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.