Gym Membership Price Increases: Is the race to the bottom over?

piggy bank sinking in sea

Gym Membership Prices race to the bottom ashbourne blog

 

“Is It Time To Increase My Gym Membership Prices?”

We realise you’re busy, so there’s 2 parts to this blog.

If you want to read the full context behind why raising prices is a good idea, then just keep reading.

But if you want to skip ahead to our 12 tips to increasing your gym membership prices, then click here to skip ahead!

 

 

For the last decade, the fitness industry has been a battle between the independent gyms and the large chain giants with their budget pricing doctrines in what seemed like an ever-deepening race to the bottom.

It is a story we have seen time and time again in the fitness industry. The arrival of this type of a huge chain Gym in a city or town indicated a significant shift and for the greater part of ten years these huge companies have dictated the pace of the industry.

But this was never a system that could last forever. Only a monopoly is able to put up their prices with anything resembling confidence.

And a business strategy based around ever-lowering prices will only ever work when times are good.

Part 1: The State Of The Market (or why times aren’t so good for the big guys)

Between the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing energy costs and property rent spikes, it is safe to say that at the very least, the good times are on hold.

This represents a chance for a correction within the fitness industry for gym and club owners.

The cost of living is undeniably rising and rising at an alarming rate. Not only that, but rising energy prices are presenting a very real squeeze to the margins of Gyms and fitness clubs alike, regardless of size.

And yet due to the increasingly competitive nature of the sector, the question is still only tentatively asked… Should we be raising prices?

 

The answer is, of course, yes!

 

The price war that has come to define the industry can only abate in these trying times. While it is a model that allowed for rapid growth, it was one driven by very specific economic and technological factors. 

This shift prompted positive and negative change within the industry. The increased focus on automation is just one example of a development that was hypercharged by the rise of the budget chains for both better and worse in different areas.

But now that period of growth has subsided and both the chains and independent Gym owners are left with a quandary. There are relatively few gains to make through automation now. The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns caused unprecedented disruption. 

 

 

Stock Market Increase

Pictured: The large gym chain business strategy

 

 

The model that previously seemed unassailable has reached the end of its artificial boom and now we have to ask the hard questions about where the industry goes from here and the culture shift that will have to occur when it comes to pricing. 

As hinted at the beginning of the article, it is actually telling that the industry is even approaching this debate so tentatively, when before so few gyms would even be considering a price rise, at the risk of turning members away.

Ultimately this approach is out of touch with economic reality. As inflation continues to bite, energy costs rise and rents increase, it is only natural that some of this should be passed onto the customer. As stated previously, the idea of ever-reducing prices is a mantra that can only exist in times of sustained prosperity. In a contracting or disrupted economy, it is neither prudent nor good business. 

Consumer Perceptions Have Changed!

While every price increase must be communicated effectively so your Gym patrons understand the reason for the decision, your members do not exist in a vacuum. Everyone is aware of the current situation to a lesser or greater extent. Consumers are seeing prices rise in different parts of their life, they are reading about it in the news and dealing with it in their own careers.

Context is king and in many ways the current context has the consumer prepared for a price increase in a way they haven’t been since 2008.

We must reinforce that it is still necessary to control and communicate the narrative for any price increase measures, but the position of increasing prices will be easier to justify.

And Sorry, But We Have To Mention Covid Again…

It is safe to say that Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our economic reality and we’d be remiss to not talk about it in the context of price increases in 2022. Quite simply, we don’t believe there has been an event in recent memory that has changed consumer habits so profoundly.

As such, the picture that is starting to emerge in our research is one of a post-Pandemic landscape that is focused on the creation of value, collaboration and community that will really make the difference.

The lockdowns showed us the value of socialisation that we had understandably taken for granted previously. (A complete lockdown of society having seemed previously unthinkable).

Now that the world has opened up and would appear to be staying open, we are seeing consumers that care more for interacting with friends and engaging with their community. We believe that these Independent Gyms, more likely to be locally focused and independent, will flourish during the post-Lockdown era. And the evidence is on our side.

As such, this makes for a greater justification for raising prices. The value of the product these Gyms provide will be more valuable. The operational costs are increasing. Consumers are looking for brands that they can rely on for more than just a service now. Frequenting an establishment now also carries the implication of protecting health.

 

Who is a consumer more likely to trust in that task? A soulless automated chain or a trusted, local Gym at the heart of the community?

 

It is these factors that we believe will effect the dynamic of price increases in the fitness industry in 2022 and beyond. As we hinted at earlier in the introduction, we believe this is one of the key factors that has taken the tempo of control in determining prices away from the rock-bottom chains.

 

 

Nutrition Plan

 

There’s A Greater Focus On Health In The Gym Now

And finally on this checklist, there is just a greater focus on health in 2022 than there has ever been. The Covid-19 Pandemic kicked the desire for fitness into overdrive. No longer was it just a goal to strive for, it became linked to survival.

While it might all start to feel surreal now we are out of lockdown, for 18 months everyone from the government and NHS to the supermarkets were telling the public to stay fit and healthy.

This really supercharged an existing trend for health and fitness that we have not seen abate.

Not only that, but we have no reason to assume that this new furore will disappear anytime soon. The historic survey data has only ever shown an increase in the importance of health and fitness within the public consciousness over the last twenty years. No data has shown thus far that the lockdown focus on fitness is receding.

In terms of raising prices, this means that gym and fitness club owners now hold a commodity with increased social and societal stock than ever before.

The Philosophy Behind Raising Your Gym Prices

So why have we spoken at length about the reasons that justify raising your prices?

Because the reasons that a gym or fitness club is able to identify for a price rise will be a cornerstone of how they communicate this to their members.

The crux of the matter is, if a Gym does not believe that the service it is providing isn’t worth it, it’ll be very hard for the leadership to justify a price increase.

So now we have discussed the state of the market, the increasing hardships facing all businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic and the role of the price wars in recent years.

With all that taken into account, it should now be easy to see whether or not the justification for a price increase exists within any given gym or fitness establishment.

 

 

Raising Living Cost Prices

 

Part 2: How Should A Price Increase Be Implemented At Your Gym?

So now we are going to focus on how to implement that price increase.

The methodology behind both the increase itself and how it should be communicated out.

Price Rise Tip 1: The Hard Maths Behind Your Health Club’s Price Rise

In this section we will be looking at the different methods that can be used to increase prices. Between different tiers of members, off-peak and on-peak, OAP and Students, premium members and concessions, there exists a multitude of different price points. 

Even without all of that, there are still hundreds of permutations possible when it comes to a price increase.

We are going to look at some of the most obvious and intuitive and work out their viability in the current market. We will make reference to what was covered in part one to justify or dismiss certain decisions. 

It is important to remember that just because a price increase method seems logical or has been used in other industries, does not mean it is necessarily a fit for the fitness industry. Increasing prices by 33%, 50% or 100% is a surefire route to disaster unless you have been seriously undercharging for a long time. 

Let us examine some potential methods of raising prices that mix in a little communication/spin.

Price Rise Tip 2: Pay Up-Front For A ‘Fixed Rate’

One way we have seen be quite effective is something derived from ‘price-locking’ seen in the energy industry, but with a fitness spin.

Communicate to your members the reasons we have discussed for the price rise regarding rising energy, rents and increased market instability. State the necessity of a price increase but state that this will not be implemented for one month.

If, within that month, a member is willing to commit to another 12 months, they will effectively be able to keep the old price for the whole year. Once the year has elapsed, they will be charged the new price. This will demonstrate that you are being proactive and rewarding loyalty and commitment to your Gym. Furthermore, if the offer is picked-up, it will result in a significant amount of revenue early on within this price increase initiative.

Price Rise Tip 3: Communicate With Your Members & Give Them Plenty of Time

On the subject of communicating a month ahead of time. We want to reinforce that in order to appear professional and in control of this price increase, we would recommend that a month is the minimum amount of forewarning a gym should give their membership of a price increase.

Ideally, this should be a two month timespan. An increased timespan works well with the above strategy as well, as the longer a member has to mull over their financial situation, the more appealing locking in a year of ‘cheaper’ membership will seem. 

 

 

Email Marketing and Customer Communication

 

Price Rise Tip 4: Provide Members With A Fixed Rate Follow-up

As a final word on the subject of the fixed rate up-front price increase, a Gym shouldn’t be afraid of utilising their list of former members.

It is an ideal time to contact lapsed or cancelled memberships. As we stated earlier, a lot has changed and members who cancelled before or during the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown may feel differently now. Additionally, it will make them feel part of the loop and connected to the news cycle of the Gym.

It will also be a communication that isn’t overtly about trying to sell.

It will be about the price increase, with the option to secure 12 months membership for cheaper than it would otherwise be available.

Whilst a small difference, psychologically it can make all the difference. 

