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Achieving success within the health and fitness club, gym, and leisure centre industry is all about creating truly effective, experienced and knowledgeable sales teams – as well as equally skilled and efficient customer service teams.  There’s a huge distinction between the roles that sales teams and customer service teams play, and the two should not be confused, overlapped, or merged (as is often the tendency).  So with this in mind, it’s time to take a look at where sales teams stop, and excellent customer service teams should start.

Done well, the transition for the customer from sales to outstanding ongoing customer service and support is seamless and impressive.  However, done badly, it’s a recipe for disaster and could result in a loss of those all-important members.

We all like to feel as though we’re receiving a great level of customer service.  It’s human nature that we want to be made to feel as though our purchase – whether it’s an object or a service – is of paramount importance, and as a customer we are valued.  So ensuring your customer service team is equipped with the skills to nurture new and existing members is a truly vital component in your retention plan.  And employing a dedicated person who is responsible for taking care of each new member’s needs is one key way to achieving great customer service. 

It’s often very common for health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres to confuse the distinction between sales teams and customer service teams.  However, expecting sales or customer service team members to both sell and then take responsibility for the after care is both exceptionally risky and ineffective. 

You need to consider that both the profile and job description of a sales team member is poles apart from that of a customer service team member.  Sales team members are trained and skilled in the art of persuasion and closing a sale.  They understand how to empathise with the prospective member in order to achieve the correct level of membership.  And they know how to promote the benefits of joining your health and fitness club, gym, and leisure centre to maximum effect.

Yet a customer service team member is highly skilled in the art of nurturing and retention.  And it’s the all-important retention rates which need to be given as much attention as the sales process itself.  It will come as no surprise that the most effective and profitable health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres operate both sales teams and customer service teams.  Each sales team member understands the important role a customer service team member plays, and conversely each customer service team member understands exactly what a sales team member is responsible for doing. 

Remember: Sales skills include the ability to influence, assert and close sales.  Whereas customer service skills include attentiveness, complaint handling and administrative knowledge.

It’s important, though, to appreciate that each customer service team member should receive some basic sales training.  And, of course, each sales team member should receive customer service training too.  Whilst the two teams are completely separate, and each function is entirely different, to ensure your overall business success, continuity and also reputation, it’s crucial that each member of your sales and customer service workforce understands the critical role they play in, and the impact they have on, the customer’s joining experience.

And the role of your reception team…

First impressions count.  So ensuring your reception team is skilled in both basic sales and customer service is, again, vital to the ongoing success and profitability of your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre.

The reception team is the first point of contact for both prospective, new and existing members.  So to receive a warm welcome, as well as competent support and advice, and someone to which queries can be directed is, for most people, an essential requirement.  Many a time, a receptionist has handled a prospective member as they are seen as the first point of contact, so it’s vital that your reception team has the skills, training and knowledge to handle enquiries effectively, and to create a highly professional and friendly first impression – as well as a truly seamless buying experience.

Failure to train your reception team effectively could result in your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre missing out on securing new memberships.  It can also have a knock on effect, as that missed member won’t recommend their family or friends, and additionally they won’t have the opportunity to use your facilities to reach their health, wellbeing and fitness goals.

To conclude… Where sales teams stop, and customer service teams begin

It’s time to build a small, in-house sales team which is focused on achieving (and exceeding) sales targets.  Recruit sales team members with the drive, determination and hunger to succeed by finding leads, qualifying leads, and converting them into new members.  And focus your attention on creating a customer service team too which includes skilled members capable of effectively caring for customers, handling complaints, answering questions, booking activities, and acting as ambassadors for your business.

To find out more about how your health and fitness club, gym or leisure centre can benefit from effective sales and customer service teams, or for further information on the importance of leadership and sales coaching, training and mentoring, please call +44 (0) 7815 800 939 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

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If your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre team hates selling, then all is not lost.  That’s because there are a number of tools you can use which will ensure that every member of your team has the understanding and capabilities to be able to subtly promote your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre to those all-important prospective new members.

