Nothing shuts down a conversation between a prospective member and a gym owner faster than hearing “It’s too expensive.”
It’s like when you tell a friend you don’t like a song and they say, “You’re wrong, you do like that song.”
“Hey, don’t tell me what I like!" you think, "what do you know?”
You’ll get the same reaction if you tell a lead “No, it’s not too expensive.”
It doesn’t go over well.
To overcome a prospective member's concerns about cost, you first have to understand that the concept of "too expensive" is relative. It rests entirely on one important detail: VALUE.
If someone told me they paid $3,000 for a watch, I’d think “That’s ridiculous, why’d you buy such an expensive watch?”
However, if they said, “Oh, you don’t understand. It’s brand-new Rolex, which normally sells for $8,000. I’m going to resell it for $6,000 and make a profit,” I’d change my tune.
Now I want in on this amazing deal!
Every one of your leads can find a cheaper gym. These are the gyms that base their business model on the hope members won’t show up. They are very cheap -- but are they a good value?
If you never use the gym, you hate going there, you don’t know what to do once you get there, and you’ve never seen any results from your membership -- then this cheap gym is actually too expensive.
The challenge gym owners face is communicating the value of their gym to someone who hasn’t personally experienced everything they offer.
We can help! We talked to an experienced gym owner and got his best tips for talking about membership rates.
Start With “Why”
Sherman Merricks opened Dynasty CrossFit in Gainesville, Florida with his wife in 2011.
Merricks includes his membership rates on his website -- he charges $199/month for three times a week, $225/month for four times a week, and $245/month for five times a week. The gym also offers personal training and nutrition coaching for an additional cost.
Even with his prices right on his website, Merricks said about 85 to 90 percent of his prospective leads don’t know his pricing when they come in for their free consultation.He doesn’t lead off with the price in these sessions, because he’s realized over the years it’s essential for potential members to understand the value of their membership before talking about price.
Merricks said the most important thing to accomplish in an initial conversation -- either in person or on the phone -- is to find out what brought this person into your gym. What are their goals? What are their challenges?
On the Dynasty CrossFit website, leads can choose either “Book a No-Sweat Intro” or “90-Day Transformation.” Merricks then uses this information as a jumping off point.
When he’s talking to the lead he’ll say, “I saw you’re interested in the 90-Day Transformation. Are you looking to burn fat or build muscle?”
He knows everyone who contacts his gym is looking for one of these two things, and his goal is to prompt a response to get them talking.
If they say they want to burn fat, he says, “Hey, we do that with a lot of our clients -- you can see some of the success stories on our website. We have about three spots left on our 90-Day Transformation that you showed interest in. Do you think you could come in today or tomorrow so we could talk about what this is?”
Merricks said the important thing here is to keep the focus on their goals and why they called or came into the gym.
“Before I get to the pricing, I like to say, ‘Is there anything that could stop you from making a decision today? Pricing, timing, who is supporting you?’ I want to talk about all of these things before I show them the price,” Merricks said.
He truly wants to know how he can help each person, because everyone who walks through his door has a different story with their own issues and challenges.
Yes, But How Much Does it Cost?
Eventually you’re going to get to a point when the person asks about the cost.
Merricks tells them all of Dynasty CrossFit's programs are customized, so it depends.
Often he starts the price discussion asking them if they have a price range. If they don’t want to give him one, he’ll throw out a number he knows is high.
“I say, ‘Well what about $1,000 month? I could have you in here three times a week with a personal trainer, and a nutrition coach, and you’d have guaranteed results in 90 days’” Merricks tells the prospective member.
Most people don’t want to pay this much, but the idea behind this tactic is to reframe the conversation around value, explaining what the person will get for that amount. Usually the person will come back with a more realistic price range, and Merricks can explain what they’d get for the number they gave. If the number is below his lowest rate, he’ll talk about why he charges what he does, and the results they can expect to see at Dynasty CrossFit.
If you don’t have a customizable membership fee structure, you can still focus the conversation on value, making sure the lead understands the value of the membership, the experience they’ll have, and the results they can expect.
Listen and Ask Questions
Over the years, Merricks has learned conversations about price can often be more of an art than a science.
“When it comes to the price question, I wish I could tell you something that worked every time, but there’s not one thing that worked every time,” he said.
Merricks says everyone thinks a good salesperson can make anyone purchase anything, but he says that’s the definition of a con man, not a salesperson.“
A good salesperson wants what’s best for the client,” Merricks said.
When someone is sitting in front of you for their free consultation they’ve already jumped through a number of hoops to get to you. They signed up through a Facebook ad, made an appointment, drove across town, and shared information about themselves with a complete stranger.
“They are looking for a change,” Merricks said, “everyone who comes in is ready to make a change.”
To help them make that change, listen to their struggles and goals, ask questions, and keep the focus on values and results.