What Makes a Good Leader?

Are you a “Cool Cat” or an “Explosive Eddy”?

I don’t know about you, but I have seen plenty of infographics and social media posts about what makes a good leader and they are all much of the same but here are some I particularly resonate with because they are traits I have seen in good leaders and traits I continue to develop for myself. Let me know what traits you feel resonate with you by commenting on this post!

  • Self Manages – the ability to manage ones self is a skill within itself! Effective time management, prioritising and regulating your own emotions are essential skills of an effective leader. Too often we have seen admin tasks taking up our time when we have big impact changing tasks on our to do lists. Effective leaders know how to manage their time and say no to tasks that take away from the overall vision. I have seen some very “cool cat” leaders throughout my career who have handled a potentially explosive atmosphere with calmness, tact and maintaining their ability to show empathy and understanding while achieving the outcomes they desired. I have also seen leaders lose their temper and embarrass their team in front of others due to an over-inflated ego and this didn’t achieve the outcome they desired. Personally; I try to model my leadership skills on the first example I mentioned; be a “cool cat” knowing that this is far more likely to achieve the outcome desired than losing control of my emotions.


  • Acts Strategically – a forward thinking and open-minded approach is necessary when leading a team towards a vision. Being flexible and adaptable to new ideas and solutions will future-proof the organisation from lack of innovation. Acting strategically also helps leaders to focus on what matters and what doesn’t; giving us the opportunity to look for better ways of doing things to improve efficiencies and meet the organisations objectives. Again; too often I have seen leaders waste time on small insignificant items that make little to no impact on the broader vision; thinking strategically allows the team to align themselves to what is going to make a difference; keeping the vision, and the team, alive.


  • Effective Communicator – Being able to explain to your team everything from organisational goals to specific tasks is essential. If the team aren’t aware of what is expected of them how can we be disappointed when the task isn’t achieved? Being a multi-level communicator is a great skill to have; adapting tone, language and information to reflect the team member will help the team reach the goal more effectively. Being approachable and involving people from various levels and departments will most certainly help create a more productive work place. Personally; I absorb information best by being shown either in text or visually and then, if necessary, apply this information on a practical level. Other team members may prefer to be hands-on straight away to absorb information. Team members are likely to absorb, process and apply information differently, so it is important leaders recognise this within their teams and adapt information sharing accordingly.


  • Accountable & Responsible – leaders are the overall responsibility owner. If a team member makes a mistake it is the leader that takes ownership of that mistake and identifies how and why the issue occurred and takes steps to repair the error or adapts processes taking from the lessons learnt. There is nothing more soul-destroying than being shamed in front of team members by a manager/leader. The leader needs to self-reflect to see the role they played in the issue that occurred. Mistakes are inevitable, but I believe it is they way they are handled that are our true tests as leaders.


  • A Visionary – good leaders manage change while keeping stability and maintaining growth within their organisation. Change is always occurring; we no longer sit still. continuous improvement are two buzz words that have been thrown around for several years now. However, leaders need to balance this change with day-to-day operations while also keeping a close eye on the ongoing performance. Not an easy task! In my experience visionary leaders are exciting to work with because they keep the momentum going even when the going gets tough. I try to model my own behaviours on this as a leader by regularly reminding team members of the vision, the exciting places that are on the horizon. This helps to create a positive backdrop as the change management process is underway.


  • Manages Complexity – leaders must be problem solvers who can make decisions under rapidly shifting circumstances. Learning to lead in a complex environment is a vital skill for any leader. Effective leaders must assess a situation’s complexity and choose an appropriate course of action.


  • Sets Clear Goals – this is an obvious one and falls directly from the visionary trait. Goals are derived from an organisations strategy and objectives and are the building blocks towards achieving the overall vision. A leader is good at understanding the level of goals depending on the team. A senior management teams goals will look different to a front-line teams; however, they are equally as important.


  • Promotes Teamwork – leaders often use the word “we” instead of I. the reason for this is because they understand the power of a productive team. The MasterMind of achievement lies within a productive team. There is another article here on productive teams.


  • Creative & Innovative – this goes without saying because leaders tend to naturally be creative and innovative. Some of the most successful companies in the world were built in times of recession and depression because the leader saw an opportunity and was creative with  the very little resources they had available to them. I have led teams through some challenging times and we produced amazing results due to the ability to think-outside-the-box. When resources are limited the requirement to be creative and innovative is even more essential.


