It's almost that time of year every PT, gym owner and health club manager looks forward to - the January rush. The time when thousands of people look to kick start their fitness journeys in a new gym or with the help of a new trainer. But whether you're running a large chain of fitness clubs or are an independent PT, some preparations are in order to make the most of this natural influx of members.
In this article we have laid out five key points to keep in mind while building up to the January rush, allowing you to begin the new year on a high.
Know Your Unique Selling Points
Even though you will likely experience an organic increase in interest this coming January, take the time to identify your Unique Selling Points (USP's) and make sure to push these to your potential customer base effectively.
This could be a popular class you are running or a unique piece of equipment that matches your demographics interest exactly. If, for example, you know that HIIT training is particularly popular in your area, take advantage of this and make sure your marketing and offering both capitalise on this trend.
If you are not in a position to introduce new big equipment, consider the power of doubling down on accessories. Free weights and accessories are relatively low-cost investments, but having increased availability of these can yield incredible returns in versatility and creativity of your training offering.
Next to providing your members a new workout experience, increasing the quantity of accessories available might ease some of the usage pressures during the January rush. Rather than having members waiting their turn to use a piece of kit, give them the opportunity to train together.
Get Your Marketing Hat on
Preplanning your marketing communications is vital, and easily done with the technological support available today. Social Media planning tools allow you to take an hour out of your day and fully schedule your posts for weeks in advance. Check out Hootsuite, Social Sprout or Later for example.
Demonstrate what prospects potential members are missing by sharing unique, quality content. Don’t give away all the tricks of the trade, but be confident enough to give something away for free. This lets you show the extent or your knowledge, lets you get across your personality and creates a positive relationship with anyone who comes across and enjoys what you’re sharing. Just be wary of reading like a physiology textbook - make content relevant and engaging, while pitching it at the right audience.
Think about your themes, break these down into potential content and distribute them across the time scale you have laid out for yourself. Consider the points above regarding your USP's and gage the interests of current members to create the focus of your content in the coming months.
This way, the only things you might want to post reactively are live insights and reactive content to what is happening in your gym to generate more immediate interest.
Creating the feeling of community in your gym can help motivate and retain members very effectively. CrossFit is a prime example of a sector that cites their community spirit as one of the reasons they have such high retention rates.
You can kick-start this process by introducing referral campaigns for existing members. This way, the member and their friend will both have a workout companion from day one. You can incentivise this on endless levels for example; the incentive can increase based on the quantities of referral.
Group classes clearly play another role in this as well, so make sure to take a proper look at your class structure and content. Consider whether you can make any changes that would pull a group of your regulars into a group of friends.
This will also mean that you will have a good feel of when members come and go. This allows you to predict "rush" times at your gym and prepare accordingly to allow for the daily routine to carry on with minimal disruption.
The goal is to create a friendly, supportive culture where other members take it upon themselves to make new members feel at home.
Another way of achieving this would be by taking you community online. Create a closed Facebook group for your members only, which they are proud to be a part of. It gives them a place to chat about the place they love spending time at, and lets them continue to develop the relationships they formed in the gym.
Get Your Kit Serviced in Time
You absolutely want to avoid the scenario where you're showing new members around your gym, but have several pieces of kit with hideous "out of order" signs on them.
Sure, you won't be able to predict and avoid all breakdowns, but getting your kit serviced in time for the rush means that you will have taken precautions, allowing your kit to start the new year just as freshly as your new members.
In order to plan this properly, plan in time between the service and the beginning of January rush to allow for any potential repairs to be carried out. Get in there early, as service engineers in your area will probably be booked out across December.
We have touched on the importance of the customer journey several times in the last few months, and that's because it is incredibly important. You want to make sure that every new member has the same, awesome experience when they are introduced to your facility. Here are a few pointers to give you some focus for this time of year:
This January will stretch you to your limits, and you may not find time in your schedule to give every member the same personalised experience they deserve. Preplanning communications upon their joining, 1, 2, 4 and 6 week marks etc will keep the customer engaged with minimal effort on your side.
Make sure that your pre-planned communications remain relevant by updating these to reflect new classes, campaigns and kit if required. Having the master communication plans in place for January will take a lot of pressure off you.
Revisit all touchpoints
Take December to walk through all the touch points your new customers have with your business and review these in detail. How are they welcomed when they walk through the door? If they have any questions, do they know who they can approach? When they visit your social media, is your tone and content recognisable and consistent across the platforms?
Getting these details nailed before January begins will allow you to relax and concentrate on other things throughout the beginning of the year.
Make sure you plan your classes and other activities at key times throughout the day to avoid member overload and potential disappointment. If a particular class is proving more popular than you expected, reconsider your schedule to accommodate the members as required. Being hesitant or slow to react in situations like this will result in slowly growing frustration and ultimately – unsatisfied members.
Though a busy gym can be fun, it can also become noisy and quickly disorganised. Make sure to gauge the atmosphere in the space and plan activities accordingly to avoid negative experiences at certain recurring peak times.
Ensure that all your staff are aware and engaged with the latest trends in the industry. With the vast amount of specialist in-depth content available online, new members can often come armed with very topical questions, so prepare your staff well. Good front line staff is the ultimate sales tool and essential for retention.
Take the run-up to the new year to get your staff up to date on industry trends if required, and speak to them about any ideas they might have to make your facility and service stand out. After all, your staff will be in contact with your members on a daily basis and will have a unique perspective on what your gym might require to get ready for the new year.
If appropriate, consider treating your staff to a training day with a Master Trainer. These can serve to update them on general form and technique, while also introducing them to new training styles and trends.