LA Fitness: “Go Away, I Don’t Want Your Business!” (How Dumb Can You Be?)

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Every morning six days a week, I’m at LA Fitness when they open at 5:00am (Saturdays they don’t open till 8:00am). There’s a pretty dedicated group pushing weights, doing cardio and keeping themselves in shape. It’s pretty inspiring to see what some of them do and how dedicated they are.

The gym for the most part, is not a bad place to workout. It’s clean, there’s a good selection of equipment, and it is usually in pretty good working order. When something breaks it doesn’t take long to get it repaired. The people – not the employes or the trainers necessarily, but the patrons… the people who workout there – are pretty friendly and helpful.

There are three water coolers in strategic locations throughout the gym… and the water is generally pretty cold. That’s especially appreciated for those days when it gets 115+ degrees in Phoenix.

Over in one corner is a juice bar that sells drinks and supplements. On the counter are signs that promote various products that are for sale. Among those signs is one of particular interest. It reads, “Cup of Water And Ice is a 75 cent charge.”

The question that comes to my mind is “Why?” Why do they charge 75 cents for a cup of water and ice? How much could it possibly cost for a cup and 8 ounces of water? Not much, I would think.

How about the person behind the counter… how much time would it take for them to get someone a cup of water? Seconds? How much cost could that entail? Would it be taking them away from some other income-producing activity to do that? Most of the time they aren’t doing anything anyway.

With three water coolers in the gym, how many people would really go to the juice bar and request a cup of water? Would they really be overwhelmed with a stampede of people? I rather think that very few people would even think of going there for a cup of water.

So what could the reason for such a sign be? More importantly, what is the message on the sign sending the patrons of the gym… you know, the people who might also become customers of the juice bar? It would seem to me that the person behind the juice bar counter (who is doing nothing anyway) would be thrilled for someone to have a conversation with so they could establish a relationship, discuss their nutritional needs and the benefits of proper supplementation. They might even give them a sample and possibly convert them into a customer.

In order to make a sale you have to have a discussion. In order to have a discussion you have to have someone to talk to. In order to have someone to talk to you have to make it friendly, inviting and beneficial for that someone to be attracted to you. And a sign that says in effect, “Go Away, We Don’t Want You Here” certainly doesn’t accomplish that goal.

So what to do? What could they do to attract more people (read: customers and profits) to the juice bar? How about a sign that promotes free samples of pre-workout drinks that will stimulate blood flow, increase a pump, and provide a boost of energy so the person gets a better workout? What about post-workout drinks or protein shakes that can help someone recover faster and get better results from their training? How much could a few samples possibly cost?

To attract business, you don’t hoard or hold onto your products… especially something as inexpensive as a cup and some water! No! You give something away… something of value, something that will produce some type of result that the recipient can benefit from. You do something that will ATTRACT a potential customer to you, not something that REPELS them from you.

If you’re selling information products you give a sample of what you have. For instance, if you’re selling a book, why not give away the first 3 or 4 chapters? Let someone “sample” what you have written and if they like it, if they see value from it, maybe they’ll buy it.

If you’re selling consulting services why not let someone sample what you can do for them? Show them something that will create a measurable and quantifiable return for them, and maybe you’ll convert them into a paying client. What have you got to lose? You didn’t have them as a client to begin with so if they don’t buy from you, you haven’t lost anything. You just didn’t gain anything. But if you do create some value for them they might not only become a client they might be your biggest fan and referral source.

Whatever you do, don’t make it difficult for people to do business with you. As a TopLine trained consultant you have more than two-dozen different special reports and lead magnets that you can use to let others learn about what you do and open the door to allow you to provide a “sampling” of what you can do for them.

Be generous with your information and knowledge and you’ll no-doubt find that your customers, clients and prospects will in turn be generous with their business and their money.


18 Comments for this entry

  • Martin:

    I always love reading your comments because you are always right on. This post is no different. They should definitely be GIVING water away. Lots of it!!

    Nina

    • Martin Howey says:

      Thanks Nina. You, for one, are someone who knows the value of “sampling.” I’ve seen you do it over and over, and it’s just one of the things that make you so special and your company so successful. If more people paid attention to you and did what you do so well, they would be SO much more successful.

