11 November 2018
The rise of both budget gym chains and expensive boutique studios has put pressure on the mid-tier fitness service.
Experts have advised many of the reasonably priced gyms to either style up or strip away the trimmings. But is yoga on surfboards anything more than a fad? Will people tire of bringing their own towels to a bare, cold and soulless budget gym?
Pricing your gym memberships is a difficult decision. A successful revenue model will return healthy margins; get it wrong and you could be in for early closure.
If you’re struggling to decide on a membership pricing model, here are some key points to consider.
Location, location, location
Chicken or egg, business model or location; it doesn’t matter which came first, but you cannot consider one without the other.
- Check out the competition. A single street does not need three budget gyms, but the neighbourhood may benefit from two. