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WTS Educates

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How to Spot and Hire Top Talent: WTS Featured in Pulse

WTS International is thrilled to share a recent article in Pulse, a magazine focused on business issues and trends in the spa industry. The feature, “Wanted: Rockstar, How to Spot and Hire Top Talent,” quotes Henry Gudelsky, WTS’ Director of Training and Development. Henry comments, “It does not matter if the person is a director, attendant, service provider, or host, everyone contributes to the guest experience and performance of the spa. Having rock star performers within our team enables us to consistently deliver the level of service that keeps customers coming back.”

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To read the entire article, download it here.

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WTS Educates: The Benefits of Hiring a Lifestyle Management Company in the Early Stages of Development

By: Amy Gallogly (WTS Corporate Operations Director) and Matthew Eberius, CPRP (Director of Parks and Recreation, Starkey Ranch.

In an ever-growing world of community development, builders have to find new ways to set themselves apart from the competition. Gone are the days where having an attractive amenity package, great location or custom builders will automatically propel you above the rest. Buyers simply want more.

For example, the millennials, who are primed and ready to purchase, are a very cautious and savvy group of individuals. They want more bang for their buck and do their homework before taking that plunge into home ownership. One cost effective way to swing momentum toward your community is by sweetening the amenity pot. There are endless possibilities when it comes to outfitting your clubhouse, so how do you know what will be attractive to buyers?

Hiring a consulting firm before you build your community clubhouse can save serious cash and headaches down the road. Lifestyle management companies bring years of knowledge about a range of topics from how to effectively lay out your fitness facility to equipping your clubhouse with state-of-the-art gadgets. They will provide a plan for programming that synchronizes perfectly with your facility and demographics.

Another attractive service that some firms provide is event and program implementation. A lifestyle management or consulting company will enable your community to be successful for years to come by engaging prospective buyers before they become residents. This is a cost saving technique that many developers are opting into these days. There is no need to hire a separate event company to plan your prospect and realtor events when these firms now specialize in these services. Many prospect events that are rolled out before actual residents move in, turn into long standing traditions in communities. They provide great stories for families to talk about for years to come and are used as a strong marketing tool.

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A perfect example that outlines the benefits to hiring a firm like WTS International is Starkey Ranch, a new master planned community in Odessa, Florida.

As the management company behind the leisure and onsite marketing of Starkey Ranch, a new master-planned community in Tampa Bay, Florida, WTS International’s success in operating a Welcome Center and various marketing events has translated into sales for the new community.

With decades of experience in marketing and real estate and lifestyle management, the WTS team at Starkey Ranch is responsible for welcoming prospective residents and business owners to the community, managing the realtor relations program and incentives, as well as hosting prospective resident marketing events that involve the entire region. As residents move in, the attention shifts slightly to community programming that is implemented in tandem with marketing events.

The Welcome Center regularly sees close to 100 traffic units (buying units) each week, with over 2,700 visits since its opening in late April 2015. WTS staff oversees community presentations and builds sales team relationships and networking with real estate offices. And it’s not just within the Welcome Center; the WTS team regularly travels around the Tampa Bay area to promote Starkey Ranch to the surrounding community, real estate offices and various networking and community organizations.

Organizing the community’s grand opening celebration, Fun For Fall, the WTS team planned a series of special events to highlight community amenities, the model homes, and the new central park in the first neighborhood. 2,000 families were hosted during the month of October. This increased the community’s visibility, as well as created sales for the builders after families fell in love with the atmosphere of Starkey Ranch.

To cap off an outstanding inaugural year, Starkey Ranch was one of six finalists in North America, earning a Silver Award for Master-Planned Community of the Year!

While many developers are focused on units and the process behind the build, hiring a lifestyle management or consulting company provides assurance that all lifestyle related aspects of the community will be taken care of. A management or consulting company can further assist the sales team in enticing new home buyers and showing off the developer’s work in a way that translates to not just a house, but a home.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:
• Appropriately sized clubhouse programming
• Supporting equipment package
• Prospect event management
• Increased Welcome Center foot traffic
• Realtor networking

WTS Educates: Be Gift Card Savvy in the New Year

By: Catherine Warren, WTS Spa Director, Eau Spa

With the heavy gift card sales season having come and gone, we are all now faced with the great challenge of turning gift card sales into redemptions. It is also a time for reflecting on the meaning of a liability account. We harken our gift card recipients to return and redeem so that our efforts are not in vain. Gift certificates work the same as gift cards, but I will refer to them as cards from here on out. Without further ado, here is a little gift card Q&A to help you maximize your efforts made throughout the most wonderful time of the year:

Q: Why do I not see gift card sales revenue on my P&L?
A: When a gift card is purchased, the money goes into a purgatory called a liability account. Since revenue cannot be counted when the gift card is purchased, and then counted again when it is redeemed (as this would double what was actually received in the form of a payment from the guest and deceivingly inflate revenues), sales will not be recognized as top line revenue until the card purchased is redeemed as a service or retail item.

