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Entries in membership sales (20)


Creating and Keeping a Killer Membership Sales Team

New member sales still provide the majority of any fitness facility’s revenue, and any health club operator worth their salt knows that you can’t drive membership without a killer sales team.

But creating and keeping a successful sales team is another story.

(Photo: Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness)

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Empower Your Gym's Sales Force to Increase Revenue

The key to helping your gym’s sales staff boost your bottom line is improved communication skills, said Jeff Houghtaling, membership director for VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa, in a recent IHRSA webinar called "Mastering the Sales Process.” 

And it starts with neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

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6 Steps to Improve Your Gym's Sales Process

Looking to recruit new members to your health club? Here are a half-dozen sales tips from a recent IHRSA webinar called "Mastering the Sales Process." Share them with your sales staff, courtesy of Jeff Houghtaling, membership director for VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa.

1. Learn the prospect's name.

This isn't as obvious as it seems. If the name has an unusual spelling, be sure you know how to pronounce it (write it down phonetically if you have to). Also, don't assume that every James likes to be called Jim or every Susan likes to be called Sue.

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Capturing the Fitness Resolutionist Year-Round

Attracting new members to your health club can often be feast or famine. During the first few months of the year members sign up in droves, but by the summer months membership sales tend to drop off.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“As a health club operator or owner, you do not only want to rely on your three busy months out of your year to achieve your membership sales success,” says Amanda Konigsberg, general manager for Active Wellness. “While it is incredibly important to achieve your performance expectations during the busy time, goals are budgets and not real numbers. You need to have a plan to achieve during the slowest months as well.”

Konigsberg will share her membership strategies in our Thursday, January 12 webinar, “Capturing the Resolutionist Year-Round.”

How Club Operators Can Avoid Their Slow Season

To avoid your club’s slow season, Konigsberg recommends that you study the cycles in the health club industry and your own demographic area, and use that knowledge to build alternative income streams to counteract the off-season.

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3 Marketing Secrets That Helped West Wood Clubs Survive Ireland’s Recession 

Can you name every single element of your health club business that falls under the umbrella of marketing? The answer may be longer than you’d think. 

“Marketing is everything you do that influences someone's decision whether to buy or not to buy from you,” said Alan Leach, regional manager of West Wood Clubs in Ireland, during his 2016 IHRSA Institute session. “It’s everything we do that influences someone's decision whether to continue to buy from us or not continue to buy from us.” 

During his Wednesday, August 3 session, Leach outlined the sales and marketing strategies that allowed West Wood Club to thrive during Ireland’s economic recession, which caused many health clubs to declare bankruptcy. 

The following are Leach’s top three marketing secrets: 

1. The Price is Rarely the Issue in Most Buying Decisions 

Leach cited a study done for Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone. For the study, researchers interviewed people who bought a slew of products—cars, gym memberships, etc.—and asked them how important price was in the buying decision. 

For those who bought the product they were considering, 14% said price was the most important factor. But when researchers asked the salespeople how important they thought price was in the buyer’s decision making, 84% said it was the most important factor. 

“In a lot of cases, the price is a far bigger issue for the people selling [the membership] than the people buying it,” Leach said. 

Knowing this, West Wood Clubs continued to charge a joining fee during the recession, while other clubs that eliminated their joining fees struggled. 

2. Winning the Battle for Sales Leadership Will Clinch the Victory for Decades 

“When it comes to sales, the golden rule is that ‘winning the battle for sales leadership in a single year will often clinch victory for decades to come,’” Leach said, quoting Jack Trout’s book Jack Trout's book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. “When you have sales, you can fix anything.” 

3. Only Spend on Marketing if it Generates a Profit 

West Wood Clubs only spends on marketing if it has delivered a proven return-on-investment, Leach said. As a result, they only spend $35 on marketing and sales per new member.

Read more coverage from the 2016 IHRSA Institute.


Implement a Professional Sales System to Grow Health Club Memberships

Through its digital marketing strategies, West Wood Club’s website generates 990 leads a month—but those leads are worth nothing if they’re not converted into memberships. 

And the best way to turn leads into members? Implementing a professional sales system. 

“The best investment you’ll ever make in a fitness club is to invest in a professional sales system,” Alan Leach, regional manager of the Dublin, Ireland club. “If you’re having difficulty growing memberships, find a professional sales trainer or have someone on your staff who can go through that training […] It will be invaluable to you.” 

Leach took IHRSA Institute attendees through his club’s proven strategies during his Thursday, August 4 session, “Sales Management.” To start, he outlined the top three sales tasks:  

  1. Generate leads for your fitness business
  2. Convert leads into tours of your fitness business
  3. Convert tours into members of your fitness business  

West Wood Clubs uses integrated marketing strategies to generate leads, from search engine marketing to direct mail campaigns. And once the leads are recorded in their database, it’s up to the highly trained sales team to guide the leads through the buyer’s journey. 

Each West Wood Club sales team member goes through a rigorous training process:  

  • Full day: How to sell 70% of all tours
  • Full day: How to convert 70% of enquiries to tours
  • Three full days: Sales role play
  • Full day: How to do sales prospecting 

As a result of their marketing strategies and finely tuned sales process, West Wood Club’s website nets 56,000 visits a month, which the sales team generated into 3,992 memberships in 2015, resulting in $8.4 million.


Best Practices: Membership Promotions that Produce the Best Results 

The following post was written by Douglas Miller for our Best Practices series. 

