When people say you have to spend money to make money, it’s true. However, with some evaluation of your facility, you can find ways to create an exceptional experience with the space and resources already available to you — thus increasing your club’s income per square foot.
The Cincinnati Sports Club, which is in the middle of an ongoing renovation and experience enhancement plan that will wrap up in 2025, has seen firsthand the benefits of efficiently using its available space for new or unique programs and services.
“In the past 10 years, the net income per square foot at the Cincinnati Sports Club has grown 50 percent,” said Andy Bundas, the club controller.
To get the most out of its resources and space, Cincinnati Sports Club takes a close look at the performance of each individual department. “The club analyzes net income per square foot by measuring net operating income per department or business unit,” explained Bundas. “We deduct overhead operating costs — insurance, utilities and real estate tax, for example.”
This method allows the club’s leadership team to pinpoint exact areas where space and resources can be more efficiently used, as well as which areas of the club are most conducive to new offerings.
“We have to be good stewards while also making a profit,” said Bundas. “We’re constantly looking for trends over time and asking ourselves, ‘Are we relevant to the member?’”
According to Bundas, the member experience is the top priority. He believes if a club nails the experience, the rest will fall into place. “Membership is No. 1, and nothing else matters,” he said. “Our membership base is our feeder to other successful ROI programs.”
Because of its ability to deliver a great experience, the Cincinnati Sports Club is able to get buy-in from its members on several programs that help increase its income per square foot, including private Pilates sessions; massage memberships; group and private aquatics lessons; conference room rentals; a Club Wine Steward program; cabana rentals; physical therapy; and acupuncture.
Major improvements to your club’s experience can come through seemingly small projects, such as adding new lines to your courts.
“We paid less than $100 to add pickleball court stripes to our existing outdoor tennis courts and indoor athletic field,” said Bundas. “This allows for expanded racquet sport programming, thereby increasing revenue and increasing penetration.”
It’s also important to commit to your members’ overall wellness. With this in mind, the Cincinnati Sports Club hired an in-house wellness clinician to offer nutritional counseling, free health screenings and therapeutic physical therapy to members.
This partnership has been beneficial for both parties, according to Bundas. “This strategic alliance partnership with our health partner allows us to blend what we both do best,” he said.
Medical specialists aren’t the only outside professionals who can help clubs increase their income per square foot. Even if you already have food options available in your facility, occasionally bringing in new options might be worth considering.
“In the summer of 2018, the club partnered with local food truck operators to come onsite and make their product available for direct sale to the member,” said Bundas. “The food truck vendors were not charged to be on site.”
And while this tactic might seem a bit strange, it was extremely positive, as Bundas recalled. “This decreased the long lines at our existing outdoor café and in turn, increased our revenue at the café,” he said. “There was less standing around and more purchasing.”
In addition to expanded food offerings, allowing retail vendors to sell their products in the club has been beneficial for the Cincinnati Sports Club. “We host trunk sales in the club pro shop,” said Bundas. “Various vendors set up sales of their product to our members, including books, clothing and jewelry. And the club receives a percentage of revenue.”
So whether it’s the addition of a new workout, partnering with a medical professional or hosting food vendors, there are several ways your club can increase its income per square foot. Most of the time, it can happen without actually expanding the facility or adding brand-new spaces.
All it takes is some evaluation of your space usage and a constant dedication to the member experience.
“The club has to make sure we are growing profitability per square foot,” said Bundas. “Businesses must take the time to step back and look at the big picture — it’s too easy to get caught up in the details and miss what really drives the success of the company.”