How to Hire and Retain Top Membership Sales Reps

Alan Cohen

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If you are like most club operators, having a top-performing membership staff is critical to the success of your business. Many fitness clubs struggle in this area. Bad hires, constant turn over, missing paperwork; the list goes on and on.

Another major detriment to constant turnover is the impact this has on your membership base, the ability to generate quality member referrals and the effect on member retention. Turnover is a killer on many fronts.

The $64,000 question is, how to hire honest, hard-working, top performers who will shine in the fitness industry? It really depends on the type of club you have and what expectations you have from this position. Below are two examples that should provide you some insight.

Low-dollar, high volume club. This is a staff member who shows up on time every day with a great attitude, that has customer service and/or sales experience to sell a low-dollar club membership with no external marketing requirements, that earns around $25,000-$30,000 per year with hourly/salary commissions and bonus.

You need seven things to happen for this to turn into a long-term proposition:

1.    The person needs to have 1+ years of customer service/sales experience and shows job stability in their resume; Job Hoppers Need Not Apply!

2.    The candidates must be into fitness.

3.    They should have a pleasant, outgoing personality.

4.    They need to be a team player.

5.    The comp plan needs to be a perfect match for their compensation requirements.

6.    The schedule needs to be a good fit.

7.    You need to have experienced, positive leadership running the business.

High-dollar, lower volume club.

1.    All the above, plus add in this additional requirement:

a.     The perfect candidate should have excellent business acumen. They should have experience doing outside B2B prospecting/marketing, the ability to write professional letters, be able to call on mid to large size companies and able to set appointments with decision makers. They need to be professional networkers!

b.    Compensation for this position would be approximately $35,000-$55,000 annually based on performance.

When you pass over the required qualifications, you elevate the risk of being disappointed in the results of the new hire and may find yourself doing the job of that person; or worse, starting the search all over again.

Also, if you have a revolving door for these positions, look at your comp plan. Many operators are living with their head in the sand when it comes to paying salespeople. Low base, high commissions, and bonus, that NO ONE EVER MAKES. Think about this - What is the cost of recruitment in man hours and related expenses? Factor in lost revenue from a vacancy in that position? Add in member attrition? Pay better wages and you will have a better outcome!

When creating job postings for these positions (And all others) you better include compensation. EXAMPLE:  Estimated annual compensation for a membership sales rep should be between $35,000-$55,000 based on salary, commissions, and bonus based on reaching budgeted goals. Also included is a free club membership, paid time off, health and medical benefits and club discounts.

Also, make sure you list “Sales” in the job title. Membership Representative may not reach all sales professionals. EXAMPLE: Membership Sales.

Years ago, hiring managers in the fitness industry always looked-for sales reps who had worked in the industry. I am a firm believer that hiring experienced, professional salespeople should override any industry experience.

Alan Cohen is the Founder/President of and a career expert in the health and fitness industry. He can be reached by email: or by calling 602-334-7898.

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