      I can do no better than to recommend people checking out your http://wallet-mailer.com and http://megabucksmarketing.com/ websites.

      Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to post your comments… very much appreciated.

      Martin

  • Haha! That is a really funny sign! I can’t believe they are shutting you down just as you walk by. I tend to be cheap and want freebies (like water) from time to time… then I tend to skip over the lower-price products and by the most expensive stuff offered, once I have a trusting relationship with a vendor.

    OOOPS!

    Emily

    • Martin Howey says:

      Hey Emily… A funny sign indeed. But moreover, a stupid sign.

      So you’re one of those cheapskate freebie-takers who just want a cup of water and skip over the lower-price products, huh? I’m so glad to know you’ve identified yourself. I’ve been wondering who you and your little band of buddies are.

      But I like what you said after that. You buy the most expensive stuff offered (here’s the best part) ONCE you have a TRUSTING RELATIONSHIP with a vendor. So what comes first? Not the sale. It’s the relationship… the sale comes later.

      It seems that the juice bar at LA Fitness is more concerned with the sale than the relationship. (Actually, I’m not even sure that’s true. They do little… or really, nothing… to encourage any kind of sales activity at all!) They just stick a minimum wage person behind the counter and do “Hope Marketing”… I hope someone stops by and asks for something. (Well, that’s what the company does. The clerk is hoping no one will stop by so they don’t have to talk to them.)

      Thanks for your input, Emily. I really appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      By the way, I LOVE your website, http://riverrockgroup.com/… first class!

      Anyone who is reading this and needs better website development and positioning, social media marketing, text messaging or just all around Internet promotion for your business, be sure and check out http://riverrockgroup.com/

      Thanks again!

      Martin

  • Richard says:

    Hi Martin, I am also a visitor to a 24 HR gym. I started going to the gym when Jack Lalane was promoting wellness through physical activity through his excercise centers. That was many years ago, but I do keep reaping the benefits every year. Recently I passed my stress tests with flying colors well beyond the required pace for seniors over 71. It all this time I have never been charged for a drink of water, iced or otherwise. This unkind gesture would appear a counter- culture to the gym operation and it sounds like an independent decision by someone inexperienced in customer service. If nothing else this would be viewed as an inconvenience to carry around $.75 to buy a cup of water. It sounds like a conversation would be in order with the manager, asking if this is a company policy.

    • Martin Howey says:

      Hi Richard. Thank you for your response.

      Jack LaLanne and his wife, Elaine, were good friends of mine. We both had gyms in Long Beach, California, in the mid ’60’s. He had several gyms (Jack LaLanne’s European Health Spas) throughout Orange County, one of which was in Long beach. My two gyms in Long Beach were called “Long Beach Gym and Fitness”.

      Congratulations on passing your stress tests. I’m so glad that you’re still keeping in shape.

      As I mentioned in my post, it does seem a little strange for a gym (or any kind of enterprise) to do something that so obviously drives away potential customers and income. No words have to be spoken for passers-by or possible revenue sources to get the message, move on and never go back.

      And you’re right. Carrying around 75 cents for a cup of water would be quite an inconvenience. So would carrying around a cup of water. As I stated, there are three drinking fountains, and some people carry their own water bottles. Some have various mixtures of stimulants, creatine, glutamine, protein, or branched chain amino acids to speed the recovery process. Frankly, the thought of asking for a cup of water at the juice bar had never entered my mind… and I’ve been working out in gyms for 52 years.

      As far as a conversation with the manager regarding company policies… that’s a project for someone else. I really don’t care one way or another. I just saw the sign and thought it was a little weird, so I took a picture and wrote an article for our consultants.

      I do appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to respond… and again, congratulations on how well you’re doing with your fitness!

      Martin

  • Jayant hudar says:

    hi Martin,
    i think the gym juice bar guy should read this because this is a great tip that too absolutely free consulting of yoursfor him.. valued atleast $10000 a year or more profits .. or even a matter of him making any money.
    i hope that juice guy reads or gets this message.
    and for all of us.. its a good lesson.. to give and sample.. no point keeping it with us…
    give and grow.

    thanks martin for a real life case study and input.. as always.
    jayant hudar

    • Martin Howey says:

      Hi Jay,

      As always, your comments are very much appreciated. It’s doubtful that anyone from the juice bar will read this post or these comments. It’s a corporate entity and is run by low-paid staff who most likely aren’t as much concerned with the profitability of the juice bar as they are with putting in their hours, what time they get off work, and what they’re doing after hours or on the weekend.

