Posted by: Sales Makers | July 18, 2017

Addendum to X-Selling at Membership Sales Page 4

The Beginning of Memberships and the method of payment for all of these wonderful programmes (read memberships) was cash and carry.

These were called:

Pay and Play – describes the basic Racquetball membership, where you paid a set fee ($75-100) and could pay to play the game for a fixed period of one year.

Session – describes the Jazzercise or Aerobics membership, where you paid for one or two classes in a fixed time; which was normally six-weeks session.

Fixed – this would be what a gym would use, which was a day pass, monthly term, three months, six months or annual.

Lifetime – a few dodgy operators would sell ‘Lifetime’ memberships.

This was the big ticket option that could make you a lot of money.

I remember hearing a story about one of the bigger chains that used this option to “launder” massive quantities of cash by selling these during their ‘pre-sales’ to both fund the build and also clean up some dirty money.

The salespeople used to struggle to come up with the members – so, they found themselves going to cemeteries to get names and birth dates of new members

(NOTE: They all had the same address.)

BTW This story was told to me by one of the salespeople.

PS. It is now illegal to sell Lifetime memberships in America or any membership longer that three years. (Which is also a requirement to join IHRSA.)

Although a very few still sell Lifetime with a $1 renewal annually – or equally ridiculous continuation fee.

Clip Cards – this was the beginning of memberships in northern Europe and some Mediterranean Countries.

Basically, you bought one of the categories (IE Aerobics Classes) and you could buy 10, 20 or 50 visits with a deeper discount the more you bought.

This was the predominant method of selling until the 90’s until I started working in the region.

My first European client in 1989, had 34 different types of users (I don’t have the heart to call them members) and thousands of them – but no data; they didn’t have applications.

My second Scandic client in 1998 had 36 different types of users, with 10,000+ people, with 34 annual members – they did have data.

There were very few Clubs in the States that had salespeople; with the exception of the “Hard-pressure”, ‘beat them bloody and take whatever loose change you can get’ from the punters.

Those few clubs historically were the gym chains and the few independents normally started by ex-employees of these clubs.

Sales were conducted by the staff at reception or the instructors.

When customers came in they were told the prices, maybe offered a session free and “always” offered a “first-time incentive” of a price reduction if they joined TODAY!

That was the typical approach to selling memberships in America.

In X-Selling at Membership Sales I outline how Sales Makers differed from this approach and to what I attribute our success by using our “Aggressive Hospitality” approach to sales of memberships in our first Club and ALL of our ensuing clients throughout the world.

The first type of memberships that I sold in 1979 were three types and two different terms. They were the Social, the Fitness (which didn’t include Aerobics in the beginning – until the Owners hired the Jazzercise instructors themselves and incorporated it into the membership) and finally and Unlimited membership offering: no fees for anything in the Club.

One quick aside: IN 1979…

The prices for these were; Social = $99, Fitness = $350 and Unlimited = $600.


Where did we go wrong? 

A gallon of gas was under a dollar – with inflation; 


Sorry, this is just something that bugs me.

I ask: Why have we not been able to convince the public that we are something that they should be willing to pay a fair price for our product; called a membership?

Back to the topic…

The Term of the memberships that I sold were either 5 months (a SnowBird) membership or Annual.

Yes, we had a day pass (guest fee) that sometimes would be waived by a Salesperson to induce a customer to commit to an appointment.

But, normally we charged this fee – to establish our pricing model.

NOTE: A Snowbird membership of five months catered to the clientele that our Club was selling to – the people that flew south (Fort Lauderdale) for the winter and normally would live there from Thanksgiving until Easter.

We were unusual, almost all of our competition was still selling whatever they could get. Our philosophy was, from the beginning; sell them and take care of them.

This meant we would get more people to renew their membership.

Unknowingly, we were addressing Retention long before it became the issue that it is today.

Ironically, the solution to Attrition still is: TAKE CARE OF YOUR MEMBERS!

You won’t make money by trying to sell someone 12 times a year, by selling them monthly.

You won’t make money by trying to sell them four times a year.

And you won’t make money by trying to sell them twice a year.

You’re only giving them more chances to say NO, thus reducing your potential income.

NOTE: Obviously, you will make some money – just not what you could…

Posted by: Sales Makers | July 15, 2017

Addendum to X-Selling at Membership Sales Page 3

It gained popularity in the 1970s reaching 3.1 million players by 1974.

