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The Have To Hurdle

From my experience running nine Curves fitness centers, my wife Brenda and I implemented many different ideas in an attempt to improve the bottom line. Out of all the ideas we tried, there was one thing that had the biggest impact on consistently improving the profitability of our clubs:
Insist that by the end of every day, our clubs had
four new sales appointments scheduled for the
next business day.

In the many years that Brenda and I ran our clubs we learned countless lessons, and created hundreds of methods to keep our membership levels up and our bank accounts in the black. Some of you may have heard of: Curves Bucks (now referred to as Curves Cash), Wacky Wednesdays, and Fabulous Fifties Friday to name a few. Our philosophy on keeping the club immaculately clean was, every day is a good day for spring cleaning, so we’d do it twice a day. When it came to training employees, we developed a thorough training system that followed a step-by-step plan that always had our staff members fully versed on all scripts, names of machines and muscles worked as well as all of the ingredients of the old Curves Protein shake (called Fit and Slender) and the effects the ingredients had on the human body.

The most important lesson I learned from all of our high-energy Curves entrepreneurialism was that all of the customer service efforts we made served one primary purpose:
Help us schedule four appointments a day!
When we consistently achieved that daily goal, almost all of the stress of running our Curves melted away.
It is important to note that we did not alter the “Curves-Way” of doing things in the development of our systems and processes. We did, however, innovate and create new and better ways of implementing the systems that Curves taught us. Interestingly, as the iGo Figure Software grows across different types of membership management related businesses, I have come to appreciate many of the original Curves methods even more. I have seen many club owners both in the Curves franchise system and outside of the Curves system fall prey to the various fitness fads that come and go. Simply put, they cost money and often distract club owners from the four basic principles that matter most:
Attract Prospects - Make Appointments - Close Sales - Motivate and Inspire the Members
That’s it. Gimmicks and fads come and go, but these principles never change. As we see a notable number of Curves and copycat competitors close or struggle to stay open, I believe these basic principles hold true even more so now.
All of these principles matter, but over the past ten years in my interactions with my fellow Curves franchisees, I have found one consistency among the struggling ones:
There are No Sales Appointments Scheduled
In fact, I can walk into virtually any club and without even looking at a Projection Sheet, determine if the club is thriving or struggling by simply looking at how many appointments were scheduled over the last 30-days and from what source drew them in. It is the ultimate and most clear indication of trouble I have found. It may sound as obvious as me saying a car needs gas to go, but you would be surprised (or perhaps not) at how easy it is to get distracted from this critical objective. Now I would like to make a confession before I continue… our clubs were appointment-challenged at times. When we found ourselves in that situation, the resulting pressure of running dangerously low on funds seemed immense, and down-right depressing. If you are there now, you probably know exactly what I am talking about. When you’re in that spot, the things you need to do to dig yourself out seem to require five times the energy than they used to. And when you look at your business, you just want out. We were there once. The good news is that we figured out how to turn things around without killing ourselves in the process. After we steadied the ship and got back in the black, we structured our daily processes to ensure that we continued to apply the same practices everyday going forward so that we wouldn’t be in that position again. And it worked! In the last couple of years that my wife ran our clubs (by then I was running Go Figure full time), she only worked about 15-20 hours a week and had over 500 members.
How did we do it? We implemented one simple, but utterly inflexible rule that was nonnegotiable:
No one goes home until there are at least 4 appointments on the books for the next day.
Our sales closing average was almost 100% so we only needed one out of four to show up on any given day to have a positive impact. Once we started scheduling four appointments a day consistently, EVERYTHING improved. Our attitudes and our employee’s attitudes were better. Our members were happier. We had more money, and we worked less. Afterwards, we never lost sight of that objective and we consistently made a good income going forward. The ups and downs were virtually eliminated.
If you find your recurring dues in a decline and sales low, here is a suggestion on how you might turn it around:
1.   Motivate and inspire your staff to understand that almost everything you do every day serves the new law of the land: Four appointments per day (minimum). This should also be written above your vanity at home and is one of the highest priorities that must get done every working day in your entrepreneurial life as a Curves owner, No Exceptions! If you find yourself working on something that is not going to get you those appointments today or tomorrow, stop doing it. It’s not to say that you do not have other responsibilities, but they are all secondary to getting those four appointments for the next day before you or your staff goes home.
2.   Learn your basic tools and how to use them, and make sure your staff does too. They are:
a.   Guest Pass Presentation (new sales and at weigh and measure)
b.   Figure Analysis
c.   Price Presentation
d.   Phone Presentation
e.   Lead Bag Lead Box Script
f.    Your Elevator Presentation - This is some advice I picked over the years which basically means that you should be able to describe to someone what you do for a living, in complete clarity, in about 30-seconds or less without having to think about it. Ours was a slight variation of the phone presentation.
I will never deviate from my belief in the importance of the following statement:
You need to memorize the basic scripts if you’re going to make money.
I will go even further by saying you should be able to hang upside-down by your toes, blind-folded and spinning while reciting each of the above scripts, word for word. You can put it to song if that helps you.
Focusing on scheduling appointments and these basic concepts worked in the most amazing ways for us, and I believe it will work for you too. This is the most important thing you can do for your club.
Please feel free to post any comments or ideas regarding this post. I look forward to hearing from you and doing what I can to help improve your bottom line.
Kyle Zagrodzky is President and CEO of Go Figure, Inc. Kyle owned nine Curves franchises, and was the 1999 Curves Franchisee of the Year. To help him run his clubs, Kyle developed the iGo Figure® Software, which is exclusively endorsed by Curves International to run your facility the Curves Way. © Copyright 2008, Go Figure, Inc. All rights reserved.