Additionally, do not be afraid to communicate the 12-month offer several times. If a gym has communicated the raise and the offer two months ahead of time, we would say it is reasonable to remind members at least two additional times before the deal expires.

Price Rise Tip 5: Build Inflation Into Your Price Increases Today

We would recommend that essentially any price increase initiated by gyms and fitness clubs at the moment should cite inflation as a primary reason.

With that in mind, why not go one step further. Reinforce the causal link of this price increase to inflation by benchmarking it against inflation. If you raise prices by 33% or 50% of the total current inflation, say, 6% for example, you are effectively communicating that while you are increasing prices, relative to the market, you are still absorbing some of the costs.

This way the gym gains additional revenue, and your customers understand that you have protected them from part of the inflationary costs.

By crafting your increase around inflation, you are putting your money where your mouth is. This should leave little doubt in the mind of your customers that your motivations are in reaction to the increased cost of living. To any reasonable consumer, this will be taken as a positive on an unavoidable economic reality.

Price Rise Tip 6: And Think About Your Next Price Increase

If a Gym elects to go for this route, it might be worth considering raising the price of all services in line with this figure. Any additional workout supplements, drinks or associated accessories that you sell and have control over the price point of. 

By taking this approach, it is akin to ripping the band-aid off all at once and it is an action that is legitimated by your reasoning.

Conversely, if a fitness club does not wish to or need to increase the price of these additional services, it would be prudent to highlight this. It can be stated that due to the increase in membership prices, all associated prices will stay the same despite the new economic reality. This is once again a way to put a positive spin on a price raise outcome.

 

 

Planning Ahead In Your Gym Business

 

Price Rise Tip 7: Know Your (Local) Market

While this was touched on in the introductory section, it bears repeating here.

Context is king and no context is more important than the local market landscape that a Gym or fitness club is competing in.

Just prior to a price raise is the exact time for a gym to refresh its local market research.

A gym should strive to understand not only what the current membership price is for all Gyms and across all price points, but also how that contrasts with their historical pricing.

This will be a clear way to tell whether all Gyms that are considered to be competitors are also raising their prices and by what margin. It is important to understand the level of drop-off that can be expected and where they might go.

It will also help legitimise the price increase actions undertaken by a Gym.

Price Rise Tip 8: Make Sure Your Staff Are On The Same Page

No-one likes talking about price rises. The silent resignation that we have when the electric or council tax…So…

 

Train your staff on how to handle the price conversation!

 

No-one feels natural or comfortable while fielding questions regarding a price increase, especially during circumstances like the ones we find ourselves in. Spend time with your staff briefing them on the main reasons.

As these will have all been laid out in your e-mail and social media communication, it should not take too much work to collate these into material for your staff to learn from. If your staff are not briefed regarding this, bad interactions with customers who have taken the price rise poorly could work their way onto social media.

Price Rise Tip 9: Spread The Costs OR Add Value

When it comes to additional options and bolt-on amendments to Gym membership, there is room to manoeuvre in the realm of price increases. The inclusion of additional bolt-on options to a Gym membership can also be used to work around to give the impression of added value or a fair trade-off.

In one scenario, if you include a set number of sessions with a personal trainer as part of your membership with the increase, this helps give the impression of compensation for the service being provided. In turn, this will make members not only more likely to stay than if nothing is offered, but also more likely to engage with the gym or fitness club.

Conversely, by removing certain benefits to new members, you will be able to minimise the price  increase for newer members due to value saved. However, this should be implemented carefully, and rarely, if ever, on existing members. 

 

 

Personal trainers at your gym extra service

 

Price Rise Tip 10: Keep Your Price Increases Steady

Do not announce that the price increase is only temporary. No-one can predict what the future may bring and any goodwill gained from stating this will not equal the risk of being unable to fulfil this pledge.

While there are scant few reasons to reduce your price, unless your price increase has significantly priced you out of the market, it should never be pledged ahead of time. Instead, it should be communicated as a pleasant bonus. 

In practicality though, if a Gym did their market research correctly, it would take an immense reason to reduce prices after they have recently been raised.

Price Rise Tip 11: Prepare For Members To Abandon Ship

It is inevitable that some members will leave during a price increase. But if communicated effectively this number should not matter. The price increase should be structured in such a way that the increase is able to mitigate any potential dropoff.

 

As the old adage goes, you can’t please everyone, and some members will take any reason to quit.

 

Others will have been scaling back their expenditure irrespective. It is important to deal with these customers fairly and politely.

 

If a gym doesn’t already have a ‘lapsed/previous’ members mailing list, this is the ideal time to create one.

 

A gym should monitor the numbers that leave through their CRM system as that will be a key indicator as to whether they have done their market research and communication correctly.

Price Rise Tip 12: Remember That It All Adds Up

Earlier we covered the idea of increasing prices just for new members, or increasing the price and offering the old membership rate to all members.

These are tried and tested methods that we have seen in the fitness industry. However, we’d like to end our article on this practical piece detailing one of the many methods that can be used to implement a price increase.

 

Instead of using percentages, or only charging new members, one method involves a price increase of £1 per month for each member.

The thinking here is that this sum won’t seem a lot to each customer and isn’t represented as a percentage on purpose.

If you take a club with exactly 750 members, this little £1 increase transforms into £9000 a year prior to tax.

 

Naturally this can vary depending on the number of members and the average price paid at a club. As another example, we shall say a club has an average Gym membership of £40. Certain tiers come in on either side of that total, of course. Now we say that this club increases each membership, irrespective of tier, by £2.

A club where someone is already paying £40, providing it meets the criteria laid above, should not see significant dropoff from this.

But in turn, they will receive a windfall of over £1.5k a month, or nearly 20k prior to tax in a given year. 

As such, you can understand why this method can quickly cope with any small amounts of dropoff that may occur if implemented, communicated and handled correctly. 

Using direct debits, it becomes easy to arrange a price increase across your entire customer base as we’ve just described.

Interested in this method? Then you might be interested in Ashbourne Membership Management. Here at Ashbourne, we have twenty five years of experience in the industry, getting our partners the money they deserve, each month, every month.

Interested in finding out more? Then arrange a demo and gym consultation with us today.

 

In Conclusion…You Can Do This!

 

While we understand the aversion that many Gym and Fitness Club owners have to raising their prices, it is a decision that, given the state of the economy, they should be considering.

No business can maintain the same price points for their entire operational lifespan, that sort of inflexible doctrine will only result in damaging the long term viability of the gym.

 

Maintaining prices only damages your business and your profits.  

 

By failing to react to the increase in the value of the commodity that is fitness, a Gym is passing up profit at a time where it can scarcely be afforded. 

If a Gym truly believes itself to be an institution that adds value to the community and its membership, there is no reason they shouldn’t have the confidence to ask for a little more. 

As we stated at the beginning, the era of the budget club dictating the pace is over. It is a system that cannot survive contact with market contractions. Now the market must seek value generation, and to ensure that the proper price is being paid for that value generation. 

Uncovering The Best Location For Your New Gym (or your next franchise)

Empty Warehouse Gym Location

Finding New Gym Location Help

 

“Where Should I Set Up My Next Gym?”

 

If you are a long time reader of our articles, you will know how much we value market research before undertaking a significant business decision…

…And we are also going to go out on a limb and call starting a new gym or fitness club ‘a significant business decision’.

And so, if you are ready to set up a new independent gym or fitness club, then it is time to hit the research. In this article, we will be focusing on, to borrow the title of a popular show, location location location. Unlike many aspects of setting up a new gym or fitness club, location is one that a gym owner cannot easily change once it has been established. (Though, of course, it is not impossible).

As such, we’ve put together the following checklist of criteria that you should keep in mind when looking for a location for your new gym. And just for good measure, we’ve loaded it up with tips from our 25 years within the fitness industry and our very own plans to expand our ‘The Fit Club’ franchise of gyms.

 

TIP 1

Consider a location based on your customer’s demographic

 

The kind of customers you’re going after will massively determine your location, or can even be a chicken and egg scenario, shaping what your gym becomes.

If you already have an idea of what you want your gym or fitness club to be, then your location is effectively chosen for you.

An MMA fitness club is probably not going to do well in a village of 100 people in the middle of Yorkshire with an elderly trending demographic.

Every area has a character, and one that can be understood with just a little research. Some, of course, are characterised by a fairly even balance, giving you access to lots of demographics in a single area. Others will be heavily skewed, for example, here are a few locations that come to mind in our experience, complete with their strengths and weaknesses to a new gym or fitness club owner.

 

Student Areas

While the usually dense population, significant free time and active nature of a student population are huge positives, these areas are also highly transitory, with many students only going to university for three year terms and putting down no significant routes.

