Member retention is vitally important to the success of your Fitness business. Outside-of-the-box thinking, and a little extra care and effort, can go a long way. Here are five quick-to-implement, low-budget ideas that have worked for me in the past. Each idea helps bring a sense of community and belonging, and aids member retention:
Client Question: I am opening a new business soon. Can you provide some ideas to drive traffic to my business on our Grand Opening day?
Chances are good that you have invested a lot of money into starting your new business. Here I’ll provide some low-budget ideas for a Grand Opening celebration.
Traditional advertising is out. It’s time to get creative and tap into your community resources. I recommend starting with your local home school groups, grade schools and middle schools as a means to get in front of parents and prospective members for your daytime class.
I’m a big advocate of encouraging others to think “outside the box” — to get creative with their ideas. In fact, about a year ago, I opened the Fitness Compound which offers a variety of fitness classes, programs and training options including Zumba, cardio, Pilates, spinning, baseball, climbing, and basketball. Since then I”ve added Mixed Martial Arts for kids, Zumba Tone, and Krav Maga to the mix.
Even though I’m offering services beyond traditional Martial Arts, I’m still creating the very same sense of community, purpose and goal-driven environment as all other fitness-related businesses.
Most of you know me already. My name is Chuck Heacock. I was instrumental in developing the Krav Maga Worldwide Licensing program. Today I am the owner of the Fitness Compound and consultant to some of the largest health club organizations on the planet. I specialize in the Adult Fitness market share.
Every day, when I answer my phone, the first thing I often hear is “I need your help”. My objective today is to help fast track anyone that is wise enough not only to read this blog, but to digest what the Member Solutions Business Advisory Team is sharing.
Part of this post will be dedicated to help you make a logical decision to add an adult program to your revenue stream. The second part will provide three success tips I’ve learned along the way that will surely help you grow your business.
Question: Would you recommend adding a fitness program and/or gym to my Martial Arts school and if so, why?
Twelve years ago it was an easy transition for me to walk into a small dojo in West Los Angeles and turn it into one of the mosthighly-respected Martial Arts fitness training facilities in the world, housing more than 2,300 active students in a single location.
It’s my honor today to share with you why it is essential to have a fitness upgrade program inside of your dojo.
Now before I get you on the defensive, with you saying “I will never be a Tae-Bo studio,” understand that 49% of Americans are looking for one of the several hard-core workout programs that exist, and you are not reaching these people.
Programs like Monkeybar Gym, CrossFit, I Love Kickboxing, and, although not really a workout but rather more of a very active Martial Arts program, Krav Maga Worldwide, appeal to a group of exercise enthusiasts that traditional Martial Arts simply miss out on.
Here is what I do prior to making any decision on my improving my dojo. I sit down and write out the pros and cons of my decision. It’s very important to me that all changes make sense from a credibility, as well as a financial standpoint, for without credibility, my financial success will be limited.
Here are some of the items I would list on my “pro” side:
Facts – The first of many reasons is that 67% of Americans are on some type of workout regimen with only 16% of the US population participating in a Martial Art.
Simplicity – Unlike the instructors in your traditional Martial Arts program, a cardio or fitness instructor does not need the same amount of training prior to you letting them train your students. For the most part, a simple ad on Craig’s List will provide you with an abundance of qualified applicants for a quality workout program.
Health – Over 65 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure — that’s 20% of Americans. Diabetes is on the rise with 21 million as of 2009, with another 1.5 million being diagnosed each year. Finally 66% of Americans are overweight. The AMA lists exercise first for all three as a means to a cure.
Confidence – Looking better equals feeling better. In a tough economy all people walking in your front door want to feel better and walk with their heads held high. Unfortunately, most Americans have never been tournament-ready. The way you look is the way you feel. And since most of them will never enter any type of tournament, a fitness program is a way to get them on track to a better life.
Stress – 26% of Americans suffer from PTSD. There is no doubt that elevating your heart rate, punching, kicking and screaming relieves stress. It’s certainly not the sole remedy, however it’s a definite aid.
Common objections – and how to overcome them
I’m sure I forgot a thing or two to add to the “pro” side of my decision. As far as the “con” side, my objections are few: however I will share some of the common objections that have been brought up to me on www.betterdojo.com.