The key to selling – especially when you’re not working as a sales person – is to think, act and believe that you can do things differently.  In the past, selling has had a bad reputation with pushy door-to-door and home improvement sales people top of the most hated list!  However, life has changed, and so has our attitude towards selling effectively.  Gone are the days of hard core and pressured sales (where invariably those new customers would cancel the purchase as soon as they arrived home).  Instead, a new generation of subtlety, educating, and nurturing is evolving.

Everyone can sell.  And every single member of your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre team should be developed and recognised so that they receive the training, skills and knowledge required to spot a prospective customer and begin the nurturing process.  From receptionists to admin staff, and personal trainers to your sales team, of course!  It’s essential you take the time and energy to invest in every member of your team.  Think of it as speculating to accumulate as you’ll reap the rewards in the medium to long term future.

Everyone can sell… So how do you encourage your team to think differently?

It’s important to start by coaxing and coaching your team members to think differently.  They are not pushing prospective customers into joining; they are simply helping them with the decision-making process and acting as great ambassadors and experts for your business. 

Furthermore, it’s important that every member of your team understands that by playing a small role in winning new business they are consequently securing the future of your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre – as well as their own job roles.

  1. For a start, ask your team members whether they have either ‘sold’ something to a friend, colleague or family member, or influenced them to do something they wanted them to do.  It could something as simple as persuading them to make a cup of tea or take on some extra work.  Maybe they influenced someone to try a new restaurant.  Perhaps they encouraged their child, or a niece or nephew, to do something new, such as an activity.  Or possibly they influenced their partner or family member to make a big lifestyle change, such as a new job.  This is an excellent demonstration of their ability to persuade, influence, and subsequently sell.
  2. Now, ask your team members to put themselves in their prospective customers’ shoes, and encourage them to change their mind-sets too.  For example, reception or admin staff are often the first representatives to greet a prospective new customer.  So to give them the skills they need to establish a relationship and create buying opportunities is crucial.  Your team members need to really understand the reasons why prospective customers will be looking to join your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre.  A new mum is struggling to shift her baby weight and she’s becoming depressed.  A retired man feels lonely and wants a new social outlet.  Or perhaps a lady has recovered from cancer and now feels she wants to do something big, such as running a marathon in aid of charity.  Exercising is daunting for those who are new to it, and for the three people in the examples above, fitness will have a truly profound effect on their lives.  And your team can help them.
  3. Prospective members are humans – not numbers or targets.  Encourage your team to think about their passion for fitness, and to employ this same level of excitement when talking to prospective customers.  Regular physical activity offers an array of essential body and lifestyle benefits, such as weight loss, muscle toning, a newfound confidence, a reduction in stress and tension, and improved sleep.  So with this in mind, it’s easy to promote the benefits to prospective customers – and there’s not even a hint of hard sell anywhere!
  4. Encourage your team members to practice influential communication techniques, and reassure them that selling is not being pushy… It’s merely helping prospective customers to make the right choice.  Practice makes perfect after all!  So inspire them to put their own ‘spin’ on these essential influencing, persuading and selling strategies as it’s important they sound natural, convincing and uncontrived.
  5. Brainstorm the products and services you and your team can sell – and encourage them to promote these ‘add on elements’ too.  Obviously, memberships are number one.  However, what about spa treatments and spa products, new fitness classes, coffees and post-workout snacks, personal training sessions, or protein bars and shakes.  The list is endless.
  6. And finally, reward your team for doing well.  Something as simple as a voucher or bottle of wine will go a long way towards ensuring effective sales become an established part of everyone’s daily job roles.  Furthermore, encourage your team to share their positive experiences and to inspire each other as a result.  And rather than hearing ‘I hate selling’ or ‘I can’t sell’, you will find there’s a positive shift towards a ‘can’ and ‘will’ attitude instead.

To find out more about how your health and fitness club, gym or leisure centre can get every team member selling, or for further information on the importance of leadership and sales coaching, training and mentoring, please call +44 (0) 7815 800 939 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

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As any good health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre will know, the competition to secure those all-important new members is fierce.  However, amongst some operations there’s a tendency to err on the side of pushiness – rather than the side of influence.

