How likely are your members to keep coming back to you if you expose them to misinformation? Fitness trends are constantly changing, you want stay up-to-date with the most current health and wellness news. It’s not enough to rely solely on your own professional education. In order to stay ahead of the game, you should be in the know on what professional journals, publications and your clients themselves are saying. Being on top of these funnels of information will allow you to become the fact checker, refute any misinformation printed by these publications, and establish yourself as an expert. If clients feel you are the most reliable source, they will turn to you for advice on proper fitness, exercise and nutrition practices.
Be fair, but firm
We’re all only human, which means certain situations can arise where you may need to bend the rules a bit. If you find yourself in this positon, make sure your clients are aware you are bending a policy. For example, if you have a 24-hour cancellation policy but you decide not to charge someone due to illness, be sure they are aware that you are bending this policy for them this ONE TIME but it will not be tolerated going forward.
Have Trainers Assign Homework
Make your sessions last longer by continuing them outside the facility. Clients should be given certain instructions or things to focus on when they are on their own time as well. Give them mini exercises to practice at home, or require them to keep a food and workout journal. Breathing exercises, posture activities and meditation activities are some other great examples to try. Clients can discuss or show what they tracked during their next session or communicate with trainers via email.
Continue Education of Trainers and Staff
Knowledge is power. While the organizations your trainers obtained their certifications from will inform them of what they need to do to keep it current, your trainers need to continue their education in other ways as well. They can easily do this by reading verified fitness journals and publications, as well as attending classes, conventions and conferences to stay on top of fitness trends and news. These are all investments in your business, not expenses.Li
For every key I type there is a small sting in the “distal phalange” of my fingers. In other words, each and every joint in my fingers are aching. And you know what? For the story and team bonding experience that I am about to share—it is totally, absolutely, 100% worth it. So, here’s the gravity of the situation. Before I was a master of fearing heights, I was a veteran of never turning down the opportunity to spend time with others. Part of having a detail oriented filter is this urge to learn more, from both myself and the people around me. So, who was I to say no, I don’t want to do this awesome thing that could potentially open my perspective? I said yes before I could remember what yes means and then spent the remainder of days dreading my amiable tendencies. But I climbed. I climbed a fifteen-foot wall. A tanned fifteen-foot wall stapled with brightly colored stones, some in the shapes of dinosaurs—and others, just stones. I would soon come to identify these as holds. I learned the name as our instructor waved his hand along a path of said colored stones and said “each hold has a color grade and route.” He proceeded to explain that the color hold you start with helps determine your route for as far as you can go. So, for example, you choose a green hold, you should ideally reach for nothing but more green holds. My mind has a detail oriented filter (as I’ve mentioned) so learning how much color and design is put into indoor climbing was pretty impressive. Some holds looked like flaming heads and some looked like turtle shells. However, color coded holds are not the part of this story that I will be detailing further. This was just an opener to explain how there’s so much more to climbing than a surface observation. What it takes to climb is courage, confidence, trust, and most of all, good teamwork because when you climb, you don’t climb alone. It takes teamwork. Yes. It takes two to climb.
Be the Belayer. Support Your Team.
To climb, there must be two people, each with a role and title. The first, naturally, is the climber. This is the one who embarks on a journey upward. The second, is the belayer. This lucky penny is responsible for pulling a rope connected to the climber as they climb. The more rope the belayer has under their arms, the safer the journey down for the climber when they choose to descend. It sounds easy in theory, but in action, quite stressful, yet exceptionally rewarding. Being the belayer is being both a physical and mental cheerleader for the team. Each pull on the rope is a cheer of support for your colleagues. The more support given to your colleagues the quicker they can reach their goals and also recover from any fall.
Be The Climber. Trust Your Team.
As the climber, I constantly felt the rope of my harness pulling back, ensuring my safety as I slowly reached higher and higher. It was a noticeable pulling sensation at first and then it became a second thought as I continued to climb. Later I realized that was trust. Reaching ahead towards your goals without looking back but knowing there is someone there to help. Of course, we all have our moments of doubt that suddenly come back full force. When I reached the top it happened, I froze and my mind went blank. There was nothing I could do alone because the next step for me was to lean away from the wall as if I was…. you guessed it, falling. Except I wouldn’t fall. The rope being pulled by my belayer slowly, safely reeled me down and I felt like a bird safely floating on a tree branch. It felt easy. With trust teamwork is easy. Though full disclosure, I didn’t lean back immediately after reaching the top, but after an experience of good sound teamwork, there will be no hesitation.
Be The Volunteer. Motivate Your Team
You already know, I wasn’t on board with climbing in the beginning and I probably would have never tried it on my own. But there was something that made me agree to try and that was the enthusiasm of my friend who asked me. My friend the volunteer. It was through their energy that I agreed to partake in an experience that would completely enhance the bond between us. So what’s the message here? It’s to be the volunteer. Be the one who ventures and asks and occasionally dares. Rock climbing is not the obvious solution to stronger team building but it is a good example of those looking for new team building activities. From freeze tag to charades, there’s a chance you’ve played a game that tests the bond between you and your coworkers. While you may think the best way to enhance that bond is to keep playing the same game, the better solution is to instead try something completely new. New experiences and challenges help us improve our skills, so why not add “rock climber” to your team player description? It’ll surely stand out on any resume!
Congratulations! Your business has been recognized in an extraordinary manner. Whether it be an honorary title, a rave review or newly awarded achievement—it’s a wonderful accomplishment worth sharing. You can certainly make a quick capture of a moment to post for social media or you can apply more strategy to make the content last longer. And why not? It’s a special moment worth remembering! Below is a list of thoughtful approaches in expanding both the reach and length of self-promoting content.
Show Rather Than Tell
Recently, EZFacility received recognition as achieving the number 9 spot in Capterra’s Top 20 Most Popular Membership Management Software. If you’ve been to our company page, you already know that EZFacility started at a modest size and then grew to fantastic proportions thanks to hard work and a dedicated team which helped us earn this spot. To exemplify our appreciation, we shared content focusing one what best represents the success of our software: our client’s successes. On both Twitter and Facebook we shared precisely that and as seen, the act of showing rather than telling expresses a more visual representation of that success. When celebrating positive news, it’s great to make sure the presentation of the message is bright as the content itself!
Think Before You Use Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to be seen by both new people and potential clients. For newcomers to social media, a hashtag is a short phrase following the # symbol that identifies a social media post as a topic. For example, if someone were to post about how they met a goal of performing 100 push-ups a day, they may write a hashtag #PracticeMakesPerfect or #LifeGoals at the end to encapsulate the message of their post as a lesson of dedication. If a popular hashtag is used by a mass amount of users in the same time period, then the hashtag will trend and become visible for all users to see what’s trending on social media. It’s important to make sure a hashtag has some relevancy to the post and there’s no space between the text. If not, then the post will neither reach their targeted audience nor the maximum range of its audience. #HashtagsDoneRight
Build Up Anticipation
Content featuring surprises can gain quite a lot of attention. Think of the news headlines that read “You Won’t Believe This.” and “What You Hear Will Shock You”. These are sentences meant to grab your attention and while successful they are dramatic and we don’t want to turn authentic social media posts into that! Ideally, we would like to introduce intrigue to the presentation but not too much at the risk of oversaturating the content. One method is by making an announcement for your announcement. For example, we did a short tease post on social media about an upcoming blog post to be released in the afternoon. Note how we included a timestamp on when the reveal would be to keep audiences engaged. Using time effectively within a modest range gives the audience less of a burden to check back and less time to wait!
Make it Accessible Across Social Media Accounts
Spreading self-promotional material across your different social media account platforms is ideal but what’s better is to alter the content to fit the best practices of the social media account. One of the best references to find the style of each social media post is to look at examples from other accounts you follow (and that means competition as well!). Most pictures on Instagram have dynamic angles whereas photos on Facebook have a traditional ‘photo album’ appearance. Catering the presentation to your social media accounts will create for a significant impact for varying platform audiences.
Congratulations! You have achieved the dream of opening your own gym or personal training facility. Your initial marketing campaign was such a success that your membership numbers have gone through the roof and many of your fitness classes are oversubscribed. It all sounds wonderful, however, as your business grows unfortunately so does the administration and tasks. Administration tasks that can take you away from offering first class support to help your members achieve their fitness goals. It’s great to be kept busy by clients on the increase, signing up and joining classes but there is a price to pay if it all becomes too overwhelming. The wheels of progress can collapse in two ways:
1) The administration tasks become overwhelming and this results in mistakes. – Too many clients turn up for a class due to incomplete bookings for previous clients, resulting in a double booking and therefore not enough space for everyone. – So either you allow everyone to participate anyway – even though there are too many clients – resulting in a cramped, stressful environment. Or you have to turn away some clients even though you were meant to have booked them in – and again they’re stressed, – Or maybe you’re letting clients in without a package by mistake so they are attending classes without sufficient monitoring. So clients end up coming to classes without paying. There was frequent rescheduling but the action wasn’t sufficiently monitored enough so the class ends up being surprisingly empty. 2) The other scenario is you’re on top of the administration tasks but it’s taking you forever and stopping you from actually leading those fitness classes or guiding your members to reach those fitness goals you helped them set when they joined your facility.
In the April edition of Gym Owner Monthly Magazine, Gym Owner of the month – Nick Pugliese from Bornefit – listed one of the main reasons for the success of his new facility is because they know their members on a personal level and create a family atmosphere within the gym that urges people to come and train.
However, it is possible to be up to date on your admin without it taking over your life while still engaging with your customers and ensuring they feel welcome at all times. If you give clients a way in which they can book their own classes or personal training sessions online, or through a mobile app, then they are in total control of scheduling themselves. Not to mention all of that time spent in administration tasks is now back on your side for however you see fit!
Using EZFacility’s self-service module or branded mobile app can get you there. Our clients can see what classes you are offering, how many spaces are available based off the maximum class numbers that you set and book into the ones that suit them. When a class is full, it’s full – no double bookings! No crammed classes!
You may be thinking how a ‘family feel’ of a facility stays intact if clients are not engaging with anyone when they are making a class reservation? Well, with the branded mobile app you can share facility information, photos and videos to keep your clients informed as well as sending “Push Notifications” to update clients about class availability, recent news, events and more. Keeping that family feeling 24/7 rather than whenever members pop in. Furthermore, you can create virtual coupons and market current promotions to your clients. What better way to keep engaged with your clients in the modern day at any given time!
The following is an EZFacility blog that was printed in the National Fitness Trade Journal Spring 2017 edition.
Manager, Director, Leader. These are some titles you’ve earned before becoming the business owner. As the business owner, you have effectively attained the right to control your business identity, and every business owner of course, should have control.
The funny thing is though, clients want control too and in today’s digital environment there are many ways to pull off the ol’ smoke and mirrors trick to keep clients happy while still guiding the identity of your business.
But this is where we should stop.
A big aspect of your business identity is its relationship with your clients. Tricks should never be an approach to any relationship not the start of an honest business. It should also never become a last resort for any matter of business because then the business identity turns into The Ventriloquist, making clients “believe they are in charge” when they’re actually the dummy, thus increasing the risk of a fallout.
You need to contact a client and are considering between a phone call or an email. After a pause, you choose email. Ideally immediate results follow, the clients response is swift, and you move on now that your objective is complete….or is it? We all want to keep our clients happy and we all hope we are doing everything to ensure that they’re satisfied at the end of the day. Yes, we hope. But do we really know for certain this is true? Here are some methods of consistent engagement to utilize so you can ensure a healthy, happy client relationship to maintain.
1: Positive Body Language
Chances are you can remember this exact moment. Think of the last time you raised your hand for a high-five and received nothing in return. It certainly makes an impact and you probably remember the person. This is the power of a bad impression and it can be quite a powerful thing. So what can be done? You’ll be pleased to know the answer is practically effortless. Just like a good pre-workout stretch, opening up your body and standing up straight enables a confident atmosphere for both you and your client. According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, something as small as a firm handshake leaves an impression of extroversion-one of the utmost ideal traits of an entrepreneur. We also recommend keeping those arms unfolded and open for interaction to create an environment of approachability.
2: Handwritten Cards/Letters
Yes emails are easier, but Grandma still mails you birthday cards doesn’t she? And they’re signed in that unique penmanship that makes you think of her and her only? Maybe there’s also a little drawing or message attached. Something that becomes a symbol of them and their love. While we probably don’t want your client to love you like Grandma does, we can agree they should feel content at the mention of your name and or business. Of course like Grandma you should stick to about 1-2 cards a year maximum.
3: “Lets do Lunch”
Think of treating your client as you would a new friend. Recommend them locations of local parks and healthy eateries local to your business. Work these mentions between conversations with existing customers and make flyers for newcomers. A good way to remind clients that you care is to hand out coupons relevant to your suggestions. If a client declines these suggestions or offers-make note of it. Even if there’s no connection at the end of the conversation, there still was a takeaway moment to learn from the experience and in time, develop a different angle of approach.
4: Courtesy Calls
Try not to let “Goodbye,” be the last thing you hear from a client on a daily basis. Through follow up phone calls or emails- you can turn that “Goodbye” into a “Thank You!” or maybe even something better! If using a phone call follow up, use this opportunity to ask questions that flesh out your client as a person-“We’re doing a birthday checklist and noticed you’re not listed. Want to sign up?”. If your emailing, you can use this moment to attach a quick survey for feedback. On the off chance the follow-up proceeds to a negative response-this gives you a heads up to rectify and learn from the situation. An unsatisfied client that is willing to communicate is more than likely to be accommodated than one who chooses to suffer in silence. On the flip side however, initiating a follow up call or email gives the silent sufferer an opportunity to voice their opinion.
5. Asking More Questions!
It’s time to one up your client trivia by using EZFacility’s CMS where the most detailed account profiles are made possible. When you think about it, account profiles are absolutely everywhere from Panera Bread to AutoZone, but how personalized are they beyond a name and a birthday? How much easier would it be to add new programs to your business if you knew what activities your clients enjoyed the most? By using EZFacility’s CMS you can get started on your next move.
If you are wondering more about effective examples of gym management software, we recommend signing up for a free demonstration of one the most highly experienced, ranked, and trusted gym management software solutions.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about the new augmented mobile app exploration game, Pokémon Go, that has become an almost overnight sensation.
Downloads of the game have surpassed even the most well-known apps, including Tinder, Snapchat and Bumble and it’s percentage of daily active users has doubled that of Twitter. Users around the world are spending a shocking amount of time travelling around communities, visiting local restaurants, stores, and other businesses in their search for Pokémon. Some even go so far as driving to other nearby towns in attempts to “catch” more rare types of Pokémon.
Many businesses, both big and small have caught on to the possibilities of this growing phenomenon and are capitalizing on it by using creative marketing campaigns and app purchases to drive large amounts of traffic through their doors, with the ultimate goal of converting players into paying customers.
Health Clubs can easily jump on this growing craze at virtually no cost and with minimum allocation of time and resources–all you need to do is know how to play the game.
There are many different ways you can use Pokémon Go to attract local players to your location and, hopefully, convert them into paying customers.
1. Is your Club a “Gym” or a “PokeStop”? The two types of locations this game that attract players in droves are called Gyms and PokeStops. Thus, either of these locations can be used in any strategy you choose to promote colossal sales. Pokémon Go runs off of an augmented reality HUD (also known as a heads-up display) of the real world. Each player creates an avatar “trainer” in the game that explores the virtual world as they navigate the real one. Players flock to PokeStops to collect rewards, collect Pokeballs and collect potions. PokeStops are usually buildings or businesses (in the real world). Although there is no official map that lists and locates all the Gyms and PokeStops, players have uncovered a workaround by using a searchable world map developed for another game by Niantic called “Ingress”. Players realized that the map for Ingress maps almost every PokeStop and Gym, the only difference being they are known as “portals” in Ingress.
To access this map, install the Ingress app on your phone and sign in with your google account. (If you don’t have one it’s very simple to make one and takes very little time). Once set up, you will be directed to a searchable map with all the listed “portals” which, again, are actually Gyms or PokeStops.
While many of these stops are businesses, even if you’re isn’t, there is most likely a PokeStop or Gym nearby that will still drive traffic your way.
2. Host a Lure party! Many businesses are jumping on this marketing strategy. Here’s how it works. A “lure module” is something you can buy in the app to lure wild Pokémon to a location, which, needless to say, attracts players to that location as well.
Businesses typically will buy a package of lure modules and advertise a “Pokémon Go Lure Party” for one night. Each lure is active for 30 minutes so businesses will set them to be back-t- back in order to attract the most amount of players possible for the entirety of the party. This can be extremely effective if your business is or is near a PokeStop. It’s easy to set up and costs virtually nothing. Let’s break down the cost just to show how little you need to spend to reap massive rewards:
Let’s say you decide to spend $100. This gives you about 14,500 Pokecoins which is the in-game currency. An eight-pack of Lures costs about 680 Pokecoins. Let’s break this down some more to see the real ROI this presents:
14,500 Pokecoins/680 = 21 eight-packs of Lures
(21*8)/2 = 84 Hours
$100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour
So, at the price of about a dollar per hour, you can attract crowds of players to your place of business. We also recommend offering special deals for Lure Party attendees to encourage even more participation.
3. If you are located near a Poke Gym, host a Battle! There are three different “Teams” that “trainers” (users) can be a part of in the game. These teams are called Mystic, Valor and Mystic. Teams “battle” each other at PokeGyms and the winning team “takes control” of that gym. As a result of this, users are constantly meeting at gyms anyway, so there is no need to purchase Lures, so you’ll have a constant influx of new potential customers.
