Obtaining quality leads is essential to the success of your gym! All the advertising you do is designed to do one thing: create leads that you can turn into members. There are many different ways to generate leads. Some you will enjoy. Others you will not. Some methods are time-consuming. Others are not. There are, however, three golden rules of lead generation that must be remembered: 1) If you won't do it, then hire someone who will. 2) If you can't do it, then hire someone who can. 3) No matter who does it, it must be done.
It's really that simple. Lead generation is so vital to the success of your gym, that it must be done at all costs.
NOTE: The focus of this article is how to sell more gym memberships with the lead box strategy. For free ideas on improving member retention and other topics important to health club owners, copy and paste this link into your browser: http://www.cuecd.com/articles.asp
A lead box is a small cardboard box that is set on the countertop in neighboring businesses. Customers of that business can then enter their name to win a prize. Traditionally, the prize is either a 6-month or a 1-year free membership to XYZ Gym.
The lead box should be clean, bright and eye-appealing. Colored cardboard lead boxes can be purchased in most areas for only $3 or $4 each. The backdrop (offer) should always be exciting and consistent with the overall message of the gym. At all costs, avoid a dingy brown cardboard box that gives off the wrong impression!
Your goal should be to place a minimum of five lead boxes within a 3-mile radius of your gym. The goal here is to not only go for quantity, but also for quality of location. It won't do you much good to place all five lead boxes in the same shopping mall, since you'll just be hitting the same leads over and over again. Instead, be sure to spread the lead boxes around the gym (north, south, east and west).
When choosing locations for your lead boxes, it's best to seek out locations where your target audience shops. Clothing stores, 'healthy' restaurants, sewing stores, craft stores, etc. are all great candidates for a women-only circuit training gym to place their lead box. Another lead box trick is to place it where people are forced to wait, such as the lobby of the popular restaurant where the wait for a table is always 45 minutes.
How do you get a business to agree to put a lead box on their counter? The first rule is to ASK PERMISSION. Placing a lead box without permission virtually guarantees that it will end up in the trash. So approach the manager/owner in a professional manner and simply ask! Obviously, you're going to want to look as professional as possible and respect their decision, even if it's not in your favor.
Just as with the tent cards and other forms of 'countertop advertising', you're probably going to have to offer the business owner/manager something in return for them allowing your lead box. Some ideas are: 1) Free 1-month membership, 2) Free membership for each month that your lead box is in their business, 3) Free fitness package (T-shirt, water bottle, etc.), 4) Allow them to advertise in your gym, 5) Send out their ad in your weekly e-mail newsletter, 6) Allow them to set up a booth in your health club.
Probably the best method is to exchange lead box placement for free membership on a month-to-month basis. For each month that they allow your lead box to remain in their business, they can use your facility for free. That way, if they pull the lead box, you pull their free membership.
Once the lead box has been placed, there are some steps to follow to help insure success: 1) Check the lead box weekly to replenish forms. 2) Replace the lead box when it is worn, written on, or looks unprofessional. 3) Collect all leads on a weekly basis. 4) Follow up on all leads immediately after collection! 5) When the box stops producing leads, move it to a new location.
It is strongly recommended that you separate your leads into different lists so they can easily be tracked and maintained. For example, one list would include all the leads you obtained from the Subway location. Another list would include all the leads you obtained from the lead box at the movie theater. Keeping these lists separate allows you to tailor your follow-up phone call to specific groups. Being specific as to the source of the contact creates an instant connection between you and the prospect. They are much less likely to hang up because they will remember that they did indeed enter your lead box.
These separate lists should always be maintained in a computer database so that you can easily print mailing labels and/or address envelopes. Not only will this save time, but also it usually looks much more professional than hand-addressed mail. It is recommended that you manage your lists inMicrosoft Word, where you can use the powerful merge functions to rapidly print personalized letters and/or postcards.
After you have collected the leads for the week, you will begin calling each lead. You should make at least three attempts to contact each lead. After three unsuccessful attempts, you must assume that they have either moved or are screening their calls. Either way, the probability of contacting them via telephone at this point is fairly slim. One final attempt to contact the lead should be made by mailing them a letter and a copy of your brochure.
The message you choose to place on your lead box will play a big part in determining how successful you are with the phone calls. A chance to win a 1-year free membership is actually the worst way to go. With a big prize, or a chance to win, you will find that people will enter solely to see if they can win. These folks have no interest in joining your gym, all they're interested in is trying to win a contest.
In addition, when you're calling your leads from a 'big win' box the conversation never really gets off the ground. Your first sentence will sound something like this: "Hello Ms. Jones, this is Suzie from ABC Gym. How are you tonight? Good. You entered our drawing at Dresses & More for a 1-year free membership, and even though you didn't win we would still like to offer you a 2-week free trial membership." While that introduction doesn't sound too bad, you will find that most of the leads will tune you out as soon as you say "even though you didn't win".
A much better approach is to simply change the message on your lead boxes. An effective box will say 'Enter here for a free 2-week membership'. There's nothing to win, and no doubt about what you'll get when you insert your name into the box. This method weeds out the people that were just entering to win something, and generates much higher quality leads. This saves you time and frustration.
Your goal with the lead box program is to obtain high-quality leads, contact them via telephone, and set an appointment for them to come into your gym for a tour. Another trick to a successful lead box program includes tracking who did (and didn't) show up for their appointment. People are busy, and although they meant to make it to their appointment they simply forgot. If you are tracking who showed up and who didn't, you can usually save this prospect by calling and scheduling a second appointment. If the prospect fails to show up for their second appointment, then simply send them a letter and brochure in a last-ditch attempt to communicate with them.
Another good lead box tactic is to send reminder postcards to people after the appointment has been set. Sending a reminder postcard increases the likelihood that the prospect will show up for the appointment.
To summarize, the lead box program should follow these steps: 1) Purchase lead boxes (5 or more). 2) Create signs, or offers, and attach to each lead box. 3) Place boxes in assorted locations around gym. 4) Replenish supplies and/or replace lead boxes as required. 5) Collect leads at least weekly. 6) Organize leads into lists on computer database. 7) Call each lead to schedule an appointment. 8) Send a reminder postcard. 9) Send a letter and brochure if you were unable to contact the lead. 10) Call the leads that did not show up for their appointment and schedule a second appointment. 11) Send a letter and brochure to the leads that did not show up for their second appointment.
As you can imagine, lead boxes can quickly become very time-consuming. However, don't allow yourself to fall into the trap of neglecting the lead box program! Remember the three golden rules of lead generation: 1) If you won't do it, then hire someone who will. 2) If you can't do it, then hire someone who can. 3) No matter who does it, it must be done.
Thankfully, there is an alternative to maintaining lead boxes yourself. The first and most obvious option is to have an hourly employee handle the lead boxes for you. Another choice is to 'hire' someone, not as an employee, but as an independent contractor. The independent contractor arrangement provides you with some protection from liability, as well as from paying workers compensation, social security and payroll taxes. The Lead Box Independent Contractor could be set up so that you pay the contractor $5 for each successful appointment (the prospect shows up for the appointment). This fee is doubled to $10 if the prospect joins (becomes a member) during the meeting. If you're interested in the Independent Contractor option, not only for lead boxes but for many other forms of advertising, then be sure to consult with an attorney and/or tax professional.