Tag Archives: Membership Strategies


From the Advisory Team: Marketing Must Dos for a Successful Back-to-School Season

By Member Solutions

The Back-to-School season is coming … the time to fill your school with new students and secure a healthy bottom line.

We recently asked the Member Solutions Business Advisory Team for their marketing must dos to maximize new student enrollments during the Back-to-School season.

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How the Mom’s Club Saved My Women’s Fitness Program

By Bill Wakefield

Only a handful of women had shown for hand-weightsour mid-day Fitness class. And that one class wasn’t the only one struggling. My entire Women’s Fitness program was slowing down. I needed to bring it back to life … enroll new Fitness members … but how? With 54 Martial Arts schools within a six-mile radius of my club and nearby 24/7 gyms promoting “no contract” memberships as low as $7.50 a week, I knew external marketing wasn’t the answer. It would be like throwing money out the door to compete to bring in new members. The solution: I started working with what I already had … the mothers of students who need to get fit and want to have fun. It struck me most when I looked at my numbers. I have over 200 students under the age of 7 years … that means I have A LOT of mothers of students that may be looking to get fit. And so began the “Mom’s Club” … Continue reading

MUST-READS: The Most Popular Posts of 2013 – Kristen Campbell

By Kristen Campbell

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If you’re going to read any articles from the Member Solutions Business Building blog, these are it. Some go back to the basics — reminding us of the fundamentals that keep a business strong and stable. Others hit on the main success drivers of membership-based businesses — enrolling new members and keeping the ones you’ve got.

Give these popular posts a read, then let us know which one’s your favorite. Continue reading


Tired of Asking for Money? Why Membership Agreements Are a Must for a Members-Based Business – Steve Giroux

By Steve Giroux

privacy policy graphicI often hear membership business owners make the case for not using membership agreements. I’m always willing to hear them out, but always end up strongly advocating the opposite. You see, without membership agreements in place, and more importantly student commitment, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today … running a successful business.

Here I’ll cover the most common objections I’ve heard from business owners throughout the years — and I’ll speak my case … why I strongly believe in making membership agreements a staple in your business.
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How Membership Agreements Turned My Business Around – Steve Giroux

By Steve Giroux

describe the imageThis January marks 15 years of owning Giroux Bros. Martial Arts. It’s been an unbelievable journey to say the least. It amazes me that I even survived the first three years jumping in blind and knowing absolutely nothing about operating a small business. On top of that, I had no money and no credit. The lessons I’ve learned over the years from running my Martial Arts studio are priceless and will continue to help me as an entrepreneur forever.

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How to Get Students to Return to Martial Arts Training After the Summer – Steve Giroux

By Steve Giroux

It’s August and you’re likely busy planning for the Back-to-School season. While you devise your plan to bring in lots of new students, it’s also important to bring your existing students back in and training.

In a previous article, Creating a System to Improve Your Summer Attendance, I talked about creating a private lesson voucher system for those who missed their lessons over the Summer. Having a voucher system in place has helped me tremendously with student retention, allowing our existing students to ease back into training and to get excited about karate again.

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Maximizing the Benefits of Term & Ongoing Memberships – Joe Galea

By Joe Galea

ContractClient Question: What Term membership length is best? What cancel notice period is optimal for Ongoing memberships? Which one should I use?

I am often asked these questions about Term and Ongoing memberships so I’ll share with you my recommendation for your review and consideration. Please keep in mind a few of these upfront points:

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Pay As You Go, Term, Ongoing: Which Membership Type is Best? – Joe Galea

By Member Solutions

g--marketing-photo__image_directory-istockphoto_photos-istock_000009833347small[1]When you factor in the costs of marketing (to obtain leads) and sales (to turn leads into actively-paying new members), it becomes critical that you structure your membership offerings optimally to receive the best rate of return on your investment.

All sales are not created equal and the difference is the student’s commitment.

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8 Tips for Greater Retention – Barry Van Over

By Member Solutions

What if I told you that the success of your school could be determined by two physical objects right in your schools? These objects are not special and you probably overlook their importance all the time. They are bigger than a bread box, but smaller than some Martial Artist’s egos. I am of course talking about the front and back doors of your schools. Our business can be simplified by understanding that if we can keep our front door open getting new students in, and keep the back door closed to keep our existing students, we will grow our business and be successful.

It has been said that “everyone sooner or laterquits”. That is true, but it’s how long they stay that is important. We owe it to our students to do the best job we can, to give them such a positive experience in the Martial Arts that they will stay until they reach their goal of black belt. We can’t have the attitude that we should get as much money from our students as fast as we can, because they are not going to be around six months from now. If we have this type of attitude we are sure to ruin our reputation that we have worked so hard to build up in our community. We must take certain steps to help our students stay focused on their training, and not get side tracked. Remember, if a student does not attend for 3 or 4 weeks, the chances are they have quit. If they quit attending, they soon quit paying!

Here are some tips for greater retention:

1) Track Attendance ― Never has attendance been so easy for us to track now that we have software that allows our students to simply scan their membership cards and allows us to print a non-attendance report complete with all the membership information. So, be sure that you are making those missing in action calls (MIA’s) on Wednesday nights for the students that have not yet been there for the week. This will let them know that they are not being overlooked, that their attendance is important, you notice when they are not there, and you care.

