How to Plan Martial Arts Birthday Parties for Kids

Featured Video Play Icon

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

Subscribe to newsletter on tablet screen with office objects on wooden desk.

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.

 

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.

7 Ways to Handle Late Member Payments

Mobile invoice for member payment on cell phone

Asking your students for money is never easy. When a member of your martial arts school doesn’t pay on time, it’s tempting to let the delinquency slide to avoid confrontation. But you run a business. You deserve to be paid for the valuable services you provide. Still, how can you ask for late payments without sounding cold or impersonal? These seven tips will help you navigate how to collect and prevent late member payments:

1. Automate member payments

Automating credit card and ACH payments through your member management system is an easy way to prevent late payments. Talk to your members about switching to one of these methods if you notice them struggling to pay on time. Be sure to highlight the added convenience of auto-payments and address any concerns about data security.

2. Set expectations with new students

Review key points of your membership contracts with new students and families. Make sure students or parents sign off on payment amounts, due dates, and the membership duration. Be honest and open about your expectations for on-time payments. Just like your members expect consistent, high-quality martial arts instruction from you, you will expect prompt, full payments from them.

3. Charge fees for late payments

If late payments are a chronic problem for your martial arts school, you might decide to add late fees to your contract. Some gyms and martial arts schools charge late fees of $5 to $25 per overdue payment. For some individuals, the extra incentive will motivate them to stay on top of payments.

Before deciding to use late fees at your school, consider how this will impact your relationships. Ask yourself how new members will react to hearing about late fees before they’re even a part of your community. In the end, you’ll have to determine the best balance to protect your business without harming your relationships.

4. Send email reminders

You probably already use your martial arts software to automatically remind your members about upcoming payments and due dates. Hopefully, these reminders help prevent late payments before they occur.

Once invoices become past-due, you can use another type of email reminder to collect late payments. Create a short series email scripts to ask for late payments. Be polite but direct. Make sure to clarify any consequences of late payments, including interest fees or deactivation of the membership.

5. Make a phone call

Because phone calls are more difficult to ignore than emails, they’re particularly effective for collecting late payments. Be friendly but firm on the phone. Clearly and calmly explain the details of the past-due invoice and ask for the payment in full. While on the phone, you may uncover new information about your member’s situation that reveals the true reason for late payment. Use these insights to find a long-term solution to help you and your member avoid future missed payments.

6. Be kind, not argumentative

Your students are only human. They make mistakes. They forget to update expired credit card information or to check their bank account before payments are due. There are hundreds of reasons students miss payments. Avoiding financial disputes is crucial to maintaining a strong, long-lasting relationship. Before jumping to conclusions, see if a friendly reminder is all that is needed.

In some cases, your student may be dealing with a difficult or complex situation that has impacted their finances. Use good judgement to come to an agreement that’s fair and mutually beneficial to you and your member. It may make sense to be flexible or forgiving in order to preserve your relationship and retain your member.

7. Call in an expert

Collecting late payments is complex and challenging. To truly be successful, you’ll need to dedicate resources to make sure someone is responsible for follow up and collections. If you handle this follow up in-house, make sure to incorporate this task into one of your job roles so it does not become an afterthought for one of your busy employees. You can also outsource payment collection to a team of managed billing professionals to bypass the awkward conversations and eliminate the complicated follow up process.

If you follow the steps above, you’ll see your overdue invoices decrease while your relationships with your students improve. In the long run, the combination of these two factors is what will keep your martial arts school financially stable and successful.

Have you tried these tips? How do you encourage students to pay on time? Tell us your thoughts below.

How to Avoid Financial Disputes with Your Gym Members

Member-owner relationships are a bit like marriages. You work hard to cultivate strong, long-lasting bonds. You do all you can to show you care and provide what your member needs. Despite that effort, you can still find yourself dealing with absences, arguments, and painful breakups caused by disagreements about money. Among married couples, financial disputes are the second leading cause of divorce. Likewise, uncomfortable conversations about missed payments can make members feel like your gym is not the right place for them. To avoid losing members, put a plan in place to prevent financial disputes and strengthen your relationships.

What can you do to avoid financial disputes with your members?

At Member Solutions, we have over 25 years of experience providing billing services and collecting member payments. Think of us as a financial counselor who wants to help alleviate some the strains money puts on your member relationships.

Follow these 5 tips to avoid financial disputes and keep your billing practices running smoothly:

1) Talk about your billing policies

Clear billing policies allow you and your members to stay on the same page. Put yourself in your members’ shoes. Would you enjoy surprise charges to your credit card? While surprises can be fun, financial surprises can damage your relationships.

