Innovation Prospect Packets

This year’s award winner in the realm of management, marketing and sales has an idea so revolutionary, so outlandish, yet heartbreakingly simple, that it’ll take your breath away! Ready? Sitting down? Here goes: Be upfront with your potential members, and be honest — tell them right from the get-go what your facility offers and how much it will cost them. Yes, you read that last bit right.

Through its Prospect Packets, HealthLink, a fitness facility affiliated with the Baptist Health System, “provide[s] all information on facility and membership that potential clients are interested in to develop an upfront pricing and no-pressure approach to membership sales,” says HealthLink Director/Exercise Physiologist William J. North. The main benefit of the packets? “[They] allow us to operate in a nonthreatening manner, and exceed expectations from the very first encounter,” says North.

If you’re thinking to scoff at HealthLink’s Prospect Packets, anticipating that potential members would simply use the information to bargain a lower-priced membership elsewhere, think again. As North explains, since the packet’s implementation in January 2002, “Our club visits after a phone inquiry are up 182 percent from 34 percent the previous year. Membership sales are up 137 percent over the same period last year.” These numbers are even more impressive when you learn that HealthLink provides their packets to people who haven’t even set foot inside the facility. But this is all part of the game plan. As North explains, “The packets allow us to capture lead contact information from phone inquiries, and to facilitate a visit to the facility.”

Packets are offered to both walk-in prospects as well as callers, and 98 percent of callers provide a mailing address to receive the packet, “which is entered into our prospect database for tracking and additional follow up,” explains North.

North describes the packets in the following way: “The Prospect Packet is a white folder with the Baptist Health System logo on the cover. Inside the left-hand pocket, you find a stairstep-style series of inserts with headings for ‘Member Testimonials,’ ‘Membership Pricing,’ ‘Fitness Programs,’ ‘Club Features’ and ‘How to Contact Us.’ The right-hand pocket has a one-week guest pass, a letter from the director with the mission statement, a copy of the current newsletter and the [group exercise] schedule.”

In addition to sales numbers, North says that surveys of members show that the packet is quite often “the difference between joining our facility and joining another where they felt pressure to join and resistance to provide membership pricing information.” Another benefit has been a “significant database of addresses [for] marketing additional events, like health fairs, screenings, lectures, etc.,” says North.

North is aware of how distinct this seemingly simple innovation makes his facility, saying that “we are unaware of any other club that provides this type of product for potential members.

Several clubs in our local market (including a national chain) will not even write their current membership pricing down on a piece of paper for a prospective client.” When you think about the message this sends to a potential member, HealthLink’s sales numbers start to make perfect sense. North concludes, “The prospect packet sets us apart from the competition where membership pricing options are often guarded secrets.” HealthLink’s members have expressed their agreement with their membership dollars.

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