I gained exposure to the game in Florida, where the game of handball was played outdoors (not to be confused with the European / Olympic sport).

Local parks would erect a 3 sided-brick wall (measuring 20 feet x 40 feet) with no ceiling or back wall) where locals could play this game with a small, hard black rubber ball with their ‘hands’ (thus, hand ball).

Often the players would use a glove (to protect their hands a bit).

One day, supposedly someone took a tennis racquet, sawed off a bit of the handle and started playing with a softer ball (blue with no fur [like a tennis ball] – I think the manufacturer was Penn.)

Specific rackets were developed later that had a somewhat different shape than a normal tennis racquet.

Racquetball was played by a lot of the Baby Boomers in college, graduating and countless Racquetball Clubs were created to accommodate this booming sport.

By the end of the 70’s / early 80’s however; the sport was losing momentum (yet still maintains approximately 5 million players in North America) and Racquetball Clubs started being converted into multi-purpose Clubs.

You see, all of the yuppies were graduating from University where they had been jocks and very active.

They didn’t actually want to work yet (Americans don’t get a “gap” year).

At the same time Arthur Jones was selling a line of equipment for $27,000 and you could rent some space in a strip mall, get a couple of bikes and set up a business.

OR you could rent a court or two at a Racquetball Club (they already had locker rooms), cheap and set up there.

Young women were taking courses with Jackie Sorenson and becoming qualified “Jazzercise” instructors.

They then went to the same Racquetball Club and rented a court, by the hour.

It didn’t take long for the Club Owners to see the kids renting courts were making more than they were earning.

They either kicked them out and then bought a line of Nautilus equipment, hired an instructor (called it Aerobics) and started their own clubs.

Some however, merged and created what for all intents and purposes were what IHRSA used to define as: a multi-purpose Club.

In the beginning; you could buy what was called a Social membership – which meant you were a member, but you had to pay-to-play racquetball and couldn’t use the gym, but you could pay to take an aerobics class.

OR You could buy a Fitness membership that gave you access to the gym, but you had to pay to play racquetball or take a class.

OR If the club had a pool, then there would be a Swimming membership.

OR If the club had tennis, then there would be a Racquets membership that gave you access to the tennis courts; but not racquetball.

OR if they had racquetball, unless you bought a dual membership then you would get both, but not the gym or the pool).

AND finally: The ultimate would be an Unlimited membership that gave you access to everything included.

This was nicknamed a Chinese menu type of membership plan, since there were so many options on the menu.

NOTE: When I first started working in Scandinavia I worked with Clubs that had over 30 different types of membership (and this was in the 90’s – not the 70’s.)

Posted by: Sales Makers | July 13, 2017

Addendum to X-Selling at Membership Sales Page 2

Unknown.jpeg Michael Scott Scudder

Before I begin this I’d like to dedicate this portion of my book to an old friend who passed away last week – Michael Scott Scudder.

Over the decades that I’ve been involved in the Industry – he’d been there.

We met in 1981 when he was living and working in New York and when he left the first Club, we helped him get his next role at a Client’s club Upstate…

He then went on to own his own Club and we remained in touch over the years, saw each other at countless conventions where we normally found time to close a few bars or have an early breakfast.

I brought him over to Europe for a few speaking gigs and used him as my first Virtual Presenter for the first Virtual Road Show in December of 2016.

You can listen to his last ever Presentation on the Virtual Road Show with my compliments:   Go to:       Register with the code: MSS

Michael was my ‘go to’ guy for change and what’s going on (especially after I moved to Europe and lost some of my local knowledge of the US market.)

So, it seems appropriate that I remember him as I discuss the changes in the Industry over the years, since I’ve been writing X-Selling at Membership Sales.

He’s left a void that will not be filled in my lifetime.

But I will keep on keeping on as best I can in my role in this crazy Industry we all know and love and disrupt where I can, in his memory.

So, let’s start at my beginning in 1979…shall we?

The Industry in the 70’s had been dominated by the gyms – Jack La Lane, European Health Spas, Vic Tanney’s, Spa Lady and basically gyms that only had very basic equipment – Universal, Polaris, free weights, the machine that ‘shook the fat off you’, the ‘roller machine’ to roll the fat off, jump ropes, Monarch ergometers, maybe a stretching system

No treadmills – they were all only in Hospitals for stress tests

No computerised CV equipment – a CV was a resume (Curriculum Vitae)

No Aerobics Studios – aerobics had only just been invented as a word by Dr Kenneth Cooper

No Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons – we had Jackie Sorenson with Jazzercise

No Les Mills (although he was alive and well [still is, I believe] in New Zealand, opening gyms)

No Zumba – Beto was nine years old and just getting his moves down

No PT’s (That was Part-Timers in the employment arena – come to think of it – still means that.)

