you don’t, they’re going to go get it elsewhere and very likely make a bad decision. When they start Googling “best fitness programs,” bad things happen.
19:04 Pros and Cons of Premium Offers
At Active, Markus would make sure that custom program clients were in a class at least every two weeks so that they were still part of the social community. When you offer personal or custom training, you run the risk of your member losing the fun and the sense of community that got them there in the first place. This ends up being great sales too, because the other people in the class go, “Damn, what are you doing with yourself? You look great!” And the answer is: premium offers! Everyone should sign up.
On bringing your coaches in full time so they can support your premium offerings: Make sure you give them a generous lift on their rate. Incentivize them to do a great job and to want to sell more. We hear all the time about coaches who go full time to do customized training, but then end up making the same or sometimes even less during those hours as they did during their group-class coaching hours. Usually, it’s because the gym owner just Googled “personal trainer split.” (It seems like if we’ve learned anything so far today, it’s that some ill-informed decisions get made when people start Googling their path to success.)
A con of this premium offering is that it makes it harder for your coaches to go on vacation when they have a full roster, and you need a more competent and experienced stable of coaches to be able to pull this programming off correctly. This shouldn’t turn you off to the notion but go in with your eyes open.
21:17 Have a Proper Sales Event
It’s a step that a lot of people miss. Not only is the event important to conversions, it enables you to make a good prescriptive sale. (In case you missed it, you can still watch the full episode about Prescriptive Sales on The Network.) All the same principles apply to this sales event as it would for a membership event:
- Relate and connect personally, which is much easier to do when they’re already a client.
- Make it goal-oriented. Talk about what exactly it is that they want, why it’s important to them, and when they want it by.
- Get moving on whatever the thing is they want to work on. Spend 10 or 15 minutes actively coaching them and encouraging them, and assessing where they are.
- Finally, prescribe the solution. If you’re waiting for people to approach you after class to ask about personal training, you’re going to be waiting for a while. You need that time together to figure out how you’re best able to help them.
There are multiple opportunities to do a prescriptive sale for premium offerings along the lifecycle of your client, beyond when they first join. For some members, you know they need it, and you can approach them about it. For other members, you have to dig for to find out that they need it.
23:15 The Process for New Members
The way you approach premium offerings for new members coming into your ecosystem differs from the approach you’ll use for your existing member base.
Plant the seed
Include the premium offerings as part of your regular sales process. As part of his box’s menu of options when he signed up new clients, Shayne offered three fitness plans, two of which included personal training. Even if you mostly sell group memberships at signup, you can plant the seed by letting them know they can always upgrade after they’ve gotten cozy and gotten to know the coaches. Let them know it’s a free consultation, we know cost is a factor for you right now, the door’s always open, etc.
Don’t be pushy; just let them know what’s available. Shayne found that when he followed up with those new clients a few months later, about one in five were ready to sign up for personal training. Those folks understood that they were getting in their own way of the results they were capable of. They recognized that individualized attention would be the added layer of accountability to help them reach their goals.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s integrated into that pitch, even if it’s just a mention. Normalize it to the person. “Most of our members come to me about this 3-6 months in, but if you identify something you want to work on sooner, just let me know.” Give them examples: “Sometimes people want help getting to their first pullup or double-under, or nutrition guidance.” At the time, they may be thinking, “What the hell’s a double-under?” but when they try it for the first time in a group setting, they see that they might want a bit of extra help with it… No pitch, no hard sell. Just remind them.
30:03 Watering the Seed
This is easy and non-salesy, because it’s completely based on social proof. Markus would do this by having a featured athlete every month. They’d have a profile and a write-up, and everyone at the gym would know about it. (By the way, if you don’t have a featured member program, you’re missing the bus. We even did an episode about it!) At Markus’s box, they hired a journalist and paid them $50-75 bucks a month to write a legit article about the member, pulling pictures from their Facebook page or wherever they could find them. This made the member look like a million bucks for very little effort on the gym’s part.
The majority of featured members would be group members, but every third or fourth profile would be an individual member. Their profile were all done in the same format, but for members taking advantage of the premium offerings, the profile would also highlight their journey: how they started off as a group fitness member, realized there was something more that they wanted or needed, did the free consult, was given an individualized plan, and made the upgrade to personal training. “They’ve been in the program for (3, 6, however many) months, and we’ve already had to reset their goal X times because they’re crushing it so hard.”
