Help! I’m Offering Online Martial Arts Classes But Not Sure How to Handle Membership Billing. Should I Freeze My Memberships? Charge Members?

No doubt this has been an extremely trying time for the Martial Arts and Fitness community. But in these trying times, it’s been hugely inspiring to see so many business owners, instructors, and members of that same community get creative and stay committed to keeping to their training on track and keeping their businesses going — and even growing — during these difficult times.

In March and April, when Martial Arts schools were forced to temporarily close, some schools froze their membership billing. Other schools opted to extend their members’ billing term for the length of time they were unable to attend in-person classes.

Regardless of how membership billing was handled, most schools in March and April transitioned from in-person training to online classes to keep their members on track with their fitness and self-defense goals.  

How should my membership billing be handled going forward?

Now that May is here, many school owners are wondering: What’s next for membership billing? Should I continue freezing my membership billing, add a month credit to the end of term agreements, or should I — can I — charge my members for online classes?

While we can’t issue a blanket statement to say if you should or can charge for classes, we can provide guidance and let you know how Martial Arts school clients are handling membership billing.

First and foremost, before going any further, it’s extremely important to make sure you’re looking to your state guidelines to know what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to membership billing.

If you do offer online classes in lieu of in-person classes for the time being, many states require that members opt-in for these services

If this is the case with your state, we advise you to err on the side of over-communicating with members. Let them know exactly what is going on and give them membership options.

Many of our clients are sending an email to their members where they can select one of three membership billing options:

  • Option 1: Continue my payments, without a time credit, as a donation to the school. I will also receive access to all your online training and content. 
  • Option 2: Continue my payments and add a month credit to the end of my agreement.
  • Option 3: Freeze my payment for one month.

As your team of billing experts, we’re here to help you facilitate this communication to your members. We will gladly work with you to send an email on your behalf, and then update your member accounts according to what membership billing option each member chooses.

To get started, we ask that you fill out this form to update us on recent communications to your members and membership options being offered. This information will also allow us to assist you with navigating these difficult times by providing you with the resources relevant to your current status to comply with your state’s regulations.

We’re here for you

If you have questions regarding membership billing options, feel free to reach out to your Client Success Manager at any time.

Need 1:1 guidance? Book a 30-minute session with your Client Success Manager to get new ideas and help developing a solid business strategy.

For more tools, templates, strategy guides, and resources to drive member engagement and business growth amid COVID-19, visit our Business Resource Page. Be sure to bookmark the page, too; we’ll continue adding resources as they become available.

In This Together

Are you getting ready to resume in-person training? Need to take registrations online to limit your class size?

Let us help you. We’re opening our Event and Member Manager software for a full 30 days for just $1. (and, we’ll build your first online registration form for you, so you can start taking online sign-ups right away).

Using our software will enable you to fully leverage online technology and meet your business goals quicker. 

To get started, contact your Client Success Manager or book a quick call here.

How to Run a Successful Anti-Bullying Event in Your Martial Arts School

Two smiling kids with hand around shoulder promote anti-bullying

Martial arts schools have the opportunity to play a leadership role in bullying awareness, education, and prevention. Hosting anti-bullying events, including seminars, workshops, and courses, can help reduce the negative impact of bullying in your community, while getting the word out about your martial arts school.

The Role of Martial Arts in the Anti-Bullying Movement

I founded Martial Artists Against Bullying (MAAB) because I believe that no other industry is in a better position to do something about bullying than the martial arts industry. The mission of MAAB is to enlist the international martial arts community in a unified effort to educate, inform, and help eradicate bullying.

Our anti-bullying program is designed to help children of all ages overcome the negative impact of bullying. Since we launched MAAB, hundreds of martial arts schools have hosted events, talks, and seminars with students around the country. 

National Bullying Prevention Month

In 2006, the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) declared October to be National Bullying Prevention Month. The event offers a special opportunity for martial arts schools to raise awareness and education about how our industry can contribute to anti-bullying techniques.

At MAAB, we created a blueprint to help martial arts school owners plan, promote, and conduct a successful anti-bullying event, which we call the Done with Bullying program. The course can be shared with existing students or non-members at your facility, local school districts, or community centers.

What to Cover in Your Anti-Bullying Course

We recommend conducting the MAAB Done with Bullying course in four sessions (one per week) throughout the month of October to coincide with National Bully Prevention Month. Alternatively, you can present all four sessions during a single 4-hour seminar at any time during the year.

Anti-Bullying Event Session Topics: 

  • Session I: What is bullying? Why do people bully? Why is it bad to bully others?
  • Session II: What should/shouldn’t we do when we see others being bullied? 
  • Session III: How should you deal with bullying? 
  • Session IV: “Buddying” & what to do instead of bullying.

Register for free with MAAB to access our full anti-bullying course program, which includes recommended scripts and activities for each lesson.

How to Market Your Anti-Bullying Event

Along with our course outline, MAAB provides a marketing plan to help martial arts school owners get maximum exposure and participation in their communities to take a stand against bullying. We’ve laid out a eight-week campaign plan that includes specific tasks for promotion and member engagement. 

Week 1: Announce your participation in National Bully Prevention Month on social media. Commit to posting about the topic one to three times per week. Set dates for your four course sessions (or your one-day event). 

Week 2: Promote your upcoming event dates via in-class announcements, posters, Facebook Events, email, and online event registration

Week 3: Raise awareness about your anti-bullying event by reaching out to local news and media. 

Week 4: Use every means possible to remind members and prospects to sign up for your first course session. 

Week 5: The week of your first event, make sure your facility and staff are fully prepared. Send out reminders to attendees. Host a great event!

Week 6: Repeat the process for your second event session. Use photos, video, and media coverage from your first event to grow your second!

Week 7: Continue to grow your third session with social media and word of mouth. 

Week 8: After the successful conclusion of your final event, request feedback and testimonials from students and parents. Share a recap of your month-long anti-bullying program with members through email and social media.

Taking a Stand Against Bullying

While anti-bullying events may be a part of the business strategy of many martial arts schools, I believe our industry has an even more significant role to play in the fight against the rise of bullying in our society. If every child had the opportunity to learn about bullying prevention, imagine the difference it would make in our communities. Together we can change the world, one lesson at a time. 

A life-long Martial Arts professional and anti-bullying advocate, Dave Kovar has been teaching anti-bullying strategies to his students for over 35 years.

Easy 12-Step Event Checklist for Planning Success

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Whether you’re new to event planning or you’re a seasoned professional, an event checklist can help you reduce stress and delight attendees with an exceptional experience. We’ve identified twelve simple steps to the event-planning process that you can follow to execute a successful event of any size for any industry. 

1. Set a Purpose & Goal

Why are you hosting this event? How many people do you want to sign up and attend? How much revenue do you want to make? Make sure to define specific, attainable objectives and the time frame in which you want to achieve them. 
 

2. Define Your Target Audience

Who do you want to attend your event? Be as specific as possible, including their demographics, behaviors, and interests. 

3. Set Your Budget

Based on your goals, how much are you willing or able to spend on your event? Setting a budget early in the process will help you make important decisions regarding the location, schedule, and pricing. 

4. Choose an Event Theme

What type of theme will help you attract attendees? Consider how your theme will impact the marketing, decor, and entertainment for your event. 

5. Set the Time, Date, & Location

Consider your audience and theme carefully as you choose a time and location for your event. Be sure to check local event listings and sports schedules to make sure your event does not conflict with another activity your target audience will be attending. When selecting a venue, think about travel times to the location, availability of public transportation, parking, and the fit with your theme. 

6. Define Your Event Schedule

Tell attendees what to expect at your event. Will there be entertainment or scheduled activities? Will they have free time to network or chat with fellow attendees? Create a schedule outline that you can share with attendees before and after they sign up. 

7. Set Up Online Registration & Pricing

With your budget and revenue goals in mind, set an appropriate price for your event. Create an online registration form that clearly communicates event details and pricing options. Collect contact information, permissions, and any information required to personalize the experience, such as age ranges for kids, t-shirt size, dietary preferences, premium options, and more.

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Use your event registration website to advertise key details, collect participant information, and process payments securely online.

8. Provide Additional Offers 

What else can you offer your target audience? Consider including information about how to sign up for other upcoming events, subscribe to your email newsletter, and connect with you on social media. 

9. Coordinate Staff & Logistics

Based on your schedule for the event, how many staff members will you need to on site? Decide who will arrange transportation, deliveries, and other logistics. Create a day-of-event schedule to assist with coordination. Think of backup plans for in the case of delays or last-minute cancellations. 

10. Execute Your Event Marketing Plan 

When will you start promoting your event? What materials will you need to market via email, social media, online advertising, and through print media? Create an outline of the ways you will market your event and when each will take place. 

11. Schedule Your Follow Up Plan 

After the event, communicate with attendees and those who missed it, share photos and video on social media, and follow up with new business partners and customers. 

12. Review Results & Debrief with Staff

Always conclude your event planning process with a debriefing to review results and gather feedback from staff and attendees. Use these insights to make your next event even more successful than the last. 

How to Plan Martial Arts Birthday Parties for Kids

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Birthday parties are a super versatile tool that can directly impact the bottom line and immediate cash flow of your martial arts school. Four major benefits include:

  1. Getting leads and new members
  2. Creating business partnerships
  3. Increasing retention and your school’s sense of community
  4. Improving your recurring income

With a targeted plan, like the one we’ve outlined here, you can start using birthday parties tomorrow as a part of your business strategy. It’s important to know that you, the owner, do not have to be solely responsible for running the parties that you host.

Having a staff member who is good with people is good enough. Creating positive, memorable experiences will do more for your retention and lead generation in this instance that touting your expertise.

Follow these five steps, in addition to everything we talk about in our video above, and you’ll become the community favorite spot for birthday parties.

1) Know your industry

Knowing your industry may seem like obvious advice, but industry heavily influences aspects like activities, themes, marketing, and business partnerships. What will work to make a sports center unique and attractive for parents will most likely not work for a martial arts school. It’s important to understand your target or ideal participants: how to engage them and how your business can create the best experience for the birthday kid, family, and friends.

How you can differentiate your business to start, according to industry, is most easily done through themes and activities. For example, you can use well-known pop culture references (Ninja Turtles is a classic) or anything else relevant to your birthday celebrant’s interests.

2) What to include in your birthday party package

Your party package should focus on

  • providing the space,
  • creating an agenda,
  • leading the entertainment/activities
  • and basic food accommodations (pizza is a good option).

This is where you can create your competitive advantage over other businesses in the area that only provide the space but no activities. Keep in mind that parents may want to have more control over the details, like cake and decorations. When you decide on your party package, it’s best that you avoid the hassle of super personal details and be strategic about what you provide.

Timeline & Expectations

Aim to run your parties between 90 and 120 minutes. We recommend using the first 10 minutes for a tour of your school or gym. If everyone is new, take the opportunity to introduce yourself and lead the tour yourself. If the birthday celebrant is a member of your facility, have he or she lead the group.

After the tour, transition the group to your planned lesson, workout, or activity. Establish behavioral expectations by using titles, like sir, ma’am, Mr., and Ms. Setting expectations and following through with them is important because it’s a selling point for parents in two ways:

  • you’re ensuring that everyone leaves with a great experience (more birthday parties) and
  • you’re showing that you can foster discipline in their kids (meaning they’re more likely to buy from you).

Include giveaways, like a free uniform or trial membership, to reward your small guests for good behavior. Again, your goal in hosting birthdays is to create more interest in your school.

3) Decide your price

Birthday parties at your school fall in the marketing/lead generation category—meaning that your pricing doesn’t have to follow an exact formula. Depending on your goals, you can choose to charge for or give away parties in a strategic way.

Charging for birthday parties

If you want to gauge price, start by researching other businesses in your area that throw birthday parties. What are they charging? You may see that it’s not uncommon to attach a $200 to $300 price tag for a party.

Next, determine how many kids you want to include in your base price (you can choose 12, 20, or another number that works for your space). We recommend that you charge $20 extra for additional headcount. For transparency, list the group limit included in your base price and the extra charge on your party package advertisements.

Important note: We promise that you won’t be stripping parents of their hard-earned cash. Much like creating a price structure for your classes, your party prices are based on the value that you provide in creating a memorable experience.

Giving away parties

Giving away a party to a current member or as a result as a promotion in your community is a valid and smart choice to make if you’re thinking of it in terms of how many kids and parents you’ll contact as a result. Integrating free parties with your paid parties will help your overall marketing strategy.

Upselling

You can include options like board breaking or another activity as an additional option for purchase outside of your standard party package. Upselling items will add to your revenue and gives parents the ability to customize their child’s party further.

Bonus: As you already know, breaking things in style is pretty cool. A child who has an awesome board breaking experience is more likely to want to come back to your school to do more.

4) Connect with local businesses

Creating local partnerships with businesses who can contribute to your parties is a marketing win-win. In exchange for running promotions or giveaways as an exclusive vendor, said vendor can promote your business through flyers and other marketing items onsite.

Examples include:

  • discounted cakes from a local bakery,
  • pizza from a particular restaurant, and
  • discounted party decorations from a party supply store.

5) Manage party bookings & RSVPs digitally

The advantages of having digital invitations and party packages will outweigh not having them at all or using paper. Forms like the ones that you can create in Event Manager will

  • collect party information and process payments
  • help you know who is coming and who is interested in your services

Using Event Manager for invitations

Parents will not have to pay for invitations if you use Event Manager. The bonus is that they can send the link easily and that you can include questions about interest in your services. If families indicate interest before the party, you can call right away to talk with them more about your classes.

Download: 6 Martial Arts Birthday Party Best Practices​

Why Involuntary Attrition Is Killing Your Member Retention

"Why Involuntary Attrition Is Killing Your Member Retention." Woman training with ropes at gym.

When you’re losing the battle for member retention, it’s impossible to ignore. Complaints, poor attendance, and painful cancellations show a clear problem. But what about when content members disappear without notice?

While on the surface it seems like your member retention is rock solid, a silent killer may be lurking. Due to failed, expired, or delinquent credit cards, you may lose members without knowing to a phenomenon called involuntary attrition.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at involuntary attrition, its impact on your business, and how you can prevent these needless cancellations.

What is involuntary attrition?

Involuntary attrition occurs when memberships are automatically cancelled due to failed payments. On average, 15% of recurring credit card payments decline. Some industries experience more than a 30% decline rate. When these payments fail, they are rarely retried. The delinquency goes unnoticed and ultimately results in a lost customer.

Mobile Payment Swiping Credit Card

Causes of involuntary attrition

To fight involuntary attrition, you must understand and address each of its underlying causes.

Credit card expiration

Credit cards expire about every three years. That means that about one-third of your members will need updated payment information every year. If you don’t have a system for keeping credit card data up-to-date, you risk losing a significant amount of revenue and members.

Credit card declines

Credit cards can decline for over 130 reasons. The most common reasons for credit card decline include credit limits, suspected fraud, late payments, and deactivation. Even when consumers are notified of declines, they may not remember to update their payment information with your business. Relying on members alone to troubleshoot declines will result in missed payments and unwanted cancellations.

Delinquency

While most membership management software platforms offer robust and reliable recurring billing, many still lack the features to handle delinquent accounts properly. Most software will not automatically retry a payment after it is declined. Likewise, automatic payment reminders via email and text message can help to prevent missed payments—but they do little to correct the situation once an account is delinquent.

If ignored, delinquent accounts can turn into lost members. Software helps streamline membership payments. However, solving delinquency requires you to employ staff to review accounts and work with customers to resolve issues.

How involuntary member cancellations impact your business

Although other business challenges often overshadow involuntary attrition, it can do significant damage to your finances and member relationships.

Lost revenue

The most obvious result of involuntary attrition is lost revenue. With each needless cancellation, you lose money not only in the current month but every subsequent month that the member would have stayed.

Losing money in the first month stings, but losing money every month afterward crushes your bottom line. This long-term multiplier effect means you must replace the lost member with a new one if you want to make up for the missing income. This puts additional strain on your business because it requires more time and resources to obtain a new member than keep an existing one.

Damaged relationships

Generally, cancellations come from your least engaged and lowest-quality members. Involuntary attrition, on the other hand, can impact any member. For example, a member who attends regularly may come back from vacation to find that his or her membership was cancelled due to an expired credit card. In some cases, this member is locked out of the facility and unable to access their workout history and progress.

Of course, involuntary attrition may not be permanent. Your best members are more likely to notice the error and return to your facility. However, the experience is unpleasant and may damage your relationships. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to safeguard your relationships with members—especially your financial interactions with them.

A shrinking community

In some industries, involuntary attrition accounts for 20-40% of total attrition. This means that one out of every five cancellations is unnecessary and avoidable.

The loss of members has a compounding effect on your business. The smaller your community becomes, the less likely you are to benefit from word-of-mouth marketing and referrals.

Limited growth

If you’re constantly fighting attrition, it’s difficult to grow your net profit. The combined challenges of lost revenue, damaged relationships, and a shrinking community will limit your potential for growth in the short and long term.

Credit Card and Mobile Phone in hand

How to stop involuntary attrition

Despite its devastating impact, involuntary attrition is relatively easy to fix. Because these members (generally) want to stay a part of your community, you don’t have to change your service, facility, or staff.

To end involuntary cancellations, you need to make the billing process seamless and keep members’ payment methods up-to-date. Below are some of the strategies that we include in our managed billing service to reduce involuntary cancellations:

1) Update credit card information

Keep payment information current to avoid losing members to expired cards. Our team follows up immediately to get updated credit card information and to collect outstanding payments.

2) Communicate with members about missed payments

Catching overdue payments before they lead to involuntary attrition requires speed, skill, and determination. You need to follow up immediately, give customers multiple chances to resolve the issue, and phrase your request in the right way to make members act. At Member Solutions, we handle the scripts as well as reach out to your customers to resolve payment issues quickly and effectively.

3) Offer convenient payment methods

Often, members will proactively manage payments if given the opportunity. Our system allows members to make a payment or update payment methods 24/7 through an online payment portal or by phone.

4) Provide customer service for members’ billing needs

Your members’ needs are not limited to learning good fitness habits and training techniques. Maintaining a healthy financial relationship with members requires effort, too.

The customer service team at Member Solutions is trained to respond to the unique financial needs of your members. They practice responding to members’ concerns about contracts, personal financial challenges, and data security. The additional support strengthens relationships and makes members less likely to be lost to involuntary attrition.

5) Track overdue payments closely

Stay ahead of involuntary attrition by constantly tracking a list of delinquent accounts and past-due invoices. To make things easy, we track missing payments for you. All you need to do is check reports on collected payments, accounts receivable, and active members periodically.

Winning the war for member retention

Member retention is the key to your increased profitability and long-term growth. You can stop needless cancellation and build a strong community by learning to recognize the causes and signs of involuntary attrition. Through a payment recovery system and superior customer service, you can boost revenue and provide a better member experience.

Want to eliminate the threat of involuntary attrition? Get a demo of our managed billing services.

Make Email Newsletters Work for Your Fitness Business

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Do you send an email newsletter for your business? If the answer is yes, great! You’ll see some great tips later on to get your email newsletters performing even better. If the answer is no, what’s the reasoning? You probably get a few in your inbox on a regular basis if you subscribe to industry updates. Does it remind you of clutter? Do you have a love/hate relationship with these emails?

Sure, opinions and feelings vary about the use of email newsletters, but the question you need to ask yourself is: “Is an email newsletter a good fit for my industry and business?”

If you’re a martial arts or fitness business, the answer is yes.

Why send an email newsletter to members and leads?

Email newsletters are a way for you to gather all the news, updates, and content during the past month in one place. You can’t expect prospects and members to look at your website or social media pages all the time.

An email newsletter is another way of engaging your connections. It directs readers to other places where they can engage with you and shows how you’re active in your community. For example, if you put on events or run membership promotions, newsletters should be a key component in your email marketing strategy.

In fact, if you send a newsletter, you’re more likely to see results elsewhere. Direct traffic drives value and leads. According to research done by Parse.ly, a data analytics company, The New York Times newsletter subscribers “consume twice as much content as those who don’t get newsletters, and they’re twice as likely to become paid subscribers.”

What makes an email newsletter effective?

1) Established goals and metrics

You’re not going to know what’s working if you haven’t decided what success looks like. What do you want from sending a newsletter? Answers could look like any of these or more, depending on your business goals:

    1. X% increased member attendance to classes or events
    2. Y% more referrals
    3. Z% increase in appointments or paid trials

2) Consistent frequency

Stick to what’s realistic for your business and time. This could be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or another frequency that works for you. The most important element of your newsletter frequency is to commit to it. Your readers will learn to expect your name in their inboxes. If you need to dial your frequency back, communicate your new frequency to your readers. Ghosting—or disappearing without notice—won’t go over well.

3) Subject lines

Email inboxes are harsh, competitive places, like a gladiator arena for a reader’s attention. Good subject lines get your foot in the door. They’re not a guarantee for readership, but getting someone to open your email already is an accomplishment. Make that first introduction count.

4) Valuable content

Any disgruntled comments that you hear about newsletters most likely come from readers not feeling satisfied about what they receive. The ideal ratio is 90 percent educational content to 10 percent promotional content. You want to make readers feel like your newsletter has added to their day, not subtracted from it. Test different kinds of content to see what your readers respond to the most. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.

5) Niche audience(s)

Your email newsletter isn’t for everyone, so don’t try to appeal to everyone. Be decisive about for whom the content is important. Members? Leads who came in for a trial membership but didn’t return? Segmenting email lists in an email marketing software (like iContact) makes it easy to send specific content to designated audiences.

6) Make it personal

Newsletters are for building relationships and community. These two pieces are crucial foundational elements to a successful business in martial arts and fitness. Using conversational tone, versus a formal one, will help you connect with your audience.

What do fitness businesses need to put in an email newsletter?

Remember, it’s always best to do more of what’s effective, even if that means including less content in your newsletter. Avoid focusing on your writing ability (make sure to check spelling and punctuation, of course) and instead focus on what provides value to your audience.

1) Recent blog articles

Distribution of your blog is important to drive traffic to your website. Again, part of why newsletters are effective is for that reason. Blogs don’t need to be unique all the time—you can cycle content so long as it’s relevant and valuable.

2) Member or student highlights

Orangetheory Fitness is a larger-scale example of a business that emphasizes community through member spotlights in its newsletters. Because we’re in industries that thrive through strong relationships, spotlights are an easy way to strengthen the relationships you already have and to market your community to prospective members.

Within martial arts, belt progressions or similar big moments for students are a must to feature in your school’s newsletter.

3) Current and upcoming events

It’s important to show your members and prospects that you have an active, thriving community at your business for retention and lead generation. When done well, you can ride the line between educational and promotional without sounding pushy. Make it attractive—not salesy.

4) Engaging, relevant videos

You don’t need high-production value videos to be successful or to reap their benefits. Videos continue to engage audiences, on average, more than other forms of content. The camera on your mobile phone is sufficient to record expert tips from you, quick breakdowns of proper form, or glimpses into how great your community is.

5) Industry or community news

Is something big happening in the world of fitness or martial arts that would interest your readers? Write a short summary about the news, why it’s important, and link to the original source.

6) Social media and website links

Encourage your readers to continue to see updates elsewhere on your social media profiles, blog, and website. Include phrases like, “Follow us on Facebook to see more” and link any social media buttons within your newsletter template.

How to create an email newsletter with email marketing software

1) Pick an email marketing software

One that integrates with your member management software makes it really easy. Member Solutions’ software integrates with iContact, which is easy to use and doesn’t require coding/HTML experience.

2) Choose a template

Choose a template that is appropriate for your audience. Make it clean. More elaborate designs don’t make emails more effective.

3) Insert content

Have a couple consistent sections. It’s okay to experiment with what content works best.  A/B testing, like what iContact has, works really well to find out. A/B testing is when you test two different subject lines, call-to-action buttons/links, or content pieces to figure out what your readers like the most. It’s a data-driven way to find out what your audience wants.

4) Choose a subject line

Make it conversational and attention grabbing. Attention spans in email inboxes run thin. Make your subject line count. Keep it under 40 characters.

Making newsletters a part of your email marketing strategy

Newsletters continue to be an important part of engaging your community and attracting non-members to join. As you’re creating the best email newsletter strategy for your needs, remember these three key points:

  • Create your newsletter for your specific audience. It’s not your job to appeal to everyone.
  • Valuable content drives member loyalty and new leads.
  • Make email newsletters easy and professional with email marketing software.

10 Ways To Increase Gym Revenue Without Selling More Memberships

Closeup over shoulder of woman looking at financial report of gym revenue on tablet device

Most gym owners drive business growth in two ways: by finding new members and by keeping the members they already have. While marketing and retention are great for growing your community, they represent only a fraction of the ways to increase gym revenue. By shifting your focus to maximizing every available revenue stream, you can uncover ways to improve your earnings overnight.

Consider how your pricing, service offerings, and operations impact your bottom line. Imagine being able to capture every payment reliably; selling memberships at a fair price that reflects the value of your services; and members who are engaged and enthusiastic about your brand.

In this ideal scenario, your business captures the maximum amount of revenue from every member. You can relax while your gym rakes in profits from multiple revenue streams. No more struggling to attract more and more new members each month with expensive and complicated marketing campaigns.

Realize the full potential of your business by using these 10 methods to increase gym revenue:

1. Reduce payment declines

According to publications released by major credit card issuers, 15% of recurring credit card payments decline. For some industries, the decline rate can reach as high as 30%.

To put this in perspective, if you have 100 members paying $50/month, you’d expect to receive $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue. However, credit card declines will cost you $750 to $1,500 per month. That’s $9,000 to $18,000 in lost revenue each year.

Credit card declines can prevent loyal members from paying what they know you deserve. These payments weren’t lost to poor customer service, low-quality classes, or high prices. These losses are completely out of your control—that is, until you put a process in place to avoid payment declines.

Use a combination of technology and customer service processes to recover declined payments and add back revenue to your bottom line. Choose a software solution that offers payment reminders and automatic retries after failed payments. While you can hire staff to collect declined payments from your members, third-party companies offer the most cost-effective service solutions. Well-trained managed billing professionals can increase recurring revenue by up to 25% for a minimal fee.

2. Raise your prices

Are you charging what your services are worth? Many gym owners panic at the thought of raising prices because they immediately envision a mass exodus of even their most loyal members. In reality, a carefully calculated price increase will improve your gym’s financial health and profitability with little impact on member retention.

Consider the following scenario: Your gym has 100 members each paying $50/month. You plan to implement a modest 5% price increase of $2.50/month per member. Given the new price of $52.50/month, you expect to keep 95 of your existing members. Following the price increase, you’ll earn an extra $2,850 per year.

No clever marketing tricks or slick sales pitch required. Your simple price change has increased your revenue all on its own.

To keep member attrition to a minimum, communicate your new pricing appropriately. Give members plenty of notice. Explain why the change is necessary to continue the high-quality services that they value from you.

3. Use paid trials

Most gyms offers free trial memberships or guest passes to prospective members. These freebies pay off when they result in new members, but sometimes you end up spending money to support non-paying guests who never return.

Paid trials help to secure a return on your investment. Payees are more serious about keeping initial appointments. They’re more invested in learning about your gym, understanding your value, and building relationships with your staff.

Consider using a combination of free and paid trials in a way that makes sense for your business. For instance, you might offer a free trial of your basic gym access, but a paid trial for your premium classes or training sessions.

4. Offer premium memberships

Do you offer tiered membership options and pricing? If not, it’s time to start. Rather than forcing your members into a one-size-fits-all model, structure pricing options around their needs and preferences.

If you’ve tracked purchases and attendance in your membership management software, you can use reports to investigate spending patterns and identify popular services. For example, your members may fall into three categories:

Once you’ve categorized your members and set your pricing model, you can send targeted promotions to each group to entice them to upgrade their membership package.

5. Sell retail items

Do you know how often members get to the gym only to realize they’ve forgotten something that will prevent them from working out? Stock essentials like earbuds, water bottles, and socks in your retail store to make sure members can get what they need.

If you’ve built a loyal following, invest in branded merchandise. Use an online service to print your logo on t-shirts, hats, yoga mats, bags, and more. A beautiful, eye-catching design goes a long way, so if you’re not confident in your logo or layout, try an online graphic design service.

6. Book private training sessions and lessons

Almost all fitness businesses offer one-on-one sessions, and most of them wish they could book more of these money-making services. The trick to maximizing this revenue stream is a combination of staff training and communication with existing members.

Market your private sessions to members using low-cost, easy-to-use communication channels. Put signs throughout your facility, post on social media, and send emails with special offers. Your goal is for every member to know that you offer private sessions.

From there, leverage your staff’s relationships with members to close the deal. Teach instructors to observe members’ behaviors and to discuss goals with them. An instructor may notice a member who puts forth great effort and attends regularly, but her technique holds her back. With a bit of coaching the member could excel. In seizing this opportunity, you’ll help a member meet her fitness goals more quickly and open a new revenue stream for your business.

7. Childcare

If lots of parents visit your gym, you may want to consider adding childcare services at your facility. A busy mom or dad who doesn’t want to give up gym time will gladly pay extra to know their child is happy, safe, and nearby during a workout.

Before introducing childcare services, be sure to review the legal requirements for your staff, facility, and business. While these services can bring in a significant amount of additional revenue, you’ll need to plan carefully to make sure you’re able to provide high-quality care.

8. Host events and workshops

Members love workshops, boot camps, and fitness challenges because they help them stay motivated and reach goals more quickly. These paid events provide a lump sum that has an immediate positive impact on cash flow.

To make the most of this revenue stream, think strategically about the needs of your business and members. Review the calendar for times when an event could provide extra cash during a seasonal downturn. Add events to help members meet a common goal, like staying fit through the holiday season.

Need some fresh ideas? Browse this event list to get started.

9. Nutrition and health coaching

According to IHRSA’s senior research manager Melissa Rodrigues, 25% of fitness club revenue comes from ancillary services. Your members aren’t just looking for a place to work out. They’re looking for all kinds of services to help them stay healthy, fit, and confident.

Most members would be happy to pay extra for services to help them eat better, make healthy choices, and track their fitness progress. These services will make your bottom line happy as well. By adding health coaching or consulting, you can increase the amount of revenue generated by each member.

10. Sell advertising

Looking for an out-of-the-box way to increase gym revenue? Try selling advertising space in your facility or email newsletters to local businesses. If you’ve done a good job building your membership base, you’ll have a fitness-conscious audience that’s attractive to an array of advertisers. Create a list of local grocery stores, specialty shops, salons, spas, venues, and restaurants who might be interested in your new advertising opportunity.

Go beyond marketing and retention to increase gym revenue through alternative revenue streams, new services, and operational efficiencies. In doing so, you’ll allow members to strengthen their relationships with you, giving your gym its greatest potential for growth.

8 Fun & Easy Holiday Event Ideas

Here in Philadelphia, the fall weather is finally settling in with cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and Eagles football. What may not come to mind immediately is that it also is the perfect season to plan your holiday events in advance.

Depending on the complexity of your event, it may take weeks to several months to coordinate with sponsors, create marketing collateral, and to secure permission from venues outside of your martial arts school or fitness facility.

Holiday and winter events are great for bringing your local community together and as an easy go-to for padding your bottom line. We’ve created a list of both classic and novel ideas to help you start thinking about what you can plan in the coming months. Have fun with it!

1) Make Your Own Ugly Sweater Fundraiser, Party, & Contest

ugly sweater
Have contestants enter a make-your-own ugly sweater contest for a charitable cause in your community. Set ticket prices to raise money for your non-profit or charity. Make sure that you put aside funds for a fun prize. Have snacks and drinks available and space for people to socialize.

2) Winter Chili Cook-off & Festival

chili bowl

Cold temperatures bring out cravings for comfort food. While National Chili Day is on February 23, give chili another day of recognition for being one of the most popular winter dishes.

Decide how many cookoff entries you’ll allow for the day. Have attendees pay an entrance fee and encourage them to vote on their favorite chilis. Include hot beverages like cocoa, cider, coffee, and tea for purchase. Tally your votes and declare your winner with a prize. A chili cook-off is an event your community will enjoy year after year.

3) Dress Your Dog Up Like a Reindeer Contest & Party

dog in reindeer costume

The marketability of dogs is undeniable. If you need a reminder, check the internet. Pet lovers and owners get the chance to unite in this pet-friendly event. Create a fundraiser to support your local animal welfare organizations and shelters with a holiday celebration that includes pets. Attendees can either dress up their dogs for fun or enter the contest with volunteer judges to select the winner.

4) Gingerbread House Contest & Craft Fair

gingerbread house

A holiday crafts festival is great for a whole family activity—plus, gingerbread houses are a classic tradition. Depending on your available space, it’s an event that you can plan to have in-house or at a local community center.

Ask local artists to participate as judges and vendors. Charge an entry fee per person or per family to cover the cost of supplies. Better yet, partner with a community sponsor—like an art store or local grocer—for the items that you need.

5) New Year’s Eve or Day Party

new year party

Celebrate the New Year with a themed party for families or adults only. Using a theme with decorations—or a featured activity—will help your event stand out among other community events happening at the same time. If you’re aiming to cater to the 21+ crowd, collaborate with a bar that has event space and sell tickets for a New Year’s Eve party.

Make sure you have projection screens that will show the New Year’s countdown live from NYC or show one of your own. If you want something more family-friendly, plan your event for the morning or afternoon of January 1st with games, snacks, drinks, and music.

6) Valentine’s Day Prom for Adults

prom night

If you have an adult martial arts class or have group fitness classes, a Valentine’s Day-themed prom night for adults is the perfect cheesy throwback. It can also result in a great turnout for any charitable cause. Pick a dress code (themed or standard formal dress), a DJ, and a venue space with drinks.

7) Breakfast with Santa

santa pankcakes

Get kids excited for Christmas with a Santa breakfast, and use Member Solution’s online registration to have parents reserve seats for their families. Serve holiday-inspired pancakes, fruit, veggies, bacon, eggs, and other breakfast favorites.

8) Holiday Fun Runs

A staple classic! Have runners dress like Santa, reindeer, Christmas trees, and other silly costumes. It’s a great family-friendly event for all ages.

4 Steps to a Genuine Membership Sales Pitch

Two smiling colleagues practicing a genuine membership sales pitch

Does selling memberships make you feel greasy? It shouldn’t! Think of it this way: Your sales process is not only the key to more money for your martial arts school—it’s also the way to discover who needs your talents the most.

A good sales process is less of an outright pitch and more of a dialogue that helps your prospect envision success with you. The result is an opportunity to build trust, fellowship, and emotional investment.

Being good at selling memberships and running a business does not take away from your existing relationships at your martial arts school. Developing your sales skills protects your livelihood and adds value to the services that you provide.

4 Steps to Build Relationships in Your Membership Sales

1. Be the best at what you do.

You can’t make a case for yourself if you don’t have something valuable to offer in the first place. Get your school organized. Nurture the unique qualities of your classes and community. If you feel like you need more time to focus on developing your business, try automating admin tasks with your martial arts software or delegating office work like membership billing.

2. Talk about value, not price.

Price questions require that you follow a specific sales script that can make or break the sale. When you’re asked about prices, avoid answering with a number. Responding with a number forces you to justify your value before your prospect has experienced your services.

Many prospects ask about price because they don’t know what they want or what to ask about your martial arts school. Rather than discussing price, show the value of your services by talking about your prospect’s goals and past experiences.

A) Discover prospective members’ goals.

Always say that pricing will depend on the program your prospect chooses. If you give your prospect price when he or she asks, you create an objection that immediately puts you in a position to defend your services. Make the conversation option-oriented with questions like:

“Why did you call us?”

“What do you hope to get out of this program?”

“Are you a beginner, or have you trained before?”

Much like if you were a journalist, an interview-style conversation helps you get to know what the person actually wants. Particularly if the person has never tried martial arts before and doesn’t know what to expect. Focus on a dialogue that reveals goals first. Write down your prospect’s responses on paper so that he or she knows you’re attentive.

B) Discover past experiences.

Again, when you talk about the value of your school, differentiating factors are important. Now that you know what your prospect wants out of your program, you need to know what hasn’t worked in the past.

“How long have you been thinking about this goal? When did you begin to consider training to meet your goal?”

Asking this question upfront avoids the possibility of hearing I need to think about it later in the sales process. Tailor this question as appropriate for parents talking to you on the behalf of their children.

“What else have you tried to accomplish your goal, and why didn’t it work for you?”

Asking what your prospect has tried before gives you a better sense of his or her needs (e.g. support, beginner-friendly instruction, class structure). It also gives you the chance to empathize with his or her struggle and to talk about how your school addresses those pain points.

3. Overcome 4 common membership objections.

An objection is any roadblock to a prospective member saying yes to your school. Objections arise when you don’t know how to address them early in the conversation with your prospect. Taking the lead, however, confirms that your prospect won’t flake later.

When asking these questions, avoid accepting I think so as an answer. If you hear it, don’t proceed any further unless your prospect can confirm with 100 percent certainty. Your recipe for success: question, listen, and verify.

Objection 1: Location & Transportation

Confirm that your prospect is in the area and has transportation to get to class. Even if you’re talking to a parent, ask.

Objection 2: Schedule & Time

Propose days and times. If your prospect is unable to confirm, ask when works better in his or her schedule.

Objection 3: Motivation & Commitment

You’ll need to help your prospect envision what it would be like to achieve his or her goal with the help of your school. Lead with positive reinforcement first. Ask your prospect:

“What do you see happening when you achieve your goal? What is that going to do for you?”

Follow up with asking what makes them unhappy about his or her current situation. Again, write everything down.

Not only does vision help your prospect, but it also helps you know how to best support the person.

Objection 4: Family or Significant Other

Oftentimes, prospects will say he or she needs to consult a family member or a significant other before moving forward with your school. Ask in your own words, Is there anyone who isn’t supportive of your accomplishing this goal? Who is the first person you’re going to tell when you get home and are they 100% supportive of you?

4. Offer a trial membership

Trial memberships are a powerful sales and marketing tool for your martial arts school. It’s key to walk through the discovery process first with your prospect so that he/she understands your value and they feel empowered toward their goals. Afterward, give your prospect a chance to experience what your school through a free class, free week, or a paid trial with a free uniform.

Video Marketing for Martial Arts

Mobile device camera for recording video marketing promotions on white background

If you haven’t noticed video marketing taking over the internet, then you haven’t been active online for the past few years. More than for showcasing cats and other miraculous feats, video marketing has the kind of punch that martial arts schools need for attracting new students and keeping current students.

The Cost of Video Marketing in Martial Arts

Nothing! Video marketing is simple to do when your martial arts school has existing social media accounts and a website. If any of these elements are missing—particularly a branded website—address that first. 97Display is a great internet marketing agency for branded websites because it specializes in our industry. Check them out here.

Social Media Accounts

If you have your social media lined up, great! If not, signing up for these accounts is free:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube or Vimeo
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

You don’t need to sign up for every account. Focus on what makes sense for your school. We recommend that you start with Facebook and YouTube.

Video Editing Software

Basic video editing also comes standard on Apple products (iMovie) and Microsoft computers (Movie Maker in older versions of Windows and Story Remix in the Photos app of Windows 10). Even without experience, you can shoot video on a smartphone—yours or one of your staff member’s—edit on your computer, and upload to your social media accounts and blog for free.

Professional Video Marketing

If you’re ready to step up your video quality beyond the ability of a smartphone, professionally filmed videos are a great idea. We recommend planning a budget and saving for a professional video as a long-term investment. If your school is ready for it, we encourage you to take the leap of faith.

Why: Hosting a professional video ad on your martial arts school’s website is the push already-interested prospects need to choose your school rather than your competition. And if you’re experiencing rapid growth, you will make up the cost in new students.

Video Return on Investment (ROI)

The cool part about investing your valuable time in creating videos is that once the work is done, those videos are yours to distribute and reuse as you want. You gain endless return on marketing and retention material that can cost nothing out-of-pocket if you choose.

Video Marketing Tips for Martial Arts Schools

Video marketing strategy relies on distribution for exposure. Social media plays a key role in telling your school’s story to people who otherwise may not know about martial arts or your business.

Videos to Share on Social Media & Your Website

Video has the ability to connect with audiences in ways that text or photos alone may not. Student/parent testimonials, student accomplishments, belt testing, community events, school demos, and competitions should all go online. The point is to showcase what makes your martial arts school unique and valuable to the local community.

If you or a staff member can’t capture video, ask parents or family members if you can share footage that they took. Regardless of how you get your video, always ask parental or guardian consent first. A way to address consent early is to include a photography and videography release waiver with new student contracts.

Post videos to your strongest online channels (e.g. Facebook and website) with a short description of what’s happening in the video. Make sure your post settings allow for sharing. If you prefer to avoid vetting negative comments, you can turn them off.

Go the extra step in video marketing

If you want more people to see your video, and you have extra cash in your marketing budget, boost your video post on Facebook. You then can create audiences in Facebook ads based on the people who watched your sponsored content for more than 30 seconds.

Increase Martial Arts Retention with Video Marketing

Sharing videos on social media also is effective for retaining your current students. Showing off your school’s expertise, staff, and student achievements boosts student and family morale. Students will want to stay in a community where they feel appreciated, acknowledged, and supported. Video is an easy way to do that.

Create Technique Videos for Students & Staff

An internal way to increase student retention is to record technique videos with one of your top instructors. Creating technique videos helps:

  • students feel more confident practicing at home (looping back to the idea of feeling supported) and
  • to promote instructional consistency across staff members.

Film two versions for each technique: a step-by-step version that breaks down what students are expected to learn and a version that shows what the moves look like when performed at full speed.

Where to save your technique videos for student access

Have a website developer make a password-protected database where you can upload and store technique videos. You can create a universal password to give out to new students when they join your school. If you need an immediate, lower-cost option, a private Facebook group is another great option.

How to use technique videos to help your staff in class

Technique videos help remind staff how to break down the day’s lesson in a way that is consistent and informative. Keep a tablet near your mats for instructors to reference in case they forget how to walk students through techniques step-by-step.

Key Video Marketing & Retention Points

  • Video marketing is easy to include in your existing marketing strategy. Once you make a video, repurpose it how you like.
  • DIY videos are free to make and distribute.
  • Share your videos on social media and your website, preferably on your blog.
  • Sharing videos boosts student and family pride in being involved in your school and the martial arts community.
  • Technique videos keep your staff’s instruction consistent.
  • Technique videos help students feel confident about practicing at home and coming back to class prepared.

Have you used video marketing to attract students and to improve retention at your martial arts school? Share your experiences below.

Make time for creative strategies like video marketing by doing less office work. Click here to learn more about how martial arts software can help your school grow.