Is it possible to run a health club and take a vacation, too? Here’s how a combination of good staffing, technology and planning can get you away and generate revenue too.
Take Advantage of Summer: First thing, be sure to activate those summer revenue generators.
Start with a student offer and make sure it’s online. Each year college kids come home for summer break and they’re looking for something to do. Create a summer special. For example, three months for $159. Post it in-club, send out a blast email to existing members, put it on your Facebook page, but most importantly, get it on your website as an online joining offer.
This offer should be slightly more than the value of three months of full membership, but low enough to attract the students. It can also serve as a short-term trial membership if so desired for prospects. Include it in any marketing materials that might be going out in early May and encourage inviting friends.
Of course, students are technology savvy and will be looking to sign up quickly and easily. Ask your software vendor to set you up with online joining, even if it’s only for a few offers. Take advantage of those who want to join and avoid coming in. It’s been proven that many clubs do 10 to 20 percent of their new memberships via their website, minimum. The information should flow directly into your club software and have the ability to accept credit cards for payment or allow to be paid in house.
If you’re concerned with overcrowding, put a time restriction on the offer or make it valid for only certain days or times.
Other temporary revenue generators include six-week summer camps, golf conditioning, kid’s care, boot camp classes, summer hoops leagues, personal training specials, small group training workshops or programs offering CPR training, lifeguarding or babysitting certifications.
Use Technology: Your club management software should allow you to access information from anywhere there’s an Internet connection. Know sales stats, daily revenue, membership numbers and check trainer schedules online. If necessary, make data entry changes and corrections. Have reports and information at your fingertips.
Only key managers and owners should have full security rights and privileges. Data that involves member information and account numbers should be fully protected with a user ID and password. Make sure the software requires passwords be changed at least every 90 days.
Staffing and Planning: Lastly, make sure staff is in place to manage in your absence. Get key staff involved in decision making and give them added responsibility. This will empower them and lead to stronger, happier and committed employees. A typical mistake many owners and managers make is not delegating to staff.
Focus training on reviewing and sharing what goals and projects should be accomplished while you’re gone and help set expectations. Develop a structured, written-out plan. It’s even helpful to post these on the wall in big letters to be first and foremost in everyone’s mind.
Do a thorough review of how to handle major tasks and where the local numbers are for the electrician, plumber or equipment repair specialists, for example, if something should go down. Have “emergency scenario” plans in place for your staff (for severe weather, power outages, a major class cancellation or equipment malfunction). Talk through these types of scenarios and ideally put them in writing. Boast a written list of standard operating procedures.
Set up automatic task reminders for items that need to get done. Many software services can be pre-programmed with this functionality. For example, sending out notices of non-usage, renewals, welcome notes to new members, email blasts or texts to those with appointments, should all be automatic. Put a staff member in charge for a fixed day each month. Retention can still happen even when you’re not there.
When you come back, recognize those who contributed and really stepped up. Consider rewarding them with not only extra pay but perhaps with a paid day off, send them for a seminar or class, issue pro shop credit, give a gift card to a local retailer, some guest privileges at the club, or even a gift membership.
Carole Oat was a former large club owner and operator for 15 years before going to work for Twin Oaks Software and now serving as its national sales manager. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at 866.278.6750.
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