Whether you’re hosting a one-week camp or a one-hour seminar, you need to make people aware of the event in order for it to be successful.
Here are 5 useful event marketing tips to help get those seats filled:
1. Promote your events through ALL communication outletsREPEATEDLY.
Your target audience is overloaded with information, so you need to put yourself in front of them again and again.
Repeatedly spread the word about your event across all marketing channels.
Send e-mails to prospects several times before the event date with a link to the registration page.
Post about your event on your social media networks at least once a week (again, include a link to the online registration page).
Ask staff to mention the event at the front desk, and at the beginning and end of classes and lessons.
Post flyers around your facility.
Make calls to invite your members.
2. Get everyone involved with promoting the event.
Beyond your staff, ask your members, friends, and local businesses to help spread the word about your event. Those that help promote the event, and feel a part of it, are more likely to attend and bring family and friends.
3. Add video and pictures to your promotions.
Videos and photos are more likely to get the attention of your prospects, plus they add visual interest to your promotions.
Record a short 20-30 second video clip of a happy member that has just attended one of your events.
Take pictures of happy students in action during your next tournament or camp.
Include the videos and photos in your marketing emails and social media posts to make that human connection and show prospective registrants all the fun they’ll have.
4. Set a capacityand promote the limited availability.
Put a limit on the number of spots available at your event to get people to take action right away. Rather than waiting, prospective registrants are more likely to register since there’s a good chance they could miss out on the opportunity if they stall.
Advertise how many spots are left as the event date draws near by posting about it on your social media pages regularly.
5. Build in an added bonus to encourage early sign-ups.
You’ll see most events offer an early bird price break for those that register by a certain date. This is an effective tactic used to get people to take action early on, rather than waiting to register days before the event.
As an alternative, you could provide a tangible gift ― such as a T-shirt — to those that register by a specific date.
Either way, an incentive tied to a deadline is almost guaranteed to give you a nice spike in event registrations.
Add to the list! What are your top event marketing tips? How do you get your events filled?
Client Question: What Term membership length is best? What cancel notice period is optimal for ongoing memberships? Which one should I use?
I am often asked these questions about Term and Ongoing memberships so I’ll share with you my recommendation for your review and consideration. Please keep in mind a few of these upfront points:
1. Each facility is different and there are multiple good answers to provide.
2. Laws vary from state to state and country to country, so always check with your legal advisor if you have any restrictions to consider.
3. If selling isn’t a strong asset for you and your team, I recommend Ongoing memberships as an easy way to get new members on board initially.
4. Price is critical too because this determines your revenue. You need to price your memberships factoring level of commitment. Too often I hear about owners giving substantial discounts for low obligation memberships to entice buyers: this hurts the bottom line. If delinquencies and dropouts rise, your cost of business can wipe out profits faster than a Bruce Lee block and counter move. Check out a great article posted by Dina Engel, our COO, for more info on delinquency management: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Delinquency Rate & Increase Cash Flow
Ok, finally, my personal opinion …
I believe that new members and existing members should be managed differently, since they have two different frames of reference. Existing members should be willing to commit more than a new member, if I am providing great service and they are experiencing success (obtaining benefits). With this distinction, I would set up the following:
New Members: I would offer new members two ongoing membership options:
The first can be cancelled at any time with 30 days advance notice. This membership would be priced very high. The purpose of this membership is to establish the value of the program. I am not looking for many takers here because the notice period is still too short for my comfort level given that summer is 2.5 months long. But if a member is looking for ultimate flexibility, I am willing to accept the higher price point in exchange.
The second can be cancelled at any time with 90 days advance notice and I would price it at 25-35% off the 30 day notice program. It’s important that this price point not be inexpensive compared to your competitors. It should be what you actually want for monthly tuition per member. This program still offers the member a low pressure enrollment and a cost savings to justify the extra 3 payments should they terminate the membership. I like it because it gives me and my staff enough time to overcome any challenges that are causing termination and perhaps we can repair it.
