Retailers wait all year for the holiday season. Black Friday got its name because it helps so many retailers move their sales out of the red and into the black. The fitness world has a similar reaction to the New Year, as losing weight perennially tops resolution lists, potential members flock to health clubs, gyms and fitness studios. In fact, January reportedly accounts for more than 12% of all new members for the year.
While that rush is great for business, it is only one month (although February and March typically rank second and third in membership sales for the year). And unfortunately, 4 percent of new gym goers don’t even make it past the end of January, and another 14 percent drop out in February, which leaves personal trainers’ schedules bare and group exercise classes barren.
The “resolution rush” will likely always be part of your business, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be an all or nothing sales cycle built around the first quarter. With some planning, the sales pipeline can be steady even in what is traditionally the slowest of seasons.
Here are some tips for business owners when selling gym memberships after the busy season:
1. Focus on Referrals
Sure the rush from the New Year is over, but there are still members—loyal members—that are coming to your club and classes. Target them and their friends and families to keep your sales team busy. How do you get more referrals? Try targeted campaigns like:
- Free Friend Friday—Typically the slowest day of the week, encourage members to bring in a guest for free.
- Bi-Weekly Email Updates—Send members updates on what’s happening in the club and what classes are scheduled. And be sure to include a guest pass so they can share with a friend.
- Hold a Contest—For those loyal members making it in offer something for referrals. Maybe it’s a t-shirt or a month free for each referral that joins.
2. Work on Building Corporate Memberships
Although vacations peak in the summer months, most companies are still running at full steam, which makes this a prime time to focus on selling corporate gym memberships. Here are some ideas for bringing these members in when not traveling:
- Business of the Month—Promote local business as the business of the month. Allow anyone from that company to work out for the month for free, with an offer of a special company rate at the end of the trial month.
- Private Company Classes—Offer a private lunch time class specifically for one or two local businesses. If possible, run the class at a discounted rate. This will hopefully pack a studio not being used and leave them wanting more–and buying class cards for them.
- Wellness Open House—Hold special Wellness Days or Open Houses for local companies. Do body fat screenings, hold a sampler class, raffle off a membership and most importantly have a one-night-only promotion to get them to join.
3. Use Technology
Sure, your current members may be spending more time at the beach than in the club and prospects are probably lying right next to them. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have contact with them and get them in when they are back in town.
- E-Mail Newsletter—Don’t just list promotions and deals, give your members and prospects useful information such as exercise and nutrition tips while on vacation, staying hydrated while playing sports, etc. This will keep you top-of-mind when they are ready to come indoors–and hopefully, they will share with friends and family.
- Social Media—It doesn’t matter where people are these days, they are almost always connected. Stay in touch on your social media sites. Give quick tips, share interesting fitness news, entice them to come in or refer a friend with fun contests such as an Instagram “scavenger hunt” that leads them to the studio.
4. Forget Selling Memberships
OK, that may scare you a bit, and we don’t mean don’t sell. But think outside of your typical memberships and also focus on boosting revenues with ancillary products and services.
- Short Term and Student Memberships—It’s a tried and true method to keep revenue coming in while the pipeline is slow. Take advantage of people visiting friends and family, or students home from college for the summer.
- Personal and Small Group Training—Give current members a reason to come into the by promoting personal training and small group classes to them. Better yet, keep them outside with a running club or outdoor boot camp, that you can use for revenue and to help promote the business.
- Class Cards—Long a staple of yoga and Pilates studios, increasingly other types of venues are offering these by-the-workout cards. You can help to get people into the club that may only want to take a class or two a week (or maybe just use them as a chance to squeeze in a workout on their own). Perhaps, you can entice a new exerciser in with what seems like a reduced price, or better yet get a former member to give you another try all while keeping cash coming in before the Back-to-School rush of September.
What ways will you try to keep members joining, using and supporting your club?