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Entries in Paul Brown (12)


IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: A Retention Reboot

Health club operators must focus on member retention year-round, but research has shown it’s the first six weeks of a new membership that are the most critical. This is due to a number of challenges new members face, which seem to increase each year as consumers have access to a wider range of information and choices. 

“Clubs must recognize that each and every new member will have individual needs that truly can be systematically met to ensure maximum retention rates and brand loyalty,” says Paul Brown, CEO of Face2Face Retention Systems. “This has to kick in from day one and evolve with the member for the lifetime of their membership, even beyond it.” 

Brown will teach club operators strategies to do just that in his IHRSA 2016 session, “A Retention Reboot.” His Wednesday, March 23 talk help attendees: 

  • Discover how to maximize the lifespan and loyalty of each and every client
  • Review long held beliefs and instincts on why clients quit
  • Revisit some of the customer service standards once commonplace
  • Gain an understanding of the clear differentiations in the various models and how to absolutely stand out from the crowd
  • Learn how to systemize and replicate for the greatest results across your business 

“Every decade since the 70s has brought rapid change, growth, and rationalization for our industry,” he says. “What’s different now is at last member retention is recognized as equally if not more important than sales. If we can sort through the gimmicks, lip service, up-sell, and empty promises and deliver to each and every member what they came looking for, our industry will grow and attain the respect of other healthcare providers and legislators we all desire. At 11 a.m. on Wednesday March 23 at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando, Florida, I plan to reboot the thinking that might just help make that happen.”

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Best Practices: How to Best Market a Club That’s Under New Ownership

The following post was written by Paul Brown and Joe Cirulli for our weekly Best Practices series.

Question: How can we market a club that’s under new ownership to let consumers know we’re making major changes to what had been a mismanaged facility?

Answer: “New owners, new attitude!” When you take over the reins of an existing business, be excited, be bold, and be loud. … But there’s no need to highlight the failings of the previous owners. The public and your clients will see for themselves. My list of must-dos would include:

  • Define your company’s vision, core values, and mission
  • Hold a team meeting to obtain feedback on past performance, expectations, and ideas
  • Hold town-hall-style meetings with past and present members. Avoid judging the past management; simply seek useful feedback
  • Solicit editorial coverage in local and regional newspapers and Websites. Invite interviews and offer to submit prewritten pieces
  • Create a members’ blog and invite clients to share honest feedback on the club’s new direction
  • A new name, slogan, and/or logo might be advisable. New signage, a fresh paint job, and updated lighting can also demonstrate that things are changing at the club without breaking the bank
  • Have a grand club relaunching day. Invite local dignitaries and members of the Chamber of Commerce to participate in a ribbon-cutting and plaque-installation ceremony
  • Attend lots of local events—e.g., fairs, fun runs, and Rotary and Toastmasters meetings—and distribute free passes and your new “core values and mission” statement

Paul Brown
Face2Face Retention Systems
Paradise Point, Queensland


Answer: The strongest and most effective marketing you can do as a health club operator is to create the right environment inside of your center. The first thing that requires is any requisite or appropriate changes to the physical plant—e.g., cleaning every part of the facility, making sure that all of the fitness equipment is in perfect working order, etc. This means that, as far as members are concerned, nothing is ever broken down; if something isn’t functioning, it should be removed from the floor until it’s fixed.

A second major priority is the retraining of the entire staff. In order to achieve this, you have to make sure that your vision, mission, core values, central purpose, and corporate culture are perfectly defined and clearly aligned with those of employees. If your current people aren’t a match, you’ll have to find ones who are.

As you do these things, attending to the facility and staff, you should update your members regularly via e-mail and with signage inside the club. Then, when everything is ready and going at full force, have a large grand reopening party for, among others, your customers, their friends, and members of the Chamber of Commerce. That’s the point at which I’d begin making use of advertising on TV, in the local paper, and via e-mail.

In the final analysis, word of mouth will prove to be your most powerful advertising tool.

