It doesn’t matter if your facility is a small studio, a large multipurpose club, a box chain or anything in between. There are numerous programs that you can offer to integrate your facility into the community — which could grow your business and expand your brand recognition.
So, how do you know what your community’s needs are? How do you find opportunities within your community? Start by getting in touch with groups like local schools, park and recreation agencies, boys and girls clubs, local businesses, Boy/Girl Scouts, special needs groups, physicians and churches — just to name a few. Within each of these groups exists opportunities for your club to integrate into the community and possibly create partnerships, not just one-time opportunities. Depending on the type of programs that you can offer, you will find that these groups will turn to you as their resource for health, fitness, wellness and much more. Sometimes just offering them a space to hold meetings and seminars is extremely valuable and it creates additional traffic and exposure for your club.
If properly planned and executed, programs can generate new members and leads, enhance member retention, generate revenue (profit) and create strategic branding in the marketplace. It should be decided at the beginning of the program planning what the intended goal of the program is and align it with the community.
When designing a program think about the benefits and goals that you would like to achieve, and then write a program budget and proposal. This should include the program description/purpose, target audience, dates/times, appropriate ages, fees to participate, marketing plan, locations/equipment needed, any insurance considerations/waivers, the minimum and maximum number of participants, registration process and associated payroll. When planning, keep in mind that you don’t want to disrupt the existing membership. For example, you don’t want to have a children’s program running in the pool during the time you have a high amount of senior members attending. These two groups do not mix well in the pool or the locker rooms. Think of all aspects of the club that will be affected including things like parking. Check your club management software for usage reports that will give you the busiest times of each day and month historically. This could greatly assist with scheduling. Lastly, make sure that you have a qualified instructor that would be appropriate for the program that understands the overall goal.
Once you have your program designed, you need a way for people to register. Look to your club management software for program registration options. These programs typically include a booking option that will help you manage instructor and location availability as well as calculate payroll. Other features that your software might have include program tracking which could help control the enrollment periods, limit and track the number of attendees, enforce prepayment requirements, manage waiting lists and print rosters. Minimally, you are going to want to enter the families into your club management software as a prospect — referencing the program as a source and maybe even an area of interest. This will help with future marketing.
How do you know if the program was successful? Conduct a post program evaluation. Go back to your program budget proposal and see if you accomplished the intended goal(s). If the program was designed to generate profit, calculate your total collected revenue and subtract the known expenses. If generating new members was a goal, you should run a new member report in your club management software to see how many were coded with the program as the source. Some of the benefits might not be immediately realized and some are intangible. Make notes on the program proposal or post program evaluation of any changes you would make to the program if you were to run it again in the future.
In addition to offering programs, there are other things you can consider. Volunteer to speak for a civic group or become part of a local speakers bureau; offer to write articles for local papers or periodicals and explore sponsorships. Try creating partnerships with charities and agencies (like the governor’s council on physical fitness and sports) that align well with the fitness industry. Instituting some kind of backyard branding, programs or otherwise, will make your facility known as the “go to” place and the first choice for membership, programs and other services.
Susanne Nauseda has an exercise science degree that she put to use in the industry for 10 years prior to joining Twin Oaks Software, where she has worked for the last 12 years. You can reach her at 866.278.6750 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.