Recruitment Congruency: REALLY?!

by Matt Geik

are-you-what-you-say-you-are-photo The gym where I work out regularly had "MEMBER APPRECIATION DAY" recently.  Here’s the thing, "Member Appreciation Day" is secret code in the fitness industry for "RECRUITMENT EVENT."  It’s really a savvy sales technique that many gyms use at the end of their month to woo potential new gym members who have tried out the facility earlier in the month to come back and sign up.

Often these recruitment events are lavish — the salespeople at the gym are typically RUSHING to meet their monthly goals. So, they pull out all the stops.

Unfortunately, for my gym, the things that they do during Member Appreciation Days aren’t congruent with what they say the gym is providing for its members.  Maybe that’s why they’ve continually struggled with growing their membership since they opened?

See at this member appreciation day, my gym had a bunch of other business vendors in to promote their businesses and provide free stuff for the members and potential members.  The only thing is that the businesses that were there included Buffalo Wild Wings, Five Guys, B.D’s Mongolian BBQ and a local bank. (For proof, check out the photo I took that day from behind the stair mill and you can see the guy on the far right working a table and wearing the shirt that says “We Do It On A Grill”.)  I don’t know about you, but wings, burgers and BBQ don’t exactly make me think of a healthy lifestyle and certainly don’t have any place in my gym.

All I could think about was how funny a conversation with one of the sales people must sound and look like during that day.  You know, with the potential new member scarfing down some blazin’ wings while talking about his fitness goals and how the gym could help him achieve those.  All I was waiting for was Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler to walk in and start doing their bit from Saturday Night Live….REALLY?! I mean, are we a fitness facility promoting health and wellness or are we a training ground building the next contestants on “The Biggest Loser”?  REALLY?!

Unfortunately, for many college student organizations (especially fraternities and sororities), as we get ready to head back to our campuses and embark on a new semester of recruitment, we will do the same thing.  We’ll hold outlandish parties and big events so that we attract a lot of people and make them think that we’re the cool organization on campus.  And while they’re at our events, we’ll feed them wings, and BBQ and in some cases alcohol to make sure they’re having a good time.  We’ll hold silly themed events with black lights and hi-liters, or foam, or togas, or even make it seem like there are constantly balloons, glitter, perfect cupcakes, and nothing but fun songs and skits the whole time you’re a member.  And then we’ll tell everyone that we’re the premier destination on campus for the highest caliber ladies or gentlemen, and we’re scholars and leaders who do world-changing service and philanthropy work because we’re a values-based organization of top performers.  REALLY?!  Really?