If you own a fitness business or work in the fitness industry, the New Year’s gym sales rush can be one of the most exciting times of the year! It’s a fresh start, a brand new year, and the gym is filled with hopeful new members beginning their fitness journeys. These new-year-resolutionists are eager to reach those fitness goals that they didn’t quite get to last year. This can also mean a sales surge for your business! When commissions are flowing and your membership base is growing, this can go one of two ways.
The ideal way is when your first couple months of the year are a huge success since you’ve prepared your marketing and prepped your team, resulting in many new satisfied members… OR it can be a giant fail with closing rates plummeting from ill-prepared staff, and aggravated members from overcrowding and overflowing trash cans. How can you ensure that your new year’s sales surge is optimal? You have to start preparing NOW! Here’s what you can do to make sure you are part of the successful group, and capitalize on this January fitness phenomena without any of the negatives.
Set up your gym sales and marketing strategy now
A well-planned marketing strategy for your health club or fitness studio is crucial for success. If you decide that working with a marketing professional would be the best approach to create a strategy, now is the time to begin interviewing reps and scheduling demos with marketing companies. Review your numbers from last year, and analyze what could have been done better. Talk to other gym and studio owners about what worked best for them in past years. Then write out a solid strategy that begins in the fall leading up to January, and carries you through Quarter 1. This includes researching the best timing to release promotions, and setting aside enough cash flow for your advertising budget.
Once you have your strategy developed, you also need to account for the timing of any design and print work to be done in plenty of advance. One of the most important factors to include is how you plan to get referrals from new members, which is the most effective way to amp up your results.
Have a great working relationship with your billing company
With the new year gym sales, the increase of new business leaves room for more error to occur. It is crucial to have a great billing company and a great working relationship with them. Know your points of contact, and review processes with your team in advance. It may be advantageous to take all staff through some additional CRM training before the rush hits.
Using a branded app for scheduling classes and sessions can be a great way to increase brand exposure. With that in mind, make sure you are working with the best billing company that provides this feature. If you aren’t feeling confident in your billing company, make the switch now. With a great billing company, this can be a smooth and painless transition, and you can be ready to roll for the new year.
Evaluate your team and make changes now if needed
When you picture your ideal January scenario, what do you see? A daily records report with 10 new members a day? Smiling faces on staff and members in a clean, upbeat environment? Start from this vision and work backwards. Once you have the marketing strategy covered, how will you execute the service? You can spend thousands on marketing, but without the right team to service the guests coming in, isn’t it all in vain?
You can prepare by increasing the amount of coaching that is done, which we will go over later in this post. But the harsh truth is that you may have to prepare to eliminate team members that refuse to follow procedures. Especially if you are an off-site owner, it is easy for staff to quickly develop bad habits despite numerous reminders and training. Unfortunately, if you have a strong/bad attitude that sticks out like a sore thumb, you may have to remove them before that attitude spreads and infects the rest of the team. Of course, you want to set forth clear expectations and do everything you can to save them and get them on board, but be prepared to follow your HR-friendly protocol to part ways if you can’t.
Consider bringing on seasonal staff
If you have been in business for a few years, you may have a good idea of what to expect with the January rush. If so, think about past years and if your team could have benefited from some extra help. You want to maximize the amount of profit during the busiest sales time of the year, but you don’t want your staff to be so burned out that they can barely function by the end of the week. There was a time when working 70 hours a week in the industry was not only normal but expected. However, studies have shown time and time again that people are more productive when getting the proper amount of rest.
One option to make sure your team is well-rested while being able to handle the rush is to bring on seasonal staff for the first 3 months of the year. You can determine what duties would be best served by a part-time seasonal worker. Perhaps an extra cleaner would take some of the pressure off of your team, or maybe someone to help with operational support like processing paperwork. If you have a kids’ club, you may need to double up on staff to compensate for the increased usage. If you prepare ahead of time and make the best decisions you can based on data from previous years, you can ensure a best-case scenario. Your star players can be the first faces seen at the front and the ones answering sales related questions, while you ensure you’re giving them plenty of support to get the job done.
Plan for the hiring process
If you determine that you need additional or seasonal staff, you should start the hiring process as soon as possible. This timeline should allow time for job postings, phone screenings, first and second interviews, reference checks, and finally new hire training. The new team members should be ready to go for team training along with the more seasoned staff. Adding strong team members with no bad habits can also raise the bar, and help bring the rest of the crew up to speed.
Train intensely for the rest of the year.
We know that ongoing training is critical, but it is so easy for this important task to slip to the backburner. When it comes to new year preparation, training must start right away. Now that you have your dream team in place, it can be helpful to write out an employee training strategy.
Start by visualizing that perfect member experience, then write down all the key points that will take to achieve. From here, you can break this down into training topics and split them up into one or two topics a week. Practice makes perfect, and it can take daily ongoing role-playing to help people feel comfortable with all procedures. Training should also have a cumulative effect, so all previous week’s topics should be reviewed and repeated until it all feels like second nature. You can also consider bringing in a sales coach to improve closing percentages.
Plan for member retention as new members join.
Being mindful of the member onboarding process during this new sales surge is also of high importance. New members are fragile, and one negative experience can deter them from sticking to their plan. There are enough distractions making it hard for people to stick to a workout routine, and their experience at the gym shouldn’t be one of them.
You can make member retention a priority right from the beginning of their memberships, while still ensuring your ongoing members are having a great experience. If daily usage volume goes up, there will be more cleaning and walk-throughs that need to be done, an increase in equipment maintenance, and more member needs. Be proactive in preparing for all of these items. You can increase the cleaning hours or hire extra staff to account for cleaning needs. Talk to your maintenance person or company and set clear expectations on turnaround times for repairs. Finally, review with your staff the quickest way to get help for members to account for all possible member needs.
January in the gym is an exhilarating time as a fitness business owner! Take these few steps to plan ahead so that when the time comes, you can enjoy running your well-oiled machine instead of feeling stressed and a few steps behind.
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