Existing Members: I would offer a Term membership:
What I like most about Ongoing memberships is that they don’t expire, giving me the freedom to choose when to renew or upgrade a member. The best time to do this is after a belt exam. Once the member has been training for 3 to 6 months, they should have a more educated view of Martial Arts training and the benefits they are absorbing. This should lead to increased value for Martial Arts training and create an easier upsell to a bigger and better membership option with more commitment. Many people refer to these “Advance Training Programs” as Black Belt Club, Leadership teams, Master Black Belt Club, etc.
These Term memberships can vary in length up four years. Personally I like a full one year commitment with an auto renew option with a 60 or 90 day cancel notice. In this way, I acquire a sense of commitment from the member while also eliminating expired programs which save me from renewal work.
Your membership strategy is a critical aspect of your business that impacts your bottom line in many ways. There are many solutions that can work and sometimes you need a trial and error strategy.
Joe Galea is the President of Member Solutions. Galea, one of Member Solutions’ founders, has been counseling school owners for over 20 years, and spends part of everyday speaking with clients and industry leaders.
Share with us! Let us know what membership structure works for your business. Comment below.
You’re on the phone with a prospect interested in joining your martial arts school or fitness club. You excitedly describe your classes, facility, and staff, looking forward to the moment when you can invite them in for a visit.
Suddenly, they interrupt to ask the question you dread. They insist on knowing your price. You swallow hard, nervous that as soon as they hear your number, the conversation will be over.
There’s no need to panic. There is an easy, effective way to handle this scenario that every owner and staff member should know. That’s why I created this video to help you address this difficult question and keep the conversation on track.
After watching the video, try practicing the sales script with your program directors, managers and staff—anyone involved in selling memberships.
Erik Charles Russell has been in the martial arts and fitness industry for more than 25 years. He owns Premier Martial Arts and Fitness in Watertown, NY. In 2015, he published a book based on his successes called The Art of Selling Memberships. The book became an international best seller—hitting number one in three categories in the U.S., Australia, and Germany on Amazon.com.
With all the different types of payment processors and ways to accept payments, it’s important to figure out what is right for your business. Here are three things you should know about payment processing to help secure your business and step up cash flow.
1) Set up automatic, recurring payments.
Setting up recurring, automated payments has many benefits for your business and members. First, members don’t have to remember to pay you. Payments deduct automatically from their savings accounts, checking accounts, debit cards, or credit cards of their choice for the amount and frequency you have agreed upon.
You also can provide members with an online payment portal to update profile information, payment information, and make payments on past-due accounts 24/7. You’ll receive real-time alerts of delinquent payments so you know as soon as a payment fails. And best of all, you can harness the power of Member Solutions full-service customer call center to personally follow up with declined and disputed charges on your behalf if you choose.
Capturing recurring payments is crucial to your business. You can be away on vacation or in the middle of a family emergency, and payments will continue to go through without you having to collect or to process them manually.You will have reliable month-to-month cash flow deposited directly in your bank account. Recurring payments also help guarantee future purchasing of your members. If you do not have a way to accept automated, recurring payments, there is no guarantee all of your members will return next week, month, or year, which puts your business at risk.
2) Take credit cards at your business.
If you do not currently accept credit cards at your business, you should start. It is important to give your customers payment choices. If you are only accepting cash or checks at your business, you are missing out on immediate cash flow.
Close to 50 percent of Americans carry $20 or less each day, including nine percent who don’t carry any cash at all. “Consumers prefer to pay with plastic, debit, or credit or some other type of mobile technology,” says Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate.com.
Those with credit cards tend to purchase more as well. Setting up a merchant account for your business is easy and less expensive than losing potential clients because you cannot take their money.
3) Take mobile payments.
Whether at the gym, at a park, or anywhere outside of your physical location, you’re in business when you are able to collect and process payments right on your phone. Instead of getting a payment application for your phone that is separate from your day-to-day payment processing business, you can harness the power of a merchant account, along with a mobile application, to accept payments anytime and anywhere.
With a merchant account, you can accept credit, debit, and ACH transactions through your front desk software, through a physical terminal at your location and through an application on your iPhone or Android device. All of the payments are processed through the same account so all of your financial reporting is in one place for all of your one-time payments. Through Constellation Payments, Member Solutions’ sister company, you can set up a merchant account easily to accept secure transactions 24/7 at your location.
I do not know if holiday seasonal stress disorder is an actual condition, but if it doesn’t really exist, it certainly should. Every fitness business out there is being pushed this time of year to offer some sort of special or deal in order to entice people to sign up or make that first leap into health and fitness. Given that our wonderful industry also has some of the tightest profit margins, it can cause a greater amount of stress to try and exceed the expectations of the consumer.
Retail businesses can offer an 80% off discount, or a “buy one, get one free” promotion. They’ll still make a profit. But most of the fitness businesses we work with are service-based. If they offered these outrageous discounts, it would mean they would be paying people to work out. Not a bad promotion if you can swing it; “Come to my personal training studio and I will pay you to get fit!” You may get hundreds of clients, but those doors will be closed before they can even get in.
One of the best things to understand before you offer a special promotion is the cost to deliver your service. Determining your cost of service will assist you when you offer any promotions to existing and new members.
Calculating the Cost of Service for a Fitness Business
Overhead Costs ―These are the indirect costs to your fitness business in providing services to customers. Examples include labor for other people who run the fitness facility or Martial Arts school, whether administrative assistants or a director of a department. Other overhead costs include your monthly rent, taxes, insurance, depreciation, advertising, office supplies, equipment lease, utilities, etc. A portion of all these costs will need to be included as part of your fees.
Material Costs ― Material costs refer to stock or inventory required for the service. These are typically not huge additional costs for the average fitness business. For example, an automotive center would need the cost of brake pads and brake fluid when calculating a brake job. In our training studio, I add in the cost for our towels, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, and razors. We purchase and supply these to our clients. They could just as easily be considered overhead expenses. In our training studio, I know that these toiletries add up to around $3 per client session, so I will use that number when calculating the cost of service and determining a promotional offer.
Labor Costs ― Calculating labor costs for fitness businesses is usually pretty straightforward. Wages are typically the same per service per staff. That said, it is good to keep the average cost per service on hand and up to date. Also remember that when you give a raise to staff members, be sure to change this number to keep your costs in line.
We use our Member Manager software to calculate most of this for us with just a click of a button. I can see exactly the percentage of revenue per service that is going to labor for all staff or on a per staff person basis. Member Manager also calculates the revenue that I generate per service and pinpoints members that pay below my rack rate so I will know when it is time to raise their rates. All of these costs are important numbers to have handy when determining the discounts you want to offer. I can quickly add my costs together, along with my desired profit, to formulate an accurate price for a special.
Next week I will apply this cost of service calculation to a few fitness business models and show you some cool specials that help increase member attendance and still keep profits high.
Can your membership business continue to fund its growth? The balance sheet can answer this for you right away.
By knowing how to read a balance sheet, you’ll also be able to have a relevant discussion about it – or a discussion about the balance sheet of a business you’re interested in acquiring.
In addition, the balance sheet has two other uses: 1) Vendors and lenders can use the balance sheet in considering the creditworthiness of the business. 2) Owners and potential investors can use it to help determine the value of the business.
Let’s look at the balance sheet to get a picture of your financial health.
Getting to Know the Balance Sheet
First off, the balance sheet is a snapshot that helps you identify and analyze trends in the health of your business. The balance sheet reports on the financial condition of a business at a specific point in time.
Balance sheets are often shown with information from two or more dates, such as year-end information for the last two years.
Other key financial statements, such as profit and loss statements and cash flow statements, report financial activity over a given period of time.
Breaking It Down: How to Read a Balance Sheet
The balance sheet is made up of three parts:
Assets — what you own
Liabilities — what you owe
Owner’s equity — the owner’s stake in the company
Take a look at the example balance sheet below. The company and amounts are fictional.
All About Assets
Let’s look at the left column first titled Assets.
What are assets? Assets are the things that the business owns that have monetary value, such as equipment. The assets are listed in order of liquidity, which is how quickly the items can be turned into cash.
Here’s an explanation of each line item:
Current Assets — assets that can be turned into cash within one year of the balance sheet date. The most liquid asset of every business is of course cash.
Accounts Receivable — amounts owed to the business by customers who made recent purchases on credit terms.
