Program revenue can significantly impact your bottom line. Many people come to your facility to make very specific changes. Once you determine what people want and what they will pay extra for (see “Hot Topics” sidebar) you can begin developing programs that will result in increased revenues.
People wanting to make changes need support and they need tools. By including each of the following items in your programs, no matter what the topic, you can be sure of success.
This is the most important aspect of any program. Without a committed, dedicated, passionate leader, the very best planned program cannot hope to succeed.
This meeting provides detailed information about the program. It allows the potential participants to meet the program leader, to see the other people who are going to participate and to have all of their questions answered. The meeting allows the program leader to make a strong impact on the attendees, creating enthusiasm for being a part of the program and impressing upon them the outcomes that they can expect. The presentation is professional and very thorough. At the end of the presentation, the leader asks the attendees to commit by completing any waivers, contracts and health history forms. Payment for the program is collected at this time.
Providing a structured tool that serves as a “road map” is key to the success of the participant. The tool provided is specific to the type of program. Look in bookstores and on the Internet to see what is available. Examples of nutrition-based tools are structured eating plans like The Think Light Lowfat Living Plan, Nutrex, Biometrix, and N3. Programs like DietLog and ExerLog can be downloaded to hand-held organizers (Palm Pilot) and used in your program. Diet and exercise books are available that are wonderful to base your program on. Nutritional systems like Apex are also useful.
An assessment should be conducted in the very beginning of the program and again at the end. Depending on the length of the program, additional assessments can be conducted mid-program. The assessment is geared to the type of program and to the goals of the participants. If you are conducting a golf program, the assessment is focused on swing analysis and range-of-motion. If you are conducting a weight-loss program, the assessment is focused on weight, measurements and body composition. In each assessment, goals are either established or reviewed and a structured plan is created that will give the participants the tools to achieve their goals. Periodic reviews of the plan on a schedule appropriate for the participant is also advised.
All programs should contain an exercise component. Structured exercise that provides strength training, cardiovascular exercise and flexibility exercises are crucial to any well-rounded program. The exercise component can be delivered in a group setting, one-on-one, or simply assigned to the participant to do on his or her own.
Scheduled lectures or meetings with participants are a must for any program. The lectures or meetings provide education on the science or concepts of the program. It is not enough to just strength train — it is important to understand why we strength train. It is not enough to be handed an eating plan for weight loss — it is important to understand how and why the plan works. Scheduled meetings also help to build camaraderie between participant and program leader and among the participants themselves. Providing handouts to participants throughout the program and suggesting specific Web sites are effective as an educational tool.
By providing programs that members will pay for and that result in profit, you can significantly increase your bottom line. Programs should be structured, providing support and tools to the participants. Participant success depends on a conscientious program leader committed to the participant and a program format that makes sense and is easily followed by the participant. The result: happy participants, higher profit, member retention and increased membership sales.
Laurie Cingle, M.Ed., is program director at Baptist East/Milestone Wellness Center in Louisville, KY, and past recipient of the IHRSA Fitness Director of the Year Award.