Posted by: Sales Makers | September 28, 2013

X-Selling at Membership Sales

Well, the 19th of September has come and gone (I was in Barcelona, at the EUropean Fitness Summit)

and then immediately off to Rome for the weekend with a sold-out Sales Makers Workshop.

When back in London – I got called to visit with some friends at the REX Roundtable.

So, I didn’t get to post the first page of my book = X-Selling at Membership Sales.

But, today is the first day of the rest of my career – so, here is page one (Preface History)


 The Health Club Industry basically began in the US, in the early sixties, with the first Jack LaLane and Vic Tanney health clubs.  These were your basic body building Clubs that catered to athletes and body builders.  These evolved into the Holiday Health Spa chain, who also purchased most of the Jack LaLane and Vic Tanney clubs and were then owned by the Chicago based Health and Tennis Corporation.  These clubs were the prototypes of the hard pressure sales approach that was associated with the American market. 

 I can tell you a personal storyI was nineteen and a European Health Spa (later to become a Holiday Health Spa) was conducting a presale in the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey.  They set up a presale kiosk in the Mall and their hook was to take a bus to an existing Club in Woodbridge NJ to view the site with a promise of a party.  So, a friend and I signed up for the trip and were duly bussed to North Jersey. 

 Once we got there we were given a tour and sure enough there were drinks and a bit of food and we were given the sales pitch.  This consisted of slamming us until we said yes and being plied with booze.  We were also told that if we recommended ten people who joined our membership would be free.

 So, I joined. 

I was the atypical member who never used the Club (once I think.)  However I had signed up for the convenient payment plan of two years and had to pay via a voucher system.  Since I was a young college student with no money and priorities being paying rent and eating – I became delinquent with my payments.  Of course I got the numerous threatening letters and finally told that if I didn’t pay – my credit record would be attached.  I was living with my girlfriend who worked in a law firm and with a little research we determined that it was illegal to sell someone while under the influence of alcohol (I also was underage at the time.)  So a letter went out on the letterhead of the Law firm that she worked for, reminding them that selling a person while under the influence was illegal and the fact was that I was underage when they sold me the membership.  I never heard from them again.  That was the first and last time I joined a Club.

 In the 70’s a new sport called racquetball was invented and was very popular in Florida and California (outdoors – 3 wall.)  Because it was so popular and people got tired of waiting to play – it gravitated indoors.  With the inception of indoor racquetball (which allowed play anywhere in the States) it boomed.  The way that they charged for Racquetball memberships was what we called “pay as you play.”  You paid an annual membership fee (about $75) and then paid as you played – a court fee that was split between the players 2 – 4.  Unfortunately in the late 70’s it started to die off – so the first person to get fired was the Racquet Pro and the owners took over – which made matters worse – because it was the lessons and the leagues, which actually were the primary reason for the success of the Clubs.

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