Fee-based programming typically is present only in the personal training department of a fitness facility and is usually referred to as small group training or small group specialty classes. However, by also bringing your fee-based programming into your group exercise department, the extra revenue generated can help purchase group exercise equipment, employee raises and continuing education for instructors.
Here are six steps to help launch a successful, fee-based program in your group exercise department:
Pick the staff. The group exercise instructor is a perfect fit to lead a large, fee-based program. They have the skill set to facilitate workouts with more than three or four people simultaneously. They have the knowledge to educate the participants on the goals and purpose of the program and the ability to motivate large groups. By using the qualified employees you already have, you will give them the opportunity to increase their own payroll without having to drain your budget by hiring new staff.
Pick the program. Make sure the fee-based program you implement is different than any free program or class that is on the group exercise schedule. Your members will not pay $12 for a boot camp program at 5 a.m. if there is a free boot camp class offered at 9 a.m. The program you choose must offer members an added value, have a clear demarcation between free and fee, and must be results driven. If you are asking your members to pay extra, you must make it worth their time and money.
Pick the fee. Research the best price point. Just because a club in New York charges $15 an hour for a core class does not mean a facility in St. Louis can charge the same. The best strategy is to conduct a research study on the demographics and geography of your area. Even though you may have conducted a similar study when you opened your facility, this up-to-date information will help you better determine what your members will pay. By determining the value you believe the program brings to your members and setting the price in relation to that, you will more easily determine if your price is too low or too high.
Pick the marketing campaign. You don’t have to have a million-dollar budget to launch a successful marketing campaign. Your instructors stand in front of more members at any one time than anyone else on staff, so they can market the program by speaking to the members already attending their group exercise classes. Through a basic word-of-mouth campaign and social media, you will have the most effect while spending no money.
Pick a manager. To create a successful program, someone must pay attention to the little details. Choose a manager or project leader to manage the fee-based program. The person you choose to lead must have a great understanding of the program, good communication skills to prepare and lead the launch team, and a great relationship with the other managers of the facility. A manager that brings the whole club together to add to the program will be the most successful.
Pick the date. Now that you have your team in place, your program picked, your marketing campaign chosen and your manager in place, it is time to put it all into action. When selecting your launch date, consider the time of year. Avoid launching a fee-based program during a holiday season. Choose a date/time that traditionally provides high-volume traffic in your facility. Make sure your team has time to prepare and spread the word. If you allow your instructors ample practice time, they will feel complete confidence on launch day. By giving your team the time to spread the word and build excitement around the program, you will see a more well-rounded and developed class that attracts more members.
Lori Patterson, owner and CEO of VicteliB LLC, is the creator of fee-based programs that include Boot Camp Challenge and Kids Kamp Challenge. Patterson served in the U.S. Army and has been in the fitness industry for 27 years. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, at 636-734-8594 or through the website at www.victelib.com.