Health Club owners nationwide are always facing more and more competition. I can’t think of a single health club client of ours for whom competitive marketing and salesmanship isn’t a top priority.
As a health club owner, your greatest achievement will lie in trumping the fitness competition in order to expand membership sales. Here are some thoughts:
1. Know your competition. It’s essential to understand all we can about our competition. If you don’t already have copies of your competitors’ advertising, websites, Facebook page and brochures and can’t recite from memory their key selling points and messages how can you hope to successfully position against them?
2. Market your specialty. Once you know everything you can about your primary competitors, you can identify what your health club is offering your members’ that’s unique or special. Take a long, hard look at the current offerings in your health club. If necessary, alter your programs or service itself, bundle in additional features or find a way to deliver the same core programming or service in a way that uniquely meets the needs of your members. Then, build your marketing campaigns around this central theme.
3. Tackle new audiences. If you’ve reached the maximum market share in a particular member niche, why not try a new one? You may be able to add line extensions (variations of your product) that will stimulate sales from a whole new set of members. Or, you can launch a new media campaign targeting a different audience, who may embrace your product or service with a minimum amount of alteration.
4. Offer more value. Some fitness providers traditionally compete based on discount pricing, but for many other types of clubs in the fitness business, cutting prices is often detrimental. If you offer a service, for example, and charge the same rates as your chief competitors, cutting your prices may make you look suspiciously cheap and inspire prospects (and members) to wonder what’s “wrong” with your club or the services it provides. A better idea is to offer something of additional value that your prospects and members will find tempting.
5. Add a sales channel. Are you presently selling via one channel alone, such as exclusively through your club? Adding another channel, such as online sales, gives your customers more choices and allows them to shop more often and at their convenience. It’s likely that most of your competitors offer sales through multiple channels. What’s more, studies show that customers who shop via more than one channel spend more (often as much as three times more) than customers who shop through one alone.
6. Tune into your members. To remain highly competitive, you must understand what your members want. Unfortunately, your members’ needs and preferences can change on a dime, so you should have systems in place to regularly solicit their feedback. As a health club owner, you’re in the enviable position of being closer to your members than some of your big-box competitors. You may know many of your members or clients by name and have the advantage of being able to contact them periodically to check in. In addition, be sure to initiate regular surveys as well as solicit ongoing feedback via your website.
7. Ask for the sale. Complacency is the enemy of small-business success. If you’re not continually asking your prospects and members for their business, you can be sure your competitors are. Set up and monitor an ongoing marketing program that reaches out to your past members and new prospects year-round. The key to success is to have a consistent marketing message and select a mix of media and tactics that “touch” prospects and members with sufficient frequency. This will help you drive your message home and stand out from your toughest competitors.
Now, go outlast your competition!
Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars and workshops across the country on the practical skills required to successfully build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. Visit his Web site at: www.fmconsulting.net or www.jimthomsondemand.com