No computers – let alone computerised check-in, fitness assessments, etc.

We (in America) had an sport that grew from a game of handball – called Racquetball.

Joe Sobek is credited with inventing the sport of racquetball, though not with naming it, in 1950.

It gained popularity in the 1970s reaching 3.1 million players by 1974.

I gained exposure to the game in Florida, where the game of handball was played (not to be confused with the European / Olympic sport).

Posted by: Sales Makers | July 12, 2017

PRE-Preface of of X-Selling at Membership Sales – Page 1

No, I’m not stuttering.

I started writing this book over twenty years ago.

This is the Preface for the Preface – get it?

Obviously, at this stage it’s not done yet.

However; if you’re reading this – maybe it is!

Maybe though, this is going to become a work in progress!

Since I’ve been in the Fitness Industry, much has changed.

Nautilus had only four different stations and was THE main equipment company.

Many of the other current contemporary equipment companies didn’t exist and due to mergers and outright failures quite a few of the names used in X-Selling no longer exist.

During the editing process I’ll attempt to update and revise those names and I’ll also try to add some of these companies to the Glossary.

Speaking of the hardware side of things – when I started; computers hadn’t been invented, the software we originally used was MD-DOS, Steve Jobs wasn’t even in the garage yet taking his first bite of Apple, the Internet didn’t exist, Marc Zuckerburg hadn’t been born…

Things were different is an understatement. 

So, it turns out that my original intent to write a book of:

How to ‘excel at selling memberships’ is almost a his story book.

I guess that’s OK and I hope you’ll still learn something about selling, but; I’m now going to revise, repair, update and add some contemporary methods of selling as an addendum to the original missive and to continue updating this in a ‘Secret’ Blog.

This will be available only to subscribers and owners of this book, ebook, podcast series, blog, VLOG; however the hell it turns out – maybe ALL of the above.

So, where in time are we now?

It’s the 11th of July, 2017.

Technically, I’m semi-retired for over a year now.

I’m participating in the altMBA Programme organised by Seth Godin (my first day).

This is a month long, internet-based, collaborative educational programme and the first project was to define goals.

I’ve defined my business goal (read – hobby, since I’m semi-retired from the Industry) as Improving the scheduled for the 14th of December, 2017.

One of my Personal Goals is to write one page a day – this is one page, of many to come.

BTW Semi-Retired means that I am no longer Presenting at Conferences or events, I’m no longer looking for new Clients, I’m trying to enjoy my life in the present. 

But, I am maintaining a relationship with all of the Clients that supported me over the years – if they want my assistance.

However; IF someone were to offer me an interesting new concept or project I suspect that I’ll be contributing in some manner – maybe not physically visiting sites three days a month – but, using the Internet or some other means of collaborating and sharing my knowledge and experience.

Now, the plan is;

I’m publishing this TODAY on my Sales Makers International Blog.

Tomorrow I’m going to write another page.

I’m going to write One page a day for the next ??????

See, this gives me an out – I can stop whenever I want.

Very soon, I’m going to create a New Blog exclusively for the next section of the book – The X-endum.        Get it – um, the end of the book, the Addendum; using my X to brand it.

This will not have the original 160 pages that I’ve already written.

X-sell Ant tip:

Although, if you look back in my Sales Makers International blog

You’ll find the first 35 pages that I released years ago to celebrate my 35 years in the Industry.

Thanks for listening


Posted by: Sales Makers | August 31, 2016

On the 8th of December I will be hosting the 9th Annual RoadShow in the Middle East (, at the 6* Al Corniche Club (

There are going to be some UNBELIEVABLE twists to this years event.

Starting with the Presenters – by far, this is the strongest line-up of A-list Presenters to grace the stage. We bring you…

Bryan O RourkeFounder of the Fitness Industry Technology – Council (FIT-C),  CEO of Integerus, discussing how you can incorporate Technology into your Gym and Club’s operations.

Colin MilnerFounder & President of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA); discussing how you can introduce the Baby Boomers into your membership programmes – the fastest growing, most affluent and most loyal members you could ever want.

