About Krista Samsel

Krista Samsel

With over 15 years in the Health and Fitness Industry, Krista Samsel specializes in opening, revitalizing, and streamlining gyms and boutique fitness studios for maximum profit and growth. Samsel has launched or revitalized over 40 gyms nationwide and is extremely seasoned at seeing facilities as a whole, pinpointing where improvements can be made, needs are not being met and troubleshoot revenue losses.

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Interview Start

Michael:            Hi, guys. This is Michael Tesalona here with Kris Samsel from MissKrisFitness.com and Kris is a consultant for fitness businesses. She basically helps them set up, run more efficiently, make more money, all the nuts and bolts.     

                   I mean, Kris, you’re going to do a much better job of explaining it than I can. So, can you just maybe give a 10 second, 10,000 foot view of what it is that you do?

Kris:               I do anything from a startup business to helping facilities generate more revenue, retaining of clients, contracts, running personal training programs, a little bit of everything. It’s very broad what I do.

Michael:            Great. Awesome. Do you have any, I don’t know, any major wins? You know, if somebody is thinking about hiring you or working with you, do you usually reference, “Oh, yeah. There is this gym that we did X, Y, Z for,” or that gym that you did A, B, C for? Just make it a little bit more clear about how you help folks.

Kris:               Well, I was in Miami in a very impoverished neighborhood, with a facility that everyone in the fitness industry told me that I could not possibly get off the ground. Not only did I get it off the ground, but within the first year we were voted the best boxing gym in Miami.

Michael:            Wow.

Kris:               There’s also another fitness facility that I saved $40,000.00 over a four-day window or a three-day window to help them generate more revenue. So, I do a little bit of everything. I’ve also gone into facilities and tripled their memberships within a two to three month window.

Michael:            That’s amazing.

Kris:               It’s fun.

Michael:            You’re not just a consultant who studied this in a book. Like that gym in Miami, you actually took that over yourself, was the owner of it, and then did that turnaround. Is that right?

Kris:               Well, I’ve worked in countless number of fitness facilities over 15 years, so I don’t have just one point of reference. I know a lot of people in the industry that own a fitness facility, but their only point of reference is that one. So, it’s given me the ability to see what’s working, what’s not working, and understanding the demographics of their location and so on and so forth.

Michael:            Got it. Kris, we got put together, or we connected because my company, we obviously help with the lead generation side of things. We run these Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns to get a bunch of names, emails, and phone numbers, and we noticed that a lot of our clients …

                   There’s some of them rather, I wouldn’t say a lot, but some of them who we get them these leads and then it’s like they’d have a lot of trouble converting them. So, I’m sure that’s something that … I know that’s something that you help people with and I’m sure that that’s something that a lot of people have trouble with.

                   I’m just wondering, if somebody is having that type of a problem, “Hey, how do I work my leads to get them just in the door?”, what do you usually recommend in that type of situation?

Kris:               Okay, well, one point of reference that worked for me is creating a sense of urgency, because if you’re generating the leads and they’re going to the facility and you’re offering a trial offer, what you can’t do and the mistake that most people make is just letting people ride out the trial offer.

                   Say they do a 30-day for $49.00. Well, a lot of times if you’re not … They’re there for a reason. They were seeking your services. They’re enjoying themselves, especially if they’re still there after two weeks. They’re having a good time, but you have to create that sense of urgency.

                   What has worked for me, it’s standard in the industry that most people have an initiation fee once someone decides to sign up for a term membership. What I would do is say, “You know, this is the 30 days for $49.00, but if you sign up in the first two weeks you’re going to save $75.00, because we’re going to waive that initiation fee.”

                   Clearly, you’re going to know after two to three visits whether you think that’s a place that you want to make a year commitment to. Just expressing to them … People love to save money, so when you express to them that, “Once you make that commitment, you’re going to save 75,” or whatever it is you’re sign up fee is, most people are grabbing at that. Because, everybody loves to save money.

Michael:            Yeah, and it’s funny you mention this, because I’ve noticed among my really successful clients, they’ll do some variation of that. Sometimes it’s an initiation fee. Sometimes it’s an extra discount on the first month or they throw in some free merchandise. But, it’s exactly that. It’s adding that sense of urgency and that carrot of like, “All right. Act now and you’ll get this.”

Kris:               Yeah.

Michael:            I find a lot of times … We work with a lot of fitness businesses, but we also work with a lot of martial arts schools and I find a lot of times either the owner feels weird doing the selling or maybe there’s a person doing the front desk.

                   So, I don’t know, in terms of the person who’s making that offer, do you offer them any sales tips or have you … Do you do any training to help people, gym owners find the words or to train the person at their front desk to be able to be impactful in that process, and what does that usually look like?

Kris:               Well, first of all, I think you have to have a very strong command and understanding of the service that you’re offering and you have to believe in it. If you have a staff working for you that thinks that your membership is expensive, how do you expect them to translate that to a client and for them to understand the value of what it is their purchasing?