Create a membership welcome packet that clearly details what your members can expect financially. Address the when and how of payment processing, late fees, cancellation policies, payments dates, and how members will be notified if fees change.

2) Be flexible when members have money problems

Eventually, one of your members will show up to your gym after months of racking up an unpaid balance and overdue fees. They’ll say they had no idea it was happening. They’ll ask you why you didn’t remind them and possibly tell you they can’t afford to pay.

While it’s important to enforce your policies, sometimes it’s important to find a middle ground. Ask yourself, “What’s best for my long term relationship with this member?”

Sometimes it’s in your best interest to give a member a break. You may decide to waive fees or set up a payment plan to get a member caught up. When you make an exception, let them know that you’re doing it because they are a valued, long-term member. Explain that your policies are in place because newer members—who don’t have strong relationships like yours—might try to avoid paying.

This method has a variety of benefits:

  1. You were likely going to receive no payment. Now that you have made an exception, you are likely to receive some compensation.
  2. You increase the odds that this member pays on time going forward.
  3. If this member is leaving, it’s more likely that he or she will return to your gym.
  4. The likelihood that member talks highly of your gym will increase.

Every gym owner is unique and has different opinions on this situation. All we recommend is that you consider the value of each customer on an individual basis.

3) Automate member payments and billing

Automated billing services virtually take you out of the dues collection process at your gym. All you have to do is set up client accounts, due dates, and payment amounts. Voilà! Your clients’ accounts will be billed automatically.

What does this mean for you? It means that you no longer have to directly collect member payments. This saves time on administrative tasks and reduces strain on relationships with your members.

4) Offer secure online payment processing

The convenience of online payments has obvious appeal for both businesses and members. However, when it comes to online payments, choosing a service with maximum security is critical. The last thing you want is for your or your members’ financial information to be compromised.

Choose a Level 1 PCI compliant provider to protect your business. Providers that follow these data security standards offer the highest level of protection against credit card fraud.

5) Enlist a professional team to bill your members

In addition to damaging relationships, tracking down member payments is confusing and time-consuming. Pursuing missing payments can take up to 10 hours every week. That’s time you could spend with your members, growing your business, or relaxing with friends and family.

Outsourcing to an affordable managed billing service that specializes in tracking down delinquent accounts can reduce stress and help preserve relationships. Billing professionals have an in-depth understanding of the payment processing business and are better able to troubleshoot issues with failed credit card payments or delinquency. In fact, members are more likely to settle monetary issues with a billing company than a gym owner.

If you decide to collaborate with a third-party billing provider, choose a team that will uphold your policies while still offering flexibility to your members. A good billing company will be able to advise you on when to make exceptions for members who are having trouble paying.

Overcome financial disputes to strengthen member relationships

Financial disputes are one of the main reasons relationships end—whether it’s between spouses, business partners, or band members who pursue disappointing solo careers. To beat the odds, you need to be proactive. Talk to your members about your expectations regarding payments. Be open to a financial partnership with your members. If you decide to partner with a billing company, choose a team with the same commitment to customer service and fairness that you do.

How do you manage the financial aspects of your member relationships? Share your comments below.

3 Ways to Use Social Media Contests for Member Engagement

hand holding mobile device with social media icons

You may be sick of hearing how social media has a significant impact on your outreach, but having an online presence outside of your website is not negotiable for your business’s current member engagement and lead generation. Running social media platform-specific contests, in addition to sharing student highlights and news, gives prospects an easy way to get an insider’s glimpse.

Use these three social spaces for your contest campaigns.

1. Facebook: The Community Builder

The basics: Facebook should be the foundation of your social media strategy. As you know, the multi-faceted platform has capacities for public and private groups, invitations, messaging, and more. Because Facebook is a dynamic community space, it may take time to build an audience if you don’t already have one. On the other hand, this versatility makes Facebook the perfect environment for social media contests.

Keep that dynamic element in mind when designing a Facebook giveaway that meets your business’s goals. Avoid running a contest that is overly complex and deterring participants. Set a timeframe with rules for your contest and stick to it—no exceptions. Examples include:

  • photo caption contests,
  • page likes contests, and
  • post sharing contests.

Level up: Use paid posts and ads to reach a larger audience.

2. Twitter: Be the Buzz Through Mirco-Messaging

The basics: Twitter is a more competitive social space that needs timeliness, relevancy, and frequency for success. It can be difficult to reach an audience due to these factors, but if you have a strong base of followers, you’ll see results.