To find out if your business is close to a gym, you can refer back to that Ingress map or open the game in your phone and look for tall building-like structures with Pokémon at the top. They are pretty hard to miss so you will see right away which ones are closest to your location. Businesses can take advantage of these PokeGyms in a number of different ways. Most of these methods rely on some creative marketing on your part. Here are just a few ideas:
Customized Pokémon Gym Badges: Everyone loves getting free stuff. You can easily customize these badges to incorporate your business name and logo when ordering from a supplier. Simply search online for “Pokémon Gym Badge” and “custom orders” to find suppliers.
Winner Discounts: Advertise which team has current control of your gym and offer discounts on memberships, packages, merchandise, etc for that team. You can do this on a poster, sandwich board, or any other physical advertising materials you have at your disposal.
Utilize Social Media: I’m sure by now you’ve seen followers on facebook posting screenshots of the game. Follow their example and post ongoing battles with searchable hashtags such as #pokemongo or #teamvalor.
Organize a PokeHunt: Here’s another example of a lucrative creative marketing tactic. This strategy is allows for a little more flexibility as it doesn’t rely solely on how close your business is to a Pokestop or Pokegym. Organize a Pokémon hunt that ends at your businesses with an after party to make a lasting impression and facilitate brand recognition. This is fairly simple to set up as it just requires an advertisement stating the start time of the hunt. Allow time for players to show up, and then have your staff (wearing your logo of course) lead them on this excursion. This is a really great way to promote brand awareness and establish your business as an inviting community that players or potential clients want to return to.
Social Media Deals: Last but not least, offer discounts for clients who post pictures of Pokémon they find at or around your facility with a hashtag that names your business. This spreads awareness on social media and let’s other players know what types of Pokémon are near you.
While it is still in its early stages, the Pokémon Go app has already presented numerous possibilities for businesses both big and small. As new updates and developments are added to the game, the opportunities will only continue to grow. If you’re business hasn’t jumped on the Pokémon Go band-wagon, it’s about time you started!
I’ve addressed this area before, but I cannot stress enough how crucial social media is to your fitness or sports business. Last time in my blog, 8 Best Practices For Promoting Your Business On Social Media, I spoke about all the tactics you SHOULD be using with your various social media platforms. But, what is also, if not more important, is what you should be making sure NOT to do.
The following is a list of major “DON’Ts” to abide by in the digital space.
1. Sending automated twitter messages to new followers.
I know it’s hard to avoid the siren call of “automated” anything. Let’s face it, we don’t want to waste time individualizing each reply, but, believe me when I tell you it goes a long way. I can’t even tell you how many times I have received an automated reply that goes something like this:
“Thanks for the follow! Get my free e-book here!” or, “Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc., or my favorite, “How have you stayed motivated this week, download my blah blah blah.”
The point is, automated messages–no matter how witty and clever you think they are– give the impression that 1. I am just a number 2. You just want to clog my inbox with promotional materials instead of get to know me and my specific needs and 3. I am just not intelligent enough to realize this is an automated message and you don’t really care how motivated I was this week.
Key Takeaway: Automated messages are no beuno.
2. Grammatical Errors.
You may think it’s no big deal to make a mistake here or there, but if you think your followers aren’t judging you for each wrong use of “there”, “their”, and “they’re”, you’re dead wrong. Also consider your client demographic. Do you work in a high-end gym or boutique? If you do, grammatical errors can be extremely off-putting.
3. Responding to public negative feedback in a condescending or defensive manner.
Even if the feedback is completely untrue, responding in a kind, gracious manner makes you look really good. Getting into long-winded debates over what did or didn’t happen and what is or isn’t true not only leaves a sour taste in this complaintant’s mouth but also for your other followers and potential clients. Be the bigger man (or woman) and take this feedback as constructive criticism. It helps to think of complaints as gifts. For every person that voices a complaint, there are probably at least a dozen others with the same complaint who would rather leave than voice their concerns. Use this negative feedback as constructive criticism to improve on and build your brand and business.
4. Not having a “like” or “follow” button on your business website.
Do we even need to explain?
5. Not taking interview requests.
Interviews are a fantastic way to promote your business! Always say yes and always respond in a timely fashion. Even if the publication asking for an interview isn’t industry-specific, you are still reaching a variety of audiences and the more your brand is out there circulating, the more publicity and attention your business will get. Plus, while the interviewer may be from a smaller publication now, that doesn’t mean they will stay that way forever! And, on the same note, when the press publishes nice things about you, make sure to acknowledge them in a gracious manner. Keep that positive rapport going to capitalize on possible future feature pieces.
6. Not responding to tweets/posts/comments from people who are NOT followers.
This an opportunity to build a relationship with non-clients. Interact with these users, educate them about your brand and mission (without shoving it in their face) and eventually they just may become clients.
7. Failure to acknowledge bloggers/publications in your local area.
Follow them, repost their relevant content, like the heck out of their posts and invite them to participate in events and social functions at your facility. Start small and target local channels before attempting to step into the big leagues.
8. Having no social media presence at all.
This should go without saying—especially in a world where almost everyone is online and on some form of digital platform. The benefits of promoting your brand on these different channels is astronomical and should NOT be ignored. This is the easiest way to tap into a myriad of audiences from different demographics. While you’re at it, start up a blog too and develop a consistent schedule so subscribers know what to expect each week.
Can you believe we are already half-way through 2016? We’ve gathered up 4 of the latest fitness trends that have surfaced this year as well as what’s to come.
1. Exercise as an Experience
This developing trend views fitness as a lifestyle rather than a painful chore to “get over with” before moving on to more enjoyable activities. You may have noticed the emergence of smaller, specialized, boutique studios such as Crossfit, yoga, boxing, MMA and indoor cycling in recent years. This trend is a direct result of clients looking to get stronger, fitter and participate in a more social, intimate, and less stressful environment. Studies have proven that partner workouts or workouts done with a friend produce better fitness results and increase client motivation to reach fitness goals. These smaller studios provide a place where people with similar interests and fitness goals can come together and view exercise as a social and enjoyable experience. That’s not to say larger health clubs can’t tap into this specialized fitness trend. Many facilities are incorporating these boutique classes into their list of offerings. For example, there has been a notable increase in large gyms adding Zumba classes, boot camps, barre classes, and ever increasingly popular themed races and outdoor obstacles to establish their facility as a hub that people are drawn to have an atypical, community experience outside the gym walls. There has also been an increase in demand for body weight training exercises (which actually ranked No. 2 as a trend to watch for 2016 and beyond) as well as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) which involves short burst of high energy exercises followed by short periods of rest and is crammed into a 25 to 30 minute workout. Clients are looking for a less time consuming workout that they can easily fit into their work and social schedule that still produces almost immediate results.
2. Professional Trainers and Instructors
Gone are the days when fresh out of college staff are sufficient enough to teach clients proper form and offer fitness advice. Credentials matter. Recently, professionals certified by ACE or ACSM and other recognized agencies are in high demand. Health clubs should strive to ensure at least half of their staff includes individuals with certifications from accredited agencies. These trainers are able to challenge customers, keep them safe AND develop workouts tailored to a client’s needs. When clients see results, this increases their motivation to reach their goals and they’re willingness to keep coming back to your club! The focus should be on developing trust between trainers and members rather than spending the majority of their time recruiting new clients.
3. Functional Fitness
To put it simply, clients will get bored of the same old routines, so switch it up! Keeping workouts fresh will keep members motivated and enable faster fitness results. Interval training has been shown to be extremely successful as it allows the combination of different exercise methods to create versatile workouts. Some of the most popular examples include body weight training with elliptical running, indoor cycling with boxing, strength training and rowing and more. The key is to provide trainers with as many workout methods as possible to keep clients interested and dedicated.
4. Think outside the box…err we mean gym!
In the world of smartphones and social media, we are more connected than ever before. This means that trainers can influence client lifestyles and continue to assist with fitness goals outside of the gym. Apps that track nutrition choices, out-of-the-gym physical activities, heartrates and more are being adopted by health clubs to help trainers add value to existing workout regimes.
Additionally, clubs have begun adding outdoor activities such as obstacle course training, boot camps, marathon prep training, and sports league pre-season training to their repertoires. This is a great way to connect with clients’ interests outside the gym!
The key thing to take away from all of this is to keep the big picture in mind. If you are considering adding one or all of these trends to your club, understand that this is an ongoing social experience that will need to be constantly updated year to year. Give clients as many opportunities as possible to find their fitness niche, have an enjoyable and successful workout experience, and establish yourself as a trusted health and wellness community hub.
If you are a human living on planet Earth, chances are you pay a LOT of monthly bills. You have your car payments, your cable bills, cell phone bills, mortgage or monthly rent and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t have Netflix these days? With all of these obligatory payments each month, chances are you are going to be extremely picky about how you spend your precious leftover income. A recent study found in the fitness industry that most people who cancel their gym membership –for reasons other than relocation or medical issues—do so because they aren’t utilizing their membership to its full potential and are sick of watching their monthly dues sucked from hard-earned paychecks.
