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Fitness and Fun: Driving Revenue with Kids Club

Driving Revenue with Kids Club

How your fitness facility could be driving revenue with a kids club.

Being a parent, we all know our children are our most prized possession. There is nothing in the world we would not do for them. As a regional manager of kid’s activities, I always tell my team if the children are happy, cared for and engaged, then the parents will continue to use our clubs.

When you look at a kids club in a gym on paper, they most likely look like an expense. At the end of the day, the revenue we are generating is far less than the expense we have going out for the team members we hire to keep the children safe when in the club. What we fail to remember is there are many families who are members of our club solely because of our kids club.

So, if you add the membership revenue generated, you would see kids club is a driver. And the investment you take in making it the place to be for kids and family can pay exponential dividends. 

So, what can we do to make our kids clubs an asset in our gyms and health clubs? We must develop an interactive environment where children are occupied and engaged. We must create a place they want to go and beg to attend. We must create a secure and safe place for our families to leave their children while enjoying the club’s other amenities. Our goal needs to be for the children to love coming to the gym as much, and maybe more, than their parents do. 

Start with your team members.

Of course, the No. 1 criteria for a kids club team member needs to be that they love children. I know this may sound funny, but you do not know how many times a person interviews for a position in the kids club and have no experience with children and truly do not like working with kids. The job is to play and engage with children, so you must like them. You must get down on the floor and be with them. Kids will talk about Mrs. Maria and Mr. Mark and that’s when you know the team is great – when they want to see them every day.

Find unique ways to engage with the kids.

One idea is to have different themes for each month. For example, the month of February can be called “Your Heart Matters Month.” Throughout this month, develop challenges and special events. A healthy heart challenge could include running in place for one minute, jumping jacks for 30 seconds, burpees for 30 seconds, five sit-ups etc. The goal of the challenge is for the children to complete this workout at least eight times in the kids club during the month of February. For every child that completes this challenge, small prizes can be awarded to them at the end of the month.

This not only gets the children working on their hearts but also gets mom and dad in the club because they want their child to earn the prize and complete the challenge. Other ideas for “Your Heart Matters Month” could include crafts, healthy snack making, small lessons on why it is important to keep your heart healthy, Valentine’s Day parties etc.

You need to run your kids club like you run your programs within the club – with fun incentive days and recognition events. Kids love breakfast with Santa, Halloween parades and more. Don’t be just a child-minding area. Be a “fun and fitness zone” where kids learn, grow, develop, meet friends, and gain confidence and self-esteem. 

Make the kids and their families feel special.

You should know every kid’s birthday and acknowledge it when it is their special day with a card, balloon and lollipop. You can develop a “Star Award.” This is given to kids who are well behaved or can be given for doing something nice for another kid. It is not much, just a certificate with the child’s name and what made them a “star” that day. Parents always love getting positive feedback on their children. When you make it personal families take note. Just like in the main cubs, we are working to improve retention of the kids. When they come the families stay.  

Develop challenges and programs free to kids.

Earlier I talked about a “Healthy Heart Challenge.” Other programs like this I have offered in the past include the “Pumpkin Challenge” around Halloween, where you use small pumpkins as weights. Or an egg scavenger hunt around Easter where children look for plastic eggs and inside the eggs are workouts for them to do. Keep in mind when kids take stuff home with them it reminds them of your club and why they want to be there.

Brainstorm creative ways to generate additional revenue.

There are many ways that you can generate additional revenue in your kids clubs other than the membership retention and dues. A few ideas include summer camps, before and after school programs, birthday parties, parent’s night out events, days off programs, junior fitness, etc. All these programs are fee-based and additional ways for families to get involved at the club.

Remember, your kids club is just that – a place where kids belong. Much like your club where members take pride in being a part of; kids are same way. Maybe they should have their own membership card. Regardless, you need to see kids as a valuable part of you clubs and not a line item or box to be checked to say you have.

See it like you do personal training or group fitness. It’s an integral part of the club, a key contributor to retention and the member lifecycle, a brand extension of your marketing and a place to be a part of the community for families. We are, after all, building the next generation of members for our clubs. Let’s do it right.

Maria Miller

Maria Miller is the regional programs and kids club director for Merritt Clubs. She has been with Merritt for over 17 years and has worked up the ranks from fitness director to program manager to regional director. During this time, she has improved member retention 10-fold and has grown several revenues-based services. Today she oversees all member programming, internships, kids, and child care operations, has started a summer camp program, school-aged programs and wellness division. She runs several of the day-to-day operations of multiple divisions within Merritt Clubs as well as consults and help manage operations with Merritt Clubs consulting and management division. Maria has a broad range of expertise including, member engagement strategies, programming for adults and children, club management, sales and non-dues revenue generation, school-aged program development, accreditations for summer camps, staff development and education, customer service, and she plays an integral part in the retention and integration of all Merritt members and teams. Maria has been a featured speaker at various events including IHRSA National Trade Show, been featured speaker on several webinars as well as contributing articles for publication. While Maria loves her job and the health, fitness and wellness industry, her favorite thing in life is being a mom and wife.  

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