In the software and billing world of club management, there are productive ways to respond and react to these challenging times as club operators work to retain business and generate new revenue.
Here are some tips to help you through 2021.
Be flexible. First and foremost, be as flexible and forgiving as possible with members who request cancellation or to freeze their memberships. For the best chance of keeping their business, offer to put a hold on their plan at no charge, retaining their current rate.
Offer unique personal training and virtual workouts for varying lengths of time: 15-, 30- or a max of a 40-minute session. Short workouts have impact and are great for those concerned about time. Re-market to members who have engaged in personal training sessions in the past. Offer smaller packages such as four visits or one to two sessions per week to get started.
If your facility was closed, work with your CMS provider to possibly extend paid-in-full expiration dates or consider pro-rated billing to adjust for time away. Typically, annual maintenance fees have stayed the same or are billed later.
Make adjustments. Consider a rate increase, even if it’s $1 to $5 per month to cover added costs. Amazingly, many members will be in favor of the increase, knowing the gym is cleaner and there are minimal wait times for equipment. Most people realize operating expenses for staff have increased. At least do it for new members, and perhaps grandfather existing ones.
Reducing retail inventory items or utilizing touchless self-scanning can be beneficial, as well as the option to have these purchases added to a monthly EFT amount or allowing for a prepaid house account. For example, allow members to put money in an account to charge against when they come in for drinks, shakes, bars, etc. There’s no risk at all to the business.
Implement a head-count capacity meter visible at the front desk that is easily managed by a staff member. Offer sign-ups for specific time slots for members to use the gym. Consider implementing limited staffing hours and/or adding a door access control to either limit hours or go 24/7/365.
Go paperless. Scan in your COVID-19 waivers and past documents, clean out file cabinets and make it quick and easy to access past information. Automate reports to be emailed to managers and owners daily, weekly or monthly. Follow up on delinquent accounts and charge-backs. Email a link directly to members for making payments online.
To be more profitable, incentivize members to have monthly dues automatically billed to a checking or savings account. Benefit by receiving the full 100 percent of the value, versus being subject to merchant fees. There will be fewer delinquent accounts as more billing goes through.
Keep in touch. An integrated website, with the CMS for online enrollment and member portal, increases operational efficiencies and allows prospects to enroll without coming in. This alone will increase new members by 10 to 15 percent, and even more if promoted well. Items available for online purchase, such as gift certificates, training, classes or day passes, also generate income.
Communicate regularly with email blasts and other marketing outreach for key opening dates, promoting training and encouraging community. Promote corporate and group memberships. Consider offering a free guest pass or an exciting initial offer to get started, but note that it’s not uncommon to reduce or eliminate trial options. Then the facility is only being used by true paying members.
Carole Oat is the national sales manager for Twin Oaks Software. She is a former club operator for 15 years and has written numerous industry articles. Twin Oaks has been serving fitness facilities since 1991 and provides software and billing services throughout the United States, Canada and beyond. Oat can be reached at [email protected].