So yay, this member feels valued. But meanwhile, members who onboarded with the featured member read the profile and go, “Ohhhhh, THAT’S why that dude’s kicking my ass in every fitness category. Maybe I should look into a custom training program, too, so that I may likewise become the envy of my peers!” There’s no hard sell; you’re just showcasing the awesome work your members have done. But every few months, you’re watering that seed.
At the one-year mark, send every member an email congratulating them on the milestone. It should come with a survey asking if there’s anything they need help with to get to the next level. Whatever their response, your answer is, “Perfect. In our experience, the most effective way to accomplish that is with a one-on-one training program. Click here to get your free performance consultation and talk to a coach about your goals.” (And keep in mind, that’s not just a sales line. Unless they’re like, “I just wish I could get over Sheila leaving me for my brother,” the best solution is almost always an individualized training program.) You can keep sending that out every 6-12 months. And if you’re a Platform member, this feature is built in for you already anyway, so you might as well take advantage.
This cultivation process is hugely effective, and it’s a positive interaction because you already know and trust each other. But take note: This whole seed-planting-and-watering process takes over a year. Yeah, some people will sign up earlier, but there’s not a way to roll this out overnight without seeming like a desperate salesman.
Shayne always offered personalized training as a month-to-month commitment to make it more affordable. (Except for one time the client paid in full. But, you know, that was just that one weird time.) When Shayne’s box was at its most consistent best, about 20% of their clients were on some sort of individualized training program, which meant about $10,000 in revenue a month above their standard offerings.
Teach your coaches to find opportunities for skill sessions. If they notice there’s a move a client is struggling with in group, they can say, “see me after class for a minute,” and then offer 2-3 minutes of solid gold coaching. “I gotta run, but if you want more help with that, I think we could knock that out with [two or three or whatever their real number is] individual coaching sessions. Let me know, and we’ll set up a personalized consult and we can get going on this.” Creating the opportunity to sit down with someone one-on-one gives a crucial chance for your members to vocalize any frustrations they’re encountering in their fitness journey, and you can help them stay on track. Don’t oversell — if you can fix it in two sessions, don’t be a shithead and tell them they need a dozen.
40:30 The Cultivation Process for Established Members
Let’s say that premium offerings haven’t been rolled out in your gym just yet. What’s the best way to activate sales for an existing member base? This is your long-game strategy. Markus recommends creating social proof before making the offer. Here’s how:
Start with a survey to find out what your members are interested in, and take that into account with what interests your coaches have.
Once you’ve selected the nature of your premium offering, find a couple of people who you know will be really good students: They’re longstanding members, you respect them, you know they respect you, they do their homework, they’re a good social influencer, and they’ve got something to work on that you know will see results. “I know you’ve been trying to [get to your first comp/hone in your physique]. I think you’d be a really good candidate for the program we’re rolling out. Would you be willing to follow the program — which I will comp for the next three months — and give a (glowing) testimonial at the end? [And maybe trading some social media promotion, or cleaning the gym once a month, or whatever your gym needs, so that they’re not getting it for *free* free.] And obviously if you stop following the program, the program stops. Does that sound fair?”
Wait, what about that social influencer part? Well, Markus did this comp program with two of his members, even though there were way more than two members who would have been pretty good candidates. But make sure it’s someone the other members look up to, who if they say “I did this thing and it was great,” other people will pay attention. AND! Even though they’re not paying *full* full price, do not half-ass it. Use your entire ass. Behave as though they paid handsomely. You don’t want a phony testimonial; you want it to be legit. This time is for you to run a pilot program and to solidify your full process.
Once you’ve wrapped up with your guinea pigs, put up a killer event (free for members, $100 for non-members, let’s say) to build a skill you know is important to and fun for your membership. (See our episode on the Perceived Value Building System for how to throw a great member event.) At the end of the event, let them know that if they had a good time working on [olympic lifting or whatever] with you today, they should sign up for the individualized programming to really refine it. And don’t forget to show off your test cases: “Here are our most recent success stories, Jim and Nadine! Don’t you want to be just like them?”
