Why don't you sell products at your gym's front desk? This is what I ask gym owners the most. And every time, the answer is the same - it's too complicated, and it's not worth the trouble.
Most gym owners I talk to are convinced that selling products at the reception desk entails loads of headaches and massive investments. And every time I explain what this operation actually entails, they are shocked.
The main reason for any gym to sell products at the front desk is the fact that they already have everything they need for such an undertaking: the space at the front desk for a few shelves and displays, the fiscal equipment for receiving money, the stock space, someone working the reception desk that is already selling memberships and services. The rest is a one-time effort that will bring benefits and profits regularly.
First and foremost, to increase the profit of your business. Since most of the necessary things you need to start selling products are already there, the difference from the investment you must make and the profit it might bring is minimal. That means you can offset your investment rather quickly.
Don't you know what profit you could expect from such an operation? Let me show you the math for a very dire scenario.
Let's take the following example:
You have 800 active members; each member visits the gym 4 times a month, on average. That means 3.200 check-ins a month. If during 40% of these visits, members purchase a product that has an additional tax of 1,5 euro, that means in one month you would have made 1.920 euro... without too much of an effort.
Maybe this is not a great profit for you, but you should know this scenario is very "grim." Surely the number of monthly check-ins is greater at your gym, and if you have a varied product catalog, then the profit per each sale will be greater.
Another benefit of selling products is enhancing the member experience. Even if you only sell water at the front desk, that would be a great benefit for members that usually forget theirs at home or don't bring enough. As you add more products, you will see that more and more members will be interested in buying them, either because they need it, like the water, or simply because they are curious to try them.
This aspect will add additional value to your memberships and your members' experience, even if, technically, they must pay for those products. Every member has a busy schedule. If you make their visit to the gym more convenient, by giving them the option of purchasing something they need, you will quickly gain their loyalty.
By providing products that can make your members' day easier, you get extra points with them. Convenience usually has a price, and most people are willing to pay for it. If you want to build a strong and loyal community, you must provide complete services that fulfill all your members' needs.
If I convinced you, let's see how easy it is to start selling products at the front desk.
This is probably the first question the popped into your head. Water, of course, but not just that!
Choosing the product catalog is not a decision that you should make from the get-go. Look for suppliers that offer the option of testing different products. That means the supplier will deliver small quantities of many different products, and after a few months, it will allow you to return them if they are not selling. That way, you don't have to decide what you should sell from the beginning, and you can test different options.
You should try to test products for about three months to make an informed decision.
Start with a few types that are usually popular and add more, as members are accustomed to this service. Sell still and mineral water in at least two quantities (500 ml and 1l) from at least two distinct brands. You should also add two or three types of sports drinks and four or five protein bars. After two or three months, check the stock to see which of these products sold and order more of those. That way, you will build up to a wide variety of products that are enjoyed by your members.
Try to keep track of your sales for longer than a month to get better results. For instance, during a particular month, if it's very hot outside, members will probably purchase a lot of water, but that might not be true during winter.
Just as I don’t recommend ordering a wide variety of products from the start, I also don’t recommend ordering large quantities of products. Start with a few dozens, and depending on how fast they sell, you can increase your orders.
There are also some procedures for managing the inventory that you should know about. Depending on your stock movement, you must issue several documents.
When the supplier delivers your order, you must issue a Goods Received Note or a GRN, containing the product list, quantities, the price per unit, the VAT value, and the total price. When you use products for different purposes, and you don’t receive money in exchange, you must issue a requisition form to update your inventory.
For instance, if you organize an event at your gym and offer water bottles to your guests for free, you must issue a requisition form for those items after the event. That way, your inventory is updated, and you don’t encounter any issues when you sell products.
It’s crucial to sell and manage inventory using dedicated software. Otherwise, it’s is very difficult to manage everything with random documents.
Most gym management platforms have a dedicated module for selling products or a point of sale. That way, you’ll work with only one software that your employees are already accustomed to, and you can even have a history of products sold to a particular member. That way, you get an overview of your members’ favorite products.
Selling items is not very different from selling memberships and services, so it shouldn't be too difficult for your employees. The only aspect they must consider is inventory management and the way inventory documents are issued.
What is more, your employees at the front desk should get used to offering products to members checking in. This is important, mainly at the beginning, to let members know they can also buy products at the reception desk.
Based on member history, your employees can make recommendations, particularly for new products.
Depending on your software, you might need a couple of barcode scanners to speed up the selling process. Otherwise, your employees will have to search for each product by name, which might take a while, depending on the number of items in your catalog. However, if you are using member cards with barcodes, you already have the necessary equipment.
You will also have to invest in a few display cases for your products and one or more refrigerators for drinks. Most suppliers can help you with that, and they can recommend the best units.
This is one of the most important aspects of selling products and one of the most overlooked.
First of all, all members checking in must easily see the products. Therefore, if the reception desk is not set up right at the entrance, you can at least put some display cases there. All items should be easily reached so members can see them up close. If they are behind the front desk, unreachable, then they will not be as interested. Members should be able to choose their own items and bring them to the reception desk to buy them.
Another important aspect that many gyms forget about — products must be arranged nicely. And I am not talking about building castles out of protein bars, but to be neatly organized by type and brand so that members can identify them quickly. Even if some clients might disorganized products when choosing one, your employees should make sure all items are in their proper place at all times and not tossed around.
When you get a new shipment, your receptionists should place the products that expire last in the back, and make sure the first ones are those with the nearest expiration date. Otherwise, your products will constantly expire on your shelves.
So not to increase your team's workload at the reception desk with product sales, you should provide a few digital tools that can automate its activity.
For instance, your management software should automatically generate inventory documents when a user adds or removes products from inventory. For all these tasks, the software should have a product catalog and a supplier list. That way, your team won't have to fill in all these details manually.
Another crucial aspect that your management software should help with is when members want to buy a product but don't have money on them. For instance, a member, while training, needs more water. They should be able to take the water from your display, but surely their wallet is in the locker room. Then your employees should have a simple way to make a note in the management software that the said member has taken a bottle of water and must pay for it when they check-out. You can use physical notes or post-its, but that is not a very reliable system.
Your software can allow a user to save an order linked to a member profile, without confirming the payment and issuing a fiscal receipt. When that member leaves the gym, your employees can see they have an order pending, and they can request the money for it and issue the fiscal receipt. Since the product list is already saved, they don't need to remember what products the member took or ask them about it. They can finalize the sale in just a few seconds.
Another task that must be automatized, if it's not already, is issuing the fiscal receipt. More precisely, the management software should be integrated with your cash register or fiscal printer so that it can issue the fiscal receipt automatically when confirming the payment in the software, without having to do anything else. This is important for any sale, including memberships and services, because it streamlines the process, and members don't have to wait at the front desk for the receipt..
If your product sales are not as successful as initially thought, there are ways to increase your revenue.
First of all, you can combine different items to create packages or bundles with a specific theme. For instance, you can combine a few bottles of water and protein bars and market them as a starter pack for new members. You can also create similar packages for loyal members, for those who love yoga or cycling. You don't have to invest a lot in marketing, but a nice packaging might go a long way. Don't forget to include in each package an item that is more difficult to sell.
You can also offer some products for free as extra perks to more expensive memberships. This will be a lovely surprise for your members and an extra reason to choose a more expensive contract.
Every month you can designate the "product of the month" that you can display properly at the front desk, next to the cash register. Choose items that are small and cheap that can be offered to every member that checks-in. If its price is small, more members will be curious to try it.
If you are running special offers for products at the reception desk, don't forget to mention them on social media, so everyone is aware.
Most gym owners that I talk to think that selling products at the reception desk is a very complicated operation that doesn't bring a real profit. And every time I show them what their revenue could be, they are astonished.
Your gym's reception desk is inherently prepared to sell products. Surely you have enough space for a few shelves, you already have a cash register, and an employee is already there. So what are you missing? The products! Look for suppliers that let you test different types of products, and you can send back those that are not successful.
Start with a small inventory of various categories of products. In a few months, you'll know exactly what your members like to buy, and you can easily define your product catalog.
Don't forget to train your employees on promoting these products and arranging them to attract members.
Invest in a few digital tools that automatically generate inventory documents and fiscal receipts to avoid members crowding the front desk.
You can have a fully-functional new revenue stream in a few months without having to do anything else. Simple as that!
There is an easier way to get more members! Communicate efficiently with them through automated emails, provide them the option to purchase memberships online, delight them with a professional mobile app and member account, and surprise them with fast services at the reception desk.
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