  • Builds relationships – a leader keeps the organisations purpose, values and mission at the heart of all they do. Building relationships and maintaining positive relationships with both internal and external stakeholders is essential to that mantra. I have come across damaged relationships in the past simply because personal opinion and ego got in the way. Repairing those relationships was relatively easy once personal opinion was set aside; reminding each other that both stakeholders are working towards the same objective, therefore, positive working was the best way forward.


  • Adaptable – the nature of leading a team or an organisation will always require adaptation; whether it be task-related or trait related. It is essential to have the ability as leader to adapt suddenly to changing circumstances and to know how and when to seize on opportunities amid a changing landscape. In addition, having an insatiable curiosity will fuel a leaders desire to constantly learn and grow. Developing critical thinking skills, being accepting of uncertainty, having social and emotional intelligence and always having the desire and determination to push forward will see a leader steer their team towards the organisations objectives.

Let me know what you think makes a good leader in the comments below

Until Next Time



Online Joining – a New Era of Selling

Online Joining – a New Era of Membership Sales

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Sales methods are changing and we need to respond in order to thrive within this competitive online sales environment. We live in the era of “now”. Decisions are made instantly and prospects are driven to “buy now” after seeing something that has inspired them to take action.
The typical membership sales process goes out the window when we apply it to joining online. How can we meet and greet prospects, complete a customer needs analysis and offer a tour of the facility when the prospect is an online faceless purchaser?
Here are some top tips to provide the best sales experience possible online
  1. Sales funnel – inspire them to take action!
    If you have chosen to offer a join online option then the chances are you have digital strategy in place. As part of your digital strategy it’s essential you think about the pre-sales experience, AKA, lead generation.- How are prospects going to find you online?
    – How are you going to inspire prospects to ‘buy now’?
  2. Website & Landing Page – your sales tool
    So your prospect has found your landing page, awesome. Now you need to ensure the online joining experience does what it needs to; leads to a sale- What does your website look like?
    – Does it align with your brand?
    – Is it functional and responsive?
    – Are the ‘sign-up’ steps simple to follow?
    – Does the join online tab feature heavily on your landing page?
  3. Video – the virtual tour
    This is a no-brainer. The prospect wants to see the product. We’ve shifted from in person to online but that doesn’t mean we forget to show the prospect the facilities. Invest in a good quality virtual tour. Allow the prospect to take control of the tour with their cursor so they can view areas of interest to them. They may not want a full 2-minute video when they are keen to see the gym and changing facilities.- Is your video professional looking?
    – Is it responsive?
    – Does it show your facility at it’s best?
    – Is it engaging enough to entice the prospect to take action after viewing?
  4. Lead Page – Capturing your Leads
    Traditionally we would capture leads through the enquiry section of the sales process; however, the enquiry process online has been replaced by visiting your website. Therefore, you need to ensure a lead page is enabled to capture details of prospects who may need a little more time to think about joining.- Ensure your lead page pops-up within a reasonable time frame, say 30 seconds
    – Entice the prospect to leave their details by offering a freebie in exchange for their details
    – Ensure you have an automated flow set up for your database of leads
  5. Automation – you need to be seen to be available 24/7
    So your prospect has watched a video on Facebook, followed the link to your landing page, watched your virtual tour, followed the join online prompts and has purchased a membership…at 2am! Unless you are a robot there is simply no way you can manually keep up with this type of buyer behaviour. So let the robots do their thing!- Set up an automation process to follow immediately after the sale has completed
    – Ensure you have set up abandoned cart in case the buyer didn’t finish their purchase
    – Design your emails to look professional, simple text simply won’t cut it, remember, this is their first impression of you as a NEW MEMBER.
  6. After Sales Care  – Take care of your new member
    This step is so often by-passed regardless of whether the member has joined online or in person. The first 6 months of membership are crucial to the retention of your new member. So ensure you have an intensive follow-up program in place for the first 6 months.
  7. Referrals and Welcome Pack – Your new member is a VIP
    Once you have the member set up within the centre remember to follow your referral and welcoming process just as you would with in person sales. Systems & processes should be in place to ensure these important bonuses aren’t forgotten because the sale was made online.
  8. Retention – ensure they become raving fans of your business
    Even more essential than the buying experience is the customer experience, AKA, retention. The first 6 months should be structured with an intense follow-up process but don’t forget about the ongoing experience. By 6 months you should be aiming for the member to be independent and confident in your facility, but that doesn’t mean forgotten. Ensure you have a robust retention strategy, not just process, in place to continuously improve your member retention.

Check out Otium Planning Group (Sport & Leisure) as an example of a really great landing page; you get the feel for the quality of their service without even needing to move the cursor.