Inventory — items purchased by the business for resale to customers.
Prepaid Items — items that have been purchased but will be used and expensed on the profit and loss statement in a future period. A good example of a prepaid item is paying an insurance premium six months in advance.
Fixed Assets — sometimes called Property, Plant, and Equipment (PP&E), fixed assets are not considered very liquid and are therefore excluded from the current assets. Except for land, fixed assets depreciate over a period of years. They are listed at their purchased amounts, less accumulated depreciation to arrive at their net amount. Land is thought of as never losing value and is therefore not depreciated over a period of time.
A Look at Liabilities
What are liabilities? Liabilities are what the business owes to the various creditors and vendors. Like assets, liabilities are shown in current and non-current sections.
Again, an explanation of each line item from the top:
Current Liabilities — those amounts that must be paid within one year of the balance sheet date.
Accounts Payable — monies owed to vendors and suppliers for items acquired on credit.
Wages Payable — owed to employees and taxes payable amounts due to governmental taxing authorities.
Unearned Revenue — an item that is often not well understood by non-financial individuals. Unearned revenue is money received by the business for services not yet rendered or product not yet delivered to the customer. A good example in the member-service industry is membership fees paid-in-full by a member for the next year. The money has been received but the service for which the member is paying has not yet been rendered. Examples would be a one-year Martial Arts membership or a six-month Personal Training package. The service is still owed to the customer and therefore the revenue is unearned and reported in the liability section.
What Financial Analysts Look for When Reviewing Your Balance Sheet
One of the most common ratios that analysts use when viewing a balance sheet is called Working Capital, which is defined as current assets less current liabilities. The current ratio tells the reader whether or not the company has the liquid assets required to pay its obligations owed during the next year. If current liabilities exceed current assets, the company has no working capital.
Current Ratio is another common ratio used which is current assets divided by current liabilities. Higher ratios indicate more liquid companies. It is possible to be too liquid as investors would view the company as sitting on idle cash that could be invested elsewhere.
Non-Current Liabilities — amounts owed to creditors beyond one year ahead. Non-current liabilities are also referred to as long-term liabilities. The most common long-term liability is bank loans which are paid over several years.
Owner’s Equity — this equals assets less liabilities. The equity is comprised of the investment made by the owners into the company and the earnings retained by the company (versus distributed to the owners as dividends).
When All Is Said and Done
So now you have a basic understanding of what a balance sheet is and what the terms mean.
Remember that the balance sheet only shows a snapshot of the company at one particular date in time. It’s a useful tool to ensure your business finances are properly managed — and it can help uncover the true worth of your membership business.
To get the complete story on the health of your business, you must review the balance sheet, along with the profit and loss statement and cash flow statement.
Client Question: I’m thinking of opening another location. What are the most important considerations to keep in mind before taking this big step?
Before taking this step, Martial Arts business owners must take a very serious look at their operations. They must ask themselves if the first location is built around them or if it’s built around systems. If the answer is that it is built around them, then I would suggest making some changes before opening another location … otherwise, the level of stress and burden does not simply double, it goes up exponentially. Additionally, if the business is built around “you”, it is kind of difficult to be in two places at once and you will either end up with one location failing or possibly both!
In order for Martial Arts school owners to make the jump from one to multiple locations, everything must function as a business … and a “successful location” does not mean it functions as a “business.” Let’s look at this a bit further …
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Michael Gerber, in his book, E-Myth Revisited, does an excellent job of describing how many people build themselves a job but not a business. I highly recommend this book to everyone considering multiple locations. If you are unsure of the answer to the question about your business being built around you or around systems, then I will simply ask you this … “Can you leave your business right now and have everything still operate essentially the same with you not there for a day, a week, a month?” The answer to this question (if you are honest with yourself) will tell you where you are.
Some may say, “Well, I would need another instructor or sales person if I wasn’t there” … and that’s fine … so if I put another instructor there, would your operations continue? Or do operations rely on the position being filled by you? If it relies on you, then it’s not a system, it’s your job, but there is hope … you can start today and build systems so you can step away or even promote yourself out of being tied down to the business. This opens up a tremendous opportunity for growth much like franchises do for their franchisees.
I am in a position where I can answer this question with an absolute “YES, I can step away and leave.” In fact, as I update this article, I am sitting under a cabana in Mexico with my wife and friends about 10 ft. from the pool and maybe 50 yards from the ocean. I say this not to brag, but as evidence or proof that it is possible – because, at one time, I was one of the WORST offenders of micromanaging and having the attitude of “I have to do it all because I can do it better”. Back then I was chained to my business and limited myself in many ways. Some may then point out that I”m working in Mexico, but that”s just because I enjoy it, not because I have to … and meanwhile all of my businesses are running, making money and growing.
A common trait among martial arts business owners is that we are passionate and willing to work very hard and long hours. This is both a strength and eventually a weakness. One of the reasons most owners work so many hours is because they know they can do things best (like I mentioned that I used to do). They do not delegate tasks for fear that others will not do it as well as they do, and they have so many things to do that they cannot afford to take the time to effectively train other staff. This is an ongoing problem that leads to burnout and frustration for many. Years ago I realized and accepted the fact that even though someone I train may not be able to accomplish as much as I do, eventually we can accomplish much more as a team.
Think of the math.If you have five staff members each accomplishing 80% of what you could do, that is still 5 X 80% = 400% of what you could do by yourself.
This is the mentality we need to take to move from being “achievers” to “leaders” in our businesses and is a must to move towards the goal of multiple locations.
I mention all of the above first in answering this question because far too many people in every business field (not just martial arts) have taken the step to open a second location and it has turned into stepping on a land mine rather than taking the step towards “doubling their profits,” which is what most people believe will happen.
In the majority of these cases, the likely cause of the problems was the fact that the business was too dependent on the owner or one key person, and systems were not in place to help others be successful in executing the business operations. Essentially it was a personality based business. Though personality is important, if you base your entire business on this, you are not building an asset you can sell. You are also not building a system to duplicate because we allow ourselves to overcome the shortcomings of our business through our own individual skills and relationships.
If as an owner, you can honestly say that your martial arts school is built on systems and that you could walk out on your staff and the school would still operate effectively, then we can move on to the next step in consideration of a second location.
This is not usually the case, especially for those out on their own. More often schools who work with an organization or a franchise have additional support for this, but in every case, an honest assessment here can save a school owner piles of money and grief from making a bad decision before they are ready by letting them know there is more preparation to be done.
In my next post, I’ll cover additional benefits and necessary planning steps to opening a new location. Until then, take a hard look at your business and honestly answer the question:
Is your business built around you or is it built around systems?
About the author: Jeff Dousharm began his martial arts training over 22 years ago with Senior Grand Master Bert Kollars, one of the founders of Tiger Rock Martial Arts International. He’s a 7th Degree Black Belt and a certified instructor in different programs ranging from Taekwondo to CDT. He currently operates seven Tiger Rock Academies in Nebraska and Florida, www.tigerrockmarialarts.com.
Jeff also owns several companies outside of the martial arts field including Tomorrow”s Online Marketing (websites, SEO and online marketing), Paradigm Impact Group (speakers, professional development and business consulting), J. Victorian Development (commercial properties), Point Blank Tactical Safety and Firearms Training, and a few other startup companies being launched in 2012. He can be reached at JDousharm@windstream.net or Jeff@paradigmimpactgroup.com
Are you considering buying an existing martial arts School or fitness facility? It’s essential that you cross all your T’s and dot your I’s prior to pulling the trigger.
Here are eight tips for you to consider so you can hit the ground running.
1) Get comfortable regarding the reason that the seller is selling.
Retirement would be a great reason as they would want the school (and their reputation) to have continued future success. Other reasons that the seller may disclose are: family issues, change in profession, focusing their time on another school location or the like.
Rarely, if ever, would a seller tell you that they are selling because they are losing money. Take every reason they give you with a grain of salt and remember that if everything were peaches and cream then they would most likely not be selling. Be very wary of a seller that has only owned the business for a short while.
2) Insist that the seller signs a non-compete agreement, no matter what reason they give for selling the business.
The non-compete prohibits them from owning, working for, or forming any alliance with another gym or Martial Arts school for an agreed-upon time and geographic region.
3) Be sure to perform due diligence on the business location.
It’s been said many times, but cannot be stressed enough, that location is one of the most critical components of success for a business. Get comfortable that there is adequate traffic flow, adequate parking, and access to potential members. Also consider the physical safety of members at your new location, as safety is a top priority.
4) Meet with a reliable commercial real estate agent.
Discuss the future happenings of the business community that may positively or negatively affect your location.
5) Get professional help.
Hire a CPA to review the tax returns of the business for the previous several years. You want to see years of steady, reliable cash flow. If you see losses for reasons other than a high salary for the owner, then you need to honestly ask yourself how you will turn the business around.
Have the CPA work with a commercial real estate broker in putting together the offer price on the business. The first offer should be a lowball offer. It’s easy to increase future offers but very difficult to lower future offers unless you find deficiencies during due diligence. The CPA should also assist you in getting proper licensing and tax identification numbers for both federal and state.
6) Hire an attorney
Have an attorney review any past, present, or pending lawsuits regarding the business and associated property, as well as to prepare all related paperwork regarding the purchase. If you know the seller on a personal basis, then one of these professionals should do the negotiating for you.
7) Be clear on your expectations.
There are several questions that you need to address prior to owning your own facility. How many hours per week will it take to successfully run this business? Is that more or less than the hours you’re currently working and are you (and your family) comfortable with those hours? Do you expect to make a profit in the first year? What will it take in terms of hours worked or losses incurred that would cause you to pull the plug and either close or sell the business? Doing a little self-reflection and honestly answering such questions will assist you in future decisions and help keep your family relations intact.
8) Analyze your personnel skills.
Are you a Martial Artist with a burning desire to own your own school or are you a business manager? They are not one and the same. The quality of the staff at your facility will be critical and dependent upon proper personnel management, delegation, training, and correction. If you do not have these skills then you will need to hire a business manager that does.
The truth is that price is just one of the objections you’ll face during membership selling. In order to turn a hesitant prospect into a long-term member, you need to address each and every one of their concerns. Specifically, most prospects will push back on the same four areas—location, schedule/time, motivation/commitment, and their significant other.
The good news is that there’s an easy, fool-proof way to eliminate each of these four objections. To learn how, all you and your staff need to do is practice these simple sales scripts.
Membership Sales Script: Answering the Price QuestionQuestion: How much is it to join?
Never give your membership prices until they’re ready to buy. Giving a price before they’ve experienced what you have to offer is telling them is that there’s no benefit to choosing you over the competition, other than price. However, you must answer their question.
You: Thank you for your interest. The price of your membership is going to depend on the program that you choose. We have quite a few options. Have you ever trained before, or is this something new for you?
Prospect: Oh, I’m new at this. I’ve never joined a gym before in my life.
You: Ok, great. Well, we’re very beginner friendly. We’re good at helping new people with little or no experience get great results in a safe and healthy way. What’s the goal you’re looking to accomplish by becoming a member?
Prospect: I’m looking to lose weight.
You: Very good. That’s actually the number one reason why people become members here—so you’ve called the right place. May I ask your name?
Prospect: My name is Judy.
You: Ok, Judy. What I normally do is have you come in and try out our club/program for free. I’ll talk to you a little bit more about your goals and some ways that we can achieve them when you come in. This free session gives me the opportunity to see where you are and helps me make the best program recommendation that I can for you. This also allows you to try us out—without any obligation and to see if you like it. When are you available to come in for your free session? Do you work days or nights?
Appointment Tip for Prospective Members
When setting an appointment with your prospective member, confirm that she knows where you’re located and how to get to you. Be sure to get a phone number and to add them to your member management software, which will allow you to track your interactions with them through the sales process.
Erik Charles Russell has been in the Martial Arts and Fitness industry more than 25 years. He owns Premier Martial Arts and Fitness in Watertown, NY. In 2015, he published a book based on his successes called “The Art of Selling Memberships”. The book became an international best seller—hitting number one in three categories in the U.S., Australia, and Germany on Amazon.com.
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