With the rise of boutique clubs offering loyaly programs and services at lower prices, gym owners are now put on the spot to create rewarding experiences and perceived value for members. The cost to save a member is much less than the cost of acquiring a new member, so there is a tremendous benefit in having a set of efforts, activities, and resources allocated to trying to prolong the experience with the existing member. Now, more than ever before, gym owners need to focus on making clients feel motivated and confident in their gym membership investment.
So, how can fitness facilities compete with lower-priced alternatives and meet member retention challenges head on? Here are 5 key gym membership retention strategies to increase loyalty and customer satisfaction:
1. Exceptional Onboarding Process and the Right Staff.
Start off on the right foot and straight off the bat. You don’t want members to feel lost, intimidated or overwhelmed when they first sign. Make it a policy to place a personal phone call to a client two days after they join or send them a handwritten postcard. Let them know that your club is full of friendly people that are easy to connect and relate to! When it comes to hiring your coaches or personal trainers, focus on quality over quantity. A critical component of exceptional customer experiences is matching a client with the right trainer and allowing for smooth connections with other members. Hire people who are great listeners and fully committed to keeping in line with your club’s image and goals. Trainers should easily be able to identify client needs and interests. For example, if a client is into group classes, trainers should know to pair them up with other attendees and create a mini “fit fam” they can turn to for support and help to reach their goals. It’s also important to avoid “friction points” during the onboarding process and the first few weeks. For example, avoid frustrating situations such as forgetting to give them their membership cards or neglecting to teach them how to book a class or use equipment properly. You must give them the tools to succeed in order to build customer loyalty to increase retention.
Who doesn’t like presents? Offer rewards and incentives to keep clients coming back. This is extremely critical for the first few weeks and months. Offer a $25 reward for attending a trainer’s program or for getting their picture taken. Offer a free class to clients who attend classes twice a week for 60 days, or 3 free PT sessions once they reach 3 months. Maybe after one month, you give them one month free (who doesn’t like free!) or a special discount at your smoothie station—the possibilities are endless. The point is, you need to keep your clients interested and perceive the value of returning to your club.
3. The 21-Day Rule and Effective Software for Tracking Activity
One of the most frustrating issues clubs face is figuring out WHY a client leaves. Most of the time, it could have been anything. Did they dislike one of your instructors? Was the music too loud? Did they face gymtimidation? WHAT WAS IT? The challenge is your lack of information. Aside from asking how a client is doing every time they sign-in at the front desk, how can you track client activity and identify “fragile” members before they leave?
The solution here is an all-in-one management software. Most gym software out there has more sophisticated tracking tools that will allow you to identify information such as who hasn’t been visiting your gym as often. Once you have this precious information, you can start putting together a strategy to interact and re-engage them. You can also use sophisticated tracking tools to easily see which classes have the highest attendance and focus your marketing efforts on promoting them even more.
Using these tools, you can then implement the 21-day rule. The rule is simple: if a member has not visited your facility after a full 21 days, your club reaches out to re-engage them. Be sure to establish a membership retention team to reach out 21 –days, 60 days or even once per quarter. Methods of re-engagement can range from sending an encouraging email to personally checking up on the client the next time they attend a class. Your goal is to reignite their motivation to be a part of your club’s culture and “family”.
4. Cutting Edge Fitness Center Classes
Last but not least, offer fitness classes and programs catered directly to your gym member’s interests. Keep on top of trends! Want to compete with that boutique Crossfit gym down the road? Offer Crossfit classes and, while you’re at it, create a Groupon to encourage clients to bring a friend! Do your research to make sure you remain on the cutting edge.
These are just some tried and true tactics to combat retention issues; but in reality, the possibilities are endless. Start with these 5 key tips and use what works best for YOUR facility. Need help making your fitness center or gym more efficient? Check out our gym management software.
Remember a little something called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010? This federal statute has completely changed the landscape of corporate fitness programs. In an effort to reduce health insurance costs, the ACA established new incentives and policies to increase the accountability to corporate fitness and wellness programs.
These incentives can be broken down to two types of programs:
Activity –Based: With “activity-only” programs, employees simply have to engage in a certain activity in order to be rewarded. For example, employees might be required to run for 45 minutes three days a week, follow a particular exercise plan, or stick to a strict diet. The point is, they don’t have to reach a specific weight, measurement or numerical goal to be rewarded.
Outcome-Based: This type of program requires employees to attain a specific wellness goal. This can include hitting a specific numerical goal, such as weight, BMI or blood pressure measurement. This can also mean quitting smoking or drinking. When employees achieve their measurable goal, the benefits kick in. Some corporate programs will issue up to 30% in refunds when a goal is met.
What does this mean for fitness clubs?
Well, first of all, if your club currently doesn’t offer corporate wellness memberships, you are missing out on some serious revenue. To keep up with ever-changing corporate programs, clubs have had to rethink their programming and product strategies. Clubs must offer outcome-based membership programs that include efficient documentation of results. Club operators must track everything from participation to outcomes including biometrics, health improvements, smoking cessation, etc. so that corporations can present these results in comprehensive formats for insurers.
Health facilities can capitalize on this new trend in corporate fitness incentives. Instead of just offering corporate memberships with lower pricing, clubs can work with corporate HR departments to add certain programs and services to these memberships in order to add value and increase the company’s wellness benefits. For example, one company worked with a client corporation to create a 12-week program that aimed to lower cholesterol. Employees that participated in the program reduced their cholesterol by 5%, resulting in about $18,618 in healthcare savings for their company. Clubs can also work with corporations to create competitions. For example, create a weight-loss competition where the team wins a monetary prize and a full refund of their registration fees if they maintain their weight for a specified amount of time. The possibilities are endless!
The goal is to establish your club as a valuable centerpiece to the companies’ wellness program. Don’t simply watch from the sidelines. Set up your club to be part of the ongoing effort to promote health and wellness in the work environment. It’s not going away any time soon!
It’s no longer a secret that blogging is one of the most important features on your website if your goal is to improve SEO, increase conversion rates, and generate leads.
97 Display manages hundreds of fitness websites globally, and our most successful clients have a few things in common, one of which is that they all blog.
Blogging doesn’t have to be scary. Many of our clients aren’t professional writers and fear that the content they produce won’t be helpful or that people simply won’t read it. Ultimately they fear wasting their time over something that may not generate any immediate results. But the fact is that blogging can be used for technical and SEO benefits… not just for audience education. This means that even if no one ever reads your blog it can still be beneficial to your website! Let’s discover 3 ways to supercharge your blog for SEO:
1. Backlinks & Sitelinks
Your blog is one of the most natural ways to include large numbers of backlinks & sitelinks on your website.
Backlinks: hyperlinks on your website to other URLS (such as your social media business profiles)
Sitelinks: Hyperlinks on your page to other pages on your website (such as “click here to view our new schedule)
Backlinks and Sitelinks are beneficial to your SEO because it communicates to Google specific keywords that your URL is talking about. The more backlinks & sitelinks, the more confident search engines are about the content on your site and the more likely you will rank higher in search engines.
One of my favorite way to naturally include backlinks on your blog is to end EVERY blog post with this:
“Learn more at our social media channels!
Timothy’s Fitness Facebook Page
Timothy’s Fitness Twitter Page
Timothy’s Fitness Google+ Page”
Where each of the lines hyperlink directly to the respective social media page.
BUT DON’T STOP THERE!
Next: Go to each other the social media channels and link back to that specific blog post.
● Facebook: New blog post! Learn more about our group training spring schedule:
This will create a web of links back and forth between your blog and your social media channels.
Get into the habit of doing this! Over time you’ll build a strong web of backlinks between your website URL and your social media channels which will clearly communicate to search engines the content and services of your website…. which is essential for top rankings!
2. Be Smart With Your Blog Titles
Your blog title is the most important aspect of your blog post. It is what tells search engines what your blog is about and it has the most SEO influence.
Avoid titles like:
“Ten Fat Burning Tips for January”
For a fitness business website, this title has no strategic keywords in place. It has no location keywords, and no service keywords. While it may read nicely it’s missing out on the natural opportunity to plug more strategic keywords on your website as titles!
Here is an example of an SEO friendly alternative:
“Beat the Cold: Denver’s Best Fitness Program Tips for Burning Fat this January”
This title communicates the same content but includes valuable keywords such as “Denver” and “Fitness Program.” This is especially helpful for small towns and surrounding suburbs that you want to rank in. Remember, you can always go back in time to old blog posts and update titles with these keywords!
3. Include Video & Image Tags. Videos and images will increase user engagement and improve the likelihood that your readers will actually read your blogs.
Just placing images & videos on your sites without tagging them, however, does nothing for your SEO.