This month, I’ve decided to explore the very best sales techniques for your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre.  With the summer here to stay for a few more weeks, many people are now thinking about joining a gym to quickly get fit and tone up ready for their summer holiday.  Or they might even be returning from a week or two in sunny climes and now in search of the ideal way to undo the damage caused by a margarita too many!

So it’s a prime time of year to capture potential members’ attention.  However, that’s the key… Capturing their attention, getting and keeping them interested in the benefits and reasons as to why joining your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre is a great idea, and influencing them with convincing cases, interesting facts, and helpful information so that they sign on the dotted line.

Can you influence people to buy?  Yes you can…

To be a good and influential sales person, it’s important that you create a feeling of demand, desire, and need by using cleverly chosen words and building a crucial rapport.  For a potential new member to make an enquiry into joining your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre, they must already have done some research and will no doubt be aware of the countless benefits of enjoying a regular exercise schedule.  So you have a delicate task on your hands in persuading and influencing them to commit.

However, rather than pushing your potential new members into signing up, why not empower them with interesting facts and information – and ask them smart, intelligent questions to find out the true reasons behind their need and desire to exercise at your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre.

Potential new members look into joining health and fitness clubs, gyms, or leisure centres for a whole multitude of reasons.  It could be a desire to lose weight, perhaps they want to take control of their lives, health and wellbeing, maybe they’re in training for an event, or possibly it’s a social or status factor and they want to make new friends – or be seen to be doing the ‘right’ thing.

So what’s the difference between influencing and pushing?

There’s a very distinct difference between influential selling techniques and pushing.  Pushy salespeople are universally detested!  So whereas influential selling informs, empowers, engages and advises, pushy sales techniques quite literally push customers away from you.

Influential selling = asking questions, focusing on what your potential new member needs, making your solution realistic and providing the necessary support to ensure your potential new member makes the right decision for them.  Whereas pushy selling = telling your potential new member what to do, focusing on what you want, and applying pressure and not accepting ‘no.’

Whether you know it or not – and whether you like it or not – you are influenced into making numerous decisions on a daily basis.  From how you shop in a supermarket, to the work you carry out in the office, influential people and factors are all around you.  Furthermore, no doubt you are responsible for influencing people and decisions too – although perhaps you may not know it!  Maybe you used your influential skills this morning to get your partner to make you a cup of tea, or perhaps you delegated work to a colleague and used your influential skills to ensure it is bumped up their ‘to do’ list…?

To influence potential new members into making the decision to join your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre, you need to use persuasive language and provide them with empowering detail in order that they feel they are making the right decision themselves.  A good analogy is to put it all on a plate, but let them eat it!

By communicating at a deeper level, the potential new member feels you actually care about their personal reasons for wanting to join your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre.  People buy from people, so it’s crucial you keep this mantra at the forefront of your mind, and approach every potential new sale from a very human aspect with long-term customer relationships as your top priority.

And the conclusion as to why influencing is better than pushing…

Well, for a start there’s nothing worse than a pushy salesperson.  Countless businesses have finally learned the hard way that pushy sales people push potential customers away as it screams of desperation.  Too much pressure can have the opposite effect on closing a sale – and it can also force potential members into agreeing to commit, only to cancel as soon as they’re home.

It’s human nature that we all want to feel as though we’re being taken seriously.  As consumers we are pretty savvy nowadays when it comes to searching around for good deals.  So sales techniques that worked 10-years ago will definitely no longer cut the mustard today.  And that’s why influence wins hands down over pushiness.  OK, it might take more hard work and effort to build those all-important rapports, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.

To find out more about how your health and fitness club, gym or leisure centre can benefit from using influential sales techniques, or for further information on the importance of successful and influential sales, please call +44 (0) 7815 800 939 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

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Streamline your joining process to attract members…

The health and fitness industry is competitive.  So not only does your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre need to offer great facilities, excellent customer service, and flexible membership options, but you also need to give your joining process some serious thought.

It goes without saying that a good sales strategy is based on creating the best customer service experience possible.  And communication is key!