Q: How do gift card sales benefit the business if they are not going to count as a profit on top line until an undetermined time of redemption?
A: For one thing, it puts cash in the bank, and this helps the spa or fitness facility to not have to borrow money from the host property when times are lean. Padding the piggy bank is always a good thing. This cash may also grow in interest if invested properly. It also captures guests by holding a credit for them only available through redemption with your spa or fitness facility alone.

Guests are also given the freedom to buy whatever they choose from the service menu or retail area, and so the chances of them being satisfied with their gift is higher than, say, if they received a pair of unattractive, brown bell bottoms, and feel indebted to wear them whenever the gift giver is around. In other words, there is more likely of a guarantee of guest satisfaction with a customizable gift such as a gift card.

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Q: What if the gift cards are never redeemed?

A: Then one day it will be credited as breakage. Breakage is a good thing, because the money will go to the spa or fitness facility without having to pay any costs of sale.

Q: What is my cost of sale?
A: When someone has a service in the spa, receives a personal training session or attends a class, a commission is paid to the therapist, personal trainer or instructor. Additionally, labor for those attending to the guest in the front of house, the linens that need to be laundered after their service or session, their consumable food, beverage and locker room amenities, the cost of product and many, many, many other tertiary costs are included.

Q: So why not just let all of it go to breakage so that more revenue flows through to the bottom line?
A: Depending on the state that you are in, the laws will vary. In Florida, for example, a purchased gift card may legally never expire, and so breakage may not be received that same year or possibly ever. Also, the point of a gift card is to draw guests in so that the revenue is redeemed immediately, a new guest is gained, and retail products potentially sold. Ideally, the guest will adore everything about the business and return regularly. Even better, the guest will buy gift cards for more new guests, and the business will continue to build with the ease of a pyramid scheme.

Q: How do I draw people in to redeem their gift cards?
A: First and foremost, the staff must be trained and then held accountable for gathering all of the contact information for the person purchasing the gift card, and, more importantly, the person receiving the gift card. Then designate someone on the team to go through all outstanding gift cards and personally call to invite guests with credit to the spa or fitness facility. This is actually the simplest AND most effective way to go about ensuring redemptions.

Bounce back offers may also work, but beware of double-discounts! Many times the credit available on the gift card already includes some sort of credit; an upgrade or added value given at the time of purchase, employee commission that was paid off the total amount purchased, provider commission that is deducted when the gross value is redeemed, etc. If not careful, the potential revenue may slowly whittle down to next to nothing, and worst case scenario, go upside down. Always track sales and offers at time of purchase so that revenue is maintained after the compound discounts.

Q: What do you mean by a compound discount?
A: A compound discount is an additional discount on something that has already been discounted, and if the commission to your therapist or personal trainer or instructor is based on the original or gross cost, then it’s possible they are being paid on a higher cash amount than what was actually received. This can quickly increase payroll.

Q: What if the gift card recipient does not want the treatment, sessions or classes purchased?
A: First, provide a thorough list of all of the treatments, services or classes that are available, as it’s possible the guest is not aware of everything they can potentially redeem their gift card for. Ensure they understand the gift card has a dollar credit value, and not necessarily a particular service value. For example, at a SPA, most people just think massage or facial, and must be reminded of all of their options to include body treatments, manicures and pedicures, or hair services. At a FITNESS facility, they may consider personal training as their only option, unaware of any specialty classes offered or special challenges coming up.

If they are not interested in any form of therapeutic work or fitness classes, then encourage them to purchase retail with it for themselves or a loved one.

If they hate all health, beauty and fashion items, then suggest that they re-gift it to their most clean, attractive and relaxed loved one, neighbor, boss or a favorite politician. Just remember that gift cards are not redeemable for cash.

Looking toward the future… Remember that the year is full of gift card selling opportunities; Administrative Assistant’s Week, Mother’s Day, Graduations, Father’s Day etc. So, what can you do to maximize your sales and take gift cards full circle?

Q: How do you convince your team to sell them?
A: The reality is that staff like to be incentivized. Hold a contest offering a prize for the highest sales person. This will automatically instill a minimum to the sales efforts. Since not everyone is a good sales person, the substandard salespeople will possibly not try, because they assume that they’ll never win. Therefore, incentivize the most improved salesperson, possibly one top seller from each department, and maybe even offer a commission.

