Gym memberships and the world of mystery shopping

Many gyms use mystery shoppers to investigate how to improve the conversion process.

Many gyms use mystery shoppers to investigate how to improve the conversion process. Becoming a member at a gym isn't something that many people take lightly, as it's not only a financial commitment, but a personal one. Gyms also tend to have a negative reputation for taking advantage of people's desire to improve their overall health and well-being. Salespeople promoting the many benefits of a gym membership may focus on earning a commission more than helping clients make the best decision for their individual situations.

Why should gyms invest in mystery shoppers?
It's a wise move to hire a mystery shopping company to send undercover clients into a gym looking to open a membership. This is one of the best ways to find out what the sales experience is like from a customer perspective. This process can enlighten managers to the selling points that work best and those that may actually be driving customers away.

Most importantly, gym owners should be able to adequately prepare their staff for the many questions consumers are planning to ask when debating which gym to join. The demeanor of the staff has a huge impact on whether or not people decide to sign up.

Plus, gyms should be on the lookout for ways to improve retention over time. According to Credit Donkey, even though January is the most popular time of year for gyms to take on new members, 80 percent of those who sign up at the beginning of the year cancel within five months. In fact, 14 percent are already gone by the end of February. This can be attributed certainly to the fact that it's difficult to simply form new exercise habits by signing on a dotted line, but it's also worth noting that 46 percent quit due to finances. On the flip side, 50 percent of gym-goers stick with a location based on its proximity to their homes and 38 percent stay because they enjoy the specific machines available at the facility.

How mystery shoppers can get the most out of gyms shops
Secret shoppers in Georgia, Florida and New York should be on the lookout for gym shop opportunities. These states are home to the five cities in which residents spend the most on gym memberships annually. Savannah, Naples, New York City, Sarasota and Astoria are hotspots for gym memberships.

However, that doesn't mean the rest of the U.S. is completely devoid of opportunities. When shopping a gym, it's important to be proactive and alert. To make the most of a gym gig, pay attention to whether or not the customer service representative or salesperson mentions any of the following perks:

  • A free trial period: Gym Insight stated that being able to test out a facility before committing is a good sign the gym has confidence in its equipment and staff. The industry is incredibly competitive, and without this option many facilities may be ignoring a huge customer base.
  • Promotional offers: Sometimes, gyms will set up certain promotions to get new members. Holidays are common, as are deals for people new to the neighborhood.
  • Price over time: Like other subscription services, promotional offers may change after a certain period of time. Listen for these details as it could mean a huge difference in financial investment. In addition, if salespeople aren't up front about the cost of additional services, like classes or spa treatments, make a note. This could be misleading for a customer in the future.
  • Trainer/teacher certification: If the trainers and teachers at the gym are not certified, this is a big drawback and the price of membership should reflect it. 

As a shopper, the best thing to do when tackling a gym shop is observe, inquire and put yourself in the shoes of someone who earnestly wants to better themselves with a membership.