Making things too complicated for potential new-joiners is a turn off.  As is a cold, unfriendly, and unwelcoming joining process that feels detached from any ‘human element’.  It screams ‘numbers’ rather than a personal level of service and support.

Whilst your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre is no doubt a large operation, ensuring you position customer service at the core of your operation is essential to your ongoing success.  And excellence in customer service starts from the very first enquiry; potential new members will consciously or unconsciously judge you on your team’s response so it’s crucial to get it right from the start.

Members join gyms for many different reasons.  However, it’s important to remember that the overriding factor here for joining is one of emotion.  From wanting to lose weight and tone up, to increasing social lives and enjoying a new hobby, there are countless driving factors for why potential members will want to explore joining your fitness facilities.  So streamlining your joining process to attract new members is a must.

How do you streamline your joining process to attract members…?

Everything nowadays is available online.  And an online joining system will work really well for your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre – if it’s done right. 

Whilst joining online is automated, quick and easy, it’s a pretty cold way of doing business when you consider that members join gyms for very personal and emotional reasons.  So what’s the answer?  Well, add friendliness, warmth and personality.

It’s easy to be side-tracked and it happens to us all.  So just imagine a potential new member is in the middle of joining online and suddenly the phone rings, there’s a knock at the door, or the children have fallen out with each other!  These things happen – it’s life – and so your online joining system needs to be adaptable. 

To add an injection of human personality and warmth, why not set up an auto response email from one of your team members.  It doesn’t need to be complicated, but simply say that you noticed the potential member was in the process of joining and encourage them to try again or make contact direct for further support.

What’s next if you still can’t convert from potential to new member?

If you are still struggling to convert your potential member to new member status, then why not bring out the big guns?!  Meet automated, auto response, and educational emails which can even be linked to a blog article or two.  Create a set of up to 12 well-written and informative emails – from the same member of the team in order to build a personal rapport, trust and consistency.  Add in a photo too for an extra personal touch.

Make sure the email series is friendly and encouraging.  It should be written in a fast-paced style with plenty of incentives, tips and advice to ensure your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre team stands out as being experts.

Use friendly and reassuring language as, after all, the potential new member could feel a little daunted by committing to a gym membership.  Phrases such as ‘don’t worry’ and ‘talk to us’ offer comfort to an apprehensive audience.

It’s also important to include ‘human’ aspects in the communication series.  So rather than everything being done by email or online, make sure that a member of the team calls the potential new member.  A friendly chat over the phone can help to allay no end of concerns, worries and fears.  It’s the ideal opportunity to answer their questions and queries – and to showcase your team’s knowledge and expertise at the same time.  And it’s also the perfect time to capture their interest by inviting them in for an activity, a coffee and chat, or to book them in for a review.

Don’t forget, the streamlined joining process needs to continue once your new member has signed on the dotted line…

It’s crucial not to neglect new members.  That’s because new members equal happy, loyal and long-standing existing members which boost your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre’s retention rates.

So once you’ve converted your potential new member to a fully-fledged new member, then it’s time to promote your club – and say thank you!  It might seem obvious, but so many clubs fall short here and it’s a vital communication tool.

For a start, invest in a good quality new member pack.  This should be full of information about activities and services, as well as fitness class timetables, events, a map of the premises and / or gym layout, and even advice for getting the best out of their workouts.

Next, send an email, pen a letter, or give them a call.  However, ensure that whichever ‘thank you’ method you choose, you add in a referral opportunity to recommend a friend or relative, as well as some incentives too, such as vouchers for the spa, restaurant / café, or personal training sessions.

This may all sound simple, but it’s so easily forgotten.  So incorporate these simple steps as part of your protocol and it’s a sure-fire way to make certain your joining process is streamlined – and effective.

To find out more about how your health and fitness club, gym or leisure centre can benefit from a streamlined joining process, or for further information on the importance of leadership and sales coaching, training and mentoring, please call +44 (0) 7815 800 939 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

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Many health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres operate ‘refer a friend’ schemes, but do they really work? Well, the simple answer is yes. However, there is a proviso: A ‘refer a friend’ scheme will work brilliantly only if it’s implemented, managed and marketed correctly.

