Local companies are a great place to find new members. If your club offers discounted enrollment fees and/or dues for corporate memberships, then those employees should be beating down your door to join your club, right? If only it was that easy.
At Stone Creek Club & Spa, we have great partnerships with some of our corporate accounts. They ask our team to educate their employees at “lunch & learn” events and to attend their wellness fairs. They rent our conference room. They even make use of our catering services from time to time. Those are the companies who share the same values as us — they just “get it.” Their decision-makers value what Stone Creek has to offer for their employees, and they are probably loyal members themselves.
On the other hand, we have corporate “partners” who are nearly impossible to reach. Sometimes the decision-makers, HR administrators or executive assistants are a barrier between our membership team and the employees. With larger corporations, those key people may not be in our local area. Sometimes there are even physical barriers, like empty lobbies with locked doors that require a key fob for entry (no dropping in to say “hello” and deliver guest passes there). It’s understandable — we’re all busy people, and asking someone at another company to promote Stone Creek to their employees (no matter how wonderful our club is), doesn’t immediately make it a top priority.
These challenging companies require a creative approach, and we’ve found that grass-roots efforts have brought us the most success. Here’s one approach that worked well for us at Stone Creek.
Instead of continuing to fight an uphill battle in getting to the “top” with our corporates, we re-focused our efforts on those employees that were easy access — the ones who were already in our club. We ran a membership report by employer to identify members who worked for our corporate accounts. We then sent those members hand-written notes thanking them for their membership and reminding them how much we value our partnership with their company. The note included a complimentary one-week membership and encouraged the member to give the certificate to a co-worker. It also offered a special referral incentive for each new member that was referred by a certain date. In some cases, we scheduled an evening social for that company, with complimentary appetizers and beverages, and invited our members to bring their co-workers to “happy hour.” Of course we also followed up with these members by email and phone before the end of the promotion.
We found that existing members were eager to give their passes to their friends at work, and we got quite a few new prospects in the door. With each new prospect that we met, we grew awareness and word-of-mouth marketing within that company. As we built relationships with these new prospects and members and made our longer-time members feel valued with the passes and referral offers, we gained new champions for Stone Creek within that company. Some members asked for additional passes, which also clued us in as to who some of the company “influencers” are. Some offered to deliver materials directly to the employee lounges and/or HR offices. In some cases, those members helped us finally make the “official” company connection that had been eluding us.
In the end, this grass-roots campaign cost us nothing except a little bit of time and a few dollars in postage. But it was definitely a win-win-win – for our membership team, our existing corporate members and the new members we welcomed through this promotion. So the next time you or your team faces a roadblock, don’t give up. Get creative and use the resources at your fingertips to find a new way!
Stephanie Coulon is the Membership & Marketing Manager for Stone Creek Club & Spa.