As a gym owner, selling memberships is an important part of growing your business, building the brand, and generating revenue. It’s no secret that the fitness industry has shifted in the last year, along with everything else we’re used to. We’re adapting to living in a world with COVID-19 in the way we work, socialize, shop, and spend time.
In a user-centric environment, increasing gym membership is, and will always be an ongoing challenge. The fitness industry is a competitive landscape and standing out from the crowd can be tough. In a world of online gyms, digital fitness, and in-person classes; the industry is changing. In this article, we look to understand the current state of the fitness industry and tips you can implement to increase gym memberships.
Skip head to:
- The current state of the fitness industry
- Online gym memberships, in-person classes, and hybrid businesses
- 9 ways to increase gym membership sales
The current state of the fitness industry
Before we delve into how to increase gym memberships, let’s look at the current state of the fitness industry. No doubt, trends come and go in all industries. Interestingly, it looks as though trends that emerged during the coronavirus pandemic could be here to stay. The evolution of virtual classes and digital fitness means that many businesses are operating with a hybrid gym business model. What’s more, is we’re now seeing digital-only businesses with the sole purpose of creating and producing digital content to improve fitness and health. With personal trainers taking client sessions online, consumers have more access to high-caliber training talent than ever with no restriction on location and much more flexibility in pricing.
There was a time during previous lockdowns where it felt like gyms would just stay closed and if they were to open, did members want to go back? We now know that gyms facilitate more than fitness, they are a place to connect and increase motivation and accountability. Digital fitness compliments in-person fitness as a completely convenient option for a time-restrained society.
A recent RunRepeat study found that after returning to work, significantly more people are experiencing the benefits of exercise. They looked at employees who were forced to work remotely during the pandemic and the impact of returning to the office full-time on exercise habits. A return to the workplace is a sign of normalcy. But it’s clear that several elements of health and fitness are now a priority. Mental wellness continues to be a big driver of physical fitness.
Social wellness, mental wellness, and physical wellness all play a role in fitness and staying healthy. Gym members have missed social interaction and the motivation of group classes with other people. While many people continue to enjoy the benefits and convenience of digital fitness, gyms and fitness studios have weathered the storm of COVID-19. Although a challenge remains in place with limited capacity and the worry of future pandemics, the fitness industry is resilient. Businesses that have adapted to a new way of working will be in a stronger position now and in the future.
Online gym memberships, in-person classes, and hybrid businesses
Many fitness businesses are running differently from their original model. A huge pivot to digital means we now have a massive library of fitness content available. To remain competitive, a digital fitness platform is now essential. By reevaluating your gym membership sales, you can align your strategies to have the most impact on your type of business.
While digital fitness has been around for the last few years, it’s never been quite as polished as it is now. Entire businesses are working on an online-only model where you don’t have to spend money on certain overheads like an in-person business.
An example of an online-only fitness studio is GRNDHOUSE. The UK-based team of six fitness instructors offers structured strength-training sessions through on-demand classes. The online-only platform delivers digital fitness training from world-class instructors for monthly subscription membership fees.
In-person gyms and fitness classes
Throughout multiple lockdowns, businesses had to close their doors and not all of them made the shift to online fitness. While at-home fitness has boomed in the last year, some businesses decided to wait out the storm before welcoming members back to in-person classes and fitness classes.
According to the Community Gyms Coalition (CGC), a group that represents 15,000 gyms, four in five locally-owned gyms are struggling with financial hardships from the pandemic. While gyms around the world and in the US are back open, the numbers show that a massive 80% of gyms are still suffering from the financial impact of COVID-19.
Hybrid fitness businesses
A vast number of fitness businesses are now using a hybrid approach. They are now offering digital and in-person memberships. This means that the target audience for many businesses has shifted. While you still have your in-person gym community, you also have a digital community from potentially all over the world. By understanding how each element of the business can generate sales, you can implement the right tactics to support that part of the business and build a successful hybrid gym.
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9 ways to increase gym membership sales
A well-oiled gym membership sales machine consists of a sales process with proven procedures and strategies in place. If you want to sell more memberships, you need to evaluate the sales process to make sure it works for your business right now. You can continue to tweak and update your sales process as your business evolves. It’s important that you are using strategies that work for your business so that your sales process doesn’t stagnate.
1. Make signing up as easy as possible
Whether you have an in-person fitness center or digital membership, the customer experience, and the sign-up process should be as easy as possible. The idea is that you don’t want to let anything stand between a potential customer and a membership. Standing at the check-in desk for 45 minutes to sign up for a membership is off-putting. To increase membership sales, make registration super quick and easy. Members are more likely to join when the experience is utterly hassle-free. Lengthy forms and too many requirements may persuade a customer to go elsewhere.
2. Know everything about your target audience
You can increase your gym sales by really knowing everything about your target audience. If you’re running a hybrid business with flexible membership options, you are likely targeting multiple audience personas. Evaluate your current members with a fine-tooth comb and look at the characteristics of your members. Think about the classes they take, how they found you, and their fitness goals. To market your business effectively to capture leads who are more likely to convert, a solid understanding of your audience will put you in a strong position to succeed.
3. Craft a membership sales playbook
As a business owner, you need to give your team the tools to perform to their highest ability. A sales playbook tells your sales team exactly what to do to take a complete stranger on a journey to a paying member. Include actions like all leads have to be contacted within 24 hours of lead capture. Write out every step of the process and what’s expected and involved. At the same time, try to make your steps measurable so that you can track how well your sales are doing. From this, you can see where you need to improve. Maybe you need to hire more staff, upgrade your lead management system, or bring in some more training for your employees.
4. Elevate your referral program
Evaluate your referral program and make sure that it’s still working for your business. Think about your referral offer and the value you’re adding. Promote and market your gym referral program. The best people to market your health club are your members. They use your services, see results, and are extremely relatable. When you reward existing members, it not only boosts member retention but increases their value and allows you to target more people.
5. Personalize the customer sales journey
In the world of sales and marketing, personalization is important. Think about each point of the customer sales journey and how you can personalize it to who you are speaking to. Ask potential members how they would like to communicate and gather as much information as possible so you can make relevant and personal recommendations. Selling gym memberships is about selling a solution to a problem. The more you can find out the better the solution you can offer, and you can create a more personalized customer sales journey.
6. Solidify your social media strategy
Although social media sounds like an obvious strategy for selling gym memberships, it’s often easy to miss marketing opportunities. When used properly, social media is a fantastic marketing and sales platform for gyms. You can access a diverse audience through targeting. Whether you use Facebook ads, organic social content, or Twitter, you can improve engagement, nurture your community, and sell more gym memberships. A solid social media strategy is crucial for digital, in-person, and hybrid gyms and fitness studios.
7. Automate lead management
Lead management is essential in selling gym memberships. Streamlining your lead management process can help to boost sales. It’s easy to miss a lead, not follow up, or for a lead to get lost in a spreadsheet. By using gym management software to automate lead management processes, you can streamline this part of the sales process. You can do this by automatically assigning leads as they come in. This will notify your salesperson who is responsible for nurturing the lead and taking the next step. Generally, you will get leads from several sources. A lead management process helps you to organize your leads so that you can effectively manage leads and close the sale.
8. Offer flexible pricing
Nowadays, consumers want convenience and flexibility. This expectation applies to many different areas of life. Whether it’s an online delivery or food order, convenience and flexibility drive key decisions when it comes to purchases. One of the biggest hurdles that stand in the way of a prospect and new clients is often cost. But if you’re running a hybrid business or have different levels of service, you can offer flexible pricing. This could be offering a digital membership, in-person membership, or class passes. The best pricing model is based on your target audience. Think about how you accept different payment methods and offer flexibility within your membership pricing.
9. Show your strengths
Why does a new customer choose you over your competition? By understanding as much as you can about your competition, you can showcase how you are different. Your differences are your strengths. It’s the reason why you have a growing and loyal base of members. When your sales team knows your strengths, they can be ready to lead with value. Do you have world-class instructors or creative classes that deliver results? Let new members know your value without being pushy or salesly.
Generating leads, nurturing prospects, and increasing fitness club membership sales is a balancing act of skill, organization, and personality. When you have a passion to help people, the ability to connect, and incredible marketing campaigns, you can increase your gym membership sales.
A slick sales process doesn’t appear overnight. It takes trial and error and complete awareness of your target audience. We understand that businesses have shifted, and you may be operating differently from your initial idea. But by continuing to optimize your sales strategies, you can stay ahead of the competition and boost gym membership numbers.