One of the most dynamic ways your facility can rise above the neighboring competition is to create a new member integration experience that will surpass any new member’s expectations. If you create a lasting and memorably good impression with new members, they will go from wondering if someone will show them the equipment to wondering when they can bring a friend in to share this experience.

If you involve your whole team in the following innovative strategies, you will be scheduling members’ first experience rather than just their first workout.

Align the member with a personal trainer or coach. Assigning a specific coach with a specific personality, forte or availability to new members is imperative, not only for the members’ success in month one but to increase the members’ awareness of the menu of options available in the facility. If you arm the trainers or coaches with more than just package prices, you will see an increase in usage and referrals.

Have all your trainers create a timeline of goals for new members. Trainers should focus on setting goals and timelines for expected improvements in energy, stress levels, lean mass, BMI, and health status. Creating a timeline helps new members understand the steps required on the journey to be physically fit. You can create a branded tool that introduces to the new members the expected improvements, and the tool allows trainers or coaches to show the member how much faster results will occur if a program or package is purchased.

Send new members home with a coupon book filled with “try me” options. The try-before-you-buy theory is alive and working in facilities. By giving new members a coupon book, they can try a program and get discounts at the point of sale. Many clubs offer an incentive when members purchase at the “try me” session or if coupons are shared with guests. An added benefit is that coupon books or coupon pages can be used in community marketing campaigns or at community events.

Enroll new members in a weight-loss contest or challenge. Develop options for new members to step right into the club’s weight-loss challenge. People who have not as of yet seen value in using a personal trainer one on one will be more likely to participate in a club’s weight-loss program rather than purchasing a large package. The option of a weight-loss challenge gives trainers the opportunity to build a long-lasting relationship and increase the value of their services. The weight-loss challenge becomes a great feeder program to one-on-one session times with trainers.

Personally invite all new members to a new member party. Whether the party includes a seminar on personal training options, nutritional programming or the use of the circuit equipment, handing out personal invitations to the monthly new member event demonstrates the club’s mission to create a “club” environment. Trainers can offer demonstrations, seminars, package discounts and buddy training options as incentives to those who attend. The party is a great time to introduce a buddy training special, a two-for-one, a one-time offer or a beginner program, allowing all those at the party to train together for a limited amount of time.

Establish a year-at-a-glance workout calendar. Excite new members by putting together a list of programming to be launched seasonally within the facility. Create a year-at-a-glance calendar that includes the start of marathon season, the introduction of vacation or beach workouts, the winter skiing or golf workout time and when it will be time to revamp, update or progress workouts. Draw attention to group fitness changes that occur seasonally, outdoor boot camps and sports-specific challenges.

Launch a passport to fitness or an around the club in 30 days program. Punches or stamps on new members’ club passports help assure that members are participating in as many of the programming options offered over a specific time period. Many clubs use the punch or stamp system as a game or incentive to encourage members to take all formats and levels offered in your group fitness lineup. Most clubs offer a prize for filling up the card with stamps or punches. Make sure the member receives punches or stamps for bringing a guest, purchasing a fee-based option or a training package.

Establish a demonstration team and increase the awareness of programming offerings. Establish a team of professionals willing to hold monthly demonstration nights in which new members can watch samples of formats or programming offered in the club. The team can then be sent on the road to corporations, community events and schools for demonstrations.

Ann Gilbert, director of fitness for Shapes Fitness for Women, leads a team of 13 fitness managers and more than 250 personal trainers and group fitness professionals. She is well known as a presenter and has received the IHRSA/ACE Trainer of the Year Award. For the past 10 years, Gilbert has served as a faculty board member for the Fitness Academy, an educational resource for continuing education in the Tampa Bay area. She can be reached at annfitt@verizon.net.