Whether your Box has been open for 5 days or 5 years, the goal to grow your gym membership is a constant. And that's good! More members give you more opportunity to get people healthier and happier while allowing you to bring on more staff, saving you time.
The bad news is 50% of small businesses fail in four years.
The good news is most available public info indicates Crossfit gyms have more staying power than that. In this part, we're showing you how to persevere and continue the growth well after opening your doors.
Here are some key initiatives deployed by thriving gym owners. These are key growth elements from those who have been open for a bit and are still building their membership consistently.
1.) Optimize For Google - Get Awesome Reviews
By this point, you've likely googled your business several (hundred) times. There is, however, a fundamental difference between showing up on Google and being optimized for Google. Have you shaken Google's hand, introduced yourself and told Google where you are located? As a quick house-cleaning item, be sure you've explored Google.com/MyBusiness.
Are you showing up when people are searching locally for gyms like yours? Odds are google reviews are showing up in tandem with a short list. How many reviews do you have? There's a large debate on where you should focus on getting reviews, with so many options creating more noise. It's safe to say Facebook Reviews and Google Reviews are going to be the best places to encourage people to go.
According to Search Engine Land, 87% of potential customers won’t consider businesses with low ratings.
An astounding 92% of consumers read online reviews of local businesses in order to determine whether these businesses are good or not, with 80% considering reviews just as important as personal recommendations.
What this means: reviews matter in a huge way for local businesses. Especially if a similar competitor is only a few miles down the road.
What you can do: consider a strategy to reach out to each member after a free trial. Ask them how their experience was and how they'd rate the gym/community. Inside the Triib platform for example, you can set an automated alert and customize the email to be sent upon completing a free trial. Alternatively, you can set a reminder for yourself to send out a review request email 30 days after someone joins and give each email a more personal touch.
Good reviews get customers.
2.) Hire an Intern For Social Content
This checks off a lot of boxes. More posts equal more reach which equals more exposure, leads, and new members, right? Of course, this 'hopeful marketing' methodology is silly but it shouldn't de-emphasize how important social media is to the life of your fitness business.
You cannot just be an affiliate gym posting WOD's every day. To grow your gym consistently, you have to be a source of something greater to keep people coming back. Your social presence can communicate what your business and community represent. This helps break down barriers for new members thinking of joining and shows, first hand, the experiences people just like them are having.
Odds are your staff already contributes some imagery for Facebook or Instagram posting. The intern, preferably at the college level, can help adapt around what is currently being posted and spearhead a content creation strategy.
Understanding 'Why' Your Gym Should Be Focusing On Social
You're posting already. This is about creating a true plan to what you're posting. First things first. Your target customer is on Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat. Facebook's organic reach is 1%, which means for every post you share, only 1% of your existing audience will likely see it. Alternatively, Instagram's organic reach is 30%. Use this to help determine where you're marketing initiatives should go.
For the lowest or no cost, Instagram is the clear place to invest in producing content. For more direct and paid local reach, Facebook is your choice (discussed later). Both should be utilized when thinking about reaching new potential members.
For affiliate gyms, it's best to think about your social presence the same way you thought about your website. It's another storefront and a face of your business. Are you conveying what you're all about? Is all the positive energy from your fitness community on display? Are you sharing transformations, stories, etc? These are all things to consider as it establishes true connections before people even decide to do a free-trial or try a class.
Put together a weekly list of goals, a social posting schedule, and to-do checklist for a newly hired intern. It will cost you 1-3 hours for one week and WILL help your gym. Odds are the new hire will help TEACH YOU and help your staff on creating some great visual content.
3.)Run Events, Competitions & Challenges
They are great ways to excite your existing membership and attract some great new traffic into the facility. This is a great engagement tool. It will excite your current members, allow them to team up and compete across all levels of fitness.
If you want more reach beyond your current membership, explore running internal Challenges. These can be nutrition and/or fitness-based and don't require the person to be physically in the facility at all times, further reducing the barrier to trial your program. This is a MUST if you plan on growing outside of using traditional marketing tactics. It's creating a memorable experience without any pressure or friction to register. During the Challenge, you can send emails, community updates, standings & leaderboard reports to show the value of being part of your fitness community. There are a number of event platforms out there. If you'd like to run them with integration into your existing gym software, it could be worth investigating Triib's Challenges feature where all the above is possible.
Consider partnering with other local affiliate gyms on a fundraiser event. It's a great gym-to-community relationship builder, strengthens affiliate partnership, and helps accomplish a meaningful goal. Everybody wins.
Organizing and running a GREAT event takes a lot of time so don't worry if you're not putting on a big event every single month. Consider micro-events or even mobility seminars that take place on weekends and ask members to bring friends or family for free.
Lighting round brainstorm:
- Spring Cleaning Technical Weightlifing Seminar
- Once a Month Kids Fitness Obstacle Course Event
- Halloween Handstand Walks Seminar
- Host a local businesses employees with a Corporate Fitness Challenge
- Celebrate Arbor Day by hosting your own version of the Lumberjack Championships
The list is truly endless. Because we know that time is limited, it would BEHOOVE you to consider #2 to assist!
Growth comes in stages so be patient. Don't ever try to do everything at once and start small. Try working in a micro-event a month to start. Get comfortable using Facebook events and, for competitions/challenges, experience the process of registration all the way through to walking in to your gym.
The only thing that will keep you on a plateau or struggling to grow will be inaction. If you're doing what you've always done then you can expect the same results. Keep exploring new avenues and telling the stories of your fitness community. There are many more people who want to be a part of it.
Part 3 of 4 Part Gym Owner's Growth Guide Series. See the full guide: HERE
Choosing the right affiliate gym software
There is a lot to consider when choosing affiliate gym software! Before you spend a penny, be sure the system you’re considering includes these five features.