Alan LeachDirector of Westwood and Crunch Ireland; sharing marketing and sales secrets to motivate millennials and simply sell more.

Dr Paul Bedford – the Retention Guru; bringing you the lastest statistics and solutions about how you can improve the retention of all these new members you’re going to introduce to your club.

Robin Gargrave – former Director at UK – YMCA, Owner of  will be the MC for the day –        co-ordinating and keeping all of us in line.


Our Sponsors start with Lexus, Cybex, Eleiko, Fabiano Designs, Keiser, Milon, Pulse Fitness, Visual Fitness Planner, The Metrick System, Sales Makers International,, Augies’ Quest and a few more…TBA...  (6 Sponsorships are still available at a very low cost.)

This years event LIVE Attendance is limited to ONLY CEO’s, COO’s, CFO’s, CTO’s, CIO’s, MD’s and Owners. There is seating capacity in the Conference Room for ONLY 55 persons.

On the night before the will be our CEO Symposium, themed Arabian Nights  – where the Attendees will gather under the night stars in an authentic Arabian Tent (complete with Persian rugs, cushions, Sheeshah and enjoy bread & food cooked over an open fire, Mocktails, the crashing of the waves on the beach (10 meters away), palm trees swaying and camels braying…repleat with Arab garb if you wish to really get into the mood. This is our Networking event where there will be one topic to discuss between the Attendees)

All of this is being supported by your wonderful Sponsors:

The cost for all this: will be announced on the 1st of October when the official Website ( goes live; with the Registration going Live on the 17th of October.

But, THERE’S MORE…                                                                                                                             That will also be announced on the 1st of October AND IT’S AMAZING!

If you would like some information about how your company can participate in this Unique event – please email me direct and I’ll also tell you the secret and what’s so amazing about this event.

I hope to see some of you on the second day of LIW, in Birmingham the 21st of September or in Seville at the IHRSA European Congress the 17th-20th of October.

Posted by: Sales Makers | May 14, 2015

Scandinavia Update is now LIVE!

This website is set up exclusively for the Scandinavian Roadshow that will be ‘on the road’ with four great Presenters and a dozen wonderful Sponsors who will share with you the best in practice on Sales, Retention, Design and PT Programming!

All the information you need is on this website.

The ‘list’ price is €100, but if your Club is a member of IHRSA, SKY or LSKA (Lithuania) you can register for only €20 for the first two attendees – €50 for any additional staff. Additionally, the Sponsors all have a limited number of discounted Registrations that you might be able to attend.

Please don’t miss this opportunity to network with your peers in your country and to learn from some of the best International Presenters around.

Posted by: Sales Makers | April 19, 2015

Scandinavian Roadshow in June

I’m hitting the road in Scandinavia in June with a few friends and stopping off in Tampere – Finland, Stockholm (Vallentuna) and Vilnius – Lithuania. Joining me are Rudy Fabiano, Lesley Aitken, Dr Paul Bedford and Jonas Lissjanis.

The schedule is:   June 8 in Tampere, June 10 in Vallentuna and June 12 in Vilnius.

It’s an all-day educational conference at an unbelievable price…

There are two Sponsorships left in Vilnius, two in Finland and three in Sweden. If you’re in the Industry and you’re selling to Clubs in these markets – contact me immediately. They may be gone by the time you’ve finished reading this.  The only way you can attend is if you are a Sponsor or own & work in a Club!

The topics include: Design, Sales, Retention and PT Sales.

The website will go Live one week from today on  Registration is limited and there are special offers available from the Sponsors and from your local Associations. Full details will be posted on the website. An extra special treat if you live in Sweden is that PA has just completed his latest 2,000 sq mtr expansion that you’ve got to see to believe (a coffee bar in the Free Weight Gym is just the tip of the iceberg.)

In fact, if you live in Norway, Denmark – anywhere in the Baltics – come on over…

As some of you know, I’ve semi-retired – this is my new hobby!

Join me on the Road, won’t you? Have I got a Show for you!

Posted by: Sales Makers | March 14, 2015


Leaving LAX as I write this – on my way home to East Anglia (the daffodils are now in full bloom.)

Unfortunately, only home for one day on my way to Gym Tec in Tampere, Finland. (No daffodils to be seen under the snow;)

And FIBO only around the corner.

Going to have a few choice announcements soon – so, stay tuned.