Question: Which sorts of special membership promotions tend to produce the best results?

Douglas Miller: Generally, I recommend that clubs run specials on their enrollment fees, monthly dues, or annual prepaid memberships. I don’t recommend that they reduce their monthly dues, except with corporate accounts. Nor do I suggest that they offer two-for-the-price-of-one annual memberships.

Today, clubs are making use of their enrollment fee as an incentive in one of two ways: 

  1. They’re offering prospects the chance to obtain a full refund on their enrollment fee if they use the club a minimum of eight times during the first month of their membership. This promotes retention by training them to use the club. Normally, about 70% of the new members will get their money back.
  2. Clubs also are allowing prospects to forego the full enrollment fee if they commit to a 12-month—as opposed to a month-to-month—membership. 

Another promotion involves distributing a special trial membership pass for either seven or 12 days. The prospect can then cash it in for a credit towards the cost of membership, for either seven or 12 times the daily fee—depending on when they redeem it. This is a countdown promotion; they could, for example, save $100 if they cashed it in immediately, or lose $10 in credit each day they wait.

While every business is different, I normally try to wean my clients off of “specials,” and onto a well-trained staff that can sell the product. 

Douglas Miller
Sales Makers International
Suffolk, United Kingdom


IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Effective Use of Data-Driven Marketing

“Health clubs’ advertising budgets aren’t getting bigger, so it’s a matter of how can we do more in the boundaries of what we have,” says Mary Frank, sales and marketing manager for Cincinnati Sports Club. “My advertising budget hasn’t expanded, but I’ve done more because I’ve been smarter with every dollar I spent.”

Frank will detail how other health club operators can use data to maximize their marketing initiatives in her IHRSA 2016 session, “Doing More With Less: Effective Use of Data-Driven Marketing.”

Common Marketing Challenges

When it comes to health club marketing, a common misstep is trying to cast your net too wide.

“There are a lot of marketing mediums to use to spread the word about your club. The traditional methods included direct mail, which is a very expensive method to communicate,” Frank says. “Owners/operators believe they need to market to thousands—quantity over quality—to get the sales results that they needed. This ties up very valuable marketing dollars and limits you to diversifying your portfolio with new avenues including social media, digital advertising, and driving referrals.”

Social media marketing can be an effective sales tool, but the variety of options can lead to health clubs spreading themselves too thin online.

“The challenge is to find the one or two that will sell your story the best and stick to it,” Frank says. “Too many sources can send a confusing message of who you are and what your club is trying to accomplish.”

Data-Driven Solutions

In order to stretch their advertising budgets, health club operators must strive for quality over quantity in their marketing efforts—and technology can help.

“Today’s technology advances allow us to have more information about the consumer available to us,” Frank says. “You can actually hand pick the potential members that best match your existing member and target them specifically. Additionally, by watching what is going on in your marketplace as it relates to consumers, you can see if there is an untapped market that you have not been reaching out to. Overall, being smarter with who you mail to can generate more sales and lead to a lower member acquisition cost.”

And Frank has done just that. Twenty years ago, it was common practice for her to send one direct mail message to 10,000 people. This January—thanks to tracking trends and targeting demographics—she mailed to 6,000 people using 10-12 tailored messages.

In the past two years, these tactics have decreased her member acquisition cost by $100.

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‘Discover the New Ways People Buy’ with IHRSA’s February 11 Webinar

To understand how to best sell your offerings to prospective members, you first have to understand how they make purchasing decisions—and their thought process may not be what you'd expect.

Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness & BMC3, will explain how people buy and how health club operators can use that knowledge to enroll new customers in his Thursday, February 11 webinar, “Unselling: Discover the New Ways People Buy.”

Unselling, by definition, is honest seeking and sharing to build an ongoing relationship through collaboration. Products and services are utilized as part of the elements of mutual achievement, almost always resulting in increased business, repeat business, and referrals.

“Transitioning from only sales and marketing to programs and results is a big transition,” McBride says. “Specialized studios and focused offerings are selling fitness experiences, energy, and results. Group camaraderie with HR technology is also proving to be an amazing motivator.” 

The hour-long webinar will help health club operators: 

  • Discover how people now buy and learn how to enroll your best new customers.
  • Learn how to optimize prospect motivation.
  • Discover how to get ahold of the customer pulse.
  • Learn how to determine what customers are looking for.
  • Explore adaptation versus re-creation.
  • Gain insight on coaching and customer service versus selling.    

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Learn How to Sell More Memberships at IHRSA 2016

If you need to buff up on your sales skills or become an expert at digital marketing, be sure to join thousands of the world’s top fitness marketers and sales experts who will meet at IHRSA 2016 to share ideas on how health clubs can sell more memberships.

In addition to the keynote presentation from marketing guru Jay Baer (sponsored by SPRI), author of the New York Times bestseller, “Youtility: Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype,” we’ve got an impressive lineup of Membership Sales & Marketing focused education sessions that’ll help you sell, sell, sell.

Here’s a snapshot:

  • “Sales Management Secrets: Proven Strategies that Maximize Your Profits”
  • “Building a Winning Sales Culture”
  • “Selling for the Non-Sales Person”
  • “Precision Marketing: Proven & Profitable Advertising Strategies”
  • “New Media Marketing”
  • “Tips for Generating Membership Sales Leads”
  • Cross-Channel Marketing in the Digital Age

And there’s even more—this is only a partial listing of IHRSA 2016 sessions. Check out the full schedule at

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