      You’re right… it is a good lesson that we can all learn from. Hopefully, some of our consultants and readers will use this example to help their clients look at the messages that they’re sending their customers and prospects a little more closely, so they don’t inadvertently make the same mistakes.

      Martin

  • Hello Martin,

    As always, I enjoyed and learned upon reading your post. I believe that business such Starbucks and McDonald’s learned this lesson just on time and they corrected a policy similar to the .75¢ cup of water. Few years ago I noticed that in Mexico those business offered free wifi Internet to their customers but not in the United States and Europe. There, they used to charge for using the wifi.
    The reason because the wifi was free at the Mexico’s branches of those firms is because other restaurants were giving wifi as a courtesy so McDonald’s and Starbucks did the same. I could imagine that in the bottom line, those businesses realized that their core business is fast food and coffee, and it has nothing to do with being an Internet Service Provider. (ISP)

    Regards

    • Martin Howey says:

      Hi Juan,

      Great example, and thank you for your comment. McDonald’s and Starbucks certainly do know that their core business is fast food and coffee, but they also realize that the longer they can get a customer to hang around the store, the more opportunity they’ll have to sell them something else.

      Smart businesses are constantly in the search of things that create a desire in their customers to increase their “hanging around” time… otherwise thought of as relationship-building. For years, McDonald’s sold fast food. Their market was kids. As time went on their marketing turned to hurried and stressed parents with messages such as, “You Deserve a Break Today, So Get Up and Get Away To McDonald’s.” By showing their concern for and understanding of that market they were creating a relationship with them.

      The fast food business is very competitive. In a continued effort to stand apart from the competition, McDonald’s promoted “premiums” as much or more than they did their food. They became the exclusive source for video tapes, action figures, and other items related to selected movies, thus creating a relationship with their customers and another reason to shop only at their stores. At times, the premium actually became a bigger reason for coming to the store than the food; the only way to get the item offered as a premium was to purchase the food.

      Advertising, then, was directed at promoting the premium with food as the side benefit of the purchase. Unlike the juice bar at LA Fitness, these restaurants saw the value of creating relationships and exclusivity by going out of their way to offer what their customers wanted or what they would purchase. It’s probable that if a survey were done of LA Fitness’s patrons, that very few would have ever thought of asking the juice bar for a cup of water. So why introduce something that is not even considered by or on the radar of potential customers as a negative? It makes absolutely no sense.

      McDonald’s introduced chicken sandwiches and salads and further connected and built relationships with their health-conscious men and women customers (kids are not primary markets for those items). Then in 2007, McDonald’s expanded their coffee line under the McCafe brand to include lattes, cappuccinos and mochas to compete with Peet’s Coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, and now they’re providing WIFI.

      Fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s have learned that adding various kinds of upscale coffees to their menu is more than just another source of revenue. They learned from companies such as Starbucks that if they also add WIFI, that it encourages hanging around time, builds relationships and creates additional sales. It’s the same reason they (and other fast food establishments) have added playgrounds to their restaurants. Kids come and play, adults sit and visit, opportunities for relationships are created and additional sales are made.

      Now the take-away. What can you do as consultant to create more and better relationships with your clients or prospective clients? What kinds of things (products, services, favors) can you offer that will position you as someone they know, they like to be with, and that provides value over and above what anyone else can or is willing to do? It’s all about relationships; and it’s exactly the opposite of what the juice bar at LA Fitness is all about.

      Thanks again for your well thought-out comments. It’s always nice to hear from you.

      And by the way, for anyone reading this who happens to be in Northern Mexico or Southern Arizona, Juan Pablo Paredes is one top-notch consultant who knows exactly how to create long-lasting relationships that convert prospects into paying customers. If you’re in need of this, it would serve you well to contact him.

      Martin

  • Dave Brady says:

    Great post Martin,
    I agree that we don’t want to be in the sales prevention business. I would bet a dollar that this sign is in direct response to a consumer pattern at the juice bar. Something like clients were bringing in their own bottled drinks and wanted to cool them over some ice. Instead of the sign they would be better served to offer product sampling and politely refuse to give out cups of ice water, or direct the member to the water coolers.

