As Christmas draws closer, it only means one thing for fitness business owners: the January gym rush is just around the corner.
If you’re like most gym owners, you probably have a complicated relationship with January. It’s a highly profitable time of year, but it’s also much busier, which means it’s more stressful.
With thousands of people kick-starting their fitness journeys, you’ll inevitably have a hoard of new members queueing up at your door. It’s a power season for your fitness business.
So, whether you’re a class-based studio, fitness franchise, or gym, in this post, we’re sharing our top 5 ways to make the most of the January gym rush. We’ll begin by taking a quick look at why January is so busy and 3 mistakes to avoid when preparing your gym for the New Year.
Skip ahead to:
- Why is January So Busy?
- 3 Things to Avoid When Preparing for the January Gym Rush
- 5 Ways to Win This January
Why is January so Busy?
Gym-uary is hectic. But why is it that 12% of all sign-ups, proportionally more than any other month, happen in January? Well, there’s a pretty simple explanation.
As humans, we have a psychological need to be able to cast off past excesses and make a fresh start.
So, when the festive period is over, most people feel like they’re ready to make a change for the better. And that’s where “New Year, new me” comes in. In 2019, ‘exercising more’ was the top resolution for people in the US at 59%.
When you combine this innate human desire for self-improvement with the increased marketing efforts of gyms and fitness studios, you’ve got fertile ground for the seeds of the one-month fitness revolution to flourish.
3 Things to Avoid When Preparing for the January Gym Rush
The January gym rush can leave you feeling exhausted even if everything goes according to plan. Be aware of these common mistakes and make an effort to avoid them in the lead up to this busy period:
1. Not Supporting Your Staff
When you’re feeling overworked, your staff are likely run off their feet too. That’s why it’s essential to make sure they’re supported in their work. Schedule breaks and pep talks to keep everyone motivated and listen to their concerns and suggestions too.
Never forget that your staff are the people who represent your brand. It’s them who’ll leave a lasting impression on your new customers.
Sure things like the cleanliness of your facility and your range of classes play into a prospective customer’s opinion, but a friendly smile or a helping hand from one of your team can make all the difference.
2. Offering a Free trial
While it’s tempting to offer a free trial of your gym or service to snap up as many leads as possible, this doesn’t always work out in the long run.
There are more effective ways you can drive new members through the door. While the January rush is a welcome boost to your acquisition, keep your goals focused on retention. Everywhere is offering free trials in January. And when people have lost their “new year new me” motivation, there’s no incentive for them to stay.
3. Losing Sight Of The Basics
With all the buzz surrounding the new year, it can be easy to forget the fundamentals that keep your business running efficiently.
Stay on top of everything you usually do to ensure smooth operation – for example, don’t neglect your finances just because you’re too busy trying to implement an exciting new marketing tactic.
Think about things like making sure your equipment is clean and working properly, providing great customer service, keeping your facility tidy, and making sure you have sufficient inventory to cater to your member’s needs.
With more people at the gym, you’ll essentially need more of everything you usually have, like towels, toiletries, even your vending machine might need extra stock!
Not losing sight of the basics will bring a sense of calm amid the rush and provide a stable platform from which you can best grow your business.
5 Ways to Win This January
Last year is over, and the new year brings new opportunities. So, let’s find out how to crush January and build the momentum that’ll rocket 2020’s profits.
1. Ramp Up Your Marketing Efforts
After the festive period, new customers are ready to commit to fitness, so it’s a great time to spend a little more on your marketing to bring a great return.
But you’re not the only gym opening its doors to those ready for a new challenge. Advertising in January is competitive. All the other fitness businesses in your area will be trying their best to entice potential customers to join their program or facility.
So start by refining your unique selling point. Spend some time thinking about what you offer to customers that your competitors don’t. If you’re not sure, it’s ok to ask your current members – they’re always a valuable source of feedback.
Then set your sights on social. Social media advertising is the cheapest form of advertising around. What’s more, over the holidays, people typically spend more time on their phones than usual. This means that you can easily reach them through social channels such as Instagram and Facebook. Check out our guide to Facebook advertising if you’re not sure where to start.
Free up time by getting prepared in advance by using social media automation tools like Buffer and Hootsuite. These tools allow you to schedule all of your content so you can focus on more important tasks when push comes to shove.
If you’re not ready for digital advertising just yet, get creative with other tactics. Hand out flyers at your local cafe, get an interview on local radio or give a talk at a local corporate office.
Finally, craft an irresistible gym promotion to entice people to take the leap and sign up to your studio. Choose an offer that engages people and has a time frame. Think of a “6-week shape up challenge” that you might usually run for $300. Promote the challenge with a discount for those who sign-up in January. This way, you’re still getting their commitment!
2. Give Your Retention Attention
80% of people who sign up to your gym in January will cancel their membership within 5 months.
The good news is you can minimize your churn rate by building out a proper member onboarding strategy. According to retention expert Dr. Paul Bedford, just four introductory sessions spread over a few weeks can boost retention rates by as much as 17% at the 6-month mark.
What’s more, the IHRSA’s 2018 report concluded that just two interactions between staff and members each month increased attendance in the following month and reduced the risk of membership cancellation by 33%.
Offering group fitness is a great way to engage members and increase retention. The IHRSA’s report reveals that class attendees are a staggering 56% less likely to cancel their membership than those who train on their own using free weights or cardio equipment.
3. Focus on Your Current Members
Neglecting existing members who’ve been loyal to your studio is easily done when you’re wrapped up in the influx of new-joiners.
Research shows that over 50% of your current gym-goers don’t like your newbies. It’s not surprising given that lots of new members mean your existing ones are now queuing for equipment or turning up at their usual time to find there are no free lockers.
So, it’s up to you to ensure that they continue to feel valued in your facility. Before the rush hits, let your members know that their classes won’t be affected – because you’ll be running separate new joiner ones. The most important thing is to make sure the influx of new joiners affects your existing member’s workouts as little as possible.
Treat them like the brand ambassadors they’ve become!
4. Keep Your Staff Happy
Start preparing your staffing roster well in advance so everyone is prepared and ready to work. Make sure they’re all happy with the hours/classes they’ve got and ensure that everyone has access to the time table on their mobile to minimize the chances of a no-show.
Host regular staff meetings and check-ins to see how your employees are doing. Try to boost their mood, even host a ‘welcome back’ social as a small gesture to get them excited for the New Year.
By treating your staff well, not only will they be excited to come to work, but they’ll be transmitting good vibes to your customers.
5. Start Planning Early
Make a list of tasks that have to be completed before January 1st. You could use a project management tool, a shared excel sheet or a good old fashioned to-do list.
You might need to book services for your facilities such as equipment servicing, deep cleaning, or general maintenance and these typically get booked up as Christmas approaches.
Start planning out January’s class timetable to cater to the increase in demand. Get working on advertising and refining your offer. Ensure your management software is updated, organized and ready for action. Whatever it is, you want to make sure everything is ready to go in the new year and that you’re feeling confident to take on the January gym-joiners.
The January rush is fast approaching and love or hate it, there’s no denying it’s a fantastic opportunity to drive the growth of your business.
It’s worth investing time and effort into developing a new year’s strategy to capitalize on all those new year’s resolutions at this time of year.
By ramping up your marketing efforts, setting up a smart retention plan, paying attention to your current members and keeping your staff happy, you’ll go a long way to kick start the New Year with a bang.
2020 is set to be an exciting time for the fitness industry – so make a resolution for it to be your best year yet.