How does the world’s most popular weight loss program keep dominating for more than 50 years and how can you steal their secret?
In this guest post, Craig Ballantyne reveals the secrets that Weight Watchers uses to get clients, keep clients, and give them the results they’re after.
By Craig Ballantyne
Like it or not, Weight Watchers is the world’s most popular diet program.
That means it’s your competition, big boy.
And you can choose to either ignore this, and suffer, or…
…pay attention to why the heck this program has been going strong for over 50 years.
Recently I did a deep dive into what makes people choose Weight Watchers, interviewing a couple of long-term clients and doing some in-depth research.
Here are 6 secrets I stole for you that you need to implement in your fitness business immediately…
#1 – Weight Watchers Has the Best Member Onboarding Process
It’s so simple.
You show up to a meeting.
Everyone makes a big deal and gives you a huge welcome.
They teach you the easy-to-follow points system.
They explain how important it is for you to write down everything you eat.
They weigh you and tell you to come back next week to weigh-in.
#2 – Weight Watchers Makes Achieving Goals Easy-as-6-Point-Apple-Pie
Most personal trainers make the fatal mistake of setting a huge weight loss goal for clients.
“You’re going to lose 30 pounds in 8 weeks,” Trainer Joe boasts.
But then the client, lacking a nutrition plan to go with your awesome workouts, fails.
And so they quit your program and continue to search for another solution.
At Weight Watchers, they know better.
So they choose a very small target goal.
Lose 10% of your weight.
A client weighing 150 pounds has to lose just 15 pounds to feel super successful.
Even better, when a Weight Watchers client achieves this, they receive the…
10-percent key chain—a token to acknowledge the milestone!
Women carry around this key chain for years because…
…it’s a symbol of the recognition they don’t get anywhere else in their life.
If it’s her 5th wedding anniversary, most women are lucky to get dinner at Applebee’s.
If it’s her kids 5th birthday, no one celebrates the fact that it’s also her 5-year anniversary of going through 36 hours of labor.
And so to receive the key chain after reaching her goal means the world to the Weight Watchers woman.
So what realistic goal can you help your clients achieve?
And more important, how can you recognize and reward her?
#3 – They Teach the 80% Success Secret
Most of us personal trainers have heard the old line:
Weight loss is 80% diet.
And most of us – at least the s-m-a-r-t ones amongst us, agree.
Diet is more important than exercise.
But then we send our boot camp clients away with a generic meal plan, or worse, a simple grocery store tour.
As if either of those are going to help our clients during those tough times…
…when they are between soccer for lil’ Bobby and dance class for lil’ Maggie, and starving at McDonald’s while their kids enjoy cheeseburgers.
Yeah, a whole lotta good that “eat from the outside aisles” advice does her then.
But Weight Watchers figured out the 80% of the 80% secret.
Not only do they give clients the easy to follow points system (that is so much better than teaching calorie counting) …
They also teach every client to write down everything they eat.
And that’s 80% of their success – writing it down.
The food journal doesn’t lie.
So if your boot campers are struggling to lose weight, buy them all food journals and teach them habit-based nutritional coaching.
#4 – On-Going Education
Listen, you didn’t read one issue of Muscle & Fitness and instantly become the world-class personal trainer you are now…
So you can’t expect Mrs. Jones to become a John Berardi-level nutrition expert from your generic meal plan and grocery store advice.
Weight Watchers knows that.
And they know the power of on-going education.
When was the last time you taught your campers anything about nutrition?
Once every 6 months?
That’s not enough.
You need to make on-going nutrition education a part of your boot camps.
#5 – 10X the Power of Community in Your Camps with Recognition Ascension
Yes, you bring the energy.
Yes, you deliver awesome client-appreciation parties.
And yes, you’re a special snowflake with a lovable, huggable personality.
But that’s not enough community for your clients to become raving fans for life.
Weight Watchers knows the secret…
It’s not about the Weight Watchers instructors…
It’s about the recognition ascension model of the Weight Watcher’s clients.
First, as mentioned above, clients get recognized simply for joining.
Second, clients get rewarded for achieving your simple goal.
Third, clients can ascend the ladder to become experts within the community.
Weight Watchers meetings are powerful because every member can become a guru.
Let’s say Mrs. Jones comes back to her 2nd meeting with a problem.
“My work friends all went out to my favorite rib joint for dinner, and I didn’t know what to eat. I felt so guilty after that I went home and ate an entire tub of ice cream because I figured I had already blown it. Then I cried myself to sleep.”
Now Mrs. Smith, another client, having a bit more experience, and having been in that situation before, can stand up and take the role of the wise expert and say:
“It’s okay. Let me show you what to do next time. You can save up some extra points and enjoy a splurge, or you can eat a healthy snack before and then just have a little serving of your favorite ribs along with a salad.”
Mrs. Jones gets the power of community wisdom, and Mrs. Smith feels like a hero.
How are you fostering Recognition and Reward Ascension in your boot camp?
#6 – Celebrate Aspirational Success Stories
Each time they have a weekly weigh-in, Weight Watchers clients are celebrated for hitting big numbers.
The top success stories become celebrities.
This is so easy to implement in your fitness business.
We do this all the time in my four Fit Body Boot Camp locations and in our Turbulence Training Transformation contests.
Winners are rewarded with prizes, extra recognition, and even big cash pay-outs.
Their stories make it into the media, and we even fly our Grand Prize Winners out to our annual Turbulence Training Summit to speak from the stage.
I’ll bet right now you have a client that:
a) Has an amazing success story
b) Is a natural-born entertainer
c) That is dying to share their story with the world
– Give them a chance to do a 20-minute presentation to all your clients.
– Contact the local press and get them featured in the paper or on television.
– Submit a press release to PRWeb and Newswire.
– Make a YouTube video about them.
– Invite them to speak to companies on your behalf.
– Print up newsletters and posters about their story & drop off at local businesses.
– Let them sign autographs at your annual client appreciation event.
There are so many ways to reward, recognize, and grow your community.
Weight Watchers figured this out…and you can too!
The bottom line:
Weight Watchers focuses on the engagement level of their clients, not just on signing people up to a contract.
Heck, engagement even matters more than results!
But that fosters a powerful community that keeps people coming back over and over again…
And let’s be honest, if we can keep people engaged in our weight loss community, it’s impossible for them NOT to get results.
Weight Watchers isn’t cutting edge, like your programs, but they get results.
So instead of looking down on Weight Watchers…
Let’s look INTO Weight Watchers and figure out what works.
Then, with your expertise and their simple secrets, you can create a 10X’s more effective program and a 10X’s more connected community.
And that’s how your company will still be making an impact and leaving a legacy 50 years from now.
To your success and to improving our industry,
Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer
PS. If you want to use all of Fit Body Boot Camp’s tools, resources and systems to grow a more successful fitness business and deliver better results to your clients, then click here to see if an FBBC territory is available in your area.