The start of a new year motivates many of us to set goals that we want to achieve over course of the next 365 days — and more often than not, getting in shape makes the shortlist. If you’re a fitness studio owner, this means a new wave of clients are about to arrive at your facilities ready to start working toward their weight loss goals. It also means that your classrooms, locker rooms and common areas are about to see more foot traffic than they have in a while.
How can you prepare both your studio space and your staff members for the January rush? We asked a few fitness studio owners to share their tips and advice on how to do it based on what’s worked well for them in the past. Here are a few guidelines for preparing your studio for a successful year that turns new customers into regular clients.
Offer End Of The Year Incentives
Your studio is likely to see an influx of new students — but that doesn’t mean you should wait for them to come to you. Rebecca Weible, founder of Yo Yoga! says running end of the year promotions can encourage new and current members to keep next year’s goals top of mind. “For our regulars, we offer ‘bonus packages’ starting about two weeks before Christmas, and end the offer the week after Christmas,” she says. “These packages include extra classes or weeks, in the case of an unlimited month package, to boost sales around Christmas and to encourage them to continue attending classes in the busy weeks at the beginning of the year.” Your current members may also have a friend or family member interested in finding a new place to work out, so offering gift cards around this time of year can help get new clients in the door as well. “We’ve seen a boost in traffic at the beginning of the year when we push gift cards throughout the holiday season,” Weible says.
Consider Hiring Seasonal Help
Getting a new team member up to speed in time for your busiest month of the year might sound like it’s not worth the effort. But Tomás Rodgers, fitness instructor and creator of Reps On Rhythm™ says leveraging your network to find someone who’s already familiar with your business can be a big help. “A great seasonal employee could be a regular client who frequently visits the studio, is involved with your front desk and could benefit from free classes while earning some extra cash on the side,” he says. “Do you have a really committed college student who loves your space? Any clients who are pursuing an artistic craft such as acting, modeling or dancing who could benefit from staying in shape? Utilizing your own community is key!”
Prep Your Employees
The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to give your employees a refresher course on best practices. “Hold an employee training session where you discuss sales tactics and go over the cost of everything from a pair of socks to a bottle of water or an unlimited monthly membership,” says Donna Burke, owner of FORME Studios. “Even if they don’t work the front desk, make sure they know how to work the register/client management system so everyone gets the best experience, as no one likes to wait in line or deal with an employee who doesn’t know what they are doing.”
Can’t get everyone together? “Put together an info video for them to watch with a quiz for them to take at the end,” Burke suggests. “The more they can explain the quality of the product and show the value, the more new clients and clients without memberships you can convert!”
Also, make sure your fitness instructors are up to speed on modifications. “The new year is a time for people who are new to fitness or have big strides to make,” says Burke. “They’re nervous to attend group fitness classes and might need extra feedback and encouragement. Make the workouts cater to all levels to ensure everyone feels comfortable.”
Add Intro Workshops To Your January Schedule
In addition to preparing your instructors for new students who might be unfamiliar to your workout, Weible says that hosting beginner workshops for the month of January can help new members get acclimated. “Adding a few workshops geared toward beginners to the January schedule is a great way for new people to learn the foundations and will make them more confident and productive in group classes,” she says. “This way, they get more out of each class and enjoy it more, encouraging them to continue coming after the New Year’s rush wears off.”
To retain new members, Lisa Eskenazi, owner of Simply Fit Astoria says making a welcoming first impression is key. “If you wish to retain your new members after the January rush, it is imperative that you make the new clients feel comfortable and show them that they are a part of the community,” she says. “You can do this by providing introductory classes that go over basic movements, offering special deals and discounts to new members and that you follow up with the new client after their first few weeks. Sometimes they might need an extra push to stay on track — a follow up call or email goes a long way!”
Reevaluate Your Classroom Space
Are you utilizing your classroom space in a way that allows you to fit as many class members as possible while still leaving them with enough room to workout safely? “I like to talk to my staff about the best way to arrange the mats to fit the maximum number of students in the room as comfortably as possible,” says Weible. “I encourage them to help with the set up of each class so it is less chaotic. Organization makes busy, full classes a better experience for the customers and the teacher.”
Be Diligent About Cleaning Shared Spaces
Especially locker rooms and bathrooms. Noam Tamir, owner of TS Fitness suggests making clean up a duty that’s everyone’s job. “In order to have the studio stay clean and organized as the influx of people comes in all or our staff contribute in keeping things organized and clean,” he says. “When clients see things are organized they also want to do their part in keeping their home fitness studio clean. Also, Swiffers are the best! We usually Swiffer the floors and equipment a few times a day to avoid dust, especially with all the people coming in and out of the studio.”