Giveaways are particularly easy due to retweets, or Twitter’s re-blogging feature. An easy example of a Twitter contest is:

  • The first five people to retweet will receive a prize of your choice (pick something that is relevant to your marketing goals).

Level up: Reach out to your friends, family, and professional connections for retweets and mentions. Paid Twitter ads also are an option.

3. Instagram: Interactive Photo Sharing

The basics: The fitness and martial arts industries have a strong presence on Instagram. The visual element and the more personable feel of the platform are great for persuasive messaging—which makes Instagram our favorite place for social media contests. Common contests on Instagram include:

  • photo captions and
  • having contestants tag friends in the comments section.

Level up: Use “non-designer” graphic design tools like Canva to create your own images. Make sure you brand everything you create with your gym’s or martial art school’s name in case someone shares what you post. Because paid posts on Facebook integrate with Instagram, you have the option to run any contest promotions concurrently on two platforms.

Already social savvy and want more strategy? Take it a step further into forum spaces like Reddit. Being a regular contributor to threads relating to your discipline will help you network with others for additional ideas.

[Webinar] 5 Ways to Boost Member Retention with a Mobile App

5 Ways to Boost Member Retention with a Mobile App

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | 2:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. PT)

The more engaged your members are, the more likely they are to stick to their fitness routine and with your business. Unfortunately, many fitness clubs struggle to maximize member retention. So how do you build stronger relationships that drive loyalty, member retention, and results?

Our partner, MiGym, has worked with hundreds of fitness clubs to create personalized member app experiences. Clubs with mobile apps benefit from increased class attendance, strengthened relationships, lower attrition, and increased revenue. After reviewing results from clients, MiGym identified five ways that any fitness business—large or small—can use a mobile app to grow profits and improve member retention.

In this webinar, you’ll learn the five ways fitness clubs can engage their member base through a custom mobile app. You’ll see a live demonstration of how you can use these techniques to cultivate stronger bonds with your members.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Use push notifications and announcements during the holiday season and the New Year’s fitness rush
  • Increase member convenience through a simplified check-in and booking process
  • Gain a competitive advantage in 2018 by adding a mobile app to your business plan and marketing campaigns
  • And more!

Bonus: Attend the live webinar to get a sample holiday push notification and announcement to drive member retention, engagement, and revenue.

Meet Our PresenterHugh McEvoy, General Manager, MiGym

Hugh McEvoy has over nine years of experience providing software solutions to the fitness industry for member retention, marketing, and business management. As the General Manager at MiGym, Hugh partners with businesses of all sizes to conquer challenges and to achieve results.

]>

Guest Post: The Health of Your Gym

Guest Post: The Health of Your Gym

Warning: This is going to be a hard read if you’re eating.

It’s a bit ironic that facilities for our health can pose bacterial harm if not properly cleaned. Although places like gyms are not number one on the list of highly germ populated public locations, they can be one of the most common areas to contract bacteria.

Nobody wants to think about all these microscopic germs and particles that coexist among us, but to have a healthy fitness center inside and out, you must be properly equipped with both the knowledge, products and —oh your facility is well cleaned? Excellent! Now, how much do you spread that information around? It’s very well worth turning a quick spotlight on the cleanliness of your facility. Especially when the USA ranks number 28 out of the 188 healthiest nations despite being one of the most health data indulgent countries in the world.

So it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to remind the public you care about the shape of your gym right? Right! Here’s how to take advantage of a hygienic presence.

Provide Easy Access For Sanitation

You sneeze and there’s no tissue in sight. Here’s a worse situation. You sneeze into a tissue and there’s no trash container nearby! Avoid these minor inconveniences by providing disposable soaps, hand wipes or nonalcoholic hand sanitizers and easily accessible waste bins throughout your facility so your clients don’t have to interrupt their workout for long. They don’t have to be every two feet but a good presence of complementary products will give members a good impression of cleanliness in association with your business identity.

Establish With Your Members That You Have a Cleaning Schedule

Whenever that time for the full scrub overhaul of your facility comes around—that’s the chance to show off your results. Take a picture of your pristine facility and post it online. You could even incorporate fitness into the mix because who say’s scrubbing an entire building isn’t a workout? Or that just the act of cleaning is the only sign of a healthy gym?

Share pictures of upgrades, new installations, or even a photo of yourself arriving early! Fresh products, an active mind, and up to date materials express not just a business but a business owner who knows when to make the right decision.

