Fitness Industry Veteran Shares Philosophy of Sales & Business

Jason Reinhardt, founder of Go M.A.D. Fitness and IHRSA board member, shares his ideas on success and talks about his passion for fitness.

After having served his executive apprenticeship at several iconic IHRSA operations—including Sport & Health, the Merritt Clubs, and Lifestyle Family Fitness—Jason Reinhardt realized his dream. In 2013, he opened his own club, Go M.A.D. Fitness, in Monroe, MI. Now, five years later, he’s at four facilities (and counting) and still as driven as ever.

Club Business International spoke to Reinhardt about his portfolio, membership sales, and why sales and marketing is part of his DNA.

CBI: You’re no stranger to IHRSA or CBI. At IHRSA 2018 in San Diego, you spoke on “Hiring for Excellence: Sales and Marketing Keys for Success.” For those who weren’t there—a few takeaways, please.

JASON REINHARDT: Here are two points. First, we’ve all had trouble filling an open position with the right person. A club member, who’s already bought into what you and your club are all about, might be a great fit. Many members probably haven’t considered working with you, but, once approached, might be open to the possibility.

In my view, we don’t spend enough time promoting staff openings. Even if the position isn’t right for a particular member now, discussing the option with them is a compliment, and creates an ambassador who might help you to fill that opening.

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Jason Reinhardt talks to other IHRSA 2018 attendees at the Industry Leadership Council Summit.

Second: I believe that every staff member is an informal member of your sales and marketing department, and should be proud to promote your club in order to gain and retain members.

CBI: Sales and/or marketing would seem to be part of your DNA. Why this particular focus?

JR: I learned early on that sales and marketing is the lifeline of our business. People know that physical activity is important, but still procrastinate and drive by our facilities. We have the chance to make a difference in people’s lives, so the chase and challenge of sales and marketing is appealing and has led me to this point in my career.

As an IHRSA board member, I support one of our primary goals—to fight the inactivity epidemic locally, nationally, and globally. My sales approach has never been about the price; it’s always been about the experience. If someone feels comfortable, and makes a decision based on what we’ve said and shown them, then we’ve earned a member who’ll generate referrals!

CBI: You spoke to CBI at length back in 2014 and mentioned that you entered the fitness industry sort of by accident. A recap, please.

JR: In college, I really thought that playing professional football was an option. However, a year after graduating, when I was playing a game for the Southern Michigan Timberwolves, I broke my scapula.

I was so determined to get back on the field that I moved to Dallas to train and rehab in warmer weather. I was sent to a rehabilitation center, Health South—inside of a Q-Sports Club—in Arlington, TX.

As I was spending roughly five hours a day there regaining my strength, the manager, Greg Stover, asked if I wanted to work at the club. I said no initially, but, then, began selling memberships. I couldn’t believe that people would pay me to join, trust me to help them embark on a fitness program, and then come in every day and say “Hi” to me. I was sold ... and have now entered my 20th year in this amazing industry!

CBI: Although you may have slipped into membership sales, it seems like a perfect fit. What about the profession suits you?

JR: I was raised in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi with a strong focus on manners and respect. My family moved often, and, while being obliged to meet new friends, teachers, and coaches was tough at the time, it forced me out of my comfort zone and got me to interact with people.

When you treat others with respect, employ good manners, and share an experience with them, you have a good chance of earning their business. The fact is, every day you come across new people, and have a chance to either earn their business or, possibly, never see them again. I love that challenge!

CBI: Tell us more about your sales process and philosophy ...

JR: When someone comes into one of our facilities, I want to find out their “why,” and have them paint me a picture of what they’re looking for.

“I believe that every staff member is an informal member of your sales and marketing department, and should be proud to promote your club in order to gain and retain members.”

Jason Reinhardt, Owner

Go M.A.D. Fitness - Monroe, MI

Once we do that, we’re able to make the club tour come to life, make them feel at home, make initiating a fitness program seem easy, and capitalize on their excitement by asking our newest member for referrals before they leave.

Too many salespeople walk and talk, but don’t engage. Then, they simply blend in with the competition.

CBI: If you were to personally interact with a prospect who just walked in off the street—what would their sales experience be like?

JR: They’d be greeted with a warm welcome at our front desk, and be thanked for coming in. They’d sit with me as I asked questions about their past, present, and future. Afterwards, they’d be shown the areas of interest in the facility that could help them achieve their fitness goals.

Before reviewing membership options, they’d be asked if they liked what they’d seen, and thought this was a place where they’d like to start a fitness program. If it was, we’d shake hands, and I’d welcome them to the club, and discuss the various options for setting forth on their journey with us.

