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Preparing for Success in 2010

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SalesMain1It is rare that a business has not felt the sting of the economy this past year. Some clubs struggle while others remain static, and still others continue to grow. What sets these clubs apart? Let’s review some strategies that can ensure your survival and growth in 2010.

The best place to start is with trimming expenses. Any business can tighten their belt and come out stronger. Begin by building a “smarter” budget. Be especially conservative when budgeting sales projections and leave a cushion for unexpected expenses. As a club owner or manager, be certain you possess budgeting and spreadsheet skills. If budgeting isn’t your strong suite, enroll in a class to acquire this valuable skill. In the meantime, ask your bookkeeper or accountant for help.

Share your budget with managers and speak frankly with staff about mind-full work habits and how they affect the bottom line. An informed employee is typically more productive when they understand the numbers and how they affect overall profitability –everyone needs to do their part to help the club prosper.

Scrutinize your 2009 operational expenses and ascertain where cuts can be made without sacrificing valued services. Here are few ideas:

• Fill in at the Front Desk. Ask managers and employees to work a partial shift – one or two days a week at the front desk. You will all gain a greater understanding of front desk daily procedures and the associated operation costs. Existing salaries cover the cost normally spent on this position.

• Outsource Billing.  Executing billing in-house does not necessarily save money –your payroll-related expenses may gobble up any variable savings. Training a new billing coordinator requires daily inspection and months of follow-up. With outsourced billing, clubs take advantage of a fully trained staff that’s sole responsibility is member services, providing the quality and consistency you need to keep the revenue flowing.

• Value Shop for Products and Services. Look for better pricing on laundry supplies, office products, janitorial services and supplies, etc. Many clubs habitually use the same vendor simply because it’s easier than locating a new vendor.

• Renegotiate Your Lease. With real estate values down around the country, the timing is right to renegotiate a lease. Extending your lease now can lock in a lower monthly payment and control future costs. Have you been weighing the options of opening a second location? Look for those real estate deals.

• Buy Equipment Now. Continue to spend your budgeted dollars to add new or replace older equipment. Multiple “Out of Order” signs send the wrong signal to members. If dues have remained the same, members expect the level of service to remain the same, as well. Call equipment vendors for deals and ask a valued equipment rep to keep you informed of special pricing and closeouts.

• Preventative Maintenance. Implement aggressive maintenance programs on existing equipment. Keep accurate records of cardio maintenance and consider having key replacements parts on hand. If a machine goes down, the repair can happen quickly.

• Replace Front Desk Tasks with Online Features. Americans access the Internet continually – sending emails, touching base with friends via sites like Facebook and Twitter, reading and researching, purchasing goods and services. Take advantage of this knowledge by supplying a link via your Web site to your club management software to provide online joining, purchasing and booking classes or personal training sessions, paying a past due balance, updating account information, etc. Consider the additional time your staff will have for member interaction or other duties if conservatively 30 percent of your membership uses your online features.

Remember, success is measured not only in memberships acquired and retained, but ultimately by the bottom line. Tightening your belt and implementing some smart business tactics will save you money in the long run and help you join the ranks of those clubs that prosper no matter the economic climate.

Kate Dumas is a Sales Associate with Twin Oaks Software. She can be contacted at 866.278.6750, or by email at kdumas@tosd.com, or visit www.tosd.com.

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