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Q: How do you pay a commission on something that may not ever be redeemed? Will that not make my payroll high?
A: Good question! This is tricky, because it can’t be denied that it’s a gamble that the guest will never redeem their gift card, and therefore the revenue never hit the top line. Recipients must be drawn to the spa or fitness facility to redeem their gift cards, and then payroll will certainly level out over the course of the year, even if it is a little high during the months such incentive programs are implemented.

Q: How do I make the public aware of my gift cards?
A: Advertising is your friend. Social media advertising is your best friend, because it is either free or fairly inexpensive for boosting posts. If the advertising is inexpensive, then it will not cut into this elusive liability revenue, and there will be a better return on sales.

Q: How do I get people to buy our gift cards instead of one of our competitors?
A: It is now time to consider the spa or fitness facility’s competitive edge, and to think about what could be offered as an incentive that no other facility has to offer. Receiving a great value is usually just as important to guests as cost or discounts. Do you offer complimentary valet? Do you have a childcare facility? Do you have pool or beach access? Do you boast anything innovative by way of technology? Is your facility superior to the competitions? Are complimentary beverages offered? Add up the value of all the amenities of this nature that the facility has to offer. This value should always be mentioned in the advertising campaign built around gift card sales.

Q: What if I answered no to all of the above?
A: Even if the facility offers nothing but a single treatment room, a massage table and an orchid, or no specialty fitness classes or high end training spaces, an incentive can still be provided to the gift card purchaser. For example, increase the value by $25 if they purchase $100. Simply charge the “value add” to the marketing/advertising line within your budget. However, keep in mind this will likely need to be advertised as a limited offer, as budgets must be closely monitored and expenses never exceeded. When developing a campaign, it must always be developed considering the ROI (return on investment).

Q: Is there anything else that I could do to incentivize guests to purchase gift cards?
A: Absolutely! Additional incentives may include registering all purchasers’ into a drawing for something fancy by way of a spa day, personal training sessions, or retail products. This is a slick move, because sometimes product incentives can be received complimentary from vendors. It is always recommended a facility speak with their vendors for assistance on this type of incentive.

Q: How do I train my team to sell gift cards?
A: Staff should be required to ask every guest making an appointment, checking in or checking out if they would like to purchase a gift card. A nice sales spiel would be, “Mr. Smith, we have an excellent gift card program (state the program specifics and why they are so stellar). I would highly recommend that you take advantage of it, and if you need holiday gifts for your office, have an anniversary coming up, need a birthday present or just want to surprise someone special, then now is the time to do it. We will even package it beautifully and mail it to the lucky recipient. How many would you like, and whom should I say it is for? Would you like a card to fill out or shall I fill it out for you? I would be happy to have them delivered to your room for your convenience.”

There should always be gift card signage placed around the spa or fitness facility. This can make it simple for staff to reference, and encourage guests to inquire. Most importantly, include a deadline on all marketing pieces to encourage a sense of urgency so that guests take action on the offer available.

Q: How does gratuity work on a gift card?
A: Remember that most people purchasing a gift card do not want the recipient to have to pay for gratuity, and so gratuity should be included in the gift card as often as possible. It should be clarified with the purchaser to be certain.

Q: What if I have not thought about how to package my gift cards?
A: It is always best to go with neutral packaging that reflects the branding of the facility and is void of any gender or religious affiliation. For example:
• If the facility is a luxury spa, consider a fancy box tied with ribbon, placed in a tissue-filled, branded bag.
• If the facility is environmentally conscious, create a biodegradable or plantable envelope for the gift card.
• If the facility is strapped because of a lean margin, consider ordering simple, folded cards that can hold a gift certificate.

If possible, it is recommended a business card sized promotional piece be included to offer recipients suggestions on how to redeem their gift card, and can also be a great way to advertise any upcoming services, classes, challenges or new membership pricing.

Q: Should I offer shipping?
A: It is recommended shipping is charged for and only offered complimentary when a minimum purchase is reached. This will encourage guests to spend more. Keep in mind that forms will need to be created to capture all of the recipients’ shipping and contact information. Adding on a signature line may be necessary when a guest is paying for the shipping out of their own pocket. Always be careful with the shipping costs as they can quickly eat up revenue if certain priority shipping options are used.

Hopefully this guide will assist you in capturing your guests from this past year’s heavy gift card sales season while ensuring revenues are maximized. Additionally, I hope that this provides you with an outline that proves useful when planning for all the gift card seasons to come throughout this year.

