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How to Design a Club for Maximum Sales Power

By: Bruce Carter

Bruce Carter

What are people looking for in a club? Any club? Are they looking for exercise? A room with equipment? Are they looking for a social experience? It can be any or all of these, but the basic common thread for anyone joining any type of club is they are looking for solutions to improve their life. They are looking for a fulfilling experience. This applies to large clubs, studios, low-price models and higher-priced clubs.

So, what can be done with design to best create an environment, an “experience,” that will motivate people to pay whatever the dues that are being charged, and then, keep paying them? Clearly, the importance of a motivating and friendly staff and well-planned and implemented programing are critical. The importance of the traditional design elements, such as smart space planning and creative décor items including lighting, finishes, colors, materials and architectural features, all play a key role in achieving an inspiring experience for all who enter a club. However, the new cutting-edge design model also works to integrate a number of other elements together with traditional design elements to create a powerful desired experience. These elements are organization, technology, education, entertainment, energy and visual interaction and branding. When this is done, a club becomes a unique revenue magnet, or another way to put it, it is profoundly fulfilling to individuals.

Let’s look at the different components already mentioned:

  • Organization – This may not seem like an important component of design, but a club’s layout, traffic flows and equipment layout all need to look and “feel” organized. People will feel better about a club if it appears to be organized, things seem to flow smoothly, and everything is in its “place.” Does the area that memberships and fitness programing are sold seem to be efficient, supportive and inviting? Are the seats and desk attractive and comfortable? Is there a good view of the training areas, reinforcing the sales experience? And, obviously, is it clean and clutter free? Do training areas that provide a wide range of training apparatus and gear have the all-important storage units for all items? This gives a person more “trust and confidence” in a club, and strong organizational design is especially key for higher-priced clubs and extra cost-based programs.
  • Technology – As it relates to design, a club should present information in ways that are exciting yet easy to interact with, such as class schedules and sign ups, membership sign up, training options, specials available and educational content. Nowadays, there are far better software programs for the creation of and easy update of information. Flat screen monitors should be well-placed but not overdone. Building a screen flush into a wall adds to the professionalism of the club. Also, the trend now is a club should provide charging stations for members in the reception lounge area, on cardio equipment or in individual lockers.
  • Education (combined with technology) – As a member circulates around a club, he can be regularly exposed to changing aspects of the club’s mission statement, life enhancing mind and body insights as well as motivational quotes, which continually supports the value of the member experience.
  • Entertainment – This has been improving in clubs for some time. TVs with cardio and open exercise areas seem to be following the rule, the bigger the screen the better. It is interesting that one of the country’s major health club chains recently has initiated a policy that no news or politics will be available on any of the club’s TV monitors, feeling that this produces a negative environment for exercise, health and wellbeing. This is an example of just how important some clubs take in creating a “positive experience” for people when they are in the club. Another growing aspect of entertainment is the option of virtual workouts. Being in front of a large screen with awesome sounding music, members can ride a spin bike through the Swiss Alps, take a yoga class on a beach on a south sea island or take a Zumba class with world class instructors. These are just a few of the newer options for creating more dynamic and varied experiences within a club.
  • Visual and Energy Interaction – This is making sure that a layout allows for people to see the different areas of a club and what is going on. This is especially important when a club has a variety of different programs that cost extra than the basic membership. Being able to see these different areas of a club creates a desire to want to upgrade to the programming they are seeing. “Out of sight, out of mind” applies here. In addition, it has been proven that people exercising “give off” energy, and other people seeing and experiencing this “receive” some of this energy. This is one of the reasons people love watching sporting events. If there are separate rooms or areas for different exercise and program experiences, some amount of windows are recommended. Design should allow for this interaction of activities within a club, but also keep in mind that the improper application of this can also cause intimidation, where many people feel uncomfortable “being on display.” So, there is a balance that can be achieved with these design principles often using plants, location and size of windows, window film and partial partitions.
  • Branding – This usually involves the collaboration of marketing and graphic arts to create names, logos and themes that best communicate a club’s image and programs. This is especially important in working to sell more fee-based programs. Branding then, through the use of signage, graphics and technology, should creatively work with the traditional interior design components. If done effectively, the branding will actually enhance the members experience and produce more revenue.

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Learning to work with the varied aspects of successful creative design is an opportunity for a club, any type of club, to make a positive and meaningful statement. However, this opportunity is lost by so many clubs. Often, the fear of the extra cost limits the powerful benefits of cutting edge design. But, so often, it is not so much additional costs but poor choices and coordination of colors, finishes, materials, architectural features and lighting. One can spend the same amount, and yet, get two entirely different end results. It’s like the difference of two different exercise programs and how one can achieve a far better result but with both programs costing the same amount of dollars and time to follow. However, more and more clubs of all sizes and price points are seizing the opportunity for more sales strength and are strongly differentiating themselves from the competition.

As published on clubinsideronline.com, January 2018.