An image is a perfect place to place otherwise awkward keywords in a perfectly “Google-friendly” way. Anytime you upload and image to your blog, simply name it something keyword rich- like “Denver Personal Training and Fitness Classes” EVEN if the picture is something completely unrelated.
Search engines will crawl your blog, however they can’t see your images – they can only see your description of the image. By naming your image something keyword rich you’re telling search engines that this image has to do with your specific keywords. This is HUGE! Any image or video gives you an opportunity to plug as many keywords as you can into the description or title of that image.
Since your website visitors most likely won’t see the title of your image, you won’t have to worry about how readable your keywords are- just make sure they are there!
Aside from making sure clients are having the best experience possible at your club, you’re second largest priority should be ensuring visitor safety. However, as most club and facility owners know, this is no easy task. From establishing safety protocols and procedures; scheduling inspections; forms and contracts to sign, and making sure all other aspects of your business are running seamlessly, it’s a lot to handle. How can one person accomplish all of this? The answer is: you can’t, and you shouldn’t.
The key thing to take away from this is it takes a whole team. Do not assume all the responsibility yourself. Instead, create a risk management team and network made up of both internal and external sources of support. Having a team to delegate specific tasks to increases productivity and makes for a well-oiled safety machine.
Before looking for help outside your facility, consider your current resources. For example, do you have employees with a medical background? Do you have any individuals on staff with a law enforcement or engineering background? Look for individuals who can bring valuable knowledge and experience to the table. For this internal team, maintain a consistent meeting schedule to address risk management on safety concerns and protocols. These meetings should happen quarterly at the very least and should have a delegated leader to hold all members accountable for all current and new initiatives.
To further grow your risk management network, look to outside sources such as local fire departments, police forces and EMS teams. These resources can help you and your team practice drills for potential situations you may face as well as keep you up-to-date on local incidents.
You can also consult your insurance agent and carrier for resource and educational materials regarding risk management best practices and procedures. Some carriers also have loss prevention professionals who can be brought in to advise your team on proper safety measures and protocols.
Another great option to pull resources from is your local American Red Cross or other local agencies. American Red Cross assists businesses both small and large with educational materials, seminars, and guides for keeping your members safe in the case of an emergency.
The key thing to take away here is that you have a multitude of resources you can pull together to make the best risk management strategies possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure new staff members are trained on all safety measures put in place at your facility.
It’s the idea that when we feel we have made progress towards a specific goal, we are more committed to reaching that goal. If we do not recognize any progress we are making towards a goal, the more likely we will abandon all efforts to reach it. So, the key to this phenomenon is perception.
So where is this going?
Loyalty Programs. Yes, it turns out that this psychological concept has resulted in the ever-increasing popularity of loyalty programs across all types of businesses. Coffee shops, large-restaurants chains, merchandise stores, and spas have all adopted this trend, and more recently, so too has the health and fitness industry.
So what loyalty and retention strategies can you use to accomplish this?
There is a myriad of strategies to choose from. Awarding clients “free” points up front is a great tactic. Punch cards have proven to be extremely successful across all businesses. The idea is that once a person has had all the slots on their card punched, they will be rewarded. For example, you can give members a “punch” every time a member comes in per week or uses a certain machine. A great tactic that coincides with this is to start them off with three or so punches (for signing up, being a new member, etc.) so that they feel they are that much closer to their reward. This plays right into the Endowed Progress Effect because we know that people work harder to achieve a goal when they feel like they are close to reaching it. Rewards for full punch cards can range from a discount, free item, or a free class or program.
The best part is, you are rewarding members for actions they are most likely already doing including attending classes and referring friends and family, but you have just added a huge incentive to increase this behavior. That client may not be more inclined to refer more friends, purchase more classes and buy more merchandise just to reach that full punch card reward. The revenue and recognition possibilities from these programs are endless! Excited yet? Well, before you begin your new endeavor into loyalty programs at your facility, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Ability to Document Progress:
We mentioned before the Endowed Progress effect is based on perception. This means that clients need to see physical proof that they are making progress for these programs to be effective. Make sure you are able to document when clients reach each milestone.
2. Instant gratification:
First, clearly define each milestone of your motivational program and then ensure that clients who meet them are rewarded immediately. If clients have to wait forever to receive their prize, they will lose steam in their efforts to reach the next milestone or their ultimate goal.
3. Achievable goals!
It is physically impossible to lose 30 pounds (at a healthy pace) in a week! Therefore, make sure to speak with clients about their goals and manage expectations. Remember the flip side of the Endowed Progress Effect: When there is no perceived progress, this results in demotivation.
4. Invest in management software that tracks client progress:
If your programs rely on client information that you cannot integrate with your current software solution, this is counterproductive. If your software solution cannot provide accurate results, clients will become frustrated and less motivated to keep working towards their goals.
5. Valuable and Relevant Rewards:
If you are a fitness facility, rewarding members with ice cream coupons would not be beneficial to your clients and would consider moving business elsewhere. Instead, reward members with merchandise with your company logo, such as shirts, hats, water bottles, towels or any other items that reflect back on your brand and the industry.
A rewards program–if implemented correctly–can be a major source of revenue and growth for your business. Build relationships with your clients by offering efficient, trackable, result-driven programs to promote brand loyalty and establish a community that members and prospects want to return to.
Once upon a time, I had no interest in yoga at all. I thought yoga was all about meditating by candlelight and singing “oms” in unison with twenty or so strangers. As a health and fitness enthusiast, I was under the impression that a “good” workout had to include intense cardio and heavy weights — neither of which, to my knowledge, were present in most yoga classes. It wasn’t until a friend of mine invited me to an Aerial yoga class that I realized how little I actually knew about this ancient fitness practice. First of all, I had no idea that there were different types of yoga with varying degrees of intensity. Aerial Yoga (also known as Anti-Gravity Yoga) just so happens to be the most rapidly growing variation, popping up in clubs all over the country. Aerial Yoga includes the use of silk hammocks to support participants as they move through various yoga poses, midair. When I walked into the class and saw lines of these silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling, I immediately thought of the acrobats in Cirque Du Soleil. I thought, if I didn’t get a real workout, at least I’d have fun swinging from the ceiling. About fifteen minutes into the class I realized I had severely underestimated it. I was sweating, breathing hard and channeling all of my energy into holding what felt like a hundred different positions only a contortionist could pull off. However, I felt great! I felt muscles aching in places I couldn’t normally reach with a typical cardio or weight-centered workout. It was a completely different kind of experience. After class, I thanked my friend for introducing me to this new-found addiction and immediately went home to do some more research about this practice. What I found was a recent study conducted by the American Council of Exercise that examines how effective Aerial Yoga is as a form of exercise. As I was still feeling the endorphin rush from class, I wasn’t surprised by the results. The study aimed to track how this form of yoga affected participants on a cardiovascular level after three 50-minute classes a week, for a total of six weeks. The study included sixteen participants (all women) of various ages who were asked to wear a calorimetric measurement system as well as a heart rate monitor during each class. The results were extremely positive. At the end of the six weeks, participants not only experienced weight loss and a reduction in body fat, but also an increase in “good” cholesterol and improved respiratory function. Furthermore, it was found that each participant had reduced their risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The study went on to say that each 50-minute class burned about 300 calories! That was impressive enough for me to go back for another round. In fact, I now go about three times a week and each time I go I see a significant increase in attendance. It’s become so popular that my gym had to start offering three more Aerial Yoga classes to accommodate all the members jumping on this new trend. From the health benefits to the positive, fun, intense environment Aerial Yoga provides, it might be time to consider adding it to your facility’s programming. The flexibility of the hammocks allow for all different fitness levels to participate. I highly recommend it!
If you are yoga business offering anti-yoga classes make sure to check out our yoga studio software to make class check-in quick and easy.
1. Get to class early. Spend a few minutes before class to get to know some of your students, not just to set up your equipment. This is prime time to show your clients that you are a) a relatable human being, and b) this gives you some time to learn client needs and what they are looking to get out of your class. Wander around too; don’t just wait for them to come to you. Remember as much significant information about clients as you can! Showing that you remember someone shows that you care and inspires client loyalty.
2. Own It. I should know who the instructor is the MINUTE I walk into the room. There’s no room for nervousness here. Even if you are nervous, fake that confidence until it’s real! If I am paying to take a class, I want to be confident in my instructor’s abilities.
3. Pump up the jams! BEFORE class starts. If you are about to teach a high-intensity class- like spinning- set the tone before clients enter the room. Chances are that most of your students have crawled out of bed to take this class before work or forced themselves to come after a long day. They need a psychological PUSH to rev them up. Don’t let them fall asleep on the bike.
4.Make sure to keep energy HIGH! Particularly in small classes.
There are a bunch of strategies you can keep in your arsenal. Here are just a few:
• Call people out by name. Make eye contact and encourage them to power through the workout.
• Make introductions between students to create a “pack mentality”. You’re in this together!
