For the past several years, new fitness trends required facility owners to increase overhead with new equipment, new programming and specialized staff – often with little or no ROI. The logic behind this imbalance often was justified as a means to acquire new members in such a competitive market. 

Today’s economic downturn, however, necessitates a different strategy. Service-based businesses must shift focus from “acquisition” (pursuing new members) to “retention and leverage” (increasing revenue through existing members). 

The following are five ideas that require minimal expenditures while generating ROI almost immediately when properly executed:

Pro Shop: All clubs, studios, and spas should dedicate floor space for a pro shop, retail center or kiosk. Existing pro shops should evaluate and set new revenue goals. Key considerations:
  • Carry only best-of-breed or exclusive (non-internet) products;
  • Private-label as much as possible to maintain margins;
  • Build traffic through creative merchandising;
  • Commission staff on pro shop sales;
  • Expand existing lines and introduce new products;
  • Promote pro shop and products throughout the facility;
  • Make products available via club website for out-of-towners.

Frequent Member Rewards Programs: Airlines do it. Starbucks does it. And you should at least consider it, too. With a focus on increasing member activity and building traffic, a “frequency rewards program” can add to a facility’s overall revenue picture. Frequency programs can be initiated at check-in, pro shop, personal training, special classes/programs or all of the above. Even a low-tech punch card system can be implemented with success. Frequency reward points can be redeemed for:
  • Training sessions;
  • Pro shop discounts;
  • Membership monthly add-ons;
  • Co-sponsored venues and events (restaurants, movies, golf, etc.).

Speaker’s Bureau: A speaker’s bureau requires virtually no capital, adds value to a membership and draws non-members to your facility. Most local speakers will lend their expertise at no charge provided they are allowed to hand out business cards and collateral. Presentation topics might include: 10 Ways to Cut Household Costs, Eat Better and Be Happy; Finally, the Truth About Weight-Management (staff); New Investment Strategies in Today’s Market; How to Shape-Up and Prepare For A New Job Interview. The best ways to take full advantage of your presentation is to:
  • Invite local media;
  • Video the presentation for your website;
  • Provide pro shop product samples (bars, drinks, etc.);
  • Offer special “right now” membership pricing for non-members.

Co-Promotions/Sponsorships: Hikes, bike rides, grocery store field trips, fitness contests, boot camps, 5k, 10k and mini-marathons are just a few of the activities that can be co-sponsored and co-promoted with non-competitive businesses with minimal shared investment. During any of these events, it will be important to:
  • Display your logo via signage, banners, apparel, print collateral, lead boxes, etc.;
  • Set-up an exhibition table or booth to showcase products and services;
  • Video and photograph the event including members, staff, participants for web, newsletter, bulletin boards and other promotional vehicles;
  • Distribute media releases with photos before and after the event.

Education-based Programs/Weight-Management/Nutrition Education: Creating a classroom environment, allowing participants to arrive in street clothes and teaching a paid curriculum is one of the most lucrative services a facility can provide. Although it takes time to organize and plan it does not require major capitalization. Plus, these education-based curriculum can be moved off-site and become a profitable mobile “classroom” at corporate conference rooms, churches, schools and community centers. Education-based programs held in classroom environment will:
  • Generate new and ongoing revenue both onsite and off-site;
  • Introduce your facility to non-members;
  • Motivate participants through education toward personal training and nutrition services;
  • Attract media attention.

While the fitness industry is known for being “trendy,” it remains incredibly competitive and suffers the same demise felt by all retail businesses during an economic downturn. However, with a shift in focus, a little creativity and a “take action” mandate, your facility will not only survive, but perhaps, even prosper.

Art Rothafel is president of Private Label Fitness (http://www.privatelabelfitness.com). Since 1991, the company has provided knowledge-based nutrition, fitness and menu planning components available for “branded” resale exclusively through health, fitness and medical professionals. For more information please call 714.282.0305 or email art@privatelabelfitness.com.

Follow  

What is your average annual income for your fitness-related work/business?