An example below, everyones doing it – why aren’t we supporting Augie Nieto (founder of Life Fitness) and contributing to the cause?
With this idea – you’ll sell memberships and raise money and awareness.
Feel free to contact me for ideas how to promote this….
Consider this – we start challenging members in the clubs?
Since it’s going viral so successfully – why not take a bit more advantage of this and use it to promote both Clubs and ALS.
Extend the challenge to Members of the Clubs?
They take the challenge at the Club (with a backdrop of the Clubs’ logo) 
These Pictures can be posted to both the Club’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (promoting the Club & ALS) and the Members…social media…
THEN, allow Non-Members to come to the Clubs…(This is where you’ll make money!)
They can take the challenge (with a backdrop of the Clubs’ logo) and when they also donate the
$€££ 30, they get two guest passes to the Club. (promoting the Club & ALS)
These Pictures can be posted to both the Club’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (promoting the Club & ALS) and the Individuals…social media…


Posted by: Sales Makers | June 6, 2014

WHAT ARE? Sales Makers Symposiums?

I’m formally announcing the introduction of the Sales Makers Symposiums.

This is a unique way for Owners responsible for Sales & Marketing, Sales Managers, Marketing Directors; to network and learn from their peers. These are one day events that are linked to Industry events so not to interfere with your busy work schedule and allow for attendance at both the Conventions and the Symposiums. The events are strictly limited to twelve participants.

This is NOT a Sales Makers Seminar – I am merely the Facilitator and Organizer.

What is a Symposium?

The official definition:                                *Symposium|sɪmˈpəʊzɪəm|                            Noun (pl. symposia |-zɪə| or symposiums)

1 A conference or meeting to discuss a particular subject.

  • A collection of essays or papers on a particular subject by a number of contributors.

2 A drinking party or convivial discussion, especially as held in ancient Greece after a banquet…                                                                 (and notable as the title of a work by Plato).

ORIGIN late 16th cent.                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Denoting a drinking party): via Latin from Greek sumposion, from sumpotēs ‘fellow drinker’, from sun- ‘together’ + potēs ‘drinker’.


What is a Sales Makers Symposium?

1          A group of twelve Owners/Sales & Marketing Managers/Directors meeting to discuss ‘Making Sales ‘.

• With a collection of essays or papers on a particular sales or marketing subject, written by the attendees.

2          The night before the Symposium the group will engage in a meal,

• Followed by convivial discussion while enjoying liquid refreshment.


What exactly is the format of a Sales Makers Symposium?

Each of the Attendees will be given a list of six questions regarding Sales & Marketing of memberships.

A.        Each attendee will provide a written summary in response to the questions.         (ALL summaries will be distributed to each attendee.)

B.         Each attendee will give a five-minute oral presentation supporting the summary to the group.

C.         At the end of the presentations there will be a group discussion on the merits of the presentations.


When and where will these Symposiums take place?

The UK Symposium will be on the last day of Leisure Industry Week in Birmingham, England.                   Thursday – October 2, 2014

The EU Symposium will be on the last day of IHRSA in Rotterdam, Netherlands.                                                   Sunday – October 19, 2014


What is the cost to participate in the Symposiums?

The price is £400 for the UK Symposium and €500 for each of the EUropean Symposiums.

This is for one attendee who can participate in the discussions.

Additionally, there is only one participant from any one Club able to attend.

However; a Spectator* can attend for a fee of £150/€200.

*Note: the Spectator cannot participate in the discussions – nor the presentations – but can only observe and mingle during the Social events.)

This includes all materials, dinner and drinks the night before and a continental Breakfast, Coffee/Tea Breaks during the day and Lunch.


How do I register to participate?

Simply contact me at the contact details below to let me know that you’re interested.

All registrations are on a first come – first served basis.

Depending on the type of Club that you represent the possibility exists that another Symposium may be more suitable than the one you request.

You will be made aware of the names of all attendees as they book.

I will allow an earlier participant to object and possibly deny participation to a competitor should the competitor wish to book later.

                                                           In other words – you won’t be sitting down with your competition.

A deposit of £100/€100 is required to reserve your registration.

Payment in full is required thirty days in Advance of each event.

In case the Symposium you request is full – you can get on a wait list and will be notified                                                                                      thirty days in advance of the event if there is availability.

The deposit is non-refundable; unless another Club takes the registration.

Additional Sales Makers Symposiums are currently being planned for:                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Healthy Business, Sweden – 29 November, 2014 and ME Roadshow, Kuwait – 19 December, 2014

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