2) On Saturdays, send a “We miss you” post card for every student that missed the entire week — This is a great way to ensure that a student does not fall through the crack of the back door. (Oh, that didn’t sound right.) If my instructors cannot reach a student by phone, they will receive a reminder in the mail.

3) Have a social function that brings your students together like a big family ― Students stay longer if they have a social network to be a part of. Some ideas for the upcoming summer season would be a pool party or a school picnic.

4) Have guest instructors’ visit to teach your students ― This brings lots of excitement and makes the students feel part of something bigger than just your school.

5) Have special seminars that bring excitement to your school — Offer gun defense, competition forms or weapons, sparring clinics, self defense, ground fighting, or a kid smart seminar. We want to continually remind our students and build a reputation in the community that our school is the place to be!

6) For the summer, keep attendance high by having the “Eight weeks of summer surprise” curriculum ― Every week, teach something that you would normally not teach. This will keep your students excited and guessing what comes next all summer long.

7) Make sure that all students get the opportunity to make up missed stripe tests ― Again, when a student misses a stripe test, they may feel that they are behind the other students and become disinterested in continuing.

8) Understand that your classes have to be the most exciting part of a student’s day ― That is not too difficult when they are sitting in a classroom all day. So, get creative and have so much fun that it would make Mickey Mouse want to take your classes!

Barry Van Over is the president of Premier Management Group (PMG). Through PMG, he has helped hundreds of Martial Arts school owners maximize their profits and reach their business goals. The success of PMG has allowed Barry to form one of the world’s largest organizations of studios, Premier Martial Arts, which has locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.


Choosing a Membership Strategy to Optimize Your Growth Potential

By Member Solutions

Considering the cost of advertising, competitive forces, and the general operating costs of a membership-based business, you’ll want to make sure your membership structure is optimizing your growth potential.

Membership strategies fall into one of three categories: Casualongoing and term. Here we’ll outline the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Casual Membership
This membership allows prospective members to pay as they go. Membership fees are usually paid by the class or by the month.

Advantages: The casual membership is an easy sell. If the prospect is interested, there is little to consider in making his or her decision. You don’t need to develop a renewal plan, which can save hours of paperwork and follow-up.

The billing procedure to manage this system is simple in theory: “You don’t go, you don’t pay.” Again, reduced paperwork.

Disadvantages: The member does not give the business his or her commitment. Member commitment is essential to maintain a strong, active member base, especially during seasonal periods of low attendance. Your member revenue is often unpredictable and unstable. While you may enjoy reduced paperwork, you will be hindered by the lack of the vital statistics that paperwork provides.

Term Membership
This is a quantum leap from the casual membership. With this option, the member joins a program for a specific period of time. Payments are generally paid by month, quarter or year until the term is paid in full.

Advantages: The facility now has a membership agreement where members promise to attend class and pay membership fees for the term length. The term membership dramatically increases retention by helping to keep student attendance strong. The result is a more stable active membership base and monthly revenue. 

Term memberships also establish an accounts receivable balance that increases the net worth of your business. This gives you an advantage in obtaining business loans, and negotiating power if you want to sell your facility.

Disadvantages: Term memberships are a harder sell. Your ability to sell effectively will require a professional presentation and some sales skills.

Term agreements also require a renewal strategy to keep members from becoming “one-time enrollees.” Renewals require time and additional paperwork, and create other sales conferences at which the members may decide not to continue!

Ongoing Membership
This type of membership is a combination of the casual and term concepts. Ongoing memberships do not have pre-determined expiration dates but still establish member commitment. Member fees are most often paid monthly.

Advantages: Ongoing memberships are easier to sell because they do not require you to enroll members in a “long-term” contract. Instead, members have continuing memberships with a built-in cancellation notice clause. This notice (usually 30-90 days) instills enough commitment in members to keep attendance consistent and your monthly revenue stable.

No expiration means there is no need to spend time on renewals or paperwork.

Disadvantages: Members have the privilege to cancel their memberships, with notice, if not satisfied with the service. You must focus on quality instruction and exciting classes or everything you gain from increased enrollments will be lost in frequent drop-outs.

Ongoing memberships are non-expiring, which reduces down payment opportunities from renewals. You may need to adjust your rates to compensate, or institute an annual registration fee.

Most self-billing systems are “pay-as-you-go,” which requires no member commitment, negatively impacting retention. In contrast, full-service billing companies such as Member Solutions provide various membership strategies (not necessarily long-term contracts) that increase retention.

Billing companies enforce policies that membership-based business owners want but feel awkward establishing because of the existing member relationships.

When members of self-billing schools miss class, they can fall behind in their payments, leading to more absences and eventually attrition.

This domino effect is more prevalent in these facilities because attendance is directly associated with how member payments are paid.

With a full-service billing company such as Member Solutions, tuition is handled separately from attendance. Members who miss class have the same responsibility as those who attend to pay a “scheduled payment.” Full-service billing companies create motivation for students to quickly return to class.

What membership structures do you use in your facility?