                   What I’ve run into recently with a facility that I’m working with is when I tell them the monthly membership some people will say it’s expensive. I ask them, “Expensive compared to what?” I want to know what their point of reference is.

                   A lot of times people might say, “Well, I can go to LA Fitness for $40.00 a month.” Okay, but you’re not learning anything and you’re going to wait 20, 30 minutes before you can get on a piece of equipment. Yes, you may get in shape, but you’re not learning anything. Here we offer five martial arts.

                   I challenge them. I’m like, “Do a little research. Call around facilities in this area that offer just maybe one of the martial arts that we do and you’re going to pay double what we’re asking, and you’re only going to get that one thing three times a week.”  

                   You have to build the value and make people understand why they want to be there, why they need to be there, and what they’re getting out of it. When they understand it’s a deal and they can’t get it anywhere else my closing is about 90%.

Michael:            That’s when you actually get a person in there? From when you have them walk through the door, they’re [inaudible 00:07:42] their trial, it’s around 90% that they actually sign up? [crosstalk 00:07:46]

Kris:               Absolutely.

Michael:            Okay. Well, what about moving from a lead to actually getting in the doors? Do you see any big mistakes that people are making in that process?

Kris:               Absolutely. They call them entirely too much. When you believe in your product you don’t have to do incessant phone calls. You know which leads are hot and which leads aren’t. I get leads every morning and they generate to my email. I set a reminder call that it’s an online submission and to call them to book them for a class.

                   Now, I notate the day that I call them, the time that I call them, what was the response, did I leave a message to their voicemail. At some point they become cold leads and you have to focus on the ones that are actually the lower hanging fruit.

                   I’m not saying you take them out of rotation, but you have to focus on the ones that you can actually close. But, some fitness facilities, they’re so aggressive in their sales tactics that it’s actually a detriment to the business.

                   I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to a gym and immediately the next day they call you and then they call you every day, sometimes twice a day. That’s counterproductive. It doesn’t work. It’s not effective.

Michael:            What I’ve seen, actually, is a lot of gyms doing the very opposite thing, where they’ll get a lead and they don’t work it at all. So, where would you say the bare minimum of working a lead, what does that look like?

Kris:               Well, again, I mean, I just think you have to use your best judgment. I’ll leave a message to someone’s voicemail and then maybe I’ll call them again five days later. If they’ve taken a class and they expressed to me …

                   See, I’m very detailed in what I do. I’m taking information from the moment you walk into the door. I’m asking you, “Oh hey, how did you find out about us?” First of all, you want to know where that lead came from so whatever marketing you’re using you want to know what’s working and what’s not working. Because, you want a return on whatever investment you make.

                   That’s an important question and you ask people right from the beginning, “What are you looking for? Do you have a regular gym? What are your fitness goals?” When you find out all of these things and then they proceed into the class, you go under their account and you want to put in all those details.

                   Someone might tell you, “I just had a baby four months ago and I want to get off the extra pounds.” That is a key in your sales in explaining to them, “This is what’s going to happen for you here.” Again, going back to building the value, “And these are the results that you’re going to achieve.”

Michael:            I love that, and one thing it reminds me of is how sales is about building relationships with people. Some people might hear, “Oh, [inaudible 00:10:36]” somebody, almost in a conniving way or something, but it’s actually how you can relate to people.

                   I don’t know, I think people find if you took the time to write that down, the things that they told you, it kind of says that they’re important, it was important enough for you to remember it and then to be able to reference it.

Kris:               People are actually blown away when you call them and you go, “How are you feeling? How is the baby?” They’re just, “Oh, my God. She remembers me.” I am a relationship builder and people don’t feel threatened by me in any way, because I know when to back off. I’m not too aggressive. I can tell whether they came in for a free class or if they actually want to be there.

Michael:            Yeah. That’s not the case where somebody who’s visited before. What if it’s a lead off of, let me just say a marketing campaign where the person has never been there before and we’re just trying to schedule their first class. How do you usually work those leads?

Kris:               Okay, well, there’s a big difference. I have people that come in and they say, “I just want to pay for the day.” My first question is, “Why do you just want to pay for the day?” Now, the reason is …

                   Okay, so say the day rate is $20.00, but we have a 10-pack of classes for $150.00, so you’re saving $50.00. Every time you talk about savings most people jump. Just yesterday I sold, I think seven 10-class packages over people who just wanted to pay for the day, because they understood the value in it.

                   As far as getting people into the gym, I just say, “You sent us your information and I Just wanted to see if you’re ready to schedule that trial class. We’ll provide everything. We provide the gloves, hand wraps,” whatever it is, whichever kind of facility that you’re at.

                   Just make them feel welcome, and if they’re apprehensive or if they’re very curt or short with me I just tell them, “Well, let us know when you’re ready.” I’ll set a reminder call for a month from now, but I’m not going to call them incessantly, because it turns them off and makes them feel like they don’t want to come into your facility because you’re going to be too aggressive.

