Did you know….?
Gym memberships rise an average of 30% in January
Gym traffic increases an average of 40% in December and January
The 12% increase in sign-ups represents an average of 33-50% increase in gym traffic volume
But here’s the flip side…
Almost 50% of new gym members cancel their memberships by the end of January
37% of new CrossFit members quit within the first month
Only 22% of new fitness members will stick with their memberships through October
January Fitness Trends
The membership retention statistics might sound grim for fitness small businesses—but there’s a silver lining. According to the numbers above, there’s a solid 22% of “resolutioners” who’ll stick with their memberships through at least October. Here’s how to court that 22% and turn them into regulars!
How Fitness Businesses Can Focus on the 22% of Stay-ers
It’s January 2nd, and you’ve got a gym full of “resolutioners.” While your established members might grumble about longer equipment wait times, for fitness small business owners, January is the most important month of the year. After all, you want that January sign-up spike to translate into ongoing revenue with memberships that last throughout the year. Statistically, there’s not much that you can do to combat the fact that around 50% of new members won’t stick with it. But for the 22% that make it through to October, you’ve got an opportunity to try new fitness marketing strategies and build ongoing customer relationships.
1. Encourage Members to Try Group Fitness with Free Classes
Statistics prove that camaraderie helps new fitness members stick to a routine, whether it’s signing up with a friend, having a dedicated workout buddy, or participating in a group fitness class at a local business. In fact, International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) research shows there’s a whopping 56% drop in new member cancellations when new members attend group fitness classes! To put it plainly, group fitness programs translate into higher member retention rates. CrossFit, Zumba, HIIT, Les Mills™ programs, spin classes, and even the 80s standard Jazzercise are easy ways to get new members hooked and coming back.
For group fitness programs, a referral program is a great way to get established members to use word-of-mouth advertising and bring in new leads. If your fitness center charges additional fees for group fitness, consider waiving them in January to increase new customer retention. You may also want to consider hosting “new member” exclusive classes in January to avoid interrupting the routines of established members. By offering new members group fitness for free in January, you can ease equipment wait times and get more engagement from new members. Established members will appreciate diverting the “January crunch” to other areas of the gym, and new members may find motivation with a new group program. At the end of January, new members may be ready to sign on for the programs or move to other areas of the gym that are less crowded as the January crowd thins.
2. Pay Attention to Member Retention
Research shows that 80% of January sign-ups cancel their memberships in 5 months or less. That’s a lot of member churn! The good news is that you can offset some of that statistic with a good onboarding strategy. IHRSA surveys show a 33% reduction in new member cancellations with just two interactions between staff and new members. That means that introductory sessions are a realistic way to turn new sign-ups into ongoing memberships. You can create these meaningful interactions with new members in a variety of ways. For example, try offering a free introductory personal training session with or a one-on-one with a nutritionist. Another idea is to offer “sampler” group fitness classes with an instructor “meet-and-greet” afterward.
Or, to create this meaningful staff interaction, simply have gym staff spend an hour onboarding new members. This would include walking new members through the facility and familiarizing them with the layout, daily schedule, equipment sign-ups, and gym etiquette. Then, after they’ve been a member for a few weeks, have their onboarding staff schedule another session to circle back and see how they’re doing. Retention doesn’t just mean trying to maximize the number of new sign-ups who stay. It also means paying attention to established members and giving them what they want, too! While you’re courting the new sign ups, make sure you pay equal attention to established members and make them feel valued.
3. Offer End-of-Year Incentives (Before the End of the Year)
You already know that your fitness center is going to see a spike of new sign-ups. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be actively using your gym marketing plan to court your ideal customers and keeping established members happy. Keep new and established members focused on the long game with end-of-year promotions. For example, you might use email and text marketing to send established members and exclusive bonus package when they renew in advance. Your bonus package might include anything from extra classes, a month of waived membership fees, or a month of unlimited access. Established members are also an excellent source of new member referrals. Consider giving established members a free month membership for friends and family. That allows you to court a new ideal client that’s been referred to you by an established member. It also increases the likelihood of ongoing membership through the camaraderie of having a built-in workout buddy!
4. Plan Early and Ramp Up Your Fitness Marketing Efforts in January
Use your software system to run last year’s reports, so you’ll be able to forecast what this year’s activity surge might bring in. With data on your side to help your marketing plan, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re staffed accordingly. This will assist in better scheduling, and creating a roster of classes to accommodate both established members and new members alike. Reports will additionally help you project your retail needs and track member retention. Likewise, you can pull last year’s email marketing analytics to see which campaigns performed highest, so you can plan out your first quarter marketing pushes.
During the January surge in memberships, you may want to invest in a cost-effective Vagaro Daily Deal, or becoming a featured business on the Vagaro Marketplace and Pro App, as these programs are a low-risk way to bring in new business with a high return. Customer testimonials and success stories on your website, Vagaro business profile, and social listings are another solid way to turn new prospects into members. Likewise, social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) is a cost-effective, highly share-able way to market smart and raise your business brand awareness without breaking the bank. Vagaro’s dashboard features integrations with popular social media platforms Yelp, Instagram and Facebook, making it easy to create a campaign and share it cross-platform, increasing your fitness brand visibility.
A Less-Stress January Starts with This Checklist of Fitness Marketing Tips
Fitness center traffic volume spikes roughly the same way that salon traffic picks up in November and December. That means planning fitness marketing ideas around surges in activity and new memberships is key to not just survive the January crunch, but to thrive. While there’s not much you can do as a business owner to combat human nature, there are definitely ways that your business and staff can prepare your fitness facility to welcome the 22% of new clients who stay and turn them into loyal customers. Here’s a handy checklist of December marketing tactics to help reach your target audience and ring in the New Year to the sound of cash registers!
- Order gift cards in advance
- Plan sales and promotions in advance, such as
Daily Deals, product bundles, or membership packages
- Start email and text marketing campaigns in early
- Set class lead times to streamline circulation during
peak gym traffic times
- Use email and text marketing to push end-of-year
incentives and new member sign-ups
- Use social media to get new text and email
subscribers, push retail sales, gift cards, and new member exclusives
- Invest in more marketing, like becoming a
featured business on the Vagaro Marketplace
- For easy member check-ins, set up an iPad with the
Vagaro Check-in App
- Order any new POS equipment you’ll need for a
- Hire seasonal staff to reduce the demands on
- Reward loyal members with retention incentives
- Reward your staff (seasonal and regular) for a
job well done
Get a jump on January with Vagaro! Use email and text message marketing to send membership renewals, targeted offers, end-of-year incentives, and to welcome new members to your facility! And if your fitness center is ready to scale up and treat members to the VIP experience, don’t forget about Vagaro’s check-in and branded apps!
Header Image: Giorgio Trovato via Vagaro
Icons: Mia Montemayor via Vagaro