Sales / Marketing

A growth industry in more ways than one

by Anna Tong

Randy Dobson, vice president of sales, California Fitness
Photo: Wallace Chan

Rapid expansion of fitness industry provides quick path to promotion and high income

The fitness industry is today one of the fastest growing niche industries in Hong Kong, with the general public being increasingly health-conscious. One of the leaders in the field is California Fitness, which employs an eye-catching logo on its premises that combines a tempting vision of a sun-splashed beach with the company's name spelt out in bold letters.

Just like their signage, the gyms are "big" in proportion and expanding across Hong Kong to latch on to the industry's growth.

Randy Dobson, vice president of sales, is the functional head for the company's network of gyms across Asia. He manages a team of sales field managers and drives revenue through member sales. Mr Dobson believes the fitness industry offers attractive career prospects in the field of sales. He says, "The fitness industry is a growth industry with great potential for development."

Mr Dobson believes that prospects are unlimited since, depending on an individual's ability to perform and produce, staff are able to move all the way up the corporate ladder. "The fast growth ensures upward mobility so hard workers can quickly move up in the industry," he points out. "At California, promotion can come very fast and go all the way up to managerial levels."

One of the most attractive incentives of working at California is that there is no cap on the commissions staff earn, meaning that some enjoy relatively high incomes. "Candidates get a basic salary plus commission together with bonuses as an additional incentive," says Mr Dobson. "So high producers generate high income."

Additionally, they experience work satisfaction by being able to enhance peoples' lifestyles and help them lead healthier and better lives. "No matter how hard you work, it's all about helping others to achieve total fitness, and all the benefits that brings," he notes.

Passion for exercise

The first thing needed for a salesperson to succeed in the fitness profession is to be a member of fitness gym with a passion for exercise, or as Mr Dobson puts it, "a product of the product".

"You must personally be a good living advertisement for the benefits of workouts in the gym," he says. Candidates should also be able to build good relationships with their members and other people, serving as a catalyst for networks to be established.

Networking plays a crucial part in the industry as a good staff-to-member relationship will lead the members to introduce their friends and family, encouraging them to join the gym. The philosophy is that everyone is a potential member, ranging from the person walking down the street to the person eating in a restaurant. "Networking in the club and among its members is critical since a good relationship with the member will result in them bringing in other potential members," says Mr Dobson.

The main job responsibility of the fitness counsellor splits into two categories. The first is to look for potential members by establishing a good relationship. The second is to find a fitness programme that is suited to the needs of the potential member, but involving minimal time and effort.

A typical sales process from the initial meeting to closure broadly goes through four main stages, starting with the counsellor having a sit-down chat with the potential member to establish fitness goals and aspirations. Then follows a tour of the facilities to introduce the services provided by California Fitness. The potential member is then referred to a professional trainer who assesses his or her fitness levels and body specifications with the use of an "in body" machine that establishes overall lean muscle mass and water content. Lastly, the trainer hands the potential client back to the fitness counsellor, informing of the client's fitness and body specifications. A suitable programme is then selected, tailored to the client's financial status and overall needs.

Candidates wanting to break into the profession must envision themselves as being able to fit into a fast-paced environment. "If you find that you have a liking for the fitness profession, talk to the manager at any gym since they are always looking for individuals excited about fitness," says Mr Dobson. Enty requirements to get into the profession have changed little over the years. "Having a degree in exercise is a plus but not essential. The most important requirement is a passion for fitness combined with a desire to help people become healthier and happier."

Candidates with a background in the service industry have an advantage, specially those previously working in hospitality or retail who have an automatic advantage in terms of servicing members, says Mr Dobson. He recommends the industry as an ideal option for fresh graduates because of the opportunity to earn a high income even at entry level, plus the potential for promotion to managerial level.

Flexing the earning muscles

  • Basic requirement: be a product of the product
  • Promotion can come fast and go right to the top
  • Basic salary plus commission and bonuses
  • Person-to-person networking pays off

Taken from Career Times 02 February 2007
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