The following guest post is from Mike “The Machine” Bruce, Strongman competitor, gym owner, former Marine and all around man of integrity.

Running a successful gym is all about exceeding expectations — going above and beyond what others offer to create something truly special.

First and foremost, don’t copy everybody else. You must be different.  Offer a Unique Selling Proposition.  Find your specific niche and work it. For example, I run a private training facility, so my competition is not the commercial health clubs. I make my clients feel like a family. It starts at the very first meeting with prospective clients. I explain that I accept only a select group of clients. I’m known as “The Machine. ” I have performed my ministry/strongman speaking all over the country. Thus, the more I’m seen, the more people know of me, the more they become interested. They can train with the Joe-Shmo trainer, who is just like everyone else. Or they can train with me: the crazy, big, bald guy that bends steel, and twists horseshoes and preaches about the importance of physical culture as lifestyle change and the rebuilding of your body. In short, I work my machine gimmick. And you should work yours. So my tips include: Use the Law of Scarcity. Limit your availability by insisting clients schedule an appointment.  Prospects can’t just walk into my gym and talk to me.  My time is valuable and is spent training and servicing my existing clients. Also: Trust your instincts with client selection. If the chemistry doesn’t seem right, just say no.  There is nothing worse than training someone you can’t stand working with. Make your fitness club stand out as something special and exclusive. Make sure prospective clients understand it’s not just any gym. And you don’t accept just anyone. You only accept a select group of people who would be a good match.  This will make clients want your services even more. Have a new client pack.  It should include information about your services, prices, testimonials from clients, before/after pictures, articles you have written, and any articles about your gym or about your clients. Don’t make the relationship all about money. I hate asking people to buy more sessions. It threatens my guru status. I want to be talking about positive things to help clients reach their goals. So I post the sessions purchased up on a dry erase board in my gym. This lets the client know how many sessions they started with and how many sessions they have left. Once the sessions remaining get down to 5, I highlight them in red and let the client know that they are in the red zone and if they would like to continue training under me. This has worked very well for me. Try it! Over  deliver on service. I always want my clients to feel that their time with me is one of the best times of their life, each and every time we meet. Some key points that I use to run my private gym, The Machine Shop, may be helpful

  •  Be positive at all times
  • The time spent together is always about the client, never about you. Don’t talk about anything personal going on on your life
  •  Allow 5-10 minutes for feedback at the end of each session. Ask your clients if they have any questions. Have water, nuts and fruit available
  • Thank clients with a job well done with thank you cards, a gift certificate, balloons sent to their workplace, or even free training sessions.

Above all, be professional at all times.Cleanliness of the facility is a must! Mop, vacuum, sweep, and clean. Appearances count, so you must also take pride in your personal appearance. Get yourself squared away.   In the end, it’s all about keeping your clients happy. Make them want to keep coming back to be trained by you. Send out birthday cards to them and their children, and pay close attention to special events they have mentioned during their sessions. Go above and beyond normal service and make the time with the client the most beautiful, blessed time you can. Do not just provide good service when you can provide great service. You have to look at the long term value of the client. If you go above and beyond for your clients and they like you, and like what your doing, getting them results, then  they will continue to stay with you. But the retention rate in many gyms is low. I have been blessed to not have experienced this. I have many repeat customers who then in return refer their friends and so on and so forth.

Your clients are not just a number, they are your lifeline to your ability to live and feed your family. 

Make them feel special with every training session.  Greet them with a smile, a towel and a bottle of water.  Go above and beyond for them and you will be guaranteed to have a successful gym. I can honestly tell you I have done NO advertising at all and yet I’m booked to full capacity. If you provide exceptional service to your current group of clients and/or members then they will be more than happy to refer new prospects for you. It is not that hard, Ladies and Gents, Just  be nice and over delivery to your current members. They are your flow and key to success. Keep The Faith, Mike “The Machine” Bruce

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