Check out Lifestyle Fitness joining process to see a simple sign-up flow.

If you are thinking about adding ‘join online’ to your sales process please drop me a line as I’d love to support you through that process.

Until next time….


Top Tips to Maximise your Personal Trainer’s Success

Personal Training tends to have around a 4-6% membership penetration rate within leisure facilities. This figure is significantly lower compared to the private sector, especially in specialised facilities that focus on delivering one-on-one or small group sessions. Therefore, it is worth carefully selecting how much time, energy and resources we spend on developing this area of the business when we have limited resources available to us. Secondary spend is a useful revenue stream as long as it does not detract from your membership revenue stream. It could be suggested that if the resources used on developing this particular secondary spend product were redirected to the sales and retention of members it could result in a better return on investment (ROI).

However, if we select the secondary spend products (and there are many more options available than personal training by the way) with a well thought-through strategy then the ROI could be beneficial. If you have, or intend to, select personal training as a secondary spend product then here are some tips to maximise personal training success in your facility:

  1. Employ or contract the right people
    During the selection and recruitment process ensure you assess their people skills, because it is the candidates people skills that will make or break their success. Try this idea next time you are recruiting; send the candidate into the gym, ask them to talk to members for 30 minutes, watch how they interact with members, listen to what the candidate is saying to the member and then see what feedback the candidate gives you about the members response. You could even ask the members how they felt when the candidate approached them. How about being really brave and recruit people based on their people skills and then develop them to gain the technical knowledge? Qualifications are important, but people skills are essential!
  2. Provide your Personal Trainers with the tools to achieve success
    Ensure the basics are covered by providing them with printed materials such as flyers and business cards and add some bio on your website and in the centre. However, we need to think beyond the basics reminding ourselves that relationship building is the key. Therefore, you should think about pathways and programs that lead to building relationships, trust and a sense of community. Retention expert Paul Bedford and a Sales expert Casey Conrad both agree that it takes around 6 months after the initial membership sale to have built a strong enough relationship with the member to engage them in Personal Training. Having said that, we know that PT starter packs sell well at the point of membership sale because the member is in ‘buying mode’, but these starter packs rarely convert to long term PT clients. Choose your strategy in advance before selling any packages that you think are ‘quick-wins’.
  3. Successful Personal Trainers focus on retaining clients
    We know how much hard work goes into building a client base, so once your trainers have one why would they want to start again every 12 weeks? Successful trainers provide clients with smaller goals that the client can achieve along the way to their bigger goal.  If the client FEELS good on a regular basis because they are achieving small milestones along the way, then why would they want to give that up? Shift your business focus from SELLING personal training to RETAINING clients and making them FEEL good. Business savvy Personal Trainers will select a target audience; for example, research shows that males over 45 are likely to continue with Personal Training for the long-term, so trainers may decide to focus their efforts on attracting this group as they know they will retain them as clients for longer.
  4. Provide pricing and packages that make the pathway to on-boarding clients simple
    As research has shown that it can take up to 6 months of relationship building before a member may be ready to consider personal training it is essential that the pricing, packages and pathways are in place ready for the member to access with EASE. Personal Training is considered a luxury product. I heard a phrase the other day that summed it up quite well, “why take the limousine when you can take the bus?”. With so many other products and programs on the market now, traditional one:one Personal Training is no longer the only personalised option out there, pair this with the number of Personal Trainers that are now in the industry and you can see how different the Personal Training landscape is now. So, bearing in mind we still need to pay our trainers their hourly or contracted fee, we must get creative with how we can bolt on so much value that the product is too good to miss! Here’s some ideas for you:
    – 12-week programs are all the rage right now, so can you work something around one of those? (bear in mind 12-week programs may not lead to good client retention, so select your strategy carefully).
    – Instead of offering personal training in packs how about shifting them to a Direct Debit Personal Training Membership?
    – How about removing single sessions and offering personal training as a ‘fitness commitment contract’ that is spread over a defined length of time?
    – How about offering online personal training programs?