The explosion in dedicated student housing has compounded this trend. They can feel like a great place to target active gym goers, but you’re also going to massively cut your retention as your members may be active, but eventually they will have to leave for reasons out of their control, no matter how many benefits you offer.

 

Dormitory Towns

Otherwise known as suburbia, the pros to these areas include relative prosperity and normally a much more firmly rooted population than in cities.

A common downside we have seen is that a lot of workers will favour Gyms within the city that the dormitory town allows an easy commute to. This dynamic of being split between two areas has, however, been diminished by the work from home revolution in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, so you might find more workers are spending more time, and money, on the services in their local area.

 

Town and City Centres

Normally highly competitive and expensive to set up within these areas, but always providing a vast influx of people relative to the surroundings. Certain types of Gym will not be viable here, while other, more niche clubs will flourish in a way that they wouldn’t in more out of the way places.

We’ve seen a lot of gym owners who instinctively try to set up shop in these populated areas. After all, more people, more customers.

But that thinking can come back to bite many-an-aspiring gym owner down the line, when high maintenance costs put you on a business treadmill to always keep your club filled to max capacity.

Sometimes looking for a quieter area and providing a unique club experience can be far more profitable in the long run, as your club can easily become a discount one size fits all gym when upkeep costs become a major driving factor.

 

Every area, even if it falls into an archetype, will have its quirks and foibles. Don’t make business decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions.

 

Demographics

 

Thankfully, the internet has made researching an area easier than ever. From forums and social media to simply using google maps, it has never been easier to grasp an area. With that being said, most prospective gym owners in our experience are looking to set up in an area well known to them. While this has considerable and obvious advantages, do not be afraid to throw the net out slightly wider than usual.

Sometimes taking the road less travelled really does make all the difference. 

So once you’ve determined who you want to attract, now you need to work out where they live, and more importantly, where they are willing to drive to.

Unless it is in a town centre, city centre or business park, the assumption should be that people are not willing to drive more than 20 minutes.

Again, this will vary depending on roads, infrastructure, public transport and other interesting locations at the destination of a prospective gym. As such, ease of accessibility should be the top priority for the demographic you have in mind.

 

TIP 2

Look at the type of buildings available

 

The Covid-19 pandemic shook up nearly every market, and the business rental market is no different. Many businesses either shifted location or shut down entirely. This means that the pool of rentals post-2021 is significantly different.

The safest bet, predictably, will be a site that used to host a gym or fitness club. These come with several built in advantages, such as a pre-existing reputation within the local area and facilities that proved suitable for a gym in the past.

However you needn’t be limited by this. We have seen plenty of unorthodox venues transform from other areas of the economy into successful gyms and fitness clubs. Whether it is a former supermarket, restaurant or part of a school, with enough effort put into the conversion, we have seen prosperous gyms setup in all sorts of former venues. 

Don’t limit your imagination based on what’s available, but as always, be realistic in your budgeting about how much it’ll cost to convert that abandoned shoe store into a Kickboxing Gym.

 

Renovated Gym

 

TIP 3

BE SEEN! Don’t hide your Gym or Fitness Club away

 

This might sound silly at first. Surely it is what on the inside that counts?

Alas, there is a reason we tell people to not judge books by their cover, and that is because they do, CONSTANTLY!

 

A story we’ve heard repeated a hundred times from as many gym owners is the following:

‘They got inside our gym and they said they had no idea it was this good’.

Sometimes it is even worse and the visitor said:

‘They had no idea this was here’. 

 

More often than not, these gyms are hidden away on cheap industrial estates, down country roads, or only have a slither of a facade facing the street. 

While we fully understand the temptation to secure a bargain on an industrial complex or in a village barely anyone even knows exists, for most gym owners it is a false economy. Out of sight is, unfortunately, out of mind. The amount that will need to be spent on promotion and advertising to get people aware that your gym or fitness club exists, let alone get them into it, will be sky high. 

And even once the prospective customers to your new gym are aware, what is going to draw them far off of their beaten track? The unfortunate truth is that unless the area has an extreme level of car-reliance or fantastic public transport infrastructure, it will be hard to draw people away from the main streets. This is why certain chains, that shall go unnamed here, are always positioned in highly visible areas with large glass windows letting you see everything inside.

It is a tactic that works, and while you may find the premise will be more expensive than an out-of-the-way industrial estate, the benefits it brings can be measurable and powerful. A chalkboard out the front of your gym can get more eyes than a few hundred pounds of Facebook ads may ever do.

 

TIP 4

Take stock of what else is close to your Gym or Fitness Club

 

This is really a continuation of the last point, with a more specific focus.

Once you have an idea of the area, take a deep look at what is there.

Imagine you are a prospective customer, what would draw you to the gym?

Maybe there is a cinema along the street? Maybe it is next to a city’s business sector. Start to understand how people would weave your new gym or fitness club into their lifestyle.

 

High Street Shoppers

 

TIP 5

Collaboration & Competition

 

Now you have an idea of the area and what else might draw your potential customers to it, work out if any of these are ripe for collaborations.

A new gym requires a lot of promotion (which we have loads of helpful e-books on), and local partners are the ideal way to spread the good word about your new gym or fitness club. Think about what businesses would make for natural partners, both in the short term and the long term.

In turn, think about the competition that could arise in the future:

Don’t just look to see if an area is already overpopulated with gyms and fitness clubs, but also whether there are empty units or locations that could one day be turned into competition.

 

TIP 6

What is your Gym or Fitness Clubs Unique Selling Point (USP)?

 

As we hinted at in the point on demographics, if you are setting up a gym or fitness club, you want it to do something better than any other gym in the area. Whether that is a certain type of equipment or training, a type of class (the aforementioned MMA in Yorkshire), or the infrastructure, location or facilities that the Gym has, it should be planned in advance.

Once again, market research comes into play. Look at the prospective competition in the area you’ve selected.

Are there no gyms with a significant amount of parking?

Are there no gyms that offer competition level body-building equipment?

Does nowhere have an Octagon? 

It may sound like one upmanship and that is because it is. These are the sort of questions that the prospective customers your gym will be vying for will be asking themselves. Make sure your gym has enough of a USP that the answer frequently goes in your favour. 

 

Now, maybe it’s time to get back on Google maps…

 

To close off this article, we think it is important to reiterate what we said at the beginning.

Setting up a gym or fitness club is no small feat, but more importantly it is a task that rewards thorough market research beforehand.

We hope this article can serve as a checklist of criteria to look for when scouting for a location for your new gym or fitness club.

 

And if you are looking to start a gym or fitness club…

…And need help with running your business…

Then it might be time to drop us a line!

Ashbourne Membership Management has been working with partners in the fitness industry for over 25 years and we’ve been with gyms and fitness clubs at every stage of the journey, including setup.

So if you are interested in having your membership management locked in place before your doors even open, come and book a gym consultation today. We can show you round our system and give you tips for how to grow your club and collect your payments.

All our sales team own gyms or work within the industry, so a quick chat is well worth your time!

Feeling the Strain: The Fitness Industry is Facing Energy Bill Increases of up to 150% Even With the Government’s Energy Price Cap

Cost of living increase for businesses

Cost of living increase for businesses header

 

While it feels like dire tidings across the entire economic sphere ever since September’s ‘mini-budget’, a leading industry association within the fitness industry has warned that Gyms, fitness clubs and leisure centres might be in for an especially painful winter. 

 

The prominent industry association ukactive, an organisation that promotes the interests of gyms, fitness clubs and leisure centres across the UK has issued a statement to both the government and the fitness industry that we believe should be heeded. In the wake of the government’s price cap, ukactive issued a warning that the fitness sector might be looking at a spike well above that of the national average for businesses, possibly as high as 150%.

 

Given the decision by the government to cap prices at the point that they have, it is still estimated that the combined cost of both electricity and gas for gyms, fitness clubs and leisure facilities will increase by over 100% compared to 2019. This is because the cap isn’t on paying a set amount but per unit. 

 

Operators of large facilities, and specifically those that deal with large amounts of heated water, such as facilities with swimming pools, saunas or Jacuzzis, have been warned of increases up to or above 150%.

 

As such, ukactive has cautioned that due to government action and policy, the financial cost of energy bills for the whole sector will come to consume over 100% of what it did in 2019. Given that that amount was over £500 million in 2019, this means that over £1 billion, potentially even one and a quarter billion pounds will exit the fitness industry to pay for their energy costs. We have covered these developments and potential measures being taken by the industry here: Energy Costs, Powercuts and the fitness Industry – Google Docs 

 

The CEO of ukactive, Huw Edwards (not that one), stated in his warning that: “The government should be extremely concerned about both the health and economic impact of the energy crisis on fitness and leisure operators.” And went on to say that “Rising energy costs will have a disproportionate impact on our sector, particularly larger, energy-intensive gyms and leisure centres with swimming pools, which are now at major risk of closure”. 

