To many gyms, a new equipment investment can make a huge dent in their annual budget. Not maximising on this investment could cast a shadow over their financial security for the rest of the year.
As Origin Fitness nears 10 years in the fitness industry, we have asked our expert team to list some of the lessons they've learned about how gyms can maximise the impact of their investment, whether it's one new piece or a whole new training zone.
Educate Your Staff
Make sure the staff fully understand how to use the new equipment and can educate the club users on the key features of the equipment. Make use of the training resources available to you and don’t be afraid to quiz staff on how much they know about the equipment.
When we provide new equipment to any facility, we offer a comprehensive education solution alongside this. This can be in the form of online or written support material and can even take the form of a workshop from our master trainer.
Treat this new product launch with the hype it deserves. You'll want to communicate and build excitement on multiple platforms, so that when the kit "goes live" you have already created a demand for it within the membership that will sweep through your gym.
Take Apple's high profile iPhone launches as an example; they make sure everyone knows the new product is due to be released, resulting in massive sales within the first 24 hours.
Announce the Arrival
People won't know what exciting additions you make them aware of them. Utilise social media to welcome the equipment to the gym, infiltrate your member’s social networks by tagging them in photos/video using it on the first day - get some initial quick-fire reviews on video.
You can even target specific groups within your gym. You've just invested in a Wattbike? Why not focus some of your communication efforts on those dedicated to indoor cycling classes or cycling outside your gym. Exciting new equipment additions have the potential to re-light a spark of interest among members who have previously left you.
Keep this wave of excitement going past the unveiling of the new piece of kit by bringing both the equipment and the users in to the limelight. It might be a good idea to post a photo or video of the first member to use the kit on social media, and tagging them in this.
Position new equipment strategically for maximum exposure. New additions could go unnoticed if not positioned in a prominent location. Consider locating it near the entrance to the gym for a short introductory period or someplace where there is always going to be a member of staff nearby for ad-hoc inductions and questions.
Encourage User Generated Content
You can prompt and monitor user generated feedback/content by directing it with a hashtag. Members posting about you and this new piece of equipment from their own social media profiles shows a great level of brand engagement. It pushes out your message to a whole new network of prospective customers, and highlights your latest developments to them.
It also adds an element of impartiality to the process of promoting this new piece of kit, which counts heavily when it comes to marketing your brand online. #imgettingspeedfit or #iamaboxmaster are two examples of hashtags that would work well for some products we often install in gyms.
Pass on Knowledge to the Members
Offer inductions for this new piece of kit and make sure your members know that these are easily available. Make sure this new piece of kit becomes a standard part of the new member induction process.
If resources allow, you could have a member of staff stationed by the new equipment to help any curious members out. Post a detailed blog post or "how to" video on your online platforms (you can often get pre-made content like this directly from the supplier). You could even stream one of your inductions live on Facebook or Instagram. Just make sure that information on this new piece of kit is easily available for people to find.
What we’ve seen work in the past is giving gym staff daily targets for discussions and inductions, which pushes them to carry these out more often. The more frequently they do them, the better at the inductions the staff become!
Highlight Key Differences
To some users, a treadmill is just a treadmill. If they jump on and run a quick start programme at 10kph for 20 mins every day, they might not even notice that the features on the machine they're using has been upgraded. The responsibility lies with you to show the users what has changed, and make sure they are aware that you are constantly working to improve your offering.
Be clear about what the differences are and how they relate to the user; the user is probably not interested in the brand name or any prestige attached to this. You need to capture their attention by showing them how it will make them fitter and healthier, how it will improve their race time, cardiovascular health, core strength, etc. Translate the sales brochure jargon into an explanation on how it will improve the outcomes important to them.
Incentivise Member Engagement
People are creatures of habit, and with a new piece of equipment we are asking them to break their normal routine. If you want a higher percentage of members to use a new piece of kit, you might need to incentivise this.
Some incentive ideas could include:
- A gym challenge or leader board - win a prize for the fastest speed, most reps, heaviest lift etc.
- Gift (t-shirt, shaker, towel etc.) for anyone who tries the equipment on the day it's launched
- Loyalty system where repeated use is rewarded with a member benefit specific to your club
Introducing incentives like these should increase the interest in this piece of kit, which in turn creates a higher level of demand. High usage can establish a piece on the gym floor as highly in-demand. This high demand can work in the same way that a highly sought after reservation in a top class restaurant makes people value the opportunity to use it more when it comes along.
However, make sure this doesn't become a negative - you don't want to create frustration around the equipment never being available.
Encourage and Utilise Feedback
It is important that you gage how your piece of kit is received in the gym. There are many users who won't consciously announce that they preferred a new piece of equipment to the old kind - unless you point it out to them. That might seem strange, but in the arena of sport and fitness marginal gains can contribute to much larger improvements. Although a change might not be enough to make the user proclaim their love for a new piece of equipment, it does no harm to prompt them to think about why they might have performed better or enjoyed their workout more than usual.
For example - if you replace the weightlifting bars in a gym the fresh knurling could improve a lifter's grip and the new bearings in the sleeves could help plates spin more efficiently. Users might not be able to pinpoint the change exactly - but they did PR their deadlift and clean... maybe the new bars contributed!
Remember you're not always going to get it right. Listen to the customer’s feedback and always improve the way you provide your service. You might have chosen the wrong piece of equipment for your customers, and that is also OK (it could be wiser to admit this than to bury your head in the sand). Consider how you can take on feedback and make utilise the equipment better for your members; it could be moved to a different location, or do you need add more complimentary equipment around it?
If it has been particularly well received by customers, continue working to capitalise on this, even consider how you can expand on the equipment by creating challenges, programmes or classes focused on it.