The session would end with us scheduling a complimentary personal training session to help jumpstart their program. They’d be asked for referrals—people who might want to share their experience with them. And they’d walk out with me, knowing that I’m excited to see them come back soon!

CBI: We have to ask ... what can you tell us about Go M.A.D.’s prospect-closing ratio?

JR: In this industry, I believe you should have a conversion ratio of between 40% and 60%. If you’re under 40%, then stop what you’re doing and seek some useful training. If you’re above 60%, then you’re not meeting with, sitting in front of, enough people.

So, on a monthly basis, we always strive to be in that range. If we’re not there, then we train our staff more and keep on working. We know that guests don’t come back once they leave, so, if they have the right experience, then 40%-60% of them should join.

“We’re always excited to tell people about Go M.A.D., because there’s a very positive reaction when they hear what it stands for. It’s a form of storytelling that helps create a connection.”

Jason Reinhardt, Owner

Go M.A.D. Fitness - Monroe, MI

CBI: In 2013, you opened your first club, Go M.A.D. Fitness, in Monroe, MI. A unique, if somewhat ambiguous, name. The origin?

JR: Go M.A.D. stands for “Go Make A Difference,” and was born when I was still in college. I went to Northwood University, in Midland, MI. When I played football there, the team got a new mascot (Timberwolves) and the phrase “Go M.A.D.” to rally behind. A few of us, including then-head coach Pat Riepma, came up with that mantra to remind us to make a difference in everything we do.

It became my goal to start a business employing that name, which I think is perfect for our industry!

We’re always excited to tell people about Go M.A.D., because there’s a very positive reaction when they hear what it stands for. It’s a form of storytelling that helps create a connection.

CBI: How do you practice your Go M.A.D. philosophy every day?

JR: I’m very involved on a daily basis, helping to set the tone for the member experience. I connect with members, guests, and front-line staff members, so I remain aware of the things we’re doing well and discover how we could do things even better.

To connect in my community, I serve on the board of our local United Way, volunteer at schools, and am an ambassador for the local Chamber of Commerce.

CBI: When we first interviewed you, you also said that one of your goals was to open five locations in five years. A progress report?

JR: This month is our five-year anniversary, and we have four 24/7 clubs. Three were acquired, and our newest location is a new build. I’m excited about what we’ve accomplished, and with the leadership team we have in place and the direction we’re heading. Also, in the next 12 months, we’ll acquire yet another location, bringing us to a total of five.

CBI: Tell us about your clubs ...

JR: We have two models. Our full-service 24/7 clubs offer group fitness, personal training, a kids club, cycling, TRX, smoothie bars, full-service locker rooms, multiple lines of equipment, and turf and functional-training areas. Our express clubs also afford 24/7 accesses, but are smaller, with fewer amenities.

“I connect with members, guests, and front-line staff members, so I remain aware of the things we’re doing well and discover how we could do things even better.”

Jason Reinhardt, Owner

Go M.A.D. Fitness

Our original club, a full-service facility in Monroe, MI, is just shy of 20,000 square feet; we acquired it in May 2013. Our second location is a 5,200-square-foot express facility in Monroe that we acquired in June 2016. The third is a 6,500-square-foot express unit in Milan, MI, that we launched in January 2017. And our fourth is a 25,000-square-foot, full-service club in Toledo, OH, that we opened last May.

Memberships range between $25 and $35 a month at all of the clubs.

CBI: How have you positioned Go M.A.D? What are your primary differentiators?

JR: Having four clubs, all within 30 minutes of one another, helps. Offering extra amenities, such as turf areas, smoothie bars, and a wide range of group fitness classes for everyone from kids to seniors also confers a distinct advantage. In addition, being locally owned and operated helps, as the hardworking people in Monroe, Milan, and Toledo appreciate and support us. Finally, the Go M.A.D. name and our staff clearly separate us from the competition.

CBI: We understand that you built your newest facility in Toledo from the ground up. What was that experience like for you?

JR: It was exciting, since I was able to incorporate my personality into the layout and design. The building and shell were already there, so I had to transform it into a Go M.A.D. Fitness and bring it to life.

We did a two-month presale beginning in March of last year and had our Grand Opening on May 4. I’m proud that, in short two months, we were able to turn the club into all that it is today.

CBI: Now tell us something about your business, Go M.A.D. Fitness, LLC, in general.

JR: My wife, Kelly, and I are the sole owners, and we haven’t had to bring in any partners. Last year, it took some time to build up the revenue from our new club in Toledo, but we’re looking forward to a successful 2018.

Patricia Amend

Patricia Amend is a contributor to Club Business International.