50:15 Viewer Questions
Brendon C. I know pricing will vary, but what factors do you consider with something like custom programming with occasional hands on coaching?
Answer: Make it worthwhile for the people doing the programming to do the job well. Build in the value of the time for the person doing the work while making it a good deal for the business. Deciding about what the exact split will come down to what your individual priorities are as a gym. If it’s important to you to get your coaches up to full time, you’ll want to be more generous with your split.
Apart from just generosity of spirit, maybe your goal is to get this coach in full time, so that you can be freed up to work on other aspects of the business. Hopefully, that decision will more than make up for paying your coach a higher rate, because you’re building a better product. Markus recalls the split for training being around $75 for the trainer, with a profit of $35 per session for the gym — which, once you sell twenty or thirty of those, it’s a good amount of additional income rolling in. And more importantly, this model meant that Markus could bring on coaches full-time. It also extended the client lifespan by offering more valuable programming.
Whatever the split, it needs to be a win/win/win for coach/client/business, or it’s a no-go. In order to get that win/win/win, you have to know what each party really wants.
Make sure you have that conversation with your coaches. Incentivize the result that you’re looking for, always. For example, Shayne had a system where on the first session, the coach would get a set amount of the split. But if the coach sold the client on another training session, the coach would get a commission as well as a bigger split for the next round. As a result, clients were retained at a great rate.
Jared M. We are about to occer 30-minute skill sessions. Any preference on once a month vs 2 times a month offerings? Or should we offer both? Would you have a cheaper price for twice a month?
Answer: The best idea is to offer a set number of sessions rather than a certain number of times per month, because otherwise they tend to want their money back the first time they have to miss a training. It should be scheduled around their specific goal.
Question: Should I have people pay upfront, or should I add it into the overall agreement?
Answer: Markus always recommends having people pay in advance, because you otherwise run into a cash flow issue in trying to provide them the service. (Note that this is different from “paid in full” in advance. That’s a rare bird, but go for it if they offer.) You don’t ever want to go straight out-of-pocket to pay your coach.
Cody R.: Should I offer a free session to people on the fence about the value?
Answer: No. If you give the product itself away, you devalue it. You can do a free consultation, which is a very similar product, but it’s called something else and is a value-added rather than a “this training is worth nothing” scenario. If someone could receive the service for free, why would they pay for it? Plus, then you have a chance during consultation to make sure you’re selling them what they really need, rather than what they think they need.
Sara C.: How do you offer nutrition consultation without any kind of certification? Do you need one?
Answer: It depends on what state you live in. The laws about what you can call it and what kind of certification you need vary from state to state. You may need to be a registered dietitian to offer nutrition advice — If that’s a certification your state requires and you don’t have one, just steer clear. Otherwise, Precision Nutrition offers certifications that you can check out, and there’s a new program coming out from Working Against Gravity that’s phenomenal for box owners who want to start selling nutrition counseling. (Stay tuned; we might want to do a whole show on this program later, because it’s great.)
Definitely do your homework. If your state is prohibitive about selling nutrition counseling, the best way to handle it may be to bundle it in with your other offerings: “We cover training, lifestyle, nutrition, and mobility in this package,” for example. Then you may be able to give clients feedback on their food logs without telling them exactly what to do, and it gives you the chance to recommend outside programs, systems, or books that you find helpful. So you can still provide guidance without billing yourself as a nutritionist. What you definitely don’t want is for someone with medical problems unknown to you to end up in the hospital because you gave them inappropriate nutrition advice for their condition — This is something that’s happened in real life, and it can get ugly.
Nutrition counseling is perhaps the greatest untapped opportunity for gym owners. It’s worthwhile to figure out how to do it right. How many times have you had a member come work out with you consistently for like two years, but they still look exactly the same as on Day 1? And you know they still drink four Diet Dr. Peppers a day? Or they’re doing a version of the Paleo diet that’s 100% bacon? That client is going to see tremendous results if they supplement their workouts with nutrition counseling.
Thanks to Jason for providing this link in the comments about nutrition counseling laws in each state; it’s a place to start.
Even though the show’s over, feel free to head to the comment section and tag either Markus or Shayne with any questions about this week’s episode, and they’ll get back to you.