[7 min read]
The first few months after opening are critical for the success of your gym as you’ll need to attract enough members to cover the cost of your overheads and reach breakeven. That’s why it’s very important to plan ahead and put a sales strategy in place to focus your launch sales efforts.
After defining the vision for your gym and carrying out the necessary research as discussed in my previous blog, you will now have a clear image of what your sweet-spot customer looks like, an intimate understanding of the demographics of the people who live in your catchment area, and what your competitors are currently doing to serve them.
All of these are critical when it comes to developing your sales strategy. They'll help you tailor your message to your target audience, be clear about what differentiates you from your competitors, and design your membership offers to meet their needs.
The following simple 3-stage process can be tailored based on your sweet-spot members and your gym's membership targets, and will give your launch sales strategy structure and focus.
Stage 1 / Pre-sale offer
Running a pre-sale offer is a great way to build excitement around the opening of your new facility and bring in some revenue before the doors open.
With pre-sale offers, you need to offer a significantly discounted price as the sale happens before you open your doors. Pre-sale members are taking a risk on your gym opening on time so they need to be rewarded for that risk.
Pre-sale offers must also be limited by their nature and this scarcity will drive demand. Then should be time-bound, typically 8-12 weeks, and also have a limit on the number of pre-sale memberships available.
Your pre-sale should coincide with your opening day. My advice is, plan your opening date well in advance and make sure you give yourself breathing room as deadlines always slip due to unforeseen issues like equipment arriving late or damaged.
If you manage to open early it’s a bonus, you have over-delivered and your new members will be delighted.
During the business planning process, you should have carried out a break-even analysis and defined the number of memberships you need to sell to cover your costs. You should aim to break-even by month 6.
You can define a pre-sale price, and working backward from this you can create a plan for your pre-sale, as you will know what percentage of your overall membership you can offer at the discounted price while still achieving your goal of break-even by month six.
TIP / Test multiple scenarios to optimize your pre-sale membership price and quantity
When advertising your pre-sale membership, make sure you place the pre-sale price alongside the full-price membership and be explicit about the number of pre-sale memberships available.
Stage 2 / Foundation offer
When you reach your pre-sales target or the offer expires, you then move on to a foundation membership offer.
As your facility is now open, you can charge more for your foundation membership than your pre-sale but slightly less than full price.
Similar to pre-sales memberships, they should be scarce to drive demand. With a limit on time and availability so potential members will be driven by the fear of missing out on a great offer.
As before, test multiple scenarios to optimize your price point and the number of foundation memberships you can afford to sell with your breakeven goal in mind.
Stage 3 / Full-membership and other offers
Once you have concluded your pre-sale and foundation offers you should have attracted a solid membership base, then its time to move on to your full membership.
To boost member acquisition with your full membership there are a number of flexible options and cut-price offers you can consider, such as:
- Waive extra fees / such as joining fee, access card fees
- Up-front membership / members pay up-front for a 6-12 month membership
- Off-peak Membership / access is limited to off-peak hours
- Student membership / with a valid student card
- Senior Membership / for over 65’s
- Family membership / 2 adults, 2 kids
- Tradesmen, Army, Paramedics etc. / members with certain professions
- Corporate Membership / if 10 or more staff join
TIP / Tailor your offers to appeal your sweet-spot members
I'll leave you with 3 final thoughts which will support your sales efforts and greatly improve your chances of success:
1 / Network
I can't stress the importance of building a strong network in your local community enough. It’s very important to get to know the other businesses in your neighbourhood. Business loves to support business, and gyms represent a very appealing partnership opportunity for other businesses.
In order to develop strong relationships and build loyalty, you need to be careful that you don’t target two businesses that are in competition. Doing your research in advance is important so you have all the information you need to be able to make a decision on which businesses you want to partner with.
Be selective and consider how their business aligns with yours and also what their network is like and is it a good fit with your sweet-spot customer.
When approaching potential partners, be very clear from the outset about your intention to have them as the sole partner in their industry. This will build trust and increase the loyalty and effectiveness of the partnership.
2 / Content
When done right, content can be a real differentiator. It is your potential member’s first touch-point with your business so it’s worth spending time, and in some cases money, to create quality content.
That doesn’t mean it has to be very expensive either, there are great free resources like Unsplash for free stock images and very affordable and user-friendly tools for non-designers, like Canva, that will help you create eye-catching, professional content to make your brand stand out from the crowd.
As the finishing touches are being applied to your facility, its worthwhile to get a professional in to take some high-quality images that can be used across your website, marketing material, and social media to personalize your content and give your customers a preview of what they can expect.
Adding video to your content library is also extremely powerful. Video is currently king in terms of social media and engagement. A professional video tour of the gym is an extremely powerful marketing tool for customer acquisition.
To get your sweet spot customer’s attention you need to show them what you’re offering, what your brand is about, and how it applies to them. Nothing does this better than video.
3 / Software
Having software in place to complete online sign-up for your membership offers will take the friction out of the sign-up process and allow potential members to sign-up before your gym even opens.
It can also help you manage your leads, communicate with anyone who enquired or joined, and accept/manage payments.
Software can also allow you to analyse the effectiveness of your campaigns and offers after they have been completed so you can continuously improve your processes.
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