• Compliment them on actually making it to class when they could just have easily been sleeping—if it was a morning class—or headed straight to the bar after work. Instead, they’re here! YAY!
5. Encourage partner or group work.
Require students to make a connection by:
• Pairing up for a two-person exercise.
• Have half the class work super intense while the other half cheers them on.
• Tell students to cheer on the person exactly to their left/right. Give high fives (who doesn’t love a high five?).
6.Make a soundtrack full of FRESH jams, and while you’re at it, match the music to the beat! I personally need a good, blood pumping beat to get me in the right mental state for an intense workout. But, I need that feeling of something NEW each time to get that same effect. Don’t use the same soundtrack every class and, while you’re at it, check out the top 40 chart once in a while to keep relevant. And, try to match the workout to the beat! It helps the class synchronize and nothing is more motivating than being in sync as a unit.
7.Recover gracefully from mistakes. It’s inevitable: at some point in time, something will break or won’t go as planned. To prepare for this, make a list of things that could go wrong beforehand, and come up with solutions. Whether your music system breaks or you forget to repeat an exercise on the other side, find ways to roll with the punches gracefully and seamlessly. No one is going to walk out of the room in a huff if they see you are calm, poised and actively working on the issue.
8. Encourage encouraging noise! If you’ve been to any sporting event, you know that players thrive on the roar of the crowd. It’s no different in a group class studio. If there is someone screaming, whooping or doing a Native American battle cry – encourage this behavior and build on it! Usually when people are making these sounds, it means they are having a fantastic time. This is a major complement so don’t ignore it. Let students feed energy off each other and it will change the entire atmosphere of the class.
9. Correct students, but don’t make a scene. No matter what fitness level students are at, they can always improve. You earn trust from your students if you correct them once in a while. Push them deeper into a pose, make sure both feet are facing the right way—it goes a long way in showing your expertise. I want to know I am in fully capable hands. With that being said, don’t correct me from across the room and, for God’s sake, pull the mic away when you do! Most instructors don’t realize they’re embarrassing students this way. Just remember to pull the mic away for corrections.
10. Promote your colleagues! Contrary to popular belief, speaking well about another colleague does NOT take business away from you. Talk about how awesome the next instructor’s class is or mention how good an instructor is at a certain area of expertise. Talking badly about other instructors puts a bad taste in your students’ mouths.
11. Let students know when they are doing well. Praise students who are visibly trying their hardest. This goes a long way in boosting egos and encouraging them to keep coming back, especially if you call them out when they don’t realize you are watching.
12. Prepare for things to go wrong. Our bodies can do some pretty weird things when we exercise—things not everyone, especially first-timers—may not be familiar with. We sweat uncontrollably, make pained noises, hear popping sounds, and our muscles start to shake all over the place when they start to burn out. Reassure your students that all of this is normal to keep going!
13. Come up with an end-of-class ritual. Don’t just push students back into the real world straight after a workout. Ease them out of the endorphin high and congratulate them on a job well done. This could be a series of stretches or some light breathing techniques. Either way, ease them out of that mental state so they can be excited, feel accomplished, and then get on with their day.
14. Stay after class too. Don’t sprint out of the class once the workout is done. Stay after to get social with students. This is a great opportunity to get feedback on your class, whether positive or negative. Both forms will help you improve and gather ideas on how to make their next experience even better.
Most importantly, just stay after to chat and show that you are a normal person when you don’t have your supertrainer suit on. It will go a long way in forming loyal students and create viable referrals.
As a club owner, how often do you engage with your clients and staff? While making sure all systems are running smoothly at your club is important, sitting in your office all day just doesn’t cut it. The fact is, it’s the people that make a business thrive and the more you work to nurture these relationships, the more successful your club will be.
When we say “engage” we don’t mean asking for credit card information while selling a membership or package—that’s a business transaction. On the flip-side, walking around the club and simply saying “hi” isn’t enough either. You need to get to know these people who frequent your space. The more you ask about your members, staff, vendors and personal, the more you build a “community” and a place people actually look forward to returning to.
Here are three ways to build strong, long-lasting relationships at your club:
1. Get Personal.
Okay, we don’t mean interrogate, but do ask more personal questions than, “What rep are you on?” Make it your mission to learn about your members. Learn at least one significant thing about each member, and then remember it for the next time they visit. This will show them you don’t think of them as just a number. Ask them about their families; what they like to do on the weekends, what their fitness goals are, or just ask them how they are doing that day. Engaging in a real conversation will go a long way.
2. Be Authentic:
Speaking of real conversations; if you are being fake they will see right through you. Make eye contact, give real responses, and let them know you “see” them and that you care. If they see you walking around to each person asking the same question and responding the exact same way each time, they’re going to know you’re not being genuine.
3. Practice Patience:
If you find yourself dealing with a problematic client, try to see the situation from their perspective before you retaliate. Remember the Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. We’ve all heard this since grade school, but it really should be practiced in daily life. People lash out for all kinds of reasons. The woman complaining about a cancelled class? This might be the only day she has off from her stressful job. The man complaining that the prices are too high? He may have just lost his job. You never know what people are going through, so treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were having a hard time.
The fact is, you need to get out on that floor and get to know your clients. You can’t sit in the back room and expect the people at your club to feel welcome. Make your rounds, learn about the people that make up your “community” and give them the opportunity to get to know you. The stronger your relationships with your gym community, the smoother your business will run and the more successful you will be.
Who, in this day and age, is not on some kind of social media? This channel of communication has developed into a major source of revenue for businesses both big and small. Unfortunately, if you’re a small, new business, chances are you can’t afford to hire a Social Media Specialist. This makes marketing and attracting new clients and followers very tricky. Posting a picture or tweet here and there is not going to attract or engage a large number of followers. In order to truly use social media to its full potential, businesses must prepare to invest some time and effort into better understanding how to market on different platforms. Fortunately, we’re here to offer some advice:
1. Quality Over Quantity: You’ve heard this phrase before. As a small business, you want to reach for loyalty as opposed to millions of followers. You don’t need to “go viral” straight off the bat. Instead, focus on building strong relationships with a smaller number of followers. Social media relationships, like real-life relationships, take time. When you start to attract and build these loyal relationships with a select few, you tap into their social circles. Building a solid reputation for great customer service and support will translate into referrals and will build your following over time. Don’t put all your effort into one huge campaign for immediate value—let your following build up with LOYAL clients who plan to stay for the long haul.
2. Focus On Your Local Community: Start local. Look at the types of businesses that are around you and post targeted content. You can also offer incentives for local workers who check into your facility on social media.
3. Plan In Advance. We cannot stress enough how important this is. Create a content calendar so you know what kind of content to post on each day. This will save you so much time in the long run and consumers will appreciate your consistency. Also, start by experimenting with the best times and days to post content. Perhaps you get more engagement from posts on Wednesdays at 9am. Experiment and then make it a ritual. Also, take advantage of Holidays! Offer a Christmas special or free guest passes on Mother’s day—the possibilities are endless!
4.Use What You Already Have. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Utilize content you’ve already created or include quotes from satisfied customers. In the age of Yelp and other review sites, clients are looking for first-hand experiences to form their own decisions. Adding a client testimonial will go a long way in attracting new followers. 5. Be Engaging! People love quizzes, polls or any other medium where they can post their opinion. Let the public know that there are real people working at your gym, and don’t be afraid to show a sense of humor! Take some risks.
6. Translate Relationships Into Sales. So, you’ve established some loyal relationships, not how do you turn this into revenue? Begin by offering special offers to clients via social media. Offer online and offline coupon codes. Create contests with prizes such as free classes or memberships. This will generate sales both online and at your facility.
7. Quick Response Time: Never ignore a complaint! Think of complaints as little gifts. If one person voices an issue, there are usually ten more with the same issue that are just too lazy to post it. The people who DON’T speak up, are usually just leave rather than deal with the issue. Use these complaints to better your business and let the client know that they’ve been heard and that you are actively working to address their concerns. Most importantly, by responding quickly, you show that your company cares about your clients and want to create the best customer experience possible. With that being said, respond quickly to positive comments too! Everyone likes to be acknowledged and if you ignore a compliment it might rub followers the wrong way.
8. Use Data and Analytics. Finally, make sure you are measuring your reach and engagement on social media. This is critical to understanding what is and isn’t working. Most social media platforms provide their own set of analytics. However, it doesn’t hurt to use an additional tool for accuracy. Some of the data you should be sure to measure include:
• Who is promoting your business the most and has a vast amount of followers you can tap into?
• Who is visiting your page and when?
• Who made purchases from you in the past? This will help so you develop tactics to encourage future purchases.