  5. Provide the personal trainers with systems to build relationships Many facilities combine gym instructor and personal trainer roles to allow trainers to build relationships and ultimately a client base, however, my opinion on this is that the role of the gym instructor and the personal trainer are different, and a potential danger is that this approach could negatively impact on member retention. Remember that memberships are the lifeline of the fitness facility, so select your strategy carefully; you don’t want your lifeline to suffer for the sake of an increase in a secondary spend product. Having said that, opportunities do need to be provided if you are going to commit to the Personal Training product. With the knowledge that it can take up to 6 months of relationship building before many members will feel confident and trusting enough to engage with personal training, think about how you, as the program manager, can provide those opportunities. An idea we have used before and I have seen used since, is offering an initial ‘getting to know you’ session that starts the conversation and gives the Personal Trainer the opportunity to meet members on a no-obligation 1:1 level. The question is whether the facility pays for the Personal Trainers time or whether the Personal Trainer provides it as part of their agreement. I’ll leave that one to the budget holders! From this session there must be a follow-up process, preferably automated, but must be separate from the membership retention process. The PERSONAL approach must be considered when we are talking about PERSONAL training.
  6. Be honest with your Personal Trainers right from the start
    Explaining right at the start that the trainer will need to invest their time in building trusting relationships with members before they are likely to result in clients will pay off in the long-run. Preparing candidates right from the start that you expect relationship building to occur prior to payment will enable the trainer to have a better understanding of what it takes to build a solid client base. You could even employ them initially on a lower rate of pay for the first few months while they build the platform for trusting relationships and then increase their pay once you can see their client base is becoming established; like a sliding scale.
  7. The Personal Trainer needs to be accountable and own their tasks
    In the past I’ve seen trainers pass their phone calls to member service officers. This is a no-no! Personal trainers need to own all aspects of their client’s support. If you are finding that you, as the program manager, are receiving complaints from clients because they’ve had no follow-up or contact from the trainer then you need to deal with this issue quickly. A process should be in place for trainers to follow, but it’s ultimately their responsibility to own their tasks. Remember, it’s PERSONAL training.
  8. Remind Personal Trainers they have access to thousands of potential clients!
    A leisure facility has a few huge advantages over the private sector.
    1) leisure facilities have thousands of visitors annually; learn to swim parents, sports spectators, members etc
    2) leisure is either state or local government meaning potential local corporate and resident opportunities
    3) access to large events planned by the city/council/state
    4) They have access to parks, beaches and community facilities (subject to any insurance restrictions) Remind your personal trainers that they have the potential to tap into a wide range of people, but they need to come to you with ideas and commit to them!
  9. Invest in your Personal Trainers
    Those leisure facilities that are seeing levels of success have invested in developing their trainers. Whether it’s formally or informally; sales training, customer service training, systems, processes, CPD courses, marketing etc. Don’t leave your personal trainers off your teams annual training and development planner.
  10. Involve your Personal Trainers
    Even if your personal trainers are contracted they need to be aware of what’s going on. Remember to include them in communications and team meetings. Ensure they have the opportunity to have their say and contribute their ideas. There are some very knowledgeable, talented and dedicated trainers out there, pull on their expertise to help keep your team motivated and positive even when the going gets tough!
  11. Successful Personal trainers hold their clients accountable to their goals
    If a personal trainer has made the time and effort to develop a program and arrive prepared for the session but the client doesn’t attend or doesn’t follow-up with the exercises prescribed outside of the facility then the trainer should be addressing this with the client. The client wants to see results and they expect them. So it is reasonable for the trainer to give a little bit of ‘tough love’ at the start of the clients journey; perhaps by developing a PT:Client commitment agreement (not a legal one of course), just to remind them of their goals when they begin to show signs of wavering from the plan. This agreement should be placed alongside the long-term training plan the trainer has set for them. Remember, clients are paying for results and expect them; but it’s a joint effort between trainer and client. Some of the most successful personal trainers have even refused to train clients based on their initial session because they could tell the client wasn’t going to commit to their own goals
  12. Get your Personal Trainers involved in Group Fitness
    I have found that a good synergy is personal trainer/group fitness instructor. An obvious connection is to utilise your trainers for class cover of selected classes, however, they also have a great opportunity to showcase their knowledge by supporting group fitness instructors during a class by offering technique correction and demonstrations!

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What is Leadership?


Well I could give you the text book or theoretical definition but I won’t because you can carry out a Google search yourself I am sure!

My personal definition of Leadership is this:

“Leadership is the ability to think big, inspire others and work towards the big goal together”

I personally believe that no matter what your occupation you can be a leader; leadership comes from within. Many managers think they are leaders or think that they make great leaders. A good manager is not always a good leader. Look around you, look around your daily life as well as your workplace. Who has the qualities of a leader? Who has ideas, is passionate, determined and open to suggestions from everyone? Who is humble and gracious and caring? Who has the emotional intelligence to let the little things go and focus on the more important goal achieving factors? Who has the courage to build a mastermind group to share ideas and develop strategies?