    Good for you to make the six day a week fitness habit.

    Dave

    PS LA Fitness took over Bally Health Clubs in Chicago a year ago and went out of their way to alienate the ‘new’ Bally members.

    • Martin Howey says:

      Hey Dave…

      My bet is that the charge-for-water sign was posted by a minimum wage employee, and is not the general policy of the franchise owner of the juice bar (NrGize). This is all speculation, but the employee either doesn’t want to be bothered or perhaps they are paid a commission for what they sell and getting free water for someone doesn’t result in any kind of monetary compensation for them. Either way, it’s not a good policy for them, for the patrons of the gym, for the gym, or the juice bar.

      So who’s fault is this? It has to be shared by the owners of the juice bar and the gym. The juice bar, because it discourages relationship building, and consequentially sales, revenue and profits. Do this enough times and the juice bar is out of business. They gym owner should also be concerned, because if the juice bar doesn’t generate enough money and ends up leaving, there is an empty hole that may be difficult to refill.

      Certainly, the employee has some responsibility, but he or she is simply doing what lower-paid employees do. Why do dogs bark or chase cars? Because it’s what dogs do. Understand their nature and deal with it and life becomes easier. Yes, you can train a dog to not bark or chase cars, but you have to be proactive about it and teach them when it’s not okay and what to do to correct it. Same with employees. If you understand that most people (especially young people without a lot of life, business, or customer satisfaction experience) don’t (on their own and without proper training) know what to do and will default to the easiest or least effort path, it explains their behavior. It doesn’t make it right. But it does alert you to what needs to be done to correct it. The correcting of the situation now becomes the owner or manager’s responsibility.

      Gyms and health clubs are notorious for ignoring, alienating, even abusing their customers. And LA Fitness (the gym itself) is right there with NrGize (the juice bar) in the way they demonstrate their concern and appreciation for their members. They spend considerable time, effort and money attracting leads and converting them into paying clients. But once they have your credit card to auto-deduct your monthly payment, that’s where their connection stops. Once in awhile they run a special referral-generation promotion. But nothing is done that will systematically and automatically generate referrals from their members on a regular and ongoing basis without any promotion.

      A couple of simple, proactive solutions for the juice bar would be to…
      – Place signs at the check-in desk that offer free sample pre-workout drinks to those who just arrived at the gym.
      – Place signs above the 3 drinking fountains that offered free recovery drinks.
      – Give every new sign-up a certificate for $XX amount at the juice bar. (The gym should be interested in its members getting results so they would renew and refer others, and if supplementation could help them get better results, why not offer a free sample or discount coupon?)
      – Mail a discount certificate or free offer to every member on their anniversary of joining the gym, and their birthday.
      – Mail special “customer appreciation” certificates at certain times of the year (perhaps when it’s slow).
      – January is one of the busiest times of the year as people are making resolutions to get back in shape. A certificate for the juice bar could help get people back in.
      – Tracking members’ activity (when they start – or start back – at the gym, how long do they keep coming before fading away?) If there is a general pattern of people dropping out at say 3 months, incentivize them with some kind of bonus or gift to keep coming.

      There are so many other things they could do. Unfortunately, they seem to be in the “Build it and they will come” model of marketing… which obviously, isn’t working. Just because there’s a juice bar in some obscure corner of the gym, doesn’t mean the members will beat a path to their door.

      Your comments are good, Dave. Thanks for posting!

      Martin

  • This was another fantastic lesson of yours on the power of GIVING Martin! Giving begets receiving.

    It’s like the story Jim Rohn told where the man stood in front of the wood burning stove and DEMANDING heat saying he would then then give it some wood. Rather than putting the wood in first, which is what we must ALL do in order to get the results we are looking for in our businesses and our lives!

    Thanks for the great reminder of the lesson of giving first. ROCK ON!!!

    • Martin Howey says:

      Hey, Seth… So good to hear from you!

      You’re bringing back memories. The first time I heard the wood burning stove story was in Earl Nightingale’s Lead the Field tape series… a LOT of years ago! Earl later became a good friend and we spend many fun times at him home in Paradise Valley (near Scottsdale).