Joe Cirulli
Founder & CEO
Gainesville Health & Fitness Center
Gainesville, Florida



Best Practices features answers from experts from both inside and outside the health club industry to thought-provoking questions on a wide range of topics. If you have a question you'd like answered, submit your question today


Browns Continue to Play and Educate in 50 Sports in 50 Weeks

Jacqui Brown, foreground, and Ben spent a lot of time on the ice when playing ice hockey in Russia. (Photo courtesy 40 Sports in 50 Weeks)If, as the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, then the Browns will have an entire kitchen pantry full of different sports experiences when their 50 Sports in 50 Weeks adventures ends.

The past six weeks is a microcosm of that for sure.

Beginning with wheelchair rugby on Nov. 24, the Browns - Paul and Jacqui and their son, Ben - then learned, participated and taught boxing, floorball, cross country skiing, ice hockey and dog sled musings. Their travels saw them spend two weeks in each of England, Finland and Russia.

In the endeavor’s blog, Paul wrote the following about their first ice hockey experience

“Here we were, a week ago have never tried the game and now we were playing along-side several of the game’s greats and most passionate enthusiasts…what a great way to get off the couch.” He mentioned that Gold’s Gym in Russia helped put together the sessions.

The Browns are putting on 50 Sports in 50 Weeks, a globe-trotting adventure that will take them from their home in Australia to Siberia, the United States, Europe, back to Australia, and many, many destinations in between. At each spot they will learn the intricacies and fundamentals from a well-known athlete in the sport, often in an iconic spot or stadium. In some cases they will watch a championship event, taking in the sport as a spectator.

IHRSA will chronicle the adventure monthly - the second Monday of the month - to show where the Browns have been and how each week went, but also to bring to light their mission.

Check out all of the 50 Sports in 50 Weeks blog entries.

The 50 Sports homepage, with blog entries, photos, schedule and more can be found at


Browns Continue 50 Weeks Adventure with Boxing, Squash and More

The Browns - Jacqui, Ben and Paul, in the orange shirts - had squash on the itinerary in their second month. (Photo courtesy of nothing else, Paul, Jacqui and Ben Brown’s 50 Sports in 50 Weekend global adventure varies from week to week. 

In the second four weeks the First Athletic Family of Australia - which decided to venture to all corners of the world to try a myriad of sports in order to educate on the importance of exercise and hopefully get millions of sedentary individuals off the couch – have learned about squash, wheelchair rugby, boxing and Nordic walking. They started in Australia and ended up in England for the next three weeks. 

IHRSA is chronicling the adventure monthly - normally the second Monday of the month but late this month - to show where the Browns have been and how each week went, but also to bring to light their mission. This is the second month of the venture.

The family was in Brisbane for squash while two major events - Queensland Squash Open and the Caboolture Open – were taking place. Lisa Camilleri, an Australian on the World Professional Squash Tour, took time out of her busy schedule to teach the family a thing or two.

A still image from Australia's "Today" show piece on 50 Sports in 50 Weeks. (Photo courtesy of "Today")The family was to talk about its mission and show footage of some of what they have done in the first two months during an interview on Australia’s “Today” show

For more on the Brown's adventure and mission, read the IHRSA story from earlier this year.

Follow the Browns at or on the IHRSA blog every second Monday of the month.


Brown's 50 Sports in 50 Weeks Completes First Month

The Brown family, from left, Paul, Jacqui and Ben, on New Zealand's America's Cup boat. (Photo courtesy Browns have completed the first four weeks of their 50 Sports in 50 Weeks adventure/mission to educate millions on the importance of exercise. And if the initial month is any indication, it is going to be quite a ride.

Paul, Jacqui and Ben are embarking on a globe-trotting journey where every week they connect with a mentor who is an expert in a particular sport. For that week the Browns learn from the athlete, try out the sport on their own, hold seminars on the sport, and go to schools, community centers and health clubs to talk to the residents.

IHRSA will chronicle the adventure monthly - the second Monday of the month - to show where the Browns have been and how each week went, but also to bring to light their mission.

50 Sports in 50 Weeks began Oct. 12 in Gold Coast, Australia, with beach volleyball with Australian Olympics star Natalie Cook. The following weeks saw the Brown family in Brisbane, Australia, with swimmer Susie O'Neil, another national Olympic star, and then to New Zealand for a sail on an America's cup boat one week and ziplining and bungee jumping the next.