In one of my previous jobs I was pretty rubbish at keeping a check on my teams uniforms, were they wearing their name badge? were they wearing work issued shorts? were they wearing the correct jacket? I couldn’t tell you as I can’t say it was that important to the end goal. We, the team, were trying to achieve a better workout environment for our members, we were working on improving procedures, customer service and programming so that our members had a great experience time after time. The question is, did our members notice that the jacket didn’t have the correct logo on it? did they care that Jane, who they had got to know personally, and not via her name badge, wasn’t wearing her name badge today? did they care? did they hell!

What the members cared about was the experience they received every time they came in, was the team acting professionally and with empathy? did the team make an effort to get to know the member and not just see them as a number or a dollar sign?  I think you get the gist. Of course it is important for the team to look professional and smart and be ambassadors of the brand, but there are more ways to do that than spend time chasing staff because they forgot their name badge today.

Perhaps I was in the wrong job, but one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to make a difference, I wanted the team to feel empowered and connected, because I knew if  the team could achieve this then the rest would follow naturally and members would love coming back to the facility time after time.

Ask yourself today what could you do to be a better leader.

Short term memberships/promotions

When planning your annual promotions it is a good idea to have some reactive promotions available as part of the planning process.

  • What is a short term membership promotion?

Examples include 7 day passes, 1 month for $30 and such like. Any type of promotion that does not require the customer to purchase a full membership.

  • Are short term membership promotions effective?

It depends on how they are being used. 7 day passes can work effectively if they are well managed and used according to the business strategy. For example; private gyms will often use “Free 7 Day Trials” as a tool for customers to “try before they buy” and this is a good tool for private gyms because they do not have casual entry fees like local government. Private gyms also have sales staff that work on commission. Therefore, the sales reps will work those leads until they are told to remove the prospects details from their database! Try it for yourself, sign up for a 7 day pass at a private gym, see how many emails and calls you receive over the coming weeks!

However, local government gyms rarely have dedicated sales staff and if they do they are highly unlikely to be receiving any kind of commission. Plus customers of leisure centres can already “try before they buy” because casual fees exist. That’s not to say 7 day passes never have a place in leisure centres because they do. One of the most effective Refer a Friend campaigns I have implemented uses 7 day passes, because once again, local government can not use harsh sales tactics like contacting members friends directly as this violates privacy laws so leisure centres have to think beyond the obvious for lead generation.

So, that’s 7 day passes, but what about one month, two or three month “cheap” membership promotions?

There is much speculation that these campaigns “work” because they are well received by customers. No doubt that they are well received. Customers of course will want a cheap deal. However, it is important to look beyond the obvious statistics of  how many of these promotional memberships were sold. Other factors must be considered such as:

Timing – January/February are the most notorious months for good membership sales. Is a promotion of this type necessary?
Membership Revenue – what effect is this going to have on your membership income trends, targets, budget and stability?
Normal sales – What effect does this have on the memberships you would have received  without the promotion? For example if you ran a 1 month $30 membership during January and this is one of the busiest months for memberships how many new customers will purchase a full membership in January?
Selling twice – you’ve carried out the communications of this promotion  and people are buying the $30 offer. Great! However, you now need the resources to “sell again” as you need to convert them to full members.
Customer expectation  – If customers become familiar with this type of promotion they will wait for it. This has an impact on your sales. Some customers will go as far as cancelling their membership and re-joining so they can have one month at a substantially lower price.
Devaluing your product – so you provide great service, membership packages and environment; so why offer a cheap promotion that customers can walk away from? Don’t devalue your product. Leisure centres are notorious for having some of the best customer service in the industry. We might need a bit of work in terms of staffing structures so we have dedicated membership teams, but customer service, we know it!

– Overcrowding – current members can become very disgruntled if their gym and classes are full of short term/promo members. Be aware of the high level of traffic some short promotions can bring.

In summary, there is a place for short term promotions, but they need to be well planned and questions need to be asked as to whether they are effective, because remember, they will alter your membership budget and trends and more often than not, have a negative impact on income – I have removed short term memberships and short term promotions from various programs in the past and have always seen a more stable, predictable and most importantly, upward trend in sales figures and income.

  • So when is there a time for short term promotions?

Short term promotions are great for reactive campaigns or for the launch of a new service, improved program or a facility upgrade/opening.

  • What about fitness challenges and personal training?

These are totally different products. Short term options should 100% be available to these type of products. For ideas or to book a review of how these products can be financially viable and profitable get in touch!

Stay tuned to my blogs for more tips and information