Signs & Reminders

One of the most common of contagions caught at facilities of mobility is skin infection. (Gross I know, but stay with me.) The reasons for these skin infections are due to the unfortunate contact with deposits of leftover sweat on shared exercise equipment and or materials. (How are you doing? Good! We’re going get through this!) The best way this can be avoided is reminders such as: “Always Wash Hands After A Workout”, “Shower after A Swim Please” and “Remember Scandals On While Showering”.

Have any of these signs in your gym? Personalize them a bit, maybe station yourself in front of it for a quick selfie on social media. The more human involvement the better. Just no sweat!

Show That You’re a Good Example

The image of the business owner and staff is everything. Clean clothes, clean hair, etc. We’re not suggesting to have your staff share their selfies all over your social media but rather to have them included within photos of otherwise stagnant objects. Set up a new flyer? Have one of your staff smiling on the side or even holding the sign. There are numerous ways to apply human engagement and interactions to health and safety measures.

One way to ensure you have someone on the floor making it happen is by setting a reminder in our fitness center software. Set up a task for the staff member of your choice so there’s no confusion on whose job it is to post selfies with the clients!

Author: Claire Scro, Marketing Specialist.

14 Fall Event Ideas for September & October

15 Fall Event Ideas photo

Need event ideas for your martial arts school, gym, community group, or another organization? With autumn approaching, you’ll have lots of opportunities to plan around seasonal delights. These fall event ideas are easy to customize for your participants with online event registration software like Event Manager.

1) Back-to-School/Autumn Pancake Breakfast

Celebrate the turn of the season with a themed breakfast! Use it to commemorate the start of school or the beginning of autumn. Pick your favorite breakfast place in town, or make it special with an apple pancake or pumpkin pancake recipe that you can share with your attendees later. Martial arts schools or gyms: use this fall breakfast as a way to engage prospects.

2) Costume Contest

Dress up at your office, school, team, exercise class, or classroom Halloween party. If you’re a coach or martial arts instructor, have fun with your students by creating a contest that is sport specific. Create a giveaway prize with a Halloween trick or treat bag with items that your group will enjoy.

3) Pumpkin Carving Party with Contest & Prizes

Get in this family-friendly activity by using a twist: pick categories for your pumpkin contest, like the funniest, most creative, and most unexpected. Winner gets a gift card to Amazon or a favorite local restaurant. Make sure you take lots of photos to post to Facebook and Instagram to engage your online community.

4) Fall Bike Tours

Get a group together for a fun time on two wheels as the weather begins to cool. Explore the earthy, changing colors of the trees for a weekend camping trip or day trip. If you want to accommodate all levels of cyclists, try enjoying a rail trail.

Astronomy Camping Fall Ideas

5) Astronomy Night

Make this an educational after-school event for a student science club, field trip, or as a way to build community in your young athletes. Visit an observatory, planetarium, or go outside with chairs, blankets, and a campfire.

6) National School Success Month

Host a seminar series for students and/or parents on good academic habits. This is a great opportunity for coaches and martial arts school owners to talk about how students can use the discipline that they learn in their sport to excel in the classroom. Offer study time, tutoring, or a way to connect students with peer study groups.

7) Museum Field Trip

Local or big city museums, in addition to their usual exhibits, usually have seasonal or special exhibits. While art museums are popular, science museums are great for kids who want a more tactile, interactive experience.

8) National Cheese Pizza Day (Sept. 5th)

Not that there needs to be an excuse for pizza, but we’ll take one when we have it. Host a pizza lunch or dinner at your school, office, or local community organization.

Frisbee Fall Ideas

9) Ultimate Frisbee Game

Get everyone outside with an adult office league or a team at your gym. Being outside is not only fun, but it significantly impacts the way you decompress.

10) Themed Paint Nights

Create a fall or Halloween-themed paint night for kids, adults, or both. Make it fun for kids with fingerpainting or adult-friendly with drinks.

11) Bonfires/Seasonal Cookout

Have your group submit their favorite seasonal recipes anonymously and have everyone pick their top five favorites. The majority says what will cook on the fire. S’mores are always great for dessert.

12) National Grandparents Day (Sept. 8)

Celebrate the special roles and relationships of grandparents with a dinner, craft night, or a sport specific demonstration from their grandchildren athletes. Have kids make cards or fundraise for gift cards.

13) Local Farm Adventure

Pumpkin patches and hay rides may feel cliché, but they’re a classic for many reasons. And hot cider always tastes better in season.

14) Haunted House

Get spooky with a haunted house or trail. Expert tip: make group t-shirts so you can keep track of your group.

Author: Jennifer Miller, Member Solutions Marketing Specialist