Happy selling, and remember that when you come to a crossroads in your operations and feel that some advice or guidance is needed, contact WTS International as we strive to ensure all clients are kept informed and successful in their ventures.

WTS Educates: Gearing Up for the Holiday Retail Season

By: Janice Nichols, Corporate Operations Director, WTS International

One of the most powerful training tools we can use is what I call, playing the “what if” game. What if we gained one additional guest per day? How would that impact revenues this week, this month, this year? What if 50% of our massage guests purchased a $10 retail product? How would that change monthly profit? This conversation is a compelling way to begin educating our staff on upcoming holiday retail initiatives.

Here are some tips to make the holidays your biggest retail numbers of the year:

Make it Rewarding Have a measurable goal in mind: average retail ticket increase, total sales, or retail sales to service ratio and share it with your team by way of a Holiday Incentive Contest. We have a Preferred Retail Vendor Program available to our managed properties, which offer incredible incentives like cash, trips and more.

Get in the Giving Spirit The holidays are a time to think of others and give generously. Put your guests in the spirit by offering a retail discount to donate to your chosen local charity. Displaying a giving tree for example, gives your reception team an easy segue into suggestive selling and slows the guest’s exit, making time for impulse buys while imparting a warm, fuzzy feeling at departure!

Rethink the Mix Shoppers are seeking unique gift items to delight their loved ones. Your retail mix should shift toward impulse items such as travel candles, chocolates, lip glosses, nail polishes, hair jewelry and holiday themed body products that make cheerful stocking stuffers. Make current retail items new by repackaging them in themed collections and always be sure to purchase enough product to make a statement and to last you through the season.

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Make it Sparkle “Spruce” up your retail space by including upscale holiday decor like pine cones, greenery and gold or silver accent pieces. Burn spice scented candles, and perhaps play subtle holiday music. Who can resist a beautifully wrapped package? Have pre-wrapped items displayed and ready for purchase. Place gift items near the check-out area and have testers for featured products at the counter.

Girls Night Out Invite your top spending guests and their friends for an evening of wine sipping, complimentary mini-services and of course, exclusive promotions on fabulous gift items.

Implementing any or all of these tips can ensure that your sales team a successful season and your guests a wonderful holiday season!

WTS Educates: Golf Might be the Driver, but Lifestyle is the Differentiator

By: Allen Jakubauskas, Senior Vice President, WTS International

Today’s private club members are looking for far more than golf and a nice meal out of their membership. People are being very selective about how they want to spend their time and money. When choosing the right club to join, they are looking much more closely at non-golf amenities and leisure programming. Offering your membership a well conceived and creative lifestyle program will infuse a social connection and commitment to the club that will pay dividends in retention and driving new membership sales.

While golf is still the driver, lifestyle has become the differentiator. In today’s private club market, it is critical to offer creative and relevant fitness, spa and recreational programming to your membership base. Just carving out some square footage and tossing in the same old fitness equipment simply does not generate the necessary excitement to garner membership sales. Today’s competitors are offering sophisticated facilities with unique spaces that embrace the latest and greatest in the spa, fitness and recreation industries. If you are missing the mark in this area, you are falling behind the pack!

Today, fitness and wellness offerings venture well beyond a few random classes and some private training. Programming in this area has become highly planned and orchestrated to meet the needs and desires of members. It no longer matters whether you are a family, a working professional or an older adult; there is something to offer for all. Families are being enticed by youth-targeted and parent/child offerings, working professionals by outdoor and competitive training and older adults by wellness, flexibility and pain relief modalities.

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Spa and personal care services have become an expectation of many club members. Offering quality spa services, skin care treatments and appropriate product options in a club environment embraces the essence of “membership” and allows the service providers to offer a much more unique and customized program to members with lasting and impactful results. Local day spas and world class resort spas simply cannot compete with the level of connection and engagement clubs can have with members when it comes to highly personal services.

Outdoor recreation opportunities have also become more sophisticated and popular, whether it is local day hikes, team training for the local “Tough Mudder” race, or biking, hiking and boating excursions that incorporate fun, healthy and social experiences for members. Membership is about connecting with others. Engineering events and engagements for this to happen is our job and creating magical moments and relationships is the driving force. This can only be accomplished by exposing members to new activities and socializing opportunities with other members through creative programming.

The key is to understand your membership and their programming desires, outline a relevant programming calendar with ongoing daily/weekly services, and then creatively get in front of and engage your membership base. Engagement will come through having the right people delivering well planned programs and services in a consistent and enjoyable manner. Soon your membership will be reinvigorated and your club will be redefined in the marketplace.

