I spent a fascinating day recently in the company of some industry veterans who are currently charged with running charitable Leisure Trusts.
I was able to sit in on a day when they discussed the financial problems, they were facing regarding balancing the books of their service.
Just to set some context it must be said that these men know their stuff. They are no mugs when it comes to running leisure and have a total handle on all matters sales, marketing, customer service and are astute number crunchers to boot.
The big stick that beat them up all day and haunted every possible course of action was the horrible spectre of “low price.”
When your income streams are heavily skewed toward fitness club membership performance and your headline price is under £20 per month, it must be a very difficult place to operate in. As I made a long journey home, I couldn’t help but ponder how the fitness industry had allowed itself to get to this point with all the issues that low price brings.
Recent figures show the UK penetration of Adult Fitness Club memberships has reached nearly 15% of the population.
If you consider that we have been running fitness clubs for over 50 years, and health education is so widespread that almost everybody is aware that regular exercise is good for them why are we missing out on 85% of the population.
Clearly our established models of operation are flawed.
If we are going to make strides, then we need to try out different models and a variety of formulas to see if we can make some traction into the non-joiners.
None of this development is helped in any way by low price. It can’t be otherwise we would have seen high levels of participation, already right.
The rise of the low-cost sector has coincided with a reduction of direct staff in fitness clubs.
This may have been a justifiable cut as owners and managers wondered what value they brought to members but imagine that we found a way for them to become relevant again. Who would take that chance on the back of these bargain basement prices?
Let’s be big enough to face the truth though.
Nothing in life we buy that we TRUST as being QUALITY is CHEAP. Price affects TRUST and trust is based on price. Marketing cheap is lazy marketing!
How does Toni and Guy dominate High Street hair salons if people only want a cheap haircut?
The fitness paradox is that operators basing their price on the perceived demographics of the catchment.
If only I had a pound for very time that an operator said” people round here don’t have much money”. Yet having reduced membership to dust they then offer PT at £25 – £45 per hour. Weird!
Three questions need answers:
- What tips do you have to make Clubs more relevant to the 85% current non-members?
- How can we attract them without asking for higher membership fees?
- How can you transition a club from struggling low cost to a financially viable and successful model?
So, go and take the time to look at your pricing strategy and make sure it’s the right fit for your club.