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What if the Apple Store Sold Health Club Memberships?

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Jeffrey PinkertonJeffrey Pinkerton

From conversations with customers and potential customers, the typical sales process often goes something like this: (1) meet, greet, ask a few questions and complete a needs analysis; (2) give a tour of the facility showing various features; (3) highlight specific features, explain benefits, present price and discuss personal training; (4) ask for their business, leading with personal training. If yes, book appointment with personal trainer. If no, sign up under standard membership; and (5) give key card, welcome pack and (possibly) one free session with a personal trainer.

Could We Interest You in Some Personal Training?

I know what you're thinking. Personal training is direct revenue. It's a big upgrade. True. But, it's also the most expensive thing offered at your club. And, ultimately, should your facility perform close to the averages, it will only service about to 3 - 5% of your total membership.

I am not saying you should stop selling personal training. It's a valuable service and a great way for members to maximize their time, personalize their training, stay accountable to their workouts and get results. What I am saying is that maybe there is a different way to sell. What if you sold health club memberships the way the Apple Store sells... well, the way the Apple Store sells everything?

Shopping at The Apple Store

I walked into the Apple Store as part of a hurried, multi-errand Saturday and was greeted promptly by a young, enthusiastic Millennial in a bright blue Apple shirt. "Hello and welcome! My name is David. What brings you into the Apple Store today?"

Impressive. I was greeted within 10 feet and 10 seconds (it's an Apple Store thing). He was dressed the part with a bright blue t-shirt to help him stand out in a crowd (it's an Apple Store thing). He used his name and asked an open-ended question (it's an Apple Store thing).

My less than enthusiastic response, "Thanks David. I'm actually just here to buy a screen protector for my iPhone. And, I see them right over there, soooooo... I think I'm good. Thanks."

This was my attempt to let David know that I didn't need his assistance and my not-so-polite attempt to end the conversation and announce that I was here to spend no more than $20.

"Okay, great, I can help you with that," he said. As he walked with me, he asks, "Do you mind if I ask you some questions?" (asking permission to ask questions is also an Apple Store thing). "Sure," I grimaced as I replied.

He asks, "What are you looking for in a screen protector?"

This made me chuckle. Clearly, he's well trained and energetic. Or, maybe he just really loves screen protectors? I decided to take my guard down and play along.

"Well... (pause) ... to be totally honest with you, David, I've never really thought about what I might be looking for in a screen protector. I'll probably just buy the cheapest one you've got (laugh)."

As we approached the back wall of accessories, David kept to the task. "No problem. Let me ask you this. What kind of work do you do? What I mean is, how do you use your phone during the day? Are you inside or outside? Are you pretty rough on your phone?"

Now, I was really impressed. "Well, I spend a fair amount of time at a desk and on a computer. So, my phone is either on my desk or in my pocket."

"Okay, that makes sense," David said as we stopped in front of a wall of cases and cords. "One last question. Is there anything about screen protectors that you've had in the past that bothered you?"

At this point, I was no longer forcing myself to play along. Now, I was fully engaged in the conversation. "YES. Actually, there is, I HATE when my phone gets fingerprints all over it, and I constantly have to clean it."

David reached down to the bottom row of accessories and handed me a small package. "This is a great screen protector that will fit your iPhone perfectly. It's one of our least expensive options, and it's a nice high-def cover, so your phone will look great whether you are inside or outside. It also has a matte finish, so it won't pick up fingerprints as much as some of the other screen protectors that you have had in the past." He handed it to me. Of course, I took it.

He concludes, "Is there anything else I can help you find today?"

There wasn't anything else for me, at least not on this day. He used his iPad to take my credit card and complete the transaction, and he walked me towards the front door and thanked me for coming in.

"We appreciate you coming into the Apple Store. We're here anytime you need us. See you next time."

If you aren't familiar with Apple's "Five Steps of Service," David gave me a masterclass in the art:

  • Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
  • Probe politely to understand all of the customer's needs.
  • Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
  • Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
  • End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

If the Apple Store sold health club memberships, they would follow this same model. They would ensure that every member was well taken care of and that every member found the solution they needed for that day. And, since they don't let you walk around the Apple Store without regular interaction and checking-in (it's called Resetting the Customers Internal Clock, and yes, it's an Apple Store thing), they wouldn't give out 7-day free passes, they wouldn't let new members wander around the club unattended and they wouldn't allow current members to come in for the day without at least a few personal interactions.

They would do this for every person, every time. Even if that person was in a hurry, running multiple errands for the day, looking to buy the cheapest screen-protector thing in the store.

At MOSSA, we call this idea being High-Touch, High-Service. It's about helping every member and every prospective member find the thing that helps get them moving and keeps them moving. It means setting up members on their best pathway to success, and it requires a well-thought-out road map, inclusive programming and a committed team. To learn more about MOSSA, visit

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