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.