Inside the Club: Why You Let Them In Take 2
I don’t typically like to circle back around on blogs, but a reader recently reached out to me asking about an article I wrote a few weeks ago, “Why You Let Them In.”
Just as a recap, this article touched on the principle of why clubs should operate more like “clubs” and less like a facility where anyone can join. It’s my belief that it’s better for the industry if more clubs take the approach where they evaluate memberships individually and strive to develop a community within the club.
Admittedly, I know this is difficult and may seem a little idealistic. Sure, you’d love to have a community of members in your club that socialize together and enjoy spending time in your facility. But developing this system can be overwhelming.
In truth, developing this system separates your facility from a gym to a club. A club should maintain a higher regard for its members and focus on developing community and exclusivity. However, today we seem to see more community development in smaller gym-like facilities than we do the larger “clubs.”
The reader asked what solutions I might have to begin this type of transition, if a facility wanted to be more exclusive. My first step would be to truly identify your demographic. Figure out who you are reaching and why. Certainly you’ll have your outliers, but the heart of your membership should be focused on the demographic that uses your facility the most.
Second, I’d suggest designing a membership advisory committee. This group would have its hand in bringing on new members and have a certain monthly quota of memberships it would have to accept. By having the quota it maintains that your club will still allow growth, but it’s more controlled. Additionally, your membership committee would help control the demographic and ensure that it’s stable.
Third, adjust your sales strategy. Put more emphasis on current member relations rather than sales prospecting and worrying about closing sales. Strive to develop a prospective application. Use the application for your member committee to review and decide whether they should be allowed to join.
I know what you’re thinking: You could be losing a lot of money at point of sale. That’s completely true, but you have to change that mentality. You’re re-focusing your efforts on the current member, not the next potential member to walk through the door. To make this shift you must be striving to improve the member experience and retention rates. If you decide to make a move like this, you should consider reassigning your sales staff to be more like a member retention position, and less about the next sale.
This will be a much different shift for your facility, but it will be one that will make you stand out among the rest of the facilities in your city. Think of this as another way to differentiate your club, without having to compromise on price.
Tyler Montgomery is the Editor-in-Chief of Club Solutions Magazine. For thoughts on his blog, the print issue or the industry, reach out to him at email@example.com.