How to Prepare Your Gym for the New Year’s Rush
As we quickly approach the end of 2018, gym owners and managers across the country are gearing up for one thing: New Year’s resolutions. I’m sure we all know somebody (or have been in that position ourselves) who has made a resolution to get in shape for the New Year, which is why it’s one of the most popular resolutions out there. This, of course, means that the beginning of a new year is usually one of the busiest times for gyms, and this rush can throw a wrench in your day-to-day operations.
While many gyms can see an increase in new members of up to 12% in January, these numbers typically won’t last. Nearly 14% of these new members will be gone by February, and these numbers will continue to thin out as the year winds on. The challenge for gym owners and managers is how to prep for this crazy rush of new members, promote new member retention to prevent fall-out, and not lose sight of your loyal membership base already in place.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you prepare for the New Year’s rush:
Make sure your staff is ready
The New Year’s rush can be overwhelming, so it’s important that your staff is ready and trained to handle the influx of new customers. If you’re a big-box fitness clubs, make sure all of your machines are working and that everything is clean and ready to use. For more class-based gyms, talk to your instructors about dealing with larger class sizes. It’s not a bad idea to add in a few more training sessions here, either, to ensure your staff is comfortable onboarding new members and getting them up and running in your system.
Increase your class load if applicable
If you’re expecting a major increase in customers, it’s probably a good idea to make some temporary schedule changes to help ease the burden on all stakeholders: instructors, current members, and new members. This doesn’t have to be permanent (and it shouldn’t be since your member load will even out in a few months) but it does need to be clearly communicated. Update your online schedule, post signs around your gym space, and email members with updates as they come up.
Don’t cancel any appointments with current members
Even though your personal training schedule might be tight, don’t cancel any appointments with your current members. During this new member rush, it’s especially important to ensure your current members still feel welcomed and valued. But, at the same time, try to avoid instilling an ‘us vs. them’ mentality. At the end of the day, your gym is a community of like-minded people, regardless of when they joined up. Think about hosting some networking events or special workout classes with happy hours afterward to give people a chance to meet each other and increase the chances of retention.
Double down on customer service
When you think about gym membership renewal and retention, the first thing that might come to mind are results. But really, what people want from a gym is a sense of belonging, connection, and community. Sit down one-on-one with your new members to better understand why they’re there. Are they looking to meet a certain goal? What about meeting new people? Figure out what’s important to them and then work with your team to deliver. Doubling down on customer service is the best practice to follow year-round, but it’s especially important during this rush season.
Make the renewal process as seamless as possible
If you’re trying to get new members to realize the value of your services and renew their membership after a promotional period, it has to be easy. For today’s members, this means handling everything online in a fully automated, secure payment platform. Plus, there should be an automatic renewal option every month so that nothing slips through the cracks.