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How to Effectively Launch a New Program in Your Club

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shutterstock_67305805It may seem a bit daunting when looking to identify and then launch a new program in one’s gym, but with a step-by-step plan in place, the overwhelming task can become much more bearable.

Kari Bedgood, the vice president of marketing and public relations for Active Sports Clubs, offered up a seven-step plan the club uses when launching a new program: identify a need and initiate a business case, design the program, test and develop the program, excite prospective participants through internal and external promotion, launch the program, measure its effectiveness and finally, amplify the program.

“As a data-driven organization, we look to measurable outcomes to identify an opportunity to improve our programming and ultimately, member experience,” said Bedgood. “Ideas are sparked by serving a need. We implement new classes and programs with the intent of increasing our members’ experience and engagement. We also look for ways to include relevant trends that resonate with our fitness philosophy or that could be a differentiator among competition.”

Bedgood said Active Sports Clubs has done a lot of listening to its members and staff, wanting to hear what they would like to see brought to each of the communities the club serves.

One way the club has done this is through workshops. For example, in May 2014, Active Sports Clubs put on a VIP workshop for select staff and members to experience and evaluate a new class format the club was thinking of launching. As a result, Bedgood said they were able to garner information pertaining to class times, class format and the pros and cons of having the class be revenue-based. “Gaining a better understanding of [members’] needs and how we can best support them has helped us prioritize our improvement plans,” she said.

But one of the most key aspects the club considers is if the program is effective, which is determined by results. “After all of the program development, planning and promotion, the program is launched,” said Bedgood. “But is the program performing? If so, how do you know? If not, why? We set key performance indicator (KPI) benchmarks to measure success. If we’re off track in any way, the goal is to solicit feedback from members and staff and iterate quickly.”

Still, at the very core of launching a new program, Bedgood said a club must always look to better support members in their efforts to achieve the results wanted. “New program launches are only successful if your members are engaged and happy,” she said. “Also, careful planning and communication is key. There are so many opportunities to ignite word-of-mouth promotion through various touch points that don’t require big budgets.”

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Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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