Over the past 18 months the industry has been hyper-focused on topics as we have collectively tried to navigate the pandemic. From sanitizing to socializing and outdoor fitness to on-demand, the topics have varied, but the goal has remained the same — to give members the best overall experience.
However, the industry is shifting to focus on attracting new members to their facilities — specifically “the other 80%.”
“We’ve been trying to get these people forever, but it’s more important now than ever,” said Brent Frueh, the general manager of Rochester Athletic Club, a panelist on this week’s Thought Leaders panel.
Clubs are wanting to welcome in the “other 80%” now more than ever because the pandemic revealed the importance of health and exercise and operators want to help everyone reap the benefits.
Frueh and other panelists Sheldon McBee, the executive director at Universal Athletic Club; Kory Angelin, the COO of Volofit by Tough Mudder; JoAnna Masloski, the COO of Wellbridge; Carolyn Jackson, the co-owner of Cedardale Health & Fitness; and Jeff Linn, the executive director of Weymouth Club, came together to bounce their ideas off one another on how to crack into this deconditioned market.
However, before your club can serve the “other 80%” you must first understand why they aren’t coming to your facility in the first place. This is exactly what McBee and the Universal team has done.
“Over the past year what we’ve discovered was the key reason people have chosen not to [join the club] in the first place was due to the marketing,” said McBee. “People were afraid to come into the facility in the first place because they didn’t know what to do. When it came to the marketing message, we had to switch our focus … to overcoming the fear of the unknown for those people.”
After switching their marketing up, Universal Athletic Club saw an uptick of new people joining and reaching out. When trying to attract new members, it’s a great idea to audit your marketing messages and images and see who you are actually marketing to. It may not be the people who you are actually trying to reach.
Many clubs — like Cedardale Health & Fitness — have already altered their marketing messages to include actual members in their facility, rather than focusing on products and services. But even with the switch club owners still haven’t tapped into the “other 80%.”
Masloski said this is because clubs are trying to achieve too much at once.
“Instead of trying to bite off the full 80%, let’s just bite off 10%,” said Masloski. “And what is that 10% that we as gyms can really speak to? People who have had experience with some sort of fitness or movement. Think about people who are into outdoor recreation or a sporting activity.”
Lastly — but arguably the most important take away from the panel — was ensuring your facility is prepared to serve and deliver a good member experience to the deconditioned market.
“When we’re talking about the 80% market and delivering a great member experience, it’s totally different,” said Linn. “It costs a lot of money to service this market. You as a culture and company have to decide how willing you are in going down that road.”
You can watch the full conversation, here: