It’s coming up to that time of year when people stop making decisions. It’s kinda crazy yet it happens every year. About half way through December it’s like people’s brains just stop functioning correctly. And they don’t reboot until mid-January. That’s a whole month of getting nothing done.
As a gym owner you know that around the Christmas and New Year period things can slow down. And even worse, things can sometimes come to a screeching halt. The question is: what are you doing about it this year?
One of the craziest things that I see in gyms is the Christmas lull hitting gym owners in the face like they didn’t know it was coming. But they’ve known all year. It’s like seeing an iceberg straight ahead and not bothering to turn the wheel.
If you were to plan ahead each year knowing that the lull is expected at around about the same time, with the same results, you could minimise the positive negative effects of the lull.
Given that the lull is almost upon us, here are three strategies that you can implement to make the lull a non-event at your gym. It’s not too late to start now.
1. Create a gym challenge
At the end of each year, people make decisions about what they did this year and what they will do next year. This often sees assessments about where they spend their money and their time. As a gym owner this can put a severe dent in your retention numbers.
You can attend to the chances of cancellations at this period by ensuring you have your clients on long term training agreements. This will prevent them from up and leaving at the end of the year.
The next step is to make sure your clients are actually training over the Festive Season. This is a retention focus that pays off over the longer term. Let’s say your agreements keep clients paying. If they don’t keep training they will soon start to wonder why they are still paying you. So, you must keep them active.
A great way to keep your clients involved and motivated is to implement a challenge or competition that runs over this period. You might start it in early November and run it until early February. Have milestones along the way, and even a prize at the end. The type of challenge is completely up to you. Consider what your clients like and what will motivate them to stay involved.
You can get a challenge up and running in less than a week.
2. Update your terms and conditions
Many gyms struggle with poor cash flow during the lull. In the Festive Season each year many clients decide to suspend their memberships while they either go away for a holiday or just stay at home doing nothing.
Here’s the problem: you still have to pay your rent and your expenses over the lull. If your clients aren’t paying you, who is paying to keep the business afloat? You are. It costs you money to ride out the lull.
A simple solution to this problem is to update your terms and conditions. Do not allow any training suspensions over the Christmas and New Year period. Clearly explain that training dues take into account this period. Even if you choose to close your doors for a week or two, still do not allow suspensions at this time.
You can update your terms and conditions now, allow a 14 day notification period for your members.
3. Budget for an 11 month year
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that your gym was to go through the entire Christmas and New Year period without making a sale. It wouldn’t be a great time but if you are prepared for it, you can get through it. The important thing is that you know that this time is coming, and you can budget for it.
You should have a pretty clear idea of what it costs to run your business each year. And you should have a pretty clear idea of the financial results that you want to achieve each year. Normally, these would be broken down in to monthly figures. However, if you know that one entire month is a write-off, you can adjust by dividing your figures by 11 instead of 12.
For example, let’s say you aim to sell 132 members each year. That would mean selling 11 memberships a month for 12 months. However, if you budget for 11 months to allow for the lull, you would need to sell 12 per month.
By creating an 11-month annual budget you automatically allow for the lull, and that means that it won’t cause financial hardship when it arrives.
This is a longer term strategy that you can start implementing now so your 2016 budget allows for the lull.
There’s three ideas. What else could you do? Be creative. Just do something!