You increase your gym membership sales the same way every business does.
By creating a flywheel and then spinning it faster and faster.
The flywheel effect, a term coined by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, is how the great companies he researched create momentum.
“The flywheel effect occurs when small wins accumulate over time, creating momentum that keeps your business growing.”
Successful flywheels produce more money than you put in.
From the research I’ve done, the sweet spot for a well-performing flywheel is 3:1. Meaning for every dollar you put in, you want it to produce three more.
Here’s how it works.
You start with Marketing to attract people to your business. These people are your prospects/leads. You then engage your prospects with your sales team and help them become customers. Then you delight that customer, so they become a promoter of your business.
Say it costs you $1 to get a lead. Every customer is worth $10. And every promoter refers you to one more customer.
Each $1 you invest into your flywheel (via marketing) will produce $20 for your business. Now you take that $20 and turn it into $400, and the cycle continues.
The Effect Flywheels Had On Our Gym Membership Sales
After learning about and implementing flywheels at my gym in 3’ish years, we have;
Increased our leads from 15 per month to 70
Increased our sales from 10 per month to 35
Increased our membership base from 180 to almost 500
The best part is we’re not even close to creating the perfect flywheel. In another year or two, I expect these results to increase two-fold.
Our Gym Membership Sales Flywheel
There are three parts to our flywheel.
Creating A Marketing Funnel
Our marketing funnel starts with a catchment area, like a fishing net. We use a website as ours.
We send traffic to our website, which generates our leads. Leads are expressions of interest in what you have to offer. And we count anyone as a lead once they’ve given us their contact information.
Most gyms, like ours, offer a free trial in exchange for their details. We let people train at our gym for seven days free if they give us their name and number.
Not all leads are the same. Some are ready to join now. Some are checking us out along with many other gyms and may come back in a few months. Inspired by a few beers on a Saturday night, some have changed their minds by morning.
You can offer free merch, free products, a free personal training session, and a ton of others. Whatever it is, I suggest you make it free.
So, they visit our website (see below).
Click the free trial button, land on our free trial page, and fill out the form (see below) to start their free trial.
And now they’re a lead.
But that’s only the start of the process. Before I move here are a couple of important points.
• We plaster our website with the ‘free trial’ button. See for yourself.
• We show it on every page of our website, sometimes multiple times on one page. And on our footer.
We make it dam obvious what we want you to do when you visit our website. We want you to start a free trial. Make it OBVIOUS.
Also, I glossed over the other part. You need to find ways to get people to visit your website (which I’ve covered in-depth here). They’re not going to find it by themselves.
• Google Ads
• Google My Business
• Monthly Emails
We’ve tried a bunch of other stuff, but this works best for us.
Moving on. Once people have signed up for a free trial, we contact them immediately with an automated email.
We use Mailchimp. However, you can do this with any email service provider on a free plan.
Here’s our email.
I can’t fit the whole email in a screenshot. If you’re interested, you can view the full version in your browser here.
As you can see, we try our best to get them to book a call with us.
• We tell them exactly what to do next
• We make the link to book a call obvious
• We create urgency by setting an expiry date
• As of writing, our welcome email open rate sits around 90%, and our booking rate, i.e. the number of people who click the link and book in for an induction, is sitting at 60%.
For those that don’t book in with Calendly (the other 40%), our gym manager texts and calls them within 24 hours.
• The quicker you engage with your leads, the more qualified they’ll be (i.e. those that actually use the free trial), which increases your chances of making a sale.
Creating A Sales Funnel
We start with an induction.
Many people find gyms intimidating and an uncomfortable place to visit for the first time. We use inductions to ease people into our gym by hand-holding.
Our induction is simple. In 20 minutes we;
• Welcome and do intro’s
• Run through our health and safety
• Set them up with a key-tag to access the gym
• Take them on a tour of our facilities.
Then we send them on their merry way…. To the gym floor.
We encourage everyone to get their first session out of the way that day. Again the first time in a gym is a big mental barrier for many folks. Getting that first session out of the way. Even if it’s a quick spin on the bikes, breaks the ice.
After being inducted, they have seven days to use our gym at their pleasing. During this time, we send them an email each day with more gym information and throw in a couple of value adds.
We give as much value as we can during their free trial week, with freebies like fitness consults, Fit3D body scans and informative pdf’s.
It’s hard to quantify the effect these freebies have on sales. But as you can see, open rates are high, and so is uptake on the freebies. So we have to believe the emails are worth the time they take to set up.
Finally, at the end of the free trial, we text and call the trailer to see if they want to become a gym member.
If they express interest, we invite them to become members with a pre-drafted email (like below).
If they don’t want to join, we ask them to return their key tag and wish them luck. Neither my team nor I are fans of pressuring people. No means no.
Closing The Loop With Referrals
We use referrals to close the loop.
After a trial’er becomes a member, we don’t stop there. We want to deliver more than they expect.
The difference between pleasing or pissing off a member is simple. You have to beat their expectations. What they expect minus what you deliver is the satisfaction gap or how much value they perceive you’ve offered.
If you do your job well. You’ll deliver more value than they expected. And that person will become a promoter of your gym.
We kick off our referral loop with an automated email. After joining, we ask members to leave us a review on google one month into their membership. This step re-affirms in their mind that we’ve done a good job.
Of course, if you haven’t, you’re also going to hear about it and get a shit rating.
After two months, we send out a second automated email—this time inviting them to bring their friends to the gym. And offering them both a free month if the friend joins on a 12-month membership.
On top of this, we mention our referral program a few times a year on our social media channels and have posters at reception.
That’s our flywheel.
Nothing too complicated, technical or difficult. It’s a simple system that repeatedly produces good results. Like I said at the start, there’s a lot of room for improvement.
The best way for you to attack this is one step at a time.
Start by adding a free trial form to your website. Then set up automated emails, add an induction process and so on. In 3 years, we’ve gone from nothing to what we have here today.
The good news for you is we’ve done all the hard work for you. There are years and tens of thousands of dollars of lessons laid out for you here, for free.
P.S. here’s our most recent results.
January 22 Gym Membership Salesboard
• Our sales spend is understated here as one of the staff members wages isn’t accounted for. So I think the actual customer acquisition cost (CAC) is closer to $125.
Track these numbers so you can see if the changes/improvements you’re making are positively or negatively impacting your gym.