Competing with over 205K fitness clubs worldwide and over 41K clubs in the US, most gyms conclude their business with a financial bloodbath.
While there is no shortage of demand, the harsh reality is most potential gym members don’t resonate with their existing gyms and opt out only after 3 months.
The constant cycle of canceled memberships and increasing demand for new gyms can only be fulfilled by reaching out to new prospects and improving the strategies of your gym membership sales. In this article, we’ll discuss 18 such strategies that you may implement in your sales funnel to attract, acquire, and retain gym members.
18 Proven & tested ways to increase gym memberships
1. Constantly leverage your community
Most fitness enthusiasts strive to belong to a community. Whether in their sport or in their club, they often develop a community around them that thrives on mutual admiration and following. If you have a substantial presence in such communities, leverage them to your benefit. Make sure to place yourself as an experienced member of the community and strive to help each other out.
Additionally, you may benefit from interested individuals active in those communities to promote your services in a subtle but effective way. Affiliate marketing strategies and referral programs are also effective for most gyms.
2. Embrace a referral program
Your sales representatives may already be on commission. But, the referral program extends to individual gym members who have influence over a significant community. You can introduce referral programs with one-time commissions or membership extensions to these individuals.
Referral programs encourage existing clients to do what they already do, telling friends and families about how good their gym is, with added financial incentives. It’s one of the most effective gym sales strategies you can implement. The leads generated from referral programs are often considered “warm” with credit cards already in hand. However, don’t take a slack approach and treat them as highly as you do other leads.
3. Utilize your social media profiles effectively
Celebrating your clients’ success is an effective way to gain more members for your gym. Publicly appreciating the efforts made by your clients will fascinate other prospects to gain similar or better recognition.
For an improved social media sales strategy, consider developing content around progress and success stories. Also, include informative posts about effective recipes and new exercise programs in your gym. Additionally, you may include exciting news and recent equipment additions to intrigue new clients.
Giveaways, contests, and exercise videos are great content for gym social media profiles.
Moreover, don’t limit your social media pages to promotion only. Communicate with new prospects through the platforms and answer their queries through them. You may also offer trial coupons through social media pages where you have a substantial presence.
4. Personalize your sales approach
Not every lead coming towards you will have the same energy and vibe as the other. Customize your sales approach according to their preference and customer persona. Some of your leads may not appreciate calls and prefer to stick to emails, some of them might prefer additional trial periods, and a few might hate follow-ups. Whatever their preference is, cater to that.
Don’t push products to clients who don't need them and are in no way looking for a year-long membership. Although you may need to occasionally upsell your services, avoid doing it to disinterested prospects. Leave them with your trial coupons and spend resources on other positive opportunities.
5. Invest in human resources and equipment
Showing that you’re serious about your clients’ well-being and progress goes a long way in terms of sales strategies. Hiring premium trainers, investing in top-quality equipment, and developing strategic fixtures can bring new prospects who are hesitant to join your gym due to the lack of these features.
Professional trainers, managers, and front desk employees often bring the best out of gyms. While you may need to scale your investments up to match their expectation of programs and equipment, they’re a great source of promotion and incentive for new prospects to join and remain in your gym.
6. Improvise on prospect queries
Initially, you may not have enough info on how each lead may throw queries at you. But once you’ve been in business for a few weeks, you’ll start to understand how to handle even the most unsettling queries and rebuttals such as:
“I’m not sure if I can commit to a year-long membership”
“I’d stick to the trial for now and see if it works.”
“I may not be able to accommodate 5 days a week in my schedule.” and many more.
While these rebuttals aren’t easily answerable, they can be tackled through a strategic approach and acceptance. You must accept that not everyone is likely to join your gym.
As to improvise, you may take a different approach by asking the clients about their goals and schedules to accommodate them in your gym. Make sure that they’re comfortable around you and can be honest about their opinions. Moreover, consider making them ask questions about equipment and fitness routines to assimilate them with the ambiance.
However, in the end, it’s all about the benefits they’re seeking and your ability to fulfill them. Focus on that in your sales pitch.
7. Differentiate yourself from your competitors
A great number of gyms, trying to compete with big guns, forget what their niche is and where they excel the most. Understanding your target prospects and catering to their needs is exactly what you need to do to optimize your sales strategy.
Reflect on what you do best. If your gym, for instance, is known for aerobic exercises and cardiorespiratory endurance, don’t try to attract clients who’re more into muscular strength and endurance training. While you should keep the options open, don’t try to go overboard with them in your sales pitch.
8. Ask prospects about their motivations to join the gym
The best way to personalize your sales pitch around clients is by asking them why they want to join a gym—any gym. Strategically placing the benefits of joining your gym with their goal can make them sign up in no time. Asking them about their motivations also opens them up for a more personal chat and increases the probability of signing a long-term contract.
For example, if the lead is motivated to shred some pounds and look better in pictures, allow yourself to talk about how one of your members with similar goals achieved much more. Always back up your claim with photos and videos.
9. Guide prospects through your gym's process
Don’t be ambiguous about your process when giving your prospects a guided tour of the gym. Make them understand what goes behind a fitness program, especially the ones that they might be interested in. Indulge them in the conversation by asking questions and encouraging queries.
Thoroughly informing the clients about the process puts you in an authoritative position in their perspective. They understand how realistic it all is and what to expect from your gym and trainers. It creates a mental roadmap for them to follow even before joining the gym. The fear of other gyms not being as thorough as you are will inevitably bring them back to you.
