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24 Hour Fitness Alienates Millions In Less Than 30 Seconds

Updated on December 23, 2014

What Wrong With 24 Hour Fitness?

24 Hour Fitness may become the Biggest Looser... of revenue if they don't rethink their position. Recently here in Los Angeles a radio ad has been running for 24 Hour Fitness talking about their "Fitness Revolution."

In the ad you will hear a spokesperson say, "we don't work on commission, we're here to help."

So, there I was in the car driving home from work. A client of 24 Hour Fitness since 1991 when they were still called Family Fitness. I have also been earning a living as a commission based sales person since 2003. One thing I like to pride myself in is my ability to HELP my clients. Genuinely help them find the right product for them that meets their needs and solves their problems.

I also pride myself on the fact that it's hard to offend me. Here's a quote I try to live by:

"The behavior of others isn't a reason to become immobolized." -Wayne Dyer

Yet, here I am, offended...

Exactly, what in the heck are they trying to say by that?

I get the feeling that the implication here is that all commission based sales people are looking out strictly for themselves and do not function with the customers best interest in mind.

After hearing the commercial, I thought to myself, "Self? How many other people in this great nation are on commission and also getting a little pissed off right now?"

According to the 2000 Census, nearly 14.6 million Americans listed themselves under the title "Sales and related occupations." And according to Selling, with the job market in the hoopla that it is, commission based jobs are.. wait for it... on the rise!

In an article from the LA Times dated February of 2011, "numbers reveal that 14 million Americans are self-employed, up from the 9 million that the old data indicated worked for themselves. Many workers find themselves making their own jobs once they become frustrated with employers' reticence to hire."

Is it safe to say, that if you're self employed, you're on commission?

And what about retail stores? "Retail trade continued to add jobs in December, with a gain of 28,000. Employment in the industry has increased by 240,000 over the past 12 months. Over the month, job gains continued in general merchandise stores (+13,000) and in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+11,000). Employment in sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores fell by 10,000."

The other thing I'm struggling to understand is the implication that a person who gets paid by the hour will be more "customer service oriented." If you've been to many a major retailer, you'll know that good service, regardless of the pay plan, is hit or miss at best.

Why would 24 Hour Fitness make a statement like that and in nine simple words, basically alienate thousands of millions? These millions of people are potential clients and referrals.

Maybe we need to seek a deeper understanding here...

So let's look at what it means to be on commission, shall we?

Commission Defined

  • According to Wikipedia: Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered
  • Merrium-Webster: a fee paid to an agent or employee for transacting a piece of business or performing a service; especially: a percentage of the money received from a total paid to the agent responsible for the business
  • Grant Cardone: From his book Sell to Survive: "every time you get your way, you've just been paid a're entire life is a commission. There's no salary guaranteed in life. The whole world is on commission.

Let's look at it another way. Let's say the company you work for (by the hour) is a company that provides a certain widget that allows a particular doohickey to function. Without your widget, the doohickey is useless. Now lets say that there are multiple companies that sell, produce and retail these types of widgets. What happens when your company (that pays you by the hour) doesn't sell enough widgets? You're out of a job, that's what happens!

That being said, if you work for that company and want to protect your income, then regardless of what your name tag says or the department you're in, you're also in the sales department.

That being said, and NO this isn't "just semantics" if you work, you're on commission. Grant is 100% correct in that there is no guaranteed salary. Just ask the employees at Circuit City, Kodak, and American Airlines...

THEREFORE, it wasn't just Americans on "commission" by the definition provided in the court of public opinion, that 24 Hour Fitness offended, it's you. The hard working American. We're all on commission!!!

How a company pays an individual for their service to that company is completely and utterly irrelevant to how that one unique employee handles them self and the client. Go spend 10 minutes trolling Yelp and you'll quickly find that out. You find that at the same location people are having amazing experiences and real crappy ones too. At the same place!

Grant Cardone also teaches us that "service is senior to selling." Any customer facing employee should recognize that without these customers, I'm out of work and then behave in a manor akin to treating said customer as an honored guest in their home.

And why not? There's a pretty good chance you spend more time at work that at home anyway, right?

And no, it was't because of the camera...

The Bottom Line

Dear 24 Hour Fitness,

You're all on commission. Period. There's nothing wrong with being on commission. There's nothing to be ashamed of by being on commission. Your job is to provide a safe, comfortable and supportive environment for your clients to come in and get in the best shape of their lives. For providing that service, your commission is you stay in business.

From your own website: "We see each club as a community and take pride in selecting team members that are as passionate and friendly as they are knowledgeable. Reach out, ask them questions and let us know how they’re doing."

If you fail at this, your clients go to Bally's, Golds and L.A. Fitness and as revenue declines, so does the amount of people 24 Hour Fitness can keep on the payroll.

If you're a personal trainer there, your lively hood is dependent on your clients recognition that it's better to get fit with you than without out you. You are really on commission! Your commission is someone deciding to trust you enough to put their fitness level and safety in your hands. Forget the money for a second, how rewarding is it to know you helped someone? Isn't that why you do this anyway? Isn't this why you chose this business in the first place? That's a huge commission!

Commission is a reward for doing it right and doing it from a place of love, service and care.

Yes, there are a few scumbags and bad apples out there who screw it up for the rest of us, but there are an equal amount of hourly employees who have zero passion for their job who are only in it for a paycheck.

My suggestion and wish to you is that you rethink your position about what it means to be on commission.

There are millions of potential clients and current clients of yours who make a living under a traditional commission based pay structure, myself included. I prefer it. I prefer to share in the revenue of my company. It tells me that I'm doing my job correctly. If I don't generate revenue, if my company doesn't turn a profit, my company suffers, my family suffers, my landlord suffers, the company that loaned me money to buy my car suffers, and so on and so forth.

I have chosen to work in an industry that I am passionate about and want to share my product with as many human beings as possible. I do this because I want to help other people. This is how I provide for my family. Being on commission means that I create my own economy. I am not dependent on anyone or anything to create income and I have the honor of doing this by serving others and I cannot truly be of service to someone until they buy my product. Nor can you.

If it is to be, it is up to me. -William Johnsen

When an entire company comes together and works under this paradigm, amazing things will happen!


David R. Bradley


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