The fact is, there are a myriad of ways to promote your business. Don’t dive straight in and try everything at once. Gradually build up your following with loyal members and nurture those relationships. Listen, respond, and get to know your audience so that you can develop your overall marketing plan into a major success.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. It’s an age old proverb and one that many successful entrepreneurs live by. The fact of the matter is, failure happens–things fall through. What defines your brand and business is how you bounce back. True success comes from those who face failure head-on, get back on that horse, go back to the drawing board and never, ever quit.
So how DO you bounce back from a failed business-specifically in the fitness and sports industry? Here are three ways to consider:
1. Explain the failure and don’t make excuses: Transparency is key
Transparency is key and clients will appreciate your honesty. Own your failure–everyone makes mistakes. By admitting your mistakes and making it clear how much time and effort you will allocate to improving your products and services, you will give them the impression that you take your business extremely seriously.
2. Analyze the fail
The trick is to view failure as a great learning experience. Before you embark on a brand new business plan, take dedicated time to evaluate the factors and elements that lead to the failure. You need to really understand what worked and what didn’t. This way, you don’t have to completely scrap your old plan. Instead, you can build upon what worked and reevaluate what didn’t. Did clients love your product but hate your customer service? Were your prices too high? Dig deep and really analyze your client data.
3. Ask for Help
Don’t do it alone. You need to find other professionals and services that can help streamline your business. Are you tracking everything –from memberships, class packages, rentals– on paper? This can be both time consuming and stressful and can also lead to numerous inaccuracies and financial loss. An all-in-one secure management software is key. Not only can you track all your client data and class schedules, you will also be able to set up automatic billing, create a customized app for online purchases, send targeted email campaigns, access accurate reporting and more! The more you streamline your business processes, the more time and effort you can put into creating those exceptional, personalized customer experiences at your facility.
4. Refocus your brand
While you are analyzing your client data, identify your target audience. Was a vast majority of your clientele composed of young adults? Senior citizens? Elite athletes?
Once you recognize your main client base, focus your efforts on delivering products and services to this specific demographic. You need to create exceptional client experiences to attract and retain members. For example, if the majority of your clients are between 15 and 25 years old, you may want to focus on group classes or specific sports skills training to get these youngins’ in the door.
5. Actually Do it.
Now that you have evaluated what works and what doesn’t, refocused your brand, sought help and created a new business plan: set it in motion. Don’t let the failure freeze your ambitions. Most successful businesses fail more than once but it is only after failure that you will find success. Bounce back!
The last thing we want to do while on the job is crunch numbers. However, the fact of the matter is, for a business to succeed—especially in the fitness industry—calculating your retention rate is vital, and this means we need to do a little math.
Calculating retention rates can be VERY confusing, but we’re here to break it down to some more manageable formulas. The key thing to take away from all this is, regardless of the equations you use, keeping members satisfied is a sure way to keep your retention rate high.
What Is Retention and Why Should I Care?
In laymen’s terms, retention is the percentage of the members that stayed in the past year or 12 months. It costs a LOT more to attain a new client than it does to keep loyal members, so it’s pretty safe to say that membership-based facilities should focus energy and resources on retaining members to be successful. Although reaching sales quotas and getting new faces in the door are important parts of the business, if you are not keeping those members, you’re working harder for the smallest profits.
How Do I Calculate My Retention Rate?
One of the biggest mistakes club owners make is they just total cancellations in a year and divide this by the membership total at the end of the year. Don’t make this mistake. Instead use any of the methods listed below.
By far the easiest way to track retention is by using the following steps:
1. Start with a 12-month chart and record the beginning monthly membership for each month.
Use the equation:
Previous month’s beginning membership + number of sales in previous month + number of reinstated (unfrozen) memberships.
PMBM + SPM + RM
2. Subtract the number of canceled memberships and the number of frozen memberships.
3. Total the canceled membership for the last 12 consecutive months.
4. Total the beginning monthly membership for the last 12 months and divide by 12 which indicate the average beginning monthly membership.
5. Total the number of canceled membership for the last 12 consecutive months. Divide this number by the number of average beginning monthly memberships in the previous step. This answer is your annual attrition.
For annual retention, take the number from step one and subtract attrition. The process is pretty easy, but make sure you are meticulous in your calculations.
Another popular formula for calculating retention rates:
Member retention rate = ((ME-MN)/MS)) X 100
ME = number of members at end of period
MN = number of new members acquired during period
MS = number of members at start of period
I know you’re probably starting to get painful flashbacks of high school math class, but don’t be intimidated. These formulas are actually pretty simple to use. Think about it:
If you start with 100 members in your club’s first month, and factor in the 15 members who canceled their contracts and 20 new members, then you are left with 105 members at the end of the month. Using the numbers above, your equation should look like this:
((105-20)/100)) X 100 = 85 percent of your members are still active.
Both formulas work for large clubs and small boutique facilities. Tracking retention rate is the foundation of growing a business. Whichever method you choose, make sure to take a serious approach to keeping members loyal and reducing your attrition.
There is a common misconception that, in order to boost membership sales, you must spend an absorbent amount of money on marketing, but this is simply not the case. Word of mouth is STILL the most valuable tool for a health club and especially for those that are just starting out and don’t have a lot of room in their budget for paid advertising. Referrals are a great, cheap way to boost sales. Satisfied customers will recommend your services to their friends, family, and acquaintances, and these recommendations can be worth their weight in gold.
Set the Tone. Engagement is key. Start as soon as a prospective member walks through the door. You need them to like you and trust you as a valid resource of fitness information. The best way to build trust is to be relatable. Don’t barrage them with sales pitches from the get-go. Instead, have a real conversation. Ask them what they are looking for and what their personal goals are. If they don’t have any at this point, help them create of realistic, reachable ones and then explain in detail how you can help to achieve them. Come from a place of helping and assistance. Even if you don’t make the sale immediately, once you’ve established a connection and trust, you can ask them for others who may be interested as well.
Accept Constructive Criticism and Offer Incentives: Unless you’re a mind reader, you may not always be able to tell if a customer likes the way you do certain things at your facility. You don’t have to take every complaint or suggestion to heart, but the willingness to accept suggestions and requests for changes is a much-appreciated quality in ANY business. Accepting constructive criticism is just good customer service, plain and simple. It allows customers to see that their needs are of the utmost importance.
You can also offer incentives for referrals. Again, don’t overwhelm them with a big salesy pitch, but make it worth their while. For example, perhaps offer a free class to those who bring in at least 5 referrals in 3 months, or offer a month free of dues for those that get up to 10. You should fine-tune your referral policy and make the rewards clear on your website as well as any social media platforms you manage.
Give them Results. So this new member has joined your gym. Great! But now you need to give them incentives to stay. You’ve won them over with your engaging, charming and relatable personality, but now they need to see some results. You’ve discussed their goals and explained how you can help them reach them, but you can’t just tell them, you have to SHOW them. When you show you care about them as individuals and not just as a means to reach your bottom line, you will gain a loyal member and an unlimited supply of referrals. Now you are the local fitness guru and you have built a member base of word-of-mouth advertising.
Have you ever wondered if there’s really any point to your retention strategy? You offer everything under the sun, do double back-flips, and consider giving away your first-born any time a member tells you they’re ready to leave, and then they go ahead and leave anyway. Ever get the feeling that there’s just nothing you can do?
The fact is, everyone in the industry wonders, but it’s something we try not to acknowledge. We hold on to the idea that we must continually try new approaches and inexhaustibly explore all possible avenues, plus a few impossible ones, and never give up on the lofty goal of retaining 100 percent of our members. Well, what if that’s the wrong approach? What if, instead, we conceded that we never will retain 100 percent of our members, and that our energy would be better spent on other aspects of running our clubs? What if we actively prioritized new sales over member retention?
These are questions Rob Bishop and Barry Klein, owners of Elevations Health Club in Scotrun, Pennsylvania and regular contributors to Athletic Business magazine, hash out in a recent article for Athletic Business. Having focused on retention over sales for two decades — never employing salespeople or using high-pressure sales techniques — Bishop and Klein found themselves one day wondering why, despite all their daily concerted efforts to get members to stick with their gym, they nevertheless almost always lost the members they were expending energy to retain. As long-time gym owners, they considered their “retention program” nothing more than everything they did everyday and every dollar they spent on their staff, facilities, and programming. As they put it, “Is your club clean? Are people greeted properly? Are members well-integrated into your facility with training programs, group fitness classes, seminars and other offerings?” Those elements, along with other offerings vital to the success of any club, are critical for keeping any member signed up for any length of time, they argue.
Given that, they realized that most members “cancel for reasons that are beyond our control — relocation, financial reasons, work conflicts. And while reasons such as ‘no time’ might be shorthand for ‘I don’t want to be a member anymore,’ it’s clear to us that once someone has crossed that threshold, we are not going to bring them back.”