Michael:            Got it. You mentioned a few things which I thought was interesting. One of the things you mentioned was this $45.00 two-week trial. I wanted to get your opinion on how you viewed front end offers.  

                   What I mean by that is offers in which the new customer or the new member is paying to come in versus free offers, or offers where it’s a free week or three free days, or something like that. Do you see any difference between the quality of the leads? Do you treat them differently? Over the years, what’s your opinion on a front end offer versus a free offer?

Kris:               Well, to be honest with you I know that almost everyone in the industry offers a free trial class, but my personal opinion in my experience and what I did at my own gym was I didn’t give anything away free, because it’s an amazing product. You’re not getting anything like this anywhere in a major city.

                   So, what I would tell them is, “Look, you can pay for the day and if you love it then you can just go ahead and get the trial offer of 30 days for 49, or you can pay $20.00 for the day rate, but it’s completely up to you.”

                   Now, when you do that, “You want to spend $20.00 for one workout, or do you just want to go ahead and spend an additional 29 and you get a whole month?”, that gives you 30 days to close them and convert them into members.

                   I personally don’t like to give anything away free, but at the same time I am a consultant. I can advise you of my thoughts and experience on something, but at the end of the day it’s up to the gym owner.

                   Most people are apprehensive about backing away from that model, but I just believe they’re taking up space in the class. They’re using equipment. There’s so much that’s going into it and you’re going to weed out the people that are serious from the ones that are not serious by charging.

                   You can even do a discounted day rate, say $10.00 for the first class and if you decide after the class that you love it and you want to sign up for something we’ll apply that $10.00 towards that.

Michael:            I see. I like that idea also, the discount on the day rate perhaps and then just applying it somewhere else. I known that a lot of people I speak to, especially people who are just getting started, they have the question of what to charge, and what packages to set up, and all these other things.

                   I’m just curious. What are the biggest mistakes that you’ve seen people make in regards to their pricing? What are the things you definitely don’t want to do with regards to your pricing?

Kris:               You don’t want to have too many options. It’s confusing to somebody who’s interesting in purchasing from you. I think you need to keep it really nice and simple. You can buy a day rate or you can by 10 classes.

                   Those are for people that are non-committal that maybe have another fitness facility that’s their regular place, but they want to participate once in a while in your program. It’s nice and simple. A day rate or a package.

                   Then as far as membership, a one-month, three-month, six-month, and then for those that love what you’re doing and they want to make a commitment, a year.

Michael:            Nice. All right, excellent. I mean, Kris, we’ve gone over a ton of information. I mean, I feel like it’s almost like a rapid-fire … Everything that we talked about is just super impactful. I’m just wondering, is there any other thing that you, any other subject that you wanted to talk about that you see that you’re able to help people with that’s really, really important?  

Kris:               Well, I think the most important thing is really training your staff in sales, because it puts so much pressure on them to produce, but they don’t have the tools and the skills to have rebuttals, to understand when to go in, when to pull back, who’s a good prospect, when to data prospect. I just think that’s he most important tool.

                   A lot of gyms, unfortunately, their approach to fitness comes from a place of vanity and they care more about having a cute young girl behind the front desk than somebody’s that’s capable of selling, and somebody that’s coachable and trainable, and that’s pleasant and even tempered. I think that’s more important and I just see a lot of fitness facilities fail behind that model.

Michael:            How do you find this person, this integral person on the team to fill that sales role? How do you go about finding that person?

Kris:               Well, I definitely want a people-person. I want somebody that’s an extrovert, somebody that’s outgoing, that’s approachable, that’s just always smiling and bubbly, but that has, they just have a very strong command of understanding what benefits you’re going to get out of being a client or ours, and having all the right answers.

                   And somebody that’s not going to negotiate or go down in price. What I find bizarre about a lot of fitness facilities is when people go in and go, they say, “My membership is a hundred a month. Well, can you do 75?” and they’re so desperate for that sale they’ll take it. It’s saying that you don’t value your own product.  

                   I don’t go to a restaurant and tell people what I want to pay for their food, so I don’t think that people should come to a gym and tell me what they think the value of what I’m offering them is.

                   Clearly, they want it, because they’re trying to negotiate with you, but I think that’s a huge mistake as well. You just have to have somebody that believes in that product so much that they can explain why you need to be there.

Michael:            Got it. Yeah, I think this is absolutely gold. We can close the call right here, but I just wanted to say, Kris, thank you so much and for everybody, this is Kris Samsel with MissKrisFitness.com. That’s Miss Kris Fitness, but it’s K-R-I-S.com.    

                   She’s a consultant to help people who are just starting out their gym to find locations and also people who are already in operation to save money, make more sales, really grow, and achieve their vision. Kris, thank you so much.

Kris:               Thank you.