Here is a question from a reader of the newsletter:

Should I offer some type of “Guarantee” to my prospects to get them to join?

This is currently one of the most debated questions in the fitness industry.  With any type of guarantee offered, there is some level of risk associated with it.  We know that most members won’t participate on a regular basis and may try to abuse any type of guarantee system you put in place.  Conversely, by offering a guarantee, you will sign up more new members.

In nearly all cases, the benefit of offering a guarantee outweighs the risk of cancelations.  This is due to the fact that far more people will sign up because of the guarantee than the number of members taking advantage of the guarantee.  There are several different guarantee systems that I have seen used successfully.  We will specifically cover two categories:  Conditional guarantees and Unconditional guarantees.  As you compare the two, keep in mind that you can offer either of these as a money back guarantee or simply a satisfaction guaranteed (allowing a member to break his/her membership term).

Conditional Guarantee:

“We guarantee you are going to lose X pounds of body fat and/or inches within 30 days or we will pay you your money back”

In this conditional scenario, to qualify for the guarantee the member MUST work out a pre-determined number of times per month (typically 8-12), meet with a trainer for two consultations, and follow the meal plan prescribed to them as part of their program.  If they still haven’t seen measurable progress (decrease in body fat or inches, increase in strength, decreased blood pressure, etc) they can be refunded their entire investment if they choose.

The advantage of this system is that the member has to hold up their end of the agreement.  If they don’t meet the criteria to which they agreed to when they signed up, you are not obligated to reimburse them.  The great thing about offering this guarantee is that even if the member only loses a few pounds during their first 30 days, they will not want to cancel their membership.  They will be thrilled to have lost that weight and will be hungry to lose more.  But be aware that fewer prospects will become members as compared to an unconditional guarantee since they may fear they would not be able to hold up their end of the bargain

Unconditional Guarantee:

“If for ANY reason you are unhappy with the service after 30 days, we will pay you your money back.”

In this scenario, there is no obligation from the client.  More pressure is on you to get the member involved, exercising, and following a meal plan.  On the surface, this seems an inferior option due to the fact that you are more likely to have to reimburse someone.  However, the major advantage is that you will sign up more clients at the point of sale due to the bold guarantee.

There is an even more powerful money back guarantee that I’ve seen used with great success lately.

Double Your Money Back Guarantee

Makes you a little nervous just thinking about it, right?  Consider the possibilities for a moment.  Think of how many more leads you would generate simply from offering this guarantee at the point of sale.  Let’s assume with one of the other guarantees, you could generate 24 additional new members this month.  And let’s say when you offer a Double Your Money Back Guarantee, you generate 6 additional new members, giving you a total of 30 new members this month.  And let’s assume two of them take you up on your guarantee.

BIG DEAL!

Even in this simple example, you have four additional long term paying members.  Let’s say each member pays $40/month.  So the two canceling members will be reimbursed a total of $160 (which is incredibly guilt-inducing and difficult for them to ask you to pay them double their investment anyway).  You already generated $160 from the other four members for that month, thus breaking even.  But the kicker is that the other four are going to continue paying $40 every month for the remainder of their membership term, more than making up for the members who received a refund.  This is a worst case scenario as I doubt 1/3 of your new members on this program will cancel.  If they do, you likely have some other problems in the business to take care of.

Regardless of which guarantee system you implement, always remember that your new members really do want to lose the weight.  They don’t want to waste their time for 30 days, only to rip you off and make you pay them back their investment.  They want results and they came to you because you were confident enough to make such a bold offer to help them reach their goals.  If you help them reach those goals, they would never dream of asking for their money back, and will continue paying you for a very long time.

  1. Great post!

    I offer a guarantee for my personal training. I’ll not only give people 100% of their money back if they are not satisfied in the first 30 days, but I’ll also pay for their first session with another trainer.

    I have yet to have someone take me up on it.

  2. Matt says:

    We offer two conditional guarantees. One for basic membership and one for training. For membership they can cancel for any reason in they workout 3x per week. Training requires a food journal and completion of all personal training. We don’t give refunds often because it requires involvement by the client plus our program works!

    We are not interested in signing everyone so we would rather have skin in the game. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone trying unconditional or “double” guarantees.