Countless health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres seem to operate a ‘refer a friend’ scheme with lethargy, when in all truthfulness it could be a profitable and successful way to generate interest and boost membership sales.

‘Refer a friend’ schemes appear to be add-ons at many health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres. Competitors are doing it. But rather than really thinking about a unique and enticing way in which to run a ‘refer a friend’ scheme, health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres’ sales teams just jump on the bandwagon and offer the same hook.

However, times are changing. The health and fitness industry is becoming increasingly competitive. And, as a result, it’s noticeably more difficult for health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres to attract and retain new members. So that’s why I thought it was a good opportunity to address the reasons why you won’t be getting enough referrals – and the concerns and issues you need to overcome in order to transform your ‘refer a friend’ scheme into a profitable method by which to increase membership sales.

Let’s take a closer look at how to rejuvenate your ‘refer a friend’ scheme:

Fear factor. First and foremost, it’s human nature to be concerned about recommending products or services to friends and relatives if there’s any possible fear of blame or disapproval. For example, your members may fear their friends won’t receive an excellent level of customer service. Perhaps your members fear their friends won’t like their workout experience or the advice provided to them, or there’s a lack of trust and little rapport. Or maybe your members fear their friend could misinterpret their recommendation to join, and perhaps they are seen as wanting to achieve personal gain.

Address your members’ fears with reassurance and confidence. Your ‘refer a friend’ scheme has everyone’s best interests at heart, and it’s a fantastic way for members – and friends – to enjoy working out together. Why not promote your ‘refer a friend’ scheme as a gym buddy scheme instead. It’s proven that working out with a gym buddy can help to increase efficiency and boost results, so here’s your opportunity to explore alternative marketing methods.

Comfort factor. How comfortable do your members feel with your membership sales team and your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre as a whole? There’s no denying that health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres can be daunting places, so it’s important that you and your teams establish a friendly, customer-focused environment. Furthermore, it’s crucial that your ‘refer a friend’ scheme is well marketed and very clear. Members don’t have the time or the inclination to read long-winded spiel. So make sure your ‘refer a friend’ scheme is quick and easy to both explain – and for members to follow.

Enthusiasm factor. Sometimes there’s no denying that membership sales teams simply can’t be bothered to encourage members to refer a friend, or that it’s too much effort for them to sit and explain how it works to members. Address this by incentivising your membership sales team, and providing them with clear, concise and simple instructions on what should be an easy-to-follow process.

To find out more about how your health and fitness club, gym or leisure centre can benefit from an effective ‘refer a friend’ scheme, or for further information on the importance of leadership and sales coaching, training and mentoring, please call +44 (0) 7815 800 939 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

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Your knowledge, passion and expertise in helping us to find the right front of house staff has been invaluable. You have trained, inspired and developed our front of house staff to deliver exceptional service. How do we know this? Feedback about customer service from our tenants have improved and we will continue to work with you in the future. Thank you Nurturing Skills.

Rob Court, Training development for Guardian News and Media

Since the training has been delivered by Nurturing Skills we are monitoring sales and the process more closely. For example sales targets, enquiries to appointments, appointments to sales, and sales to referral are all monitored daily and as a result of the process we have increased.

  • Sales by 30%
  • Enquires to appointment by 70%
  • Appointment to sale by 55%
  • Point of sale referral by 45%

Barnsley Premier Leisure

For anyone looking to improve the sales performance, customer retention or customer service within their organisation, then there is no place better than to start with Lesley Aitken. Not only is she a charismatic trainer who is commercially astute but she quickly understands the needs of your business and puts them first before considering any monetary gain for her own organisation.

Trafford Community Leisure

Lesley Aitken is a very professional influential and highly passionate speaker. Highly interesting and motivational group coaching skills. Lesley has the ability to improve all major aspects of selling and the latest techniques to dramatically improve your business in just one day. An expert in her field and will get you and your colleagues the vital KPI's to improve your business.

General Manager at The Gym Group