- “I cannot afford the equipment necessary to start a cardio program!” Come on, you already have everything you need. Think outside the box. Think as though you are getting ready for a tournament. Put together a routine. Buy more “stuff” when your program grows. If it worked for you back in the day, it will work for you now.
- “I have plenty of traditional students!” If this were true you would not be reading this.
- “I do not believe a cardio program is necessary!” More than likely, your trophy case is empty if you did not do your roadwork when you were competing. Your calisthenics program is today’s cardio-cross training program.
- “I don’t have the space!” I can’t help you here…. Just kidding. Look at your daily calendar. Take some class counts, move some classes around. If you have been at the same student count for more than 120 days, give or take 10%, it’s time to shake it up a bit! Your business is not growing. Maybe consider 50-minute classes.
- “I do not want to be a health club!” Don’t worry. Health clubs take up more than 25 times your square footage. They cost about 50 times more to open, and they spend your annual advertising budget in two weeks. The good news is your fitness program will actually teach people how to build their self esteem, walk taller and care what happens to them after they write you a check. This, my friends is priceless to your potential and existing clients: you will never be a health club.
The summary is simple. You already believe in being the best you can be. If you want to improve your income stream and get to clients you are not currently reaching, take a walk on the wild side. Write down the pros and cons and weigh it out. The answer should be crystal clear.
I look forward to working with you all. Stay strong.
Can you share an outside-the-box idea I can use for some summer success?
I know there is a magic pill out there that will bring me unlimited prospects and members. I pride myself on always being the best at what I do, and I remain on the quest for that pill. In the meantime I need to rely on doing several things outside the box to create new energy in the facilities. Here’s one of those out-of-the-box ideas:
We have three days of open auditions for our winter TV commercials, during which we pick two outside actors to be in the commercials. We pay a non-union fee of $100 per actor used (which is double the going rate for a non-union non-speaking day rate). We normally have 50 to 100 auditions per day. All actors auditioning must fill out a questionnaire which includes a liability waiver, the programs that our school offers that interest them, as well as where they currently train, what discipline or disciplines they train in, and all contact information. All applicants are placed into a special category in Constant Contact®, the leader in e-mail marketing. All those who show interest in our location are categorized as prospects. By far it’s the most efficient and cost-effective way we get 50 to 100 leads for $200 [≈ Low-end bicycle] and some of our time.
Yesterday we held a FREE webinar*, “Making Your Dojo More Inviting”. This interview featured Chuck Heacock**, Director of Sales for Krav Maga Worldwide, as well as a sought-after fitness consultant.
During the webinar, a client noted that the trophies in his window have created walk-in leads. It was also suggested that trophies may be intimidating and a lead deterrent.
What do YOU think? Should a school owner decorate a window front with trophies?
Question: What are your three best money-making secrets?
- Sales training: There is no argument that all Martial Artists learned from their Master Instructors. As Martial Artists we train every day to keep our skills up to date. We should keep this thought when it comes to our minds: it’s impossible to stay on the top of your game without continued education. You must exercise your sales skills to be better than your competition.
- Charging $10 for each new prospect to try a class: Point of Sale will track your conversion rates for you.Science: It’s a proven fact that once consumers make an investment at any level they are more apt to commit to a larger program.Logic: If prospects will not commit to a $10 purchase, it will be difficult to get them to spend $125 [≈ Smartphone cost per month] per month. Ask yourself, what is the last thing you received for free? Folks have a tendency to remember what they last paid for, however they forget giveaways. A free workout has little to no perceived value: therefore your show ratio will go up when you charge a nominal fee. (In some cases the appointment volume will drop: however you will find your new membership volume has gone up.)Economics: This is an easy way to afford the sales person that, since you started your business, you haven’t been able to afford. These $10 fees can easily cover part or all of a salary for your sales person.
- My personal favorite: Assigning a decreasing daily discount value to your two-week pass, for example starting at $6 per day. If prospects sign up on the first day they receive a credit of $84 towards their memberships. If they sign up two days later theyreceive a $72 credit, etc. Each day they delay joining means their passes have less value. This is by far the best way to turn a free two week pass into a membership. Over 62% of our memberships from two week passes are converted with more than12 days left on them.