10. Get a website and generate relevant content
We can’t stress enough how important a website is in 2023 and how it can bring quality leads to you. Get a suitable domain name, develop your website with SEO norms in mind, and start developing content around your gym niche. If done right, organic traffic should start pouring into your domain. Many of them will also leave their contact details on the forms. Train your sales representatives to cater to the online leads equally and make them offers they can’t refuse.
As a gym owner, your website content should pivot to the essence of your industry and revolve around the topics that your clients are interested in. Make sure to do thorough keyword research and content audit to understand how to rank on the SERPs with your gym website.
11. Consider email marketing to engage former clients
With 81% of marketers using email marketing as their most viable content strategy, it’s tragic how most gyms don’t consider it to gain clients. In addition to warming up the cold leads, you can reach past clients with weekly email newsletters to get them back in the mix.
Consider reaching out to discontinued members with intriguing discounts and offers. If they’ve left due to operational issues, make sure to let them know that you’ve taken their feedback into consideration and have worked on that. Empower dissatisfied customers with trials to try your “new and improved” services for free through email marketing.
12. Focus on the benefits of joining your gym
You must remember that your clients are in your gym for the benefits and not for the premium fixtures that you have. They’re paying you for the results and not the equipment. Make them understand how premium trainers may help them achieve their goals and not only the trainers that you have. Find your unique selling point (USP) and focus on that throughout your pitch.
Don’t limit your possibility by announcing only the features of your gym. Go above and beyond to brainstorm the benefits that the features may entail. If you have specialized equipment like an underwater treadmill, consider including benefits like cardiovascular fitness, increased flexibility, and muscle endurance in your sales pitch.
13. Inform them about general fitness benefits
Not only through your content, inform prospects about the general health benefits of joining any gym and exercising through your sales pitch.
While it may not be required for seasoned athletes, beginners often strive to know more about what can be achieved by joining a gym and making the initial investment.
You can also introduce them to additional health benefits of exercising like:
Lowered resting heart rate.
Decreased cholesterol levels.
Better sleep cycle
Additionally, create a roadmap on how they too can achieve better health by going with premium options rather than sticking with a cheaper package.
14. Make prospects feel special by creating personalized dealseals
Make each one of your prospects feel special when they show interest in your services. Whether on call or physical visit, offer them exclusive discountsavailable to them in return for a certain condition like upfront payment or if they sign the contract within 2 days.
Additionally, you may also offer special discounts to long-term clients who weren’t able to continue their memberships for one reason or another. Whatever you do, ultimately make them feel special about joining your gym. Extend your hospitality by introducing clients to each of your trainers and employees before or during their first day. This practice increases the retention rate and helps build a community around your gym.
14. Try to upsell your products
Upselling is a necessary evil. While no one likes to be pushed, it’s critical to increase the revenue and profitability of your gym. As a gym owner, upselling products and services to interested members of your gym is a sure-shot way to ensure long-term commitment and better cash flow.
When communicating with a prospect, ensure that you discuss the key benefits of going with premium programs without demeriting the cheaper ones. Make your upsell strategy as subtle as possible to not scare the lead away from your gym. For existing members, focus on the issues that they may be facing with lower-end programs and guide them to purchase a high-end membership.
15. Keep a sales attitude
Always keep a sales attitude when interacting with prospects. For instance, don’t allow your clients to decide whether they want the membership or not. After the sales call or the tour, hand them the contract and ask which package they want to subscribe to.
As this may occasionally backfire or seem too pushy for some clients, it’s up to you to determine whether to practice such membership sales strategies.
16. Always follow up within 24 hours
After the first sales call or the end of the trial period, reach out to the prospects within 24 hours to ensure that they’re still interested in joining your gym. If they do, discuss a convenient time for your final discussions. If they aren’t despite repeated attempts, get their feedback and move on.
But, don’t let them fall away from your sales funnel. Keep them in the loop by sending regular email newsletters and special joining discounts. Moreover, work on why they weren’t interested to join your gym and use the information on future leads.
17. Get gym management software
Get a gym management tool like TeamUp that allows gym managers to visualize and manage individual leads through their preferences, membership history, and past communications.
Make gym management software available to your sales representatives to keep them updated on each customer. Modern gym software tools are incredibly effective to acquire and nurture leads for better profitability.
The bottom line
Sustaining your gym in a competitive fitness industry requires a continuous supply of leads and customer acquisition. Hopefully, you’ll find these gym sales strategies incredibly effective and extremely easy to implement. While personalization and focusing on benefits are the keys, social media, following up with clients, and referral programs are also effective sales strategies for gyms.
Frequently asked questions for gym membership sales
How important is it to have an online presence for brick-and-mortar gyms?
The first thing any fitness enthusiast does is search the internet for the benefits of exercising, dieting, and a healthy lifestyle. Your online presence, in addition to giving them the required information, will place you in an authoritative position in their eyes.
What is the best way to sell a gym membership?
The best way to sell a gym membership depends on individual clients. Implement these 18 sales tips to find your sweet spot for your business.
What attracts customers to your gym?
Typically, past results, premium services, and a serious mindset for the safety and well-being of clients attract customers to your gym.
How to determine your unique selling point (USP)?
List down what you offer, where you’re situated, and how your services compare to your competitors. Choose two or three points that no other gym in your area has. If those are strong enough, you have your USP.