Ben Brown serves during volleyball week. (Photo courtesy more on the Brown's adventure and mission, read the IHRSA story from earlier this year.

Follow the Browns at or on the IHRSA blog every second Monday of the month.


Around the world, one sport at a time

Paul Brown knows how to get a point across. After all, he was named the 2014 Presenter of the Year by the Australian Fitness Network.

It is safe to say that his latest endeavor will be heard by many and most likely taken to heart by the majority. We’re talking possibly tens of millions of people. That is his hope anyway.

Paul and his wife, Jacqui, are huge promoters of fighting the battle against childhood obesity, sedentary behavior and type 2 diabetes, especially among youth.

So the two industry veterans, along with their 9-year-old son, Ben, are hitting the road for almost a year to promote sports and healthy lifestyles to children and families alike.

But this isn’t a venture that will see them on a stage with a PowerPoint presentation on a giant screen behind them with a couple hundred people with laptops and notebooks jotting down key points. 

The Browns are putting on 50 Sports in 50 Weeks, a globe-trotting adventure that will take them from their home in Australia to Siberia, the United States, Europe, back to Australia, and many, many destinations in between. At each spot they will learn the intricacies and fundamentals from a well-known athlete in the sport, often in an iconic spot or stadium. In some cases they will watch a championship event, taking in the sport as a spectator.

Read on to see where they are going, who they are learning from, and more.


This Week in the Fitness Industry: 50 sports in 50 weeks

Do you want to learn about hoq equipment companies make working for them enjoyable? Maybe you are interested in an Australian couple who are taking their son on a 50-week journey to try 50 different sports in order to teach him, and anyone else, the importance of exercise? 

That isn't all. We have a story about how exercising can help smokers stop. Finally, Dutch speedskaing may be the inspiration for the next big fitness class.

Read more on all of these in This Week in the Fitness Industry.


Past Best Practices, IHRSA Store help with membership questions

Anyone in the sports and health club industry knows that there are really two things that deem whether their business is a success: membership levels and member success. 

As far as membership is concerned, there are many aspects that can be looked at to gauge whether the former is achieved. 

Looking back at past Best Practices will show you that there are answers to many questions:

  • Selling memberships online: Bill McBride is all for it as long as the process is seamless.
  • Seasonal memberships - timely with summer right around the corner: Michael Minton suggests you plan months ahead for the influx of vacationers and youth, and that he prefers not to give shortened memberships.
  • Long-term contracts: Paul Brown suggests that members may have “buyer’s remorse” with two- or three-year contracts.

For more membership issues in Best Practices, or other subjects, click here

Another resource IHRSA can provide is a DVD, “Selling Club Memberships,” by popular speaker Karen Woodward. You can purchase it at the IHRSA Store or view a preview.

This post is a part of our weekly Best Practices series. We post a new question and answer every Monday. If you have a question you'd like our Industry Leaders to answer, submit your question today.


Debating the long-term membership contract

Lionel Phillips, Justin Tamsett, and Paul Brown discuss how oftem are 24-month memberships completed in this week's Best Practices.

Q: "I am considering selling 24-month memberships where members pay a monthly rate for the duration of the two-year contract. What percent of members end up completing the two year commitment?"

A:  Around the world clubs have 12-, 24-, and 36-month contracts - maybe even longer in some countries? How many members fulfill their contracts will be determined by:
- Your demographics
- How onerous it is to cancel your contract
- How much they love your facility

The reason why we have such long-term contracts helps us guarantee our cash flow. If we were in the shoes of the consumer, would you want to agree to a long term contract? I can only assume where I will be living and working in 24 months time, so I would not commit to 24 months - would you?  But that is a whole different issue - to answer your question, you must consider: 

- Are people in your demographics long term residents or transients?  If they are the latter, then most people will ask to end their contract as they are moving.
- Is there enough pain (financial) not to cancel the 24 month agreement?  This means what is the "get out clause" and will it cause too much financial pain that it would be better to stay in the contract than pay out.  