      It amazes me how many people have the entitlement attitude and mindset and WANT and EXPECT before they GIVE. If I had that juice bar at the gym, I’d have some special times where I would announce over the intercom, that we’re giving free drinks of some kind to the first XX people. Not a big drink, but enough to let them taste it, experience it, develop a friendly relationship with them, and create reciprocity.

      In fact, just giving a sample drink away in that manner can invoke all of Cialdini’s Six Principles of Persuasion:
      1. Liking
      2. Authority
      3. Scarcity
      4. Consistency/Commitment
      5. Reciprocity
      6. Social Proof

      With just a little thought and for the small investment in some samples, every one of these principles could be ethically exploited and increased sales could result. It’s not just this gym that screws up in this area… businesses in every sector do the same.

      This gym has a huge membership… a captive audience… and they have an intercom system that they only use to broadcast that someone has left their car lights on. Every day I sit there and watch money walk out the door, across the parking lot and to the One-Stop Nutrition store.

      Your comments are always welcome, Seth… and very much appreciated. Thanks!

  • Michael says:

    Hello Martin,

    Interesting article, I stumbled upon it after I began researching these juice bar franchises. However I have several areas of contention of which I am curious to hear your response.

    First, of course relationships are a big part of sales, no doubt. However I’m wary as to how well this plays out in a retail environment such as a juice bar with so many patrons and *fairly high turnover. How important/how feasible is it for wage workers to develop relationships with patrons that simply want a protein shake?

    *Assumption

    With that in mind, if these wage workers did develop relationships, I would have concerns of that increasing the risk of discounts/freebies. These are appropriate in some cases, but if they start handing out free smoothies to everyone of their buddies in the gym, that franchise won’t be paying the bills for long.

    This brings me to my next point. You seem to insinuate that hiring low wage workers is a less than wise business decision. Now, without knowing the financials of these types of franchises, I’d venture to say that paying premium wages for well qualified nutrition savvy workers would be difficult to sustain. While I could see this increasing some organic growth, do you think it would be enough to have a return or even break even? I guess I just imagine this type of business being a very ‘flow’ business, meaning when these big buff guys want a shake their going to buy one whether a less than inviting sign and a low paid wage worker are there or not…?

    Finally, in regards to rolling out some of your marketing ideas (e.g. free pre-workout drinks…), perhaps piloting some of these to test ROI would be good before handing out free expensive supplement drinks??

    Thanks for provoking thoughts!

    Cheers,

    Michael

    • Martin Howey says:

      Good points, Michael… and thank you for thinking this through and your willingness to open a discussion.

      You’re right, relationships ARE a big part of sales, and taking the long view of business, it doesn’t really matter what the turnover of patrons is or how much the workers are paid. The key is to not pass out the shakes or drinks willy-nilly, to any and everyone who wants one – certainly not full-size drinks – and obviously not without (as you suggested) running a pilot program to determine the feasibility and profitability of the program.

      The idea is not to give away the profits by furnishing free drinks to “everyone of their buddies in the gym” or to the “big buff guys” whenever they want a shake. The purpose is to develop customers from patrons who have never purchased from the juice bar or who may never purchase from them unless they know and can sample the products offered there. How do you do that unless you somehow make them aware of what you have? And if a worker (minimum wage, incentive or commission-based, it doesn’t matter) can establish a friendly relationship with a customer, the chances of that customer coming back to purchase additional drinks and/or products could be significantly increased.

      When Debbie Fields started her Mrs. Fields Cookies stores in the malls, she stood outside the store with a tray of cookies and offered passersby a cookie. Some passed by without taking a cookie. Some took a cookie and kept walking. And others took a sample, liked what they tasted, and bought a dozen or more to take with them. Chick-Fil-A and other food establishments do the same thing in the food courts of the malls. It’s called, “Sampling.” The same concept occurs in Internet Marketing, where vendors give away a free e-book or CD with some valuable information that can benefit their prospects, with the hope that the recipients will like what they read, heard, or saw, and would like more information. Consultants and coaches do the same thing when they give away a sample coaching session or a free “introductory” seminar. Their hope is that the attendees will like what they heard and want to sign a longer term paid relationship.

