A charming neighborhood in D.C. offers a chain gym. Chances are, if you live or work in the neighborhood, you're a member. You won't need seductive/annoying coercions to join your local gym. The local population will be tapped out—but that's not enough for Corporate. They wanted more sales! More members! More money!
It wasn't realistic to seek constant growth for a neighborhood gym where members eventually plateau. The goal has to shift to maintaining a happy environment. So ... what happens when pressure to keep hitting quota never abates?
The sales team schemes.
I was a shy kid when I began working at The Gym. Since they never wanted to lose a sale, the membership consultants gave me the job of holding onto prospective members. "Don't let a prospect leave," they'd say. They were both named Alex and they brought me out of my comfort zone, and for that, I guess I owe them. It's too bad they probably stole a lot of members' credit cards in the process ...
Fat Alex, as he called himself, kept a bottle of Febreeze in his office to mask the constant smell of McDonald's grease. He was always getting into trouble, whether it was dating a mob boss' daughter or trying to use bolt cutters to cut a boot off of his illegally parked car or dealing drugs in the locker room, where there were no security cameras.
Fat Alex even used his obesity as a way to pressure prospective members: "Join so you don't look like me!" But ... that begs the question: If The Gym was so great and the equipment was so great, and the trainers were so great, why were any sales consultants overweight?
They had specific scams they loved to use. If you're asking if the 300-pound former soldier, professional body building general manager, Kent, knew about their behavior, it's unclear. My guess is he knew and let a lot of that shit slide. However unsavory, his club always looked like a standout.
Fat Alex and regular Alex had a few favorite scams:
1. GUEST PASS: When a non-member entered, they'd charge the standard $20 guest fee and then say the printer was broken, so the guest wouldn't get a receipt. The guest would say, "No problem." After leaving the front desk area, one of the Alexs' would turn to me and say, "Lunch!"
2. GIFT CARDS. At the end of the month, if they were behind quota, they'd head to the CVS across the street and buy several $20 Visa gift cards. They'd create a fake new member and generate a $50 commission—making a net of $30.
3. FROZEN ACCOUNTS. The Gym didn't charge a fee for freezing an account. Going out of town for a few months? Freeze your account. But they discovered that for a new member, they could add three additional accounts, generating three extra commissions. They'd immediately freeze the accounts—the members would be none the wiser that they had four accounts on one.
4. PT KICKBACKS. The Gym employed around fifteen personal trainers, but the sales team made a deal with two of them—if they referred all new members to them and the new member purchased a personal training package, the trainer would give them a 10% kickback.