Does Your Club Have Sales Apathy?

Gym Application

Fitness club management expert Jim Thomas is back with a new article on the passion (or lack thereof) of your club's sales team. How do you recognize the signs of an apathy and how do you prevent these symptoms? Read more to find out.

Successful people sometimes tend to think they are successful at the health club business because of some instinctive understanding.  They are good and what has happened is… they’ve done it once; they think can do it again and again.  At some point club owners and managers start to eliminate some of the key details and some of the reasons they were successful and they get a bit apathetic to the ultimate detail and fundamentals that made them successful in the first place.  They take things for granted. They don’t plan and train their staff quite as hard.

They forget that success is guaranteed to no one.

In membership sales, such key items as the master appointment book, daily phone contacts, daily appointments, regular sales training and prospecting for new leads can be taken for granted and even overlooked. We become reactive in our approach instead of proactive.

Poor Communication

People listen in different ways.  Some people like to read, some people like to look at their email, some people like people to call them and tell them, some people like meetings, some like text messages, etc.  What I suggest is that you come up with several different ways to communicate with your employees (and members for that matter) and make sure you follow up to get confirmation of the fact that they got the message.  You might want to use signs, communication log books at your front desk, office banners, emails, text messages, newsletters, phone calls, formal training classes, informal training, and so forth.  Don’t expect one form of communication to get the job done.

One of the common statements I hear from club owners and managers is, “Well, I told them.” What they mean is, they told them once and then expected it to be done.

If it were that easy, the job of management wouldn’t be necessary.


Accountability is…what the job is, who is going to do it and when.  This needs to be in writing and confirmed so that everybody involved has a complete understanding.  You should understand that everybody needs to be held accountable for completing their assigned job duties on time and in an effective manner.  You’ll see as you go along where accountability falls into, generating reports for salespeople,reviewing reports, getting a job done, or an open house.  One of the things I hear is, “I was way too hands-off, way too easy going, way too worried about being a friend to my people and not holding them accountable.” 

Earn their respect, not their friendship.  Inspect what you expect.

When we go into a facility and conduct an Operational Analysis, we will conduct interviews with key staff members.  One of the questions we ask is, “What is your job description?”

We go to the club owner and ask the same question. It’s always interesting how often the answers differ.

Be sure you’re on the same page with what’s expected.  Your silence will be interpreted as acceptance.


We know that the health club business should be fun and we want to run a tight operation, but we want to treat people well. We want to make sure that they are enjoying their work and that we are providing an environment that allows a motivated person to act.  The club business can be too much fun, if you are not careful.  Other health club businesses can be too dry.  So somewhere in the middle you, as the owner or manager, holding people accountable, need to have all of this process in place and think in terms of we want it all to be done, but we want it to be enjoyable as well. 

Have a System and Have a Plan

We all know that the most valuable asset in any facility is our people.  However, one of the keys to avoiding success apathy is to manage the system.  Whether it’s a long-term employee or a new hire, the system remains the same and should be implemented and followed up on each day.  Don’t simply assume they are going to do it.  Everyone needs leadership and direction.

Have a plan for your membership sales, a plan for advertising and marketing, a plan for recruiting staff, a plan for resolving conflict, etc.

Be sure you are following a proven system….and follow up.

Now, go score yourself!

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is the well-known founder and president of Fitness Management USA, Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry.



Cybex is a provider and manufacturer of premium commercial fitness equipment. Content featured in the Cybex Fitness Blog is meant to inspire healthy living and wellness and should not be taken as medical advice. As always, be sure to consult a physician if you are unsure of your individual exercise readiness or have a pre-existing medical condition. While these programs offer great benefits, there are many considerations that should be weighed before attempting any type of physical activity.

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