      Remember, the end goal of giving away a sample is not to necessarily sell a drink. It’s to develop a customer… a person who may return time after time to buy another drink, or who may purchase other products such as protein powder, creatine, pre-workout drink mixes, recovery drink powders, etc., to use at home. Too many business owners look at making a sale as the goal of an advertisment or a promotion. The real goal of making a sale… at least the initial sale… is to create a customer. Unless you make a sale, you’ll never have a customer… and it’s customers who buy from you repeatedly, and who refer others to you.

      Any juice bar can put out signs and hope that people see them any buy their drinks or products. But “hope” is not a good, nor an effective marketing strategy. Somehow, some way, you have to get the attention of people, create an interest in them to want to know more, then a desire to have what you’re offering, and finally, get them to take action. It’s called the AIDA Formula. And it works in any kind of business. So in our juice bar example, you get the ATTENTION of prospective customers (not your regular buyers) by offering a one-time free sample (not an all-the-time, any-time-you-want-it deal). That sample gets them INTERESTED in how the product performs (makes them feel, helps them recover, tastes, etc.). That generates a DESIRE in them to want more of those kinds of results. And finally, because of those results coupled with the relationship you’ve created with them (because you’ve demonstrated you’re a nice person, you can relate with them, and you truly care about them and their results) you cause them to take ACTION and buy from you. And because you’re a nice person who truly cares about them getting the best possible results from their training, and you’ve helped them increase those results with your nutritional guidance, they’ll refer others to seek out your help.

      You mentioned “handing out free expensive supplement drinks”… in the supplement business the typical mark-up is keystone – or 100 percent… sometimes higher. It’s a very high-profit business, and it’s a consumable… meaning that repeat purchases are built in. And when you get someone who is concerned about their weight, fitness, figure, body composition, etc., they are prime targets for these kinds of products. You also mentioned a “fairly high turnover” of patrons. It’s true, gyms and health clubs have that situation to deal with. And there are several reasons for it. Sometimes people just don’t have the will power to continue. And sometimes it’s because they aren’t getting the results they would like to get as fast as they would like them to come. I watch every day, how some trainers at the gym I go to work with people and give them totally wrong exercises and don’t monitor them for correct form on the ones they do give them… and the patrons never seem to change – they look the same month after month. If that is happening with their workouts, I can only imagine that it is happening with their nutrition as well. A good trainer will not only formulate an effective workout, but will monitor what their clients are eating and how they are supplementing their diets.

      This really doesn’t have to be a complicated thing. Just a little common sense and a carefully crafted and tested pilot to determine results before rolling out in a big way. And one of the keys to success might be to hire friendly people (people who have the ability to develop relationships and get along with others) properly educate them so they have their patrons best interest and results in mind, develop an effective sales process, and then and incentivize them so they follow the AIDA Formula.

  • Martin Howey says:

    Thanks for your comments, Chad. You bring another perspective to the conversation.

    As a business owner myself, and as a company with hundreds of consultants operating around the globe, I certainly understand and respect the need for a company to make a profit… I have NO problem with that. And their charging 75 cents for a cup of water in no way offended me.

    You mentioned that “A cup on average costs 5 to 10 cents depending on how many you purchase.” I did a little research on the Interned and found that you can purchase 7 oz cups for 3.5 cents each in reasonable quantities.

    You also mentioned that “A bottle of water costs about 20-30 cents.” Our local Safeway Market sells a gallon bottle of Microfiltered, Ozonated water for 84 cents. Since there are 128 ounces in a gallon, you can get 18.2 7-ounce cups from each gallon. At at 84 cents a gallon, each 7-ounce cup of water would cost just 4.6 cents. So if you added 4.6 cents for the water to the 3.5 cents for the cup, each cup of water would cost the juice bar 8.1 cents each.

    So rather that looking at this as a simple expense, let’s view it as one of the component of a marketing strategy. Here is a VERY BASIC marketing/sales process… The first step is to inventory what you have to offer (your products, services, etc.). Next, you must identify your ideal customer… those people who need (or can benefit) from what you are selling, who actually want your products (“want” is not the same as “need”), and who have the money to pay for it. Once you’ve identified those potential buyers, you have to get them to take action… to actually make a purchase.

    We can’t make a sale unless we have a prospect. So how do we get them? We could run adverts in the newspaper, the Yellow Pages, put signs in the gym, create a website, or even send a direct mail letter or postcard. But who would we sent them to? How could we isolate our ideal customer from those methods? And how much would it cost to do any one of them?

    An alternative might be to invest 8.1 cents in someone who is thirsty and looking for a drink, use that opportunity to get to know them, and ask a few questions about what they’re trying to accomplish in the gym and see if you have some products that might help them get those results faster.

    As I mentioned in a previous posting, there are drinking fountains all around the gym. My guess is that very few people would ask the juice bar (which is at a nearly isolated part of the gym) for a drink, so I can’t imagine very many 8.1 cent cups of water being given out.

    If I were the owner of a juice bar in a gym such as LA Fitness, I would want to get as much traffic as I could to my bar, get to know as many people as possible on a personal basis – what their needs, wants, and goals are, what they are doing diet-wise, what kinds of supplements they are using, and establish a position of trust, confidence, and expertise with them. I would want them to know that I truly care about them as a person (not just another sale) and that I would like to use whatever knowledge, education, experience and expertise I have spent years developing to help them accomplish whatever goal they were striving for.

    If I had to pass out twenty 8.1 cent cups of water a day ($1.62 total) to get one sale of a $5.00 smoothie or protein drink, that might convert into a $45 bottle of protein powder, pre-workout or recovery mix (that I paid half that amount for), I would consider that a good investment.

    But once again, how many people really ask for a cup of water at the juice bar when there are so many drinking fountains to go to? Certainly, as you suggested, “you cannot please everyone”. But that’s not the point. The goal is to separate the buyers (or potential buyers) from the rest. It’s the same thing you do when you run an advert in the newspaper, Yellow Pages, etc. And with a One-Stop Nutrition store in the same parking lot as the gym… and that offers a MUCH bigger selection of supplements… it only makes sense to do everything you can to take advantage of the captive market that is already in the gym.

  • Martin Howey says:

    This is totally crazy. If you are having to micro manage your business by counting cups, you have your priorities totally misplaced. At the gym I go to, they put smoothie samples in the little 3 oz cups and put them on the front desk where people can get them when they swipe their membership card to get it. That’s it… just a tray with cups of smoothie. No invitation for the person to come to the juice bar, no sign, no person asking how they like them… just a “throw away” cup of smoothie. How many people will really come to the juice bar to get more? It’s very predictable… next to zero.

    I asked the clerk at the juice bar how many people really asked for water from them. Their response was “none”. So I asked why they had a sign that said they charged 75 cents for a cup of water. She told me that the water was free but the cups cost her 75 cents apiece. Huh? Her cost for a cup was 75 cents? That’s how franchises make money… they charge a franchise fee, royalties paid either weekly or monthly, advertising costs, and for the products and consumables they sell.

    The point is, you don’t drive people away from your business by posting a sign that says you charge for a drink of water… especially when NO ONE asks for water in the first place. In fact, you encourage people to come get water from you (at NO cost) so you can strike up a conversation with them, develop a relationship, find out what results they’re trying to get by working out, how they’re progressing, what kinds of supplements they’re using, and then give them some advice and make suggestions about certain supplements that you sell that can help them get even better results.

    When you consider how much the juice bar charges for the packaged supplements they sell (full retail), the real money will be made there and NOT on a smoothie drink. And if you consider the time element to take a product off the shelf and ring it up vs. making a smoothie and ringing up that sale, the labor cost for the former will be less than for the latter.

    You’re right, “free water is not what pays your rent.” And giving it away won’t break you, either. But it will get people in front of you so you can at least have an opportunity to create a sale that you wouldn’t otherwise have. And you don’t give 75 cups away… you find out where you can purchase them for 3.5 cents apiece as I mentioned in another post.

    And if you’re falling for the, “Oh, I’ll pay you when I get paid” ploy then you deserve to get ripped off. That’s no way to run a business and you can’t blame your customers for you losing money… it’s totally your fault.

    And once again, you’re right when you say, “Business is business.” Bad business practices are bad business practices, no matter how you try to conceal them and no matter who you blame. Businesses succeed and prosper when they follow solid business practices that include good marketing, effective costs control, and sound management principles.

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