WTS Educates: Health Club 101

By: Roberta Kruse-Fordham, General Manager, Ashburn Village Sports Pavilion

There are certain fundamentals and common threads that health clubs need to have in order to be successful both from an operational and financial perspective. Here, we will review the necessary tools for any successful launch and ongoing operations. These tools are critical to the success of your team, your health club and your club’s public image and perception. Below is a list of critical items that you may want to have in place in your “toolbox” prior to or shortly after opening a health club or fitness/wellness complex:

Leadership: All health clubs need a strong, energetic leader. They must know who they are, what they do and have a clear understanding of the health club’s mission, market position, target audience and purpose in the community. A leader will inspire, motivate and develop others on their team to be leaders. A successful leader:

• Can bring out the best in everyone

• Articulates expectations clearly and consistently
• Empowers team members
• Holds themselves and others accountable
• Sets clear and obtainable goals
• Emphasizes teamwork – think of the entire staff as a spinal column. Each staff member is a vertebra, and if one of the vertebrae is out of alignment it creates pain for the rest of the spine. All vertebrae

[employees] should be in alignment.
• Displays a positive attitude
• Is willing to make changes and adaptations quickly and thoughtfully
• Doesn’t ask anyone to do anything that they would not do themselves
• Loves to communicate, communicate and communicate some more
• Is organized and possess good financial management skills

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Culture: The company’s culture should be built to promote a winning team. A positive culture will beat any strategy hands down.

• Develop a team of doers and thinkers – give freedom in empowering your team

• Align your culture to drive your business strategy

Strategy: An executable road map with defined roles and responsibilities for the team.

• Choosing what to do and what not to do equals strategy

• Strategy is only as good as the ability to implement it

Vision: A unified vision is what could be, fueled by the passion to make it happen.

Organizational Structure: An organizational chart should always be developed to showcase the club’s management and staffing structure. The structure of your health club is the foundation that supports everything in the business. The only goal of the foundation is to support the core functions of the business, and this needs to be understood by the staff to ensure proper management and accountability.

• Know who does what in your organization and what functions they support:

Organizational chart/outline is a must

Job descriptions and responsibilities need to be defined and distributed accordingly to all staff members

Staff: A strong, committed, well trained, enthusiastic and responsible team is critical to the success of any business.

• Loyalty, trust and respect (from your staff and members/guests):

Respect: Don’t expect it. It is earned.

Trust: Trust makes business more efficient and is less taxing on the business. Why do you choose one mechanic over another? Why do you trust the price from one business as fair and question another’s?

Loyalty: Understanding why your staff has chosen to work for you and why your members and guests come back.

The last and final item that should be in any health club’s toolbox is a vision board. The vision board helps showcase your goals, objectives, and most importantly, culture, to your staff so they can better understand the direction the club is headed. To create your vision board, write the item of focus (could be any tool recommended in your toolbox or goal your team is trying to achieve) in the center and then branch off of the main idea to the various vision objectives. Once the vision is clear, a strategy and implementation plan to move to action can be executed.

Just remember, you can’t succeed without the right tools in your toolbox!

WTS Educate: Membership Sales is a Numbers Game

WTS Educate, a new ongoing series of educational pieces by WTS International.

I always said I’d be a great golfer if I could have three mulligans every time I hit a shot. Instead, I only get one shot and usually it’s not as good as I’d like for it to be. Membership sales is very similar in that if you have enough chances to sell a membership, your odds increase significantly.

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Southern Highlands Community, Las Vegas, NV

Here are some tips for improving your membership sales:

  • Have a clear plan. The first step is to have a clear plan of attack and know how to communicate a message to prospects. If we plan properly and get our message out to enough people, the likelihood of meeting our sales objective increases significantly.
  • Set goals. Establish how many contacts you want to make during a month and then break that down into weekly and daily goals.
  • Market to various channels. I always suggest that you break your prospecting channels down into four groups: general public, referrals, cooperative/partnership, groups/corporate. If we have a specific “call to action” for each of the groups that is time bound, it will be much easier to gain traction and interest in your facility.
  • Keep track. Make sure you evaluate how you’re doing by consistently measuring results.
  • Course correct. Depending on results, make sure to adjust and adapt accordingly. Perhaps you need even more leads. Perhaps your sales team isn’t big enough. Perhaps you can enhance or alter your offerings to best accommodate the audience.
  • The more people that are excited, aware and interested in your club, the more sales you will produce. It requires rigor and execution. To be consistently successful, you have to have a continuous stream of prospects lined up at the door interested in joining.

    —Frank Guengerich, WTS Chief Operating Officer