  3. Bill says:

    we have offered the guarantee on our training, 1 person in 22yrs has taken us up on it..

    • Curtis Mock

      Thanks for the evidence that it works! In addition to hearing me say it, a lot of people need to see that it has worked for others. Great job!

  4. Jerimee says:

    I’ve been nervous about offering a guarantee because I am afraid everyone will take advantage. You’re helping me believe that the reward is worth the risk. Thank you for that! I would still be scared of an unconditional money back guarantee, but I could see myself going with a conditional guarantee where they have to do something too.

  5. Great article! We are planning on offering a 7-day money-back guarantee but it’s void after the second workout.

    • Curtis Mock

      Great job on offering the guarantee, but I’d probably not throw the extra condition on there. Let them work out every day during the 7 day guarantee if they want.

      Ask yourself…if a new member works out every day for 7 days, don’t you think they’ll love the way they feel? I think you’ll find that telling them they can have 7 days to decide, but ONLY after one workout…is sending the wrong message. If you’re confident they’ll love the gym, give them the full 7 days for the guarantee with no fine print. My two cents 🙂

  6. Elizabeth Bonet says:

    Mine’s a little different situation, but I’ve offered a “guarantee” for 10 years in the form of . . . “if you don’t feel the class is a good fit for you after the first one, then I’ll refund the remainder of the classes.” People sign up for 8 classes at a time. I see about 40 women every 8 weeks with around a 90% re-sign up rate. I’ve had two people in 10 years say it’s not a good fit. And I was honestly happy to give the money back. It’s well worth it to offer a guarantee.

    • Curtis Mock

      I agree. It shouldn’t hurt your feelings to give the money back in the rare case it happens. It just wasn’t the right fit for them. You’d rather let someone go than have them be unhappy. It’s like you never had the money in the first place. Not a big deal. They leave happy and you’re guilt free.

  7. Frank says:

    I like a guarantee for all the reasons Curtis mentioned above however, I think the biggest benefit is the fact that guarantees may actually force us to deliver the goods and live up to the promises we make when we are selling the membership or program.

    • Curtis Mock

      Great point. Everyone needs some level of accountability. The thing I hate is that we’ve created this “churn and burn” mentality. Sign em up and forget about em. This is wrong. Engage and impress the member in the first 30 days and you’ll find people will happily stay and pay longer. Force yourself to offer the best service possible.

  8. Been offering a 100% money back guarantee for 32 years. How many takers—ZERO. Off er the flippin’ thing unless you don’t believe in your services and don’t prequalify your leads.

  9. Sean says:

    We have offered an unconditional “Guaranteed results or your money back”, for 5 years and have never had anybody “dare” to ask for their money back.

  10. For a ‘tongue in cheek’ gurarantee that I offer in my gym advertising from time to time that gets a lot of favorable comments and some laughs.

    “Guaranteed results or your old body back!”

    • Hi Curtis

      No, no-one has ever asked for their old body back. It also in a nice way shifts the responsibility back on to them as they are the only ones that can make the changes and quitting means you go back to square one.

      Another good way to make people accountable is to offer say a 6 month membership and say “Come 50 times and we will give you another 6 months free”.

      That always works well for me.

      Cheers from New Zealand

  11. Great article Curtis, as always. Reminded me of a scheme run over here in the UK…
    Not a guarantee, but a reward offered by Nuffield Health here in the UK. http://rewards.nuffieldhealth.com/

    Join, have a health MOT, and after 3 months, if you’ve maintained or improved your health/fitness, you get a month free, PT session, and guest passes.
    Shows good commitment from the club to your goals, but costs nothing!

    Most UK PTs & studios are cautious to offer money back guarantees, but they should read the comments above to see it can work!

    Keep up the great work,
    Guy

    • Curtis Mock

      We’ve offered similar programs in our client clubs with great success. Thanks for the example of a program that has been proven to work!

  12. We offer a 14- day Money back guarentee. We typically use this at the end of the month when a promo is ending and a potential member is not sure they want to join, but they realize the special ends that day or in a few days. I have been doing this at my current club for 3 years and a previous club for 15 years and in all total- we have refunded about 5 people!!! We dont really advertise it- it is more of a selling tool. But it does work!!

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