The seasonal fluctuations of the gym business are familiar to anyone who’s been a member of a gym for more than a year. Gym owners and managers are even more acutely aware of the seasonal changes in the business because of the changing stress levels that go with the seasons. Gyms have an annual ebb and flow, with a peak of activity with the New Year. It’s the most hectic time with all of the hustle and bustle of resolutions being fulfilled in the form of good intentions and new memberships.
Issues of The Resolution Cycle
There are a couple of specific issues that are worth looking at here. It can be overwhelming when all your flyers seem to come home in just a few days. Also, with the amount of inquiries and sign-ups it can make your day pretty hectic for a few weeks. If you throw any staffing issues into the mix it’s enough to make you want to bury your head in the sand.
The other thing to watch out for is when people inevitably go back to their routines for the year and start to drop out. If you haven’t planned for the drop off, and you react badly, it can even make it worse. If you are too busy reacting to the busy season to prepare for the drop off, it will come at you out of nowhere. You end up wondering where all the people went and, since you were too busy to take care of them, when they next try a gym membership, they will look across the street to your competition.
Overwhelmed By The Arrival Of The Resolution Members
The beginning of the year is always the best time of the year for gym businesses, for new member signups. The influx of business is always great, at first, but the thrill will wear off quickly. New year resolution members simply do not maintain their resolutions for long. In my experience I start to see a decline whether it be cancellations (since I am a no contract gym) or lack of use starting at the end of March and into April.
Do Not Panic When The Other Shoe Drops
Other than customer service, the top priority for gyms has to be retention. This is difficult for the resolution members; you have to plan in advance for motivational programs and incentives to keep those members using the gym. Experience tells me that, come tax time, if they aren’t making a consistent appearance in your gym, they will cancel. The gym management and staff have to stay motivated in order to keep the members motivated. The programs you initiate in response have to be planned out in advance and implemented strategically.
Remember To Be Resourceful
Try to involve members in training and classes to encourage them keep up their attendance. If you are consistent in your efforts you won’t win them all long-term, but you’ll definitely keep more than if you do nothing. Remember, small incremental improvements add up to big rewards eventually.
Use your gym management software to seek out patterns of behavior that indicate potential dropouts. Likewise, use your human resources: If you have a retention manager, have them start pulling reports and to make contact with members who appear to be at risk, before the drop off hits. Have them attempt to involve these members in classes and training to keep motivation levels up as much as possible. Mailing lists, email, SMS messages and social media can be creatively used to offer promotions. In your messages offer free advice and just give a friendly reminder that you are still there when they are ready to return.
The seasonal fluctuations of the gym business mean that fitness center owners and their staff are very busy at the beginning of the year. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by the influx of new members. You have to be prepared for the Spring downturn as all the resolution members who joined in the New Year start to cancel or stop attending. Make the effort to stay in contact with them, involve them in classes and training to keep them engaged and motivated. You won’t keep them all but a smart, pro-active campaign will pay for itself and keep the wheels on your gym turning in the right direction.