If that’s the case, they ask, what can gyms do? The answer may lie in shifting the focus of your business premise, so that rather than privileging retention, you start thinking more about sales. “Our point isn’t to give up,” they write. “It’s to focus on something we think we can more directly impact and to some degree control.” Thus, Bishop and Klein are trying out a “sales focused” approach that aims to attract many happy members. Basically, they consider happy members ambassadorial assests — vital elements of the community who spread the word to new potentially happy members. It’s a subtle shift, but focusing more on sales than retention — while still aiming to keep members as happy as possible from day to day — allows the duo to value referrals even more than a forever commitment from a member (which, they say, is an ideal that doesn’t exist). For example, if the stated purpose of “bring a friend” event is to acquire new members rather than to keep existing members engaged, they now might find themselves, if spots are limited, turning away a member in favor of a guest. This isn’t something they ever would have done previously.
That’s not to say it isn’t still worth trying to keep members forever. Who knows? Perhaps it’s possible and the industry just hasn’t yet discovered the right lever or formula? Still, it might be worth exploring strategies that are potentially more realistic — if for no other reason than achieving greater peace of mind. “The real difference will be this,” Bishop and Klien write. “When a member who has sent us 10 referrals suddenly cancels, we’re not going to stress about it anymore…. The trick is to have a gym full of happy members, regardless of how long they are with us.”
For most fitness businesses that employ a comprehensive software solution, it’s impossible to imagine day-to-day operations without that solution. And these days, it’s almost impossible to imagine a fitness business that doesn’t use a software solution. Fitness facility management software allows for the optimization of resources; the streamlining of daily tasks; the automation of payments, reports, and communication; and the maintenance of member profiles and marketing efforts — among countless other benefits — to a degree that simply can’t be achieved without software. Yet, what good is any of that if the program you’re using fails in the customer service and support department?
Even if you’ve got the absolute best-performing software solution imaginable, if that solution doesn’t provide a top-quality customer service department for training, support, and troubleshooting, it’s ultimately not worth much. This is the case in all industries, but it’s especially key in the fitness industry, in which software solutions are so integral to the running of all aspects of a business that the customer service you provide depends on how well your software is running. If there’s a glitch, or if you just have a simple question, you have to know that troubleshooting is available immediately and efficiently.
How do you judge the quality of a software program’s customer service? First, check out the product’s website. The support feature should be prominent and available with a single click, and it should quickly and clearly explain how to reach a customer service representative. Ideally, it offers both a phone number to call and an online form you can submit. If you fill out an online form, you should receive an answer promptly. Both online and phone responses should be polite, friendly, and helpful, and the representative you’re dealing with should bend over backwards to make sure your questions are answered and your needs are fulfilled, and that you’re walking away a satisfied customer. If any of these elements are not in place — you can’t find the support page easily on the website, there’s no phone number to call, there’s a number but your call is handled incompetently, you submit an online request and do not hear back within 24 hours — you might be using the wrong software.
In addition, your software support team should offer training. There should be online courses that quickly, clearly, and effectively show you, the end user, how to optimize the product, and there should be opportunities for personalized training support. Again, if the product you use does not offer these customer service basics, you’re probably using the wrong one. After all, what good does your software do you if you don’t properly understand how to use it?
Ultimately, the management software solution you purchase should be backed by a company that employs an easily reachable team of dedicated, knowledgeable professionals who genuinely care about your business. If it’s lacking in that department, you would do well to seek out a software package that fulfills that most basic of business needs: help and support.
Recently, my son and I were in an old-curiosity-shop kind of store on a quaint little Main Street. It was the kind of place seemingly designed to ignite the imagination of a nine-year-old boy, full of tomahawks and fishing equipment, moccasins and hiking boots, old-fashioned toys, unidentifiable objects, kitschy souvenirs, wind chimes. We’d spent nearly an hour poking around in there, and I was on parenting auto-pilot: “Mom, can I have this?” “No.” “Why not?” “Because.” “Mom, can I have this?” “No.” “Why not?” “Because.” Finally, my son stomped his foot and shouted in frustration, “Don’t just say because!”
What struck me was his reason for getting frustrated: It wasn’t so much that I was saying no to most of the junk/treasures that he wanted to purchase, it was that I wouldn’t give him reasons for my refusal. When I looked him in the eye and explained how I felt — the real feelings behind my “no” — he relaxed. We left the store with just a tomahawk (don’t worry, it’s wooden) and a better understanding between us.
All of this was still on my mind when I was reading IHRSA’s blog the other day, and I stumbled on an article about the best ways to understand a prospective’s motivations for seeking a health club membership. The fact is, when we understand another person’s reasons — when we have more from them than just a “because” — we’re able to make things happen. My son could calm down and accept my refusal to buy him all the things he wanted when he understood why I was refusing. You can make sales to prospectives more effectively and up your member retention when you understand why your clients are seeking — (or renewing, or considering giving up) — membership. As Casey Conrad Tamsett, President of Communication Consultants in Wakefield, Rhode Island, puts it on the IHRSA blog, “If you don’t know why a guest happens to be standing in front of you, or what a member wants from your club, how can you possibly meet their needs?”
The question is, how do you go about discovering your prospectives’ and members’ true motivations? Justin Tamsett, Managing Director of Active Management in Sydney, Australia, advises, “In your first face-to-face conversation, when asking about them and their life, you need to show an authentic — not a feigned — interest.” In other words, you have to earn a client’s trust before being allowed to understand his or her true motivation. Earning that trust is a process, Tamsett says, one that begins with your staff’s commitment to making the moment of initial contact a special experience. “You need to convey the fact that you genuinely care about them,” he says. And that caring has to carry through, with every employee in the club working hard to regard the visitor as a guest.
Keep in mind, though, as Conrad warns, that most people purchase gym memberships not for logical reasons but for emotional ones. “Their ‘trigger,’ the factor that brought them to your door, usually is related to some significant personal experience,” she says. But that experience is hidden under layers. Conducting a needs analysis, in which you peel back the layers with careful questions, gives prospective clients a chance to open up. You have to spend the time listening until you get to the feeling that prompted action — just like my son had to spend the time listening to my underlying feelings in order to understand my reasons for saying no. Of course, it’s a give-and-take: I had to be willing to reveal my underlying feelings to my son before he could listen to them. But if you create the right environment in your facility, one in which the client is respected as more than just a commission score, one in which employees work hard to gain clients’ trust and form true relationships with them, the willingness to open up will come naturally. And the opening up will lead to more successful business operations.
At the climbing gym I frequent, there’s a man whose left arm ends in a stump. He’s a veteran who lost his hand in Iraq. I know how hard it is scaling those thirty-foot walls with all my limbs intact; watching this guy, I can’t help but feel humbled and awed. He does it with no special accommodations. He just figures out what will work for him, and up he goes.
Indoor climbing is especially flexible in this way — the whole point is to do what you have to do to get to the top, no matter what particular challenges you might be facing. But, what about other, less universally approachable sports or exercises? What about just watching sports? How can we make participating in sports, working out, and being a fan in the stands more accessible for anyone who wants to take part?
There are a few things to consider as you gauge your facility’s accessibility and think about what changes, if any, to make. First, there’s the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act. Enacted in 1990, this law requires public places and commercial facilities to comply with guidelines that allow for wheelchair accessibility and other disability considerations. Facilities constructed before 1990 are not required to meet the specific stipulations of the ADA — such as that wheelchair spaces be at least 36 inches wide, with equal, adjacent space for a companion — but such facilities are under obligation to remove existing barriers. And any facility refurbishing its space must bring it into ADA-compliance.
So, for example, when Hampton-Dumont High School in Hampton, Iowa, decided to replace its fifty-five-year-old wooden bleachers recently, it had to create a new deck with room for six wheelchairs, plus companion seats, and a ramp. The project’s total cost was about $20,000 — but the alternative, building an entirely new stadium, would have cost the school at least a quarter of a million dollars. The lesson here is that changes you make to bring your facility into ADA-compliance, whether you run a gym, niche fitness center, or sports venue, need not cost a fortune. The money you spend will pay off. In Hampton-Dumont’s case, the school forged a better relationship with the community after the reconstruction because now no one was shut out. In the end, more tickets were sold at events.
If you’re not ready to refurbish, there are other steps you can take to make your facility more welcoming of people with special considerations. If you’re a gym with regular exercises classes, consider the possibility of designing a wheelchair class. You’d need to hire an experienced instructor and make sure the room where the class will be held is completely accessible. Also consider hosting workshops about exercising with a disability, and see whether you can create areas in your free-weight, cardio, and machine spaces solely for wheelchair users or others who need particular physical accommodations.
In addition, think about how you can make your commitment to inclusivity known. No matter what kind of facility you run, the more you spread the word about your accessibility, and the more you make it known that you welcome all kinds of members, the greater your standing in the community will be, and the more chances you’ll have of attracting an untapped segment of your local population.
Overall, you want to think in terms of being an ally to folks who are differently abled. As an organization dedicated in some form or other to physical activity, you bear a particular onus: how to enable physical activity for everyone. When it comes to issues of accessibility, gyms and sports facilities have a chance to shine.
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