Q: Now that the first quarter rush is over, what are some strategies to keep the momentum going into the spring and summer months? – Submitted by Sara Esidore, Manager of Shapes Total Fitness, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
A: It’s a sad reality that too many clubs rely on first quarter sales to carry them through the rest of the year. Smart club operators are staying ahead of the curve and making sure they continue focusing on new-member sales as well as increasing the amount each member spends beyond their dues.
As far as generating new memberships, the key is to always market. You want to keep a number of marketing messages and offers circulating concurrently every month of the year rather than trying one strategy after another. Delivering a variety of messages in a variety of formats has been shown to exponentially increase response rates from prospects. Some of the most effective marketing strategies include:
This is one of the more expensive marketing mediums, but one that continually generates a positive ROI. It’s not how much you invest that is important, but rather how much of a return you generate on the investment.
Business of the Month
One of the more powerful strategies we use is a business of the month promotion. Visit all of the businesses in town and let them know you would like to promote them as your business of the month. All of their employees have the ability to work out for free during that month and will have the opportunity to join through an exclusive offer.
Over the years, the leads generated from this medium have become lower quality, but lead boxes are still good for a handful of memberships each month and definitely worth the effort.
Referrals should be the number one marketing strategy you employ year round. The trick is to keep your referral campaigns exciting and relevant. Each month offer a new incentive for referring members, and don’t be afraid to incentivize your members for their friends’ contact information so you can call on their behalf.
One of the most powerful marketing strategies being used is a fitness gift card. You can use them as part of your referral campaign, as an incentive for a prospect to join sooner rather than later, as a loyalty tool or as prizes at events and promotions inside and outside of your gym. These gift cards have the look and feel of a traditional credit card, giving them immediate perceived value that makes it difficult to discard.
Heading into the slower traffic months, never lose sight of the fact that your existing members are often a better source of cash flow than new members. The summer months are a great time to increase the loyalty, and the spending, of your existing members.
You want to continue communicating with your members even if they’re frequenting your location less during the warmer months. The best way to do this is with an e-mail newsletter. A newsletter is a great way to keep your members and prospects up to date on anything and everything happening at the club.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to increase cash flow during the spring and summer is to increase the amount you sell to existing members. Add on sales such as energy and protein drinks, meal replacement bars, tanning, etc. are all hot sellers during the summer months. If you can sell 15 cold drinks a day, with a $2 profit margin on each, that is the equivalent of signing up 30 new members each month.
Everyone wants to look and feel the best during the summer. Make sure you have the right pieces in place at your club and make sure you continue your marketing efforts in order to remain relevant in the minds of your prospects and your members.