 

While it is clear that this situation is unprecedented, it is one that this government is monitoring intensely, and one that is affecting nearly every business within the UK. The fitness industry has shown time and time again, most recently with the Covid-19 pandemic, that it is versatile, resilient and innovative. It is also an industry that thrives on communication, and as such we will be focusing on measures, like the one linked above, to endure this autumn, winter and beyond. 

The Only Metrics You Need To Focus On To Grow Your Gym – Free Webinar

metrics to focus on to grow your gym webinar

When it comes to running your gym, there is a mountain of data and analysis that you could potentially review to streamline and improve your gym.

But the reality is, no busy gym owner has time for that!

In this webinar, we’ll help you grind down the hundreds of data points, numbers and metrics that you could look at…and boil it down to the figures that are important, which you can use to grow your club as a very small team.

 

 

Watch The Only Metrics You Need To Grow Your Gym

 

 

 

Get Your Complete List of Free Resources Here!

You can find all the free resources mentioned in the webinar to download below and start utilising your business’ data effectively, without drowing in data.

All of these strategies are designed for you to implement right now, with no extra spend and without overloading your staff with more work and responsibilities.

  1. Download our free ebook on the Crucial Metrics You Need To Track
  2. Join the Gym Owner’s Forum here

 

The 6 Metrics That You Need To Grow Your Gym Business

It’s important for us to clarify upfront that none of this is simply old wives’ tales. All of the data and information we talk about is sourced from real world examples of gyms and industry data collected over decades.

Everything we talk about is:

 

Tested by us in our own test gym – The Fit Club Redditch.

Sourced from the thousands of clubs that we partner with, as we frequently keep in contact with their strategies and provide advice for them to implement.

25 years of wisdom and industry knowledge.

 

 

METRIC 1: Review your prices – How much are you members paying?

Export a list of your membership and sift through it. Have a look at what they are paying. You might have a group of members paying nominal rates. This could be in comparison to more recent members, or as the result of previous promotions. Sometimes you forget how far you’ve come, and how little you used to charge!

 

You might even be under charging for the demographic in your area, or compared to local competition.

 

A quick method of growing income can be a price increase. Members who are paying under the odds / average are a good place to start.Sure, you may lose a few members putting a price up. But in some cases, you can actually be making a loss on individual members.

Take us at The Fit Club, we recently found a collection of members paying 10.99 a month! The remnants of previous owners and we were none the wiser. At this price, if the members choose to leave, we wouldn’t have been unhappy. Fortunately, none did, even when we more than doubled their monthly price

 

And now let’s talk more about those club improvements…

Perhaps you have made sweeping changes to the club in recent times. Again, this could be justification for a price increase. In these situations, as long as the price increase is an amount reflective of the changes you have made, then there can be little complaints from members. Although you’ll always get a few!

Make sure you make the most of a price increase. It’s not something you want to be doing regularly (chains like Virgin active seem to reevaluate prices once a year). So don’t bother with miniscule increases of £.50 etc – it will be much more likely to cause more problems than it solves.

If you are worried about how many sleeping members you might be hitting with a price increase. You could cross check the list that you export with a list of recent attendees, removing anyone that hasn’t attended in a while.

 

 

METRIC 2: Day / free pass conversions

 

The key metric to track here is number of day passes (or free passes if you do them) vs. number of conversions. 

 

This metric won’t exist if you aren’t recording people’s details when they come into the club. Obviously it is vital, if you aren’t recording details for every visitor coming through then you are doing it wrong!

 

Contact these people with an offer!

 

At The Fit Club we have an automated follow up system.

We stopped giving out free passes. All day passes are £7.50. Member fills out a web form on arrival. This puts them into Ashbourne’s automated system and the member is followed up with an email asking them about their first visit, alongside a voucher code which gives them a £7.50 discount if they then sign up. Alas, you only get a free pass if you sign up!

The system is checking if these members have signed up on our behalf. If they don’t sign up after x number of days the member then gets passed onto the guys at reception to call. Each of these ‘hot leads’ gets two phone calls.

If they are interested we sign up, if they aren’t we add them to our ‘prospect’ to try and tempt back at a later date.

 

 

METRIC 3: Assess retained membership

This is one of the most important numbers to track and yet so many club owners struggle to answer these 2 questions when asked:

 

How do you measure churn?

Are you growing month to month?

 

A good metric for this is simply gains and losses. How many have we signed up vs. how many have we lost. Super simple, but absolutely crucial.

Are more members leaving then signing up? Seeing a lot of members who joined in January losing their motivation just about now!

 

Tracking your Direct Debit members…

Look at your recent cancellation list, people have cancelled their Direct Debit instruction and start making some calls. Your management company will deal with defaulters I’m sure. But what about those who have seen out their membership term or are on flexible contracts, They have every right to cancel, and so often they will be left to do so without a fight!

Obviously churn is a part of the business. There are always going to be people coming and going. Injuries, people moving away are common reasons. But just as regularly members are telling us ‘I’m not using it enough’, ‘I don’t know what i’m doing’, ‘i’ve seen no results’. These aren’t valid excuses for me. One thing that has helped us turn round more of these objections, has been having a solid offer to reengage such members. 

We explain to the members how important the gym is and how important their health is. A simple reinduction to something they already knew. Once they accept that, it’s easy to book them into the diary for a reinduction there and then. At this point we’ll also agree to reinstate the members DD, we won’t allow them to take up the reinduction without it.

A personal trainer or gym instructor taking the member through our induction checklist, reassessing goals, weighing in and going through a simple session plan. They are back in the gym, using it. Their initial reason for cancelling has been turned around. 

 

Tracking your Paid In Full members…

Also worth looking at your paid in full members. Are any coming up for renewal soon? Contact these members and get a renewal set up before they expire. No good leaving it down to them!

 

Is retention even your issue? If you are retaining members then fair play to you.

That is the number one most difficult thing to do. Now how can you grow?

 

Especially keep tabs on your advertising, things like Facebook ads. Whether you do this yourself or have a specialist company. Track track track. Use a thank you page as an end point to see how many successful conversions you actually have.

 

 

METRIC 4: Tracking marketing spend

It can be very easy to simply do what you think you should be doing when it comes to your marketing.

Do social, spend hundreds on a mailout to the local area, get an advert in the local paper – all tried and tested ideas that gyms rely on.

But you have to rethink your marketing so you can track your spend and what it brings in. Don’t just shout loudly, spend money everywhere and hope for the best.

So how do you do this?

Well if you use Facebook ads or social media ads, then make sure your ads are tracking conversions, not just link clicks. Knowing how many people visited your website is useful because the more eyes on your service, the more likely someone is to buy, but it gives you no information about your marketing spend to membership gain.

Make sure you set up actual conversion targets, like knowing your members have to hit a thank you page to confirm a sale from an ad, so you measure on how much member you’re getting for your buck. There’s no reason not to track this information.

 

Offline media can use a similar trick. Make sure you’re using promo codes, or asking people to enquire at reception – something that you can note down to ensure that you know where your members are coming from. Do things in proper campaigns with unique codes and tracking for each one, so you can keep track of where your money is going and where you’re investment is.

 

We recently used a voucher code as part of a campaign with a local newspaper. 0 people used the code. When we took over from a previous club, they always had an ad in the paper, but we were able to cut this instantly and move all our ad spend over to online. 

And how can you tell what a member is worth?

This is why knowing retention is so useful. By knowing what a member pays per month and how many months they stay on average, you can now work out how much to spend on your members. If your gym costs £29 a month and it takes you £50 to get a member, but they stay for 10 months, then you can start looking at your budgeting long term, that you’re spending £50 to make £290, rather than halting every campaign because it didn’t make money on the first month.

 

 

METRIC 5: Capacity utilisation (gym, classes, secondary spend)

Classes are such a huge missed opportunities for so many clubs!

 

Are you tracking your class usage? – A busy class is a good class.

Are you being efficient with your time and space? – Think about alternative classes that would fit your member demographics better.

Are you making sure your classes are busy? – it improves the atmosphere and brings people back!

 

You can track class attendance and proactively fill classes by reaching out via email or push notification. Quick, and will only cost you the 5 minutes it takes to send the message. With the Ashbourne system you can target this message to members that actually attend classes. This being said, I think you should hit as many people as possible. Even those that don’t currently attend classes.

 

Put on a total gym cap across your facility!

You can take a similar view with gym capacity / usage. Your gym might be rammed at 7pm on a Monday. But what about the day time traffic? If it’s a lot quieter then perhaps it’s time to look at an off peak membership option.

Don’t stop there though, get the word out to the relevant people. Who are available during the day, retirees, certain industries – factory workers, nurses etc, the unemployed. Your local council can be a great place for reaching out to groups like these. 

Dissect your secondary spend figures:

  •       What % of your income is currently coming from secondary spend activities? – This is all down to your till software and the reports it can produce. 
  •       Are all categories pulling their weight?
  •       Are there options that you can add?
  •       Are there lines / products / services that are only costing you money? – Spend on stock greater than revenue on product group.

 

A quick example of how to use downtime to improve secondary spend…

Are you being efficient with how you are ordering stock for example. I visit so many clubs that have empty vending machines, shelves that lay bare. We’ve had a problem in The Fit Club with downtime on sunbeds for example.

You want to be a place that members can rely on for secondary purchases whether that’s a bottle of water or minutes on a bed.

 

 

METRIC 6: Are you tracking usage?

Two sides of the coin here. I’m a big believer that you can grow your gym business with or without sleeping members. On one side you can refrain from contacting sleeping members, sitting on the fact that they will continue paying for a period and then eventually notice and possibly cancel memberships.

 

On the other hand you can look to contact sleeping members and actually get some more investment from them.

 

When looking at our sign up information at The Fit Club, I can see that ‘Referred by a friend’ is by far the most common reason for joining. So yes, you may see a few cancellations by waking sleeping members. However, there is also potential for growth!

There’s a big fear around ‘waking’ sleeping members sometimes. But when you take into account secondary spend and referral it makes you think whether it’s actually a good approach to take. Open and honest marketing may be a better approach. But that’s up to you!

 

 

Get In Touch With The Team At Ashbourne

Ashbourne is focused on making it easier for health clubs to grow their business and keep delivering their members a better service.

Ashbourne can manage every single aspect of your fitness business, handling everything from your payments to your website, entry and booking systems.

This gives you more time and freedom to focus on your members, revitalise your marketing and have time to actually manage your club properly.

And of course, Ashbourne are here every step of the way with free resources and advice to help your club be the best it can be.

If you want to discuss the future of your club, then don’t hesitate to set up a chat with our team and we can pay a visit to your facility to chat about your business and how we can help you maximise your profit.

Should You Be Increasing Your Prices At Your Gym?

Increase Gym Membership Prices Features

Increase Gym Membership Prices

 

“Should I Increase My Gym’s Prices?”

 

Certain industries and sectors have little to no reservations about putting up their prices. The council is all too happy to dictate when their cut will rise, as are the trains and the petrol stations. But unfortunately for some in the fitness sector, the rise of national chain budget Gyms has turned the health and fitness industry into an arena of constant price warfare.

As such, we will be taking a look at each of the most common questions and concerns that gym owners have to try and navigate in this minefield when they increase their membership prices.

We’ve recently carried out our own price increase in our test gym “The Fit Club Redditch“, so you can follow our roadmap for increasing your prices and building your club’s revenue.

 

All your questions answered (click them to skip ahead)…

 

Is it time to raise the price of your Gym Memberships?

How much should they increase by?

Should you increase the price for all members?

How should you communicate the price increase to your members?

Should you be wary of increasing your prices?

 

 

 

Is it time to raise the price of your Gym Memberships?

 

The aforementioned price war is not necessarily a bad thing. It certainly leads to a lower price for the consumer. But in times of budget squeeze, the ability to remain competitive will naturally come into conflict with the ever-increasing, real-value cost of running your Gym.

As such, when it comes to contesting the percentage of the population who will actually purchase Gym or fitness club membership, the subject is best approached with, at the very least, caution.

 

With increasing property rents and energy prices, the time has come where the industry is wondering if even the budget chains will be able to sustain their rock bottom price metrics.

 

And of course, unlike many economic factors that assail the industry, property rents and energy prices are both concerns that impact the spending habits of the consumer. The economical and societal upheaval of the last two years has left many consumers in a very different position when compared to 2019.

It is important that we keep this in mind when both considering and communicating potential price rises.

 

More than ever, consumers will be concerned about the value they are getting for their service.

 

family working out lifestyle budget

 

We will go into more detail when it comes to communicating the price rise but it is important to highlight in this section that your price increase cannot come with no benefits. At the very least be prepared to showcase how your Gym has improved, is improving or will be improved. If you can’t showcase this, a price increase may well result in a net loss of revenue.

To expand, it is important we reinforce that increasing the prices of your Gym or fitness club membership is not a silver bullet solution.

 

It is possible that, if mishandled, your club could end up with less collected in membership fees than before.

 

This is, of course, a worse case scenario but it is a consideration that should be held at all points of a membership price review. As we previously mentioned, there is an increasingly price savvy consumer base out there as the public starts to cut unnecessary costs. Many people will be reacting in a knee jerk fashion. A poorly timed or poorly communicated price increase could be just the thing to cause an exodus of people looking to reduce their monthly expenses. It is also important to consider that the obligatory communication may alert sleeping members to the fact they are still paying for your service. 

If either of these take place during a price increase, it may be significant enough to reduce or even negate the benefit of a Gym membership price increase.

 

 

How much should you increase membership prices by?

 

While this is possibly the most important question here, it is also, unsurprisingly, the one with the most nuanced and situational answer. This will require not only a comprehensive review of your membership but also of the competition in your local area.

 

Before increasing the price, it is vital to research the entire fitness market in your area.

 

Understand if any of your competitors have already increased their price. If you don’t know their price previously, merely understanding the different benchmarks for different Gyms in your area is still valuable information. Even if you feel like an increase of £x is justified, if it prices you out of the current market in your area then it is time to ask some intrinsic questions. 

In regards to your current membership, it is important to understand several different aspects of their current situation.

 

It is vital to understand how satisfied your current membership is with the gym or fitness club.

 

The two primary methods of achieving this will be social media, reviews and surveying. Thankfully consumers are very willing to give their feedback in the internet era. Review all outlets of feedback for your Gym, including review sites such as TrustPilot and Google Reviews, as well as your most active social media accounts.

If your clue is not meeting the expectations of your members at the current value, it is very hard to justify a price increase, let alone a significant one. It is important to keep your finger on the pulse of your customer’s opinion. Too often we all complain of businesses being out of touch, but in a value driven, competitive market, being in touch is paramount.

Only then will you be able to have the necessary confidence in the service you are providing to justify increasing your price.

 

 

Should you increase the price for all types of members?

 

The answer to this question will once again depend on the nature of your Gym or fitness club. From our (very, very long) experience in the fitness industry, we know that Gym membership categories are as varied, if not more varied than the number of clubs.

The reason we have decided to write this as its own section is to reinforce that you should take into consideration every membership when conducting a price review. 

Even if you are perfectly happy with the price point of certain membership tiers, it is still necessary to communicate effectively across the entire business.

On the other hand, it may be that you wish to increase the price of every membership by a set amount. The difference between say, £1 per member and 3% per member could vary massively. Both are systems that have been implemented in the fitness industry to varying levels of effectiveness.

 

Gym Membership Tiers

 

The economic logic here is simple.

 

Increasing everyone’s membership by a static amount, for the sake of argument here, £1, will give the sense of uniformity.

 

BUT

 

This method will represent a smaller increase in terms of percentage for your higher paying members. Increasing the price by a percentage across the board will, conversely, spread the load more equally, but perhaps extracting less from your lower paying members. 

 

Another frequently asked question during a price review is whether or not loyal members should get preferential treatment. Or whether the price increase should only apply to new members. While this can be tempting and even effective, it is important to note that an increase only on new members may take months, or even years to have a noticeable impact on the margins.

 

 

How to communicate the reasons for the price increase to your members…

 

It is vital that when you start to communicate the price increase to your membership, it is done in a calm, clear and empathetic manner.

The tone and professionalism of the communication will be important to get the point across that you are not:

 

  1. Making this decision quickly or lightly.
  2. Making this decision due to panic or in a reactionary manner.
  3. Nor that you are making this decision due to greed.
  4. That you have considered all possible options and avenues before making this price increase.

 

In order to demonstrate that the price increase is being implemented in a controlled manner, it should be communicated well ahead of time. Preferably this should be done in writing, either via e-mail or letter.

 

Our Rules For Gym Price Increase Communication…

 

This communication should lead with an acknowledgement of the current situation. The consumer is fully aware that the price of living, energy and rent is increasing and therefore this is a solid justification for any rise.

 

Focus on the improvements that have been made to the Gym and how the service is different to what was being provided a year prior.

 

Highlight the strengths of your gym or fitness club compared to other Gyms in the area and show that the price is still competitive.

 

Highlight other improvements that will be being made in the future and where the additional money will be going.

 

Make sure to brief all staff, most importantly the managers, about this upcoming change. Make sure everyone appreciates why it is happening, so that there is a unified response to any complaints. If the team running your social media is separate from your Gym staff, make sure that they are also fully briefed.

Ask staff to refer any severe complaints to the management team. 

 

If you have more than one gym or fitness club, make sure that the price increase and the communication is tailored to the area. 

 

Offer to arrange a face to face meeting for members to attend to discuss the price raise. This will give the sense that their voices are being listened to. Set an agenda that involves improvements they’d like to see given the new price. 

 

 

Should you be wary of increasing your membership prices?

 

While it is a decision that should be taken with the utmost care, ultimately gyms and fitness clubs should not be scared of increasing their prices. In the current circumstances it is an understandable and necessary evil.

While there will be some inevitable pushback, any gym should be able to effectively articulate that these price increases do not come from a place of greed.

 

Woman clutching piggy bank in shock

 

With all the disruption to the economy within the last half decade, price increases have become an accepted part of life.

 

With that being said, it is important to understand that you still have to be competitive within your local fitness market.

 

It is important to understand the strengths of your gym or fitness club, what makes it continue to appeal to your existing members.

 

  • If it is the advanced equipment, great location or versatile facility, that is a solid foundation for a small but impactful price increase.
  • If it is purely that you are the cheapest gym or club in the area, then that may make you more vulnerable to the attrition caused by a price increase.

 

Further more it is important not to fall into the trap of incremental, yearly rises. This will just result in a yearly exodus of customers.

 

It is better to announce a one off increase that can be justified and clearly communicated to your membership.

 

You may want to look into offering members options when you announce the increase. This could include offering them a year of membership at their old rate if they pay the full amount upfront. While this will represent a loss of income overtime, it will mean that you collect a full year’s membership where otherwise you might not.

As stated earlier, the confidence of which a price increase can be implemented should be directly linked to the sophistication of the membership monitoring systems you have in place and therefore the knowledge of your members. 

If you are confident you understand which of your members are loyal and active, and which are perhaps inactive, sleepers or non-committal, then you will understand the full implication of the decisions you take when conducting a price review.

 

 

Want to understand more about your membership?

Ashbourne can help you gain unprecedented insight.

 

As you can see, we really get stuck into every aspect of helping gyms and clubs succeed. Our success is directly tied to the success of our partnered clubs, so we are always ensuring that we’re at the cutting edge when it comes to helping all of our gyms grow and market themselves effectively.

If you’d like to get in touch about how we can help your club succeed, then you can always book a demo with our sales director, Grant Harrison, who would love to show you how our full club management package can help you improve and grow every aspect of your business.

8 Simple Ways To Keep Your Members At Your Gym For Longer – Free Webinar & Resources

8 ways to keep your members for longer webinar

Across Ireland and the UK, membership retention has become an ongoing challenge for gyms.

As a gym owner, it can be tough to know exactly what steps you need to take in order to keep your members engaged, without disturbing your so called “sleeping members”.

As a gym consultant and fitness sales director, Shannon White has spoken with hundreds of gyms and health clubs on their strategies to keep their members with them for life.

In this webinar, Shannon has condensed her 8 best techniques for you to keep your members for longer – providing practical methods that you and your team can actually put into action straight away in your club.

 

 

Watch 8 Simple Ways To Keep Your Members At Your Gym

 

 

 

Get Your Complete List of Free Resources

You can find all the free resources mentioned in the webinar to download below and start utilising all of these strategies to increase your gym member retention and drastically grow your business.

 

All of these strategies are designed for you to implement right now, with no extra spend and without overloading your staff with more work and responsibilities.

  1. Download the webinar slides here.
  2. Download our free e-book on how to maintain engagement with your members
  3. Use our Google Form template to create feedback forms for your members
  4. Read the latest gym retention report and statistics
  5. Join the Gym Owner’s Forum here

 

 

Read All 8 Retention Tips For Your Gym Here

The following advice for increasing your membership retention is not just words to make you feel good, every idea we suggest here has been:

 

  • Tested by us in our own test gym – The Fit Club Redditch
  • Sourced from the thousands of clubs that we partner with, as we frequently keep in contact with their strategies and provide advice for them to implement.
  • 25 years of wisdom and industry knowledge.

 

Our 8 methods are going to focus primarily on that customer experience side. We’re going to look at what you can control right now in the way you manage your members, work with your staff to create a great environment and handle your onboarding system to get more of your members through their first 6 months and staying with you for years to come.

 

Tip 1 – Get a 12 month contract in place and lock your members down

This might seem like a no-brainer but some gym owners are worried that having a contract turns potential members off. Instead of looking at it as a negative, turn it into an opportunity to offer a lower cost membership to incentivise people to join. 

That also offers a guaranteed period of time that you know you’ll have a membership for.

There is generally three methods of payments that can be used to collect regular payments during a contract:

  • Standing Order
  • Recurring card payment
  • Direct Debit

 

Tip 2 – Increase your staff presence

The goal of any retention system is consumption. People rarely cancel or quit things they actually use. It’s much easier to quit a gym than it is to quit a relationship. 

So with that in mind, let’s look at the first part of our onboarding, because that’s a huge factor in members making it past the first 6 months.

We’re splitting onboarding into 2 parts, which is your staff’s part to play, and then automating and rethinking your communications.

So how can you increase your staff presence with just the resources and staff you have now?

Be ready to review your staff’s responsibilities and cut out silly jobs – this is the most important part of freeing up your staff to focus on customer service!

 

  • Make member interaction a job responsibility, not a bonus. 
  • Systematise making notes on members.
  • Create rewards for staff to do feedback forms (every good review gets a bottle of wine / the most feedback forms get a spa day).
  • Combine this with PTs to get more secondary sales.
  • Automate areas of your club to get members off the desk – add a turnstile/kiosk/reduce staff phone time by redirecting customer service through live chat or Facebook messenger.

 

Tip 3 – Making your onboarding automated – “The Member Journey”

Many gyms underestimate how long their onboarding process should be when it comes to their initial communication with their members. 

Regular contact breeds a sense of familiarity and loyalty to your club.

You need to be very simple and direct in how you get your members from signing up to their first few sessions in the gym.

It’s not as easy as getting your members into the club and then they’re all set. You need to have an onboarding system which keeps your members coming back, discovering more of your facility and finding what works for them.

It can be very easy to underestimate just how much of a newbie your member is. We’re all gym experts here, so we often look at our club as if people like us are attending.

Your onboarding process needs to be longer, more explicit in what you offer and be with your members every step of the way to breed loyalty to your business.

This will also help some members overcome what we call “gymtimidation”.

 

This is a very basic outline of what an onboarding process should look like, but these are the touch points you can do:

 

Not everyone reads every email, so be comfortable repeating yourself and even sharing tips and advice within your emails. Better to repeat yourself than say nothing. 

None of this has to require anything fancier than a pre-written email that’s useful, has a purpose and is interesting to read.

And when you automate it, you only have to do this once and free up your staff for that customer service in the club itself!

 

In short, make sure your onboarding process is simple, clear, covers every aspect of your club, and lasts into your members first few months.

 

Tip 4 – Get your numbers together

You need to do a full club review and have a system in place to allow you to get an oversight into your members and how they’re using your club.

Find out who your sleeping members are, who your active members are, and even, how many members you have who are using the gym but aren’t paying by sharing codes or just by virtue of being a familiar face (this number will be higher than you think).

 

The more you know, the more you’ll know how to targetyour business’ problems!

 

Tip 5 – Community Building

It is proven that being active in your community and turning your gym into a social space increases retention.

So come up with some fun ways for you and your team to make your gym a social space, by hosting activities that involve the local community and make your gym a social space for your members, that they won’t want to ever leave behind.

The best thing is, this can all feed into your marketing to gather more new customers, so it kills 2 birds with 1 stone.

Always think about how you can recycle your retention strategies to appeal to new customers.

 

Tip 6 – Community Building

It’s becoming a huge trend that people want overall health advice, rather than just focusing on exercise.

Diet, mindset, mental health – you need to fully integrate yourself in your members’ life. If you only focus on exercise, then you can easily become a place that your members dread after a few off days.

Create resources, blogs, social media with simple and followable advice for your members. Stop them going on other Instagram pages and using other apps for this advice. Become the place they go for that advice.

 

And most importantly – Partner with local business to add more value 

 

Be sure to add extra benefits. Partner with local businesses that specialise in health and wellness.

Dieticians, health food shops, doctors, physiotherapists – be active in making sure your club has wider benefits in the community, and give your partners the same benefits.

 

Tip 7 – Consider a member’s app

This is one of the more technical suggestions on this webinar, but if you want to make investments in your club, then this could be a technical route to go down.

The most cost efficient way to get one is usually through your gym software provider – for example at Ashbourne we split the cost of the app monthly which makes it more affordable.

 

The benefits of an app are clear:

 

  • Find new ways to contact your members – push notifications, texts.
  • Change your members mindset, allow them to track their behaviour and make it a challenge that they can stick to.
  • Make using your gym easier – book classes and book personal trainers.
  • Protects against “Gymtimidation” by providing online support like on-demand videos. 
  • What’s key about this is only paying members can access the app, or you can create a special membership for it and sell just that. This online service model is still relevant even post covid.

 

And of course, you can achieve some of these benefits by expanding your website’s offerings, so there are ways to achieve similar results and services without developing an app at all.

 

Tip 8 – Find out why members have stopped coming to your club

More data, data, data – this is key to knowing what’s going on with your club.

Don’t leave it up to assumptions or industry wisdom to know what’s happening in your club.

Be direct with your members and send them out quick, easy feedback forms where they can identify their problems with your club.

We’ve already created a feedback form template in Google forms so you can start collecting that data right away.

As we’ve mentioned before, fitness professionals don’t think the same way as the average gym-goer or newbie. We need to understand those members better or else risk losing them to a cheaper and simpler club.

Don’t give them a reason to go to a large budget chain.

 

Bonus Tip – Change your gym’s layout

If you can’t upgrade your equipment (one of the biggest reasons why members stick with a club), then change your gym’s layout.

Freshen up the place, make it open and more inviting and clear to use for new members.

Look at your club and see if it’s inviting. Is the first thing a newbie will see is a squat rack being used by your gym veterans.

 

Get In Touch With Shannon At Ashbourne

Ashbourne is focused on making it easier for health clubs to grow their business and keep delivering their members a better service.

Ashbourne can manage every single aspect of your fitness business, handling everything from your payments to your website, entry and booking systems.

This gives you more time and freedom to focus on your members, revitalise your marketing and have time to actually manage your club properly.

And of course, Ashbourne are here every step of the way with free resources and advice to help your club be the best it can be.

If you want to discuss the future of your club, then don’t hesitate to set up a chat with our sales manager Shannon White and she can introduce you to our club management solutions.

Thank You For Joining Ashbourne Membership Management At PerformX Live

Ashbourne Membership Management performx live 2022 (no border)

Ashbourne Membership Management performx live 2022

 

Over the weekend, the Ashbourne team were thrilled to attend the very first PerformX Live, the freshest addition to the world of fitness industry expos.

It was amazing to meet our VIP guests, our existing partners and all of the attendees to this massive 2 day event.

The team at PerformX did an incredible job helping us get set up and give us the best chance to show gym owners across our industry the impact that Ashbourne can have on their business.

We’re eagerly waiting for next year for our second PerformX and can’t wait to see everyone at our next event, which will be FIBO 2022 in Germany.

If you’re interested in joining us, then we’re providing gym owners with 2 day business tickets to the event, so please fill out our request form and we’ll be in touch to arrange your tickets if we have any available.

 

We’re Always Here To Talk Fitness

We pride ourselves on our customer service, which we couple with the most diverse offering of gym management software available today. We handle everything from direct debits, missed payment collection, class booking, full club membership software and website building – we truly become part of your team and your gym’s day-to-day.

Our success relies on our team being as integrated in your club as possible. It’s why we like to put a name and a face to our staff, so if you ever need something taken care of, you can always talk to someone who you know will personally help you out.

You can get in touch with us at any time to book a demo, or simply chat with our team (you can email grant at [email protected]) about what you need from your club management service.

5 Tips To Get The Most From Your Gym’s Instagram For Free

Taking selfie for instagram at the gym (no border)

Taking selfie for instagram at the gym

 

If we said you could have free advertising for your gym, with access to millions of viewers, would you take us up on it?

Well the good news is, you already do – it’s your Instagram!

The only thing that holds you back from fully utilising the power of your Instagram page is how you use it. We’ve already gone into how paid advertising on the Instagram and Facebook has been broken recently, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t grow a successful and engaging community on Instagram.

There are so many recent changes to Instagram lately that you need to implement to maximise your reach. So keep reading and discover our 5 top tips to growing your gym’s instagram page without spending a penny.

 

 

Tip 1 – Start Using Instagram Reels

 

Instagram Reels are the new photo posts. More and more users cite that video is their preferred way to consume content on the internet.

Creating small 60 second videos and spreading your message is the new way forward on Instagram, to mix up your content beyond just images.

It should be no surprise that Instagram wants you to use its newest and most popular features, so Instagram actually pushes your reel posts much harder than normal posts. This gives you more chances to be seen by more people and therefore grow your follower count much quicker.

And the good news is, you don’t need to be super tech-savvy to create good content with Instagram Reels.

 

Instagram stories layout

 

Here is a super quick tutorial on how to set up a reel:

  1. Go into the Reels creation screen and tap on the photo square in the bottom left corner of your screen. …

  2. Select one or more videos to create your Reel.

  3. Edit the length of each video, one by one until you have reached the 15 second maximum time.

  4. Then click the back arrow to watch the whole video.

  5. Add some music to it OR a voice over. A voice over feature is brilliant for gym tutorial videos. Get your staff and PTs involved and use their knowledge.

 

With just a few simple steps, you now have engaging content, which contains more of your club’s personality, reaching more people than ever before.

So experiment between your regular posts and your new Instagram reels and see which one brings you more attention.

 

 

Tip 2 – Switch To A ‘Business Account

 

If you don’t have one already, ensure you have a business account on Instagram.

Beyond just sounding more professional, a business account for your Instagram gives you access to more analytics which can help guide the kind of content you want to make.

You see everything from when your followers are active, so you can post strategically to get maximum views; All the way to the demographics who are watching your content, so you can post content which suits your members.

For example, if your gym has got 60% male following and you want to engage with more female followers, you can easily identify this and post more content that women relate to in the gym.

You can see these by clicking the ‘Insights’ button on your main menu.

 

Instagram business analytics

Great social media is equal parts art and science (with a dash of consistency)

 

 

Tip 3 – Re-Share Your Customers Tags

 

When your members tag you in a story or post, try to re-share their posts to encourage more customers to share and tag you in their own content.

If you can make your members feel special and included in your community, then you can truly build a loyal customer base.

However, don’t get too re-share happy. Be mindful of re-sharing the same content too many times. Once is plenty, as there is nothing worse than seeing accounts re-share the re-shared post over and over to pretend like they have something to say.

Instagram is all about trying to widen your reach, and one of the main source of new followers will be from tags. To tag someone in a post or story type ‘@’ followed by the account name. 

 

So give it a go, here’s just a few ways you could shout out your members:

  1. Shout out your members who have been signed up with you for the longest.

  2. Celebrate members who have hit their fitness goals and made the most improvement.

  3. Make it a routine of tagging every single new member to your gym and give them a warm welcome.

 

engaging instagram follower

 

The possibilities for engaging with your audience are truly endless if you make it a part of your business’ philosophy!

 

 

Tip 4 – Use Old Content That Did Well

 

If creating new content is taking up too much time, well we have some good news for you: You can just recycle old content.

Don’t be afraid to re-post an old post that is already featured on your page.

Posts that did well before, did well for a reason. So don’t waste them!

Whenever you post, only a fraction of your audience will ever see that post, so it will always be fresh even when you share it again. Maybe some of your new followers will benefit from seeing it who weren’t around the first time as well!

It takes a long time to build trust in your service and brand. Consumers need to see your service multiple times to be convinced to sign up or buy what you are selling, so make sure to maximise value from every single post, so your brand is always at the forefront of your potential members’ minds when they’re looking for their next gym home.

 

 

Tip 5 – The 10k Followers Limit To Link In Your Stories Is Gone!

 

Recently IG has changed its restriction for smaller accounts to add links to their stories.

The traditional ‘swipe up’ feature is still only available to accounts with more than 10,000 followers but now any account can add a ‘link’ feature to a story.

This means that you can link this to your gym ‘Join online’ page, or a product like Personal Training.

So start creating a journey and plan to get your Instagram viewers over to your gym’s website. It’s time to turn your social media marketing into profit!

 

 

Instagram is at its peak…so don’t miss it!

It can be very easy to assume that a social media platform will be around forever and you can get round to making the most of it someday when you have more time.

But social medias change. Facebook was once seen as a goliath of social media, but it’s reporting a drop in user numbers for the first time ever. And it’s no surprise, that when a social media platform wants to maximise its profits, then it can quickly become a “pay to play” service, where you start having to spend a lot of money to get a basic reach to your audience.

Instagram has been around for a few years, but it’s still finding its feet and has so much potential.

Its audience numbers are growing, and most importantly, it’s still being used by a younger audience who haven’t abandoned it for the latest social media trend.

So take advantage of the moment and start experimenting with your Instagram’s business page. You never know, you might just discover the fun in your marketing again!

 

taking notes for instagram post ideas

Get the notebook out and start brainstorming ideas with your team!

 

 

And we can help…

As you can see, we really get stuck into every aspect of helping gyms and clubs succeed. Our success is directly tied to the success of our partnered clubs, so we are always ensuring that we’re at the cutting edge when it comes to helping all of our gyms grow and market themselves effectively.

If you’d like to get in touch about how we can help your club succeed, then you can always book a demo with our sales director, Grant Harrison, who would love to show you how our full club management package can help you improve and grow every aspect of your business.

Facebook Ads Are Dead! Here Are Some Alternatives To Grow Your Gym In 2022…

Facebook Platform Prison

facebook-ads-is-dead blog header

 

“Facebook ads is dead!”

 

…or at the very least has become much harder to use.

Thousands of clubs rely on paid social media to reach the members in their area and Facebook and Instagram are at the core of that plan.

Since Facebook stopped tracking Apple users (a lot of them use Facebook), it has made it extremely difficult for businesses with smaller advertising budgets to track which of their ads are actually working. Simply too many sales and potential customers aren’t being tracked, so many gyms have no idea where their money is going.

 

But hopefully, this is the shake up that is needed for your business to not rely on a single platform to gain your members.

 

It’s never been more important to diversify how you secure new members, because as we’ve seen, if your preferred platform changes how they do things…then it can shake your business to the core.

 

And with that, let’s look at some alternatives to Facebook ads that can help you discover an entirely new audience, using all the same resources you have right now!

 

 

CLICK ANY OF THESE TO SKIP AHEAD…

TikTok Ads

Linkedin Advertising

Google Ads

Google My Business

Your Local Area On Reddit

 

 

TikTok / TikTok Ads

 

TikTok has quickly developed from something that “just the kids” are using, to one of the most popular social medias in use right now.

If you were under any impression that TikTok is nothing compared to Facebook, then I have news for you.

 

In 2021, these were the user numbers globally for TikTok and Facebook:

  • TikTok: 700 Million

  • Facebook: 2.9 Billion

 

Tik Tok has already amassed a quarter of Facebook’s numbers and it continues to grow, while Facebook is reporting losses for the first time in its history.

While TikTok’s age demographic is much younger than Facebook, it still has a proportional size of users who are entirely old enough to sell your gym too.

 

Tik tok user

 

In 2020, a full TikTok user review in the UK revealed that:

  • 24% of TikTok users were aged between 15 and 25 years old

  • 9% of TikTok users were aged between 36 and 45 years old

  • 6% of TikTok users were aged between 46 to 55 years old

TikTok’s younger audience makes it the perfect platform to gain access to an entire age group which left Facebook a long time ago (or were born too late to even sign up to it – just to make you feel old).

And couple that with an ads platform which offers accurate targeting and allows you to actually crack your purchases across all devices – it’s the perfect next home if you want to expand your social media offering.

 

 

Linkedin Advertising

 

Linkedin has a reputation as a solely business social media. But it’s a ripe environment for you to start selling to new customers on a social media platform where the competition for health clubs is really low.

We’ve already put in a lot of research with our very own Linkedin Ads, so you can get a campaign that’s ready to go by clicking here.

But in short, Linkedin is Facebook, but 10 years ago.

More active users, with cheaper ad costs and a larger reach to an audience who are working and have money to spend.

It’s a dream come true for anyone looking for a Facebook alternative that targets a working age audience who are eager to purchase in your area.

 

 

Google Ads

 

Google Ads differs from other social media ads because it works completely on search terms and not just on targeting your interests.

So if someone is searching for something on Google, all a Google ad allows you to do is simply appear at the very top of the first search.

This is a great hack if you want to quickly shoot up for Google searches for gyms in your area, as the searches for local gyms are usually very simple in our experience.

 

google ads dashboard

 

Just a few examples include:

“Gym in x”

“Best gym in x”

“Cheapest gym in x”

 

So hop on Google Ads and set a small budget to start hacking your way to the top of Google searches for your area. You’d be surprised how few businesses use this as technique.

 

 

 

Google My Business

 

Is your gym listed on Google Business?

Then you’re missing out on an instant SEO boost to get you to the top of Google search results.

Whenever you Google a business you’ve likely seen the listing at the right of the page, giving you directions and quick ways to get in touch with them.

Google My Business allows you to enter this information directly into Google, which is great for 2 reasons:

  • It helps you show up on Google maps and more Google searches.

  • It instantly tells Google what your business is, so they can deliver you straight to the top of searches.

So take out the chance of Google’s robots trying to decipher what your gym is by your website alone, by directly inputting your business straight into their search engine.

 

 

Local Area Reddits

 

Message boards are a great way to get in touch with your local community, and especially if you live in a larger town or city, then you’ll easily find communities on sites like Reddit very easily.

For anyone who has never used Reddit, it’s the largest website in the world and is made up of small communities known as subreddits. Everything from “fishing” to “cute pictures of owls” has its own community, which you can join and post in.

 

woman using reddit in gym

 

It’s clear to anyone that having access to a large range of people who have formed a community in your local areas is great for your business, but even better, Reddit also has a very user friendly ad platform which allows you to target specific subreddits, which you can use to advertise to people in your area with their own local club.

It’s a technique that barely any local businesses are making use of and is the perfect way to get your gym in front of a huge range of demographics who all live locally for a very cost effective advertising cost.

 

…and why haven’t we mentioned Instagram Ads?

Instagram is owned by Facebook and uses exactly the same algorithms and tech that Facebook ads use.

If you’ve never used Instagram before, then it can certainly be  a great avenue to explore, but all of the problems with Facebook’s advertising system will be present over on Instagram.

 

There’s never been a better time to free yourself from a platform prison…

Facebook Platform Prison

 

It can be extremely easy to become comfortable using a single social media to run your entire gym from, but as we’ve seen, if anything changes then it can cause havoc with reaching your future members.

Facebook ads is a cautionary tale of how quickly a seemingly secure service that you’ve used for years and grown to rely on, can suddenly become unusable.

This is the perfect time to shake out of the comfort zone and start experimenting with new ways to find your members. Experiment with new social medias and diversify your techniques to reach as many people as humanly possible from your local area, to spread the good word about your gym or health club.

 

And we can help…

As you can see, we really get stuck into every aspect of helping gyms and clubs succeed. Our success is directly tied to the success of our partnered clubs, so we are always ensuring that we’re at the cutting edge when it comes to helping all of our gyms grow and market themselves effectively.

If you’d like to get in touch about how we can help your club succeed, then you can always book a demo with our sales director, Grant Harrison, who would love to show you how our full club management package can help you improve and grow every aspect of your business.

The Ashbourne Team Joined The Community At Ireland Active Conference 2021

Ashbourne Membership Management Team Ireland Active 2021

Ashbourne Management Group Photos

 

Over the weekend, the Ashbourne team had the pleasure of attending our first Ireland Active Conference 2021 at Castleknock Hotel in Dublin.

Our 3 top team members headed out to show the Irish fitness community what great club management looks like and get to know the tribulations faced by Irish gym owners in the wake of lockdown restrictions being lifted.

Our dream team consisted of:

Evie Blackburn, the head of our support team who solve every single one of our customers’ issues.

Grant Harrison, our sales director who personally walks every single club through how Ashbourne works.

Shannon White, the latest addition to our sales team focused on reaching out to spread the good word about Ashbourne.

 

Ashbourne Group Photo

 

A Huge Thanks To The Ireland Active Team

As our first in-person conference of the year, it was incredible seeing members of the community outside of a screen for the first time in over 18 months, which gave us the opportunity to have some great chats with leisure centre and gym owners from across Ireland.

We wanted to give a special thanks to the conference organiser Niamh Norton, who gave us the warmest welcome into the Ireland Active community. We’re looking forward to being as involved as we can in the Irish fitness community as we continue to help clubs across Ireland grow their clubs and retain their members in one of the biggest shake ups to the fitness industry.

We’ve been putting in a lot of effort recently to become truly integrated with the Irish fitness community. Since we set up our new office home in Ireland, nothing has been made more clear to us that Ireland is a thoroughly unique place to do business, where personal relationships are at the heart of every single business decision.

 

 

We’re Always Here To Talk Fitness

We’re a newly established Irish company who love meeting with everyone across the Irish fitness industry and learning everything there is to know about your day-to-day. We’re eager to chat about your business’ successes, trials and what you need to reach your dream goals; and how we can help you get there.

We pride ourselves on our customer service, which we couple with the most diverse offering of gym management software available today. We handle everything from direct debits, missed payment collection, class booking, full club membership software and website building – we truly become part of your team and your gym’s day-to-day.

Our success relies on our team being as integrated in your club as possible. It’s why we like to put a name and a face to our staff, so if you ever need something taken care of, you can always talk to someone who you know will personally help you out.

You can get in touch with us at any time to book a demo, or simply chat with our team (you can email grant at [email protected]) about what you need from your club management service. We can’t wait to talk to you in the upcoming weeks to kick off your 2022.