A continuation of articles from our Fitness Founders series: Mehdi Elaichouni of Carpe Diem Jiu Jitsu Singapore shares his first-hand experience in how he has personally navigated challenges. He highlights key learnings and actionable takeaways to help new fitness businesses succeed.
The biggest nightmare of any new fitness operator is an empty gym on opening day. With an ongoing renovation, the neighborhood would already be expecting something new. Not running a pre-sale campaign wastes that free buzz that’s already brewing. Without pre-sales, your break-even point could also be prolonged by months. So plan to actively promote, market, and sell memberships before opening day.
Pre-sales also help boost confidence, knowing that there are people excited to work out at your new space. Here are some key considerations for pre-sale campaigns.
Skip ahead to:
1. How early should you start?
It’s tempting to start pre-sales as early as possible to soothe your nerves. But too much lead time could create anxiety and a negative impression on customers. In addition, there is a limit on how far in advance you can start pre-sales based on one simple fact ― you’re selling something that doesn’t yet exist.
Tight project management is critical, so don’t leave deadlines open. You need visibility from external contractors and suppliers on key milestones and deliveries. You don’t want to miss your launch date.
Give customers visibility while giving yourself some buffer time. I would not communicate the exact opening date until one or two weeks before—for example, May 2022 instead of 15 May 2022.
With the above in mind, I recommend waiting at least 8 weeks before launch for pre-sales.
2. What can you sell?
So what do you sell during pre-sales? Options include trial packs, full memberships, or founding memberships that are specially priced or offer special access. Before you launch into tactical activities, first figure out how you can convince people to buy a membership with you. Go back to your business plan, look at your target audience and figure out potential pain points that you can address.
The Top 10 Barriers Discover more
Slowing Your Fitness
As a new fitness business, you need to establish trust before anyone will be willing to purchase from you. This can be built with a professional-looking website and communications, instructor credentials, and excellent customer service. Ensure all customer touchpoints are designed for a great customer experience and seek to speak with them instead of focusing solely on sales.
Remind people that you are in a location that they frequent, and communicate the positive benefits you can bring to their lives. Also, mention the accessibility and transportation connections that will make it easy for them to come to you.
Barriers to entry
At Carpe Diem, our barrier to entry is actually our core business. Most new customers come with interest in Jiu-Jitsu, but it could take months before a new practitioner starts to understand the theories and concepts of the sport. In truth, many Jiu-Jitsu first-timers actually leave class confused but intrigued. This makes it more difficult for us to sell full memberships upfront, but trial packs work well for new customers to give us a proper try before committing.
3. How do you follow up?
Businesses often offer after-sales care and support, and you should have the same for after pre-sales. You’ve successfully sold a healthy number of pre-sales memberships – don’t go silent and wait for opening day as it may create anxiety in your new members, regardless of the amount they paid. This is an excellent opportunity to keep your new members engaged and start building your community.
Involve your new community
Keep your new customers engaged and updated during the renovation period. Everyone is excited to discover the new space, so update them on the progress of your renovation.
Build your social media following and get your audience signed up to an email waitlist – you can then drip feed emails with updates to keep people engaged and excited. This solidifies your business in their minds and creates anticipation.
Let them learn about you
This can be a good time to kick start mini customer retention campaigns. Send short content, like quick video intros from your team or a sneak peek at your facility. Avoid oversharing to not be seen as spam, as your member base is still new and not yet committed.
Understand your target audience to know what and how to sell. Pre-sales will help in your acquisition efforts. New trials at the gym will come and increase their propensity to sign up.