Considering both of these variables, I would anecdotal say that 80% of members fulfill their contracts.

Justin Tamsett
Owner, Active Management


A. Over the last 30-plus years I have seen the demise of more clubs selling long-term memberships than those offering the usual "3, 6 or 12 months". My own experience has proven that short-term memberships at the outset are always more favorable and successful long term IF YOU ARE GAINING THE CONFIDENCE OF THE NEW MEMBER FROM DAY ONE AND MAKING SURE THAT THEY RECEIVE THE SERVICE AND RESULTS ANTICIPATED.

Nothing gains success like results! Prove to the member that you wish to provide results as much as they wish to receive them. Gain their confidence. Prove to them the fact that they are in need of your expertise and service. Increase his determination to succeed by providing them with your full enthusiasm and knowledge. You will become his Mentor and he will speak of you and your team in the most glowing terms.

Whether it is after the first 3 months or 6 months of this binding, you will gain his full confidence and loyalty for years to come.

The psychological problem with long-term memberships relates more to the Instructor and Service personnel, in that they view the member as "Long Term" and therefore they do not have to relate to them with maximum attention. Nothing ventured – nothing gained! Whether it was a 3–, 6–, 12–, or 24-month membership, they will be lost forever. Furthermore, the member has difficulty relating to 24 months commitment. To them it is a lifetime, particularly for the sedentary new-to-activity member.

Lionel H. Phillips
Global Fitness Services Limited,
Me & My Body Limited,


A: Marriages are not guaranteed by contracts with minimum terms and nor should memberships be. Quality relationships ensure retention and how a member chooses to pay, be it month to month, annually or otherwise should be more a question of economical sense and convenience. Anyone who believes a two- or three-year contract forces a member to stay longer is very very wrong. While it may force many to pay longer this is also one the greatest contributing factors to buyer’s remorse and why the health club industry still has not earned the widespread trust and respect it deserves. No one likes to pay for something they don’t use, so make habitual usage, results and recognition your priorities and then ask your raving fans what option of payment plan suits them best. 

Paul Brown, Mr. Retention 
CEO & President, Face2Face Retention Systems


How Does Your Sales Hit Rate Measure Up?

Alan Leach and Paul Brown discuss sales conversion rates:

Q: “What is the standard hit rate of sales in the fitness industry?”

A: Closing rates will be different for different sales staff and different clubs. My best sales person closes 73 percent of all prospects. New sales staff with little experience can be lucky to close 30 percent. The average for all staff across all clubs is 53%. Clubs with highly trained sales staff and low staff turnover will maintain closing rates of over 70 percent.

Of course, you also need to look at total monthly sales. A sales person that does very little prospecting and only sees highly qualified walk-ins will tend to have a higher closing rate than a sales person who is actively involved in prospecting. In other words, selling 50 percent of 100 prospects is better than 80 percent of 20 walk-ins.

Also, clubs sometimes pick their closing rates out of the sky. The only way you can get accurate closing rates is if you have a 100 percent fail-safe system of recording all tours, walk-ins, and guests. I once looked at a club claiming 85 percent closing rates but they were not including guest passes. They were getting approximately 140 people on guest passes every month. When these were included their closing rates were only 36 percent.

Alan Leach, Director of Sales & Marketing
West Wood Leopardstown

A: A membership consultant’s “hit rate” will never be as good as it could be as long as it is referred to as just that... a “hit rate”. Members aren’t units, points or numbers, they’re people and each has a story and a reason for coming to us and the best consultants assume every single guest has a need to fill and consequently has come to join. We change people lives every day through fitness and as consultants our job is to remove all barriers and causes for hesitation, more often than not in people who have already gone through several stages of consideration before visiting a club.

It’s a competitive world and true to say not everyone who visits will join your club. Many factors will influence their final decision, so the ultimate percentage of those who join can vary from club to club, however globally I can say we at Face2Face aim to average in the high 60’s. I see many clubs claim much higher but often investigation reveals not all guests are counted as “prospects,” skewing their true conversion and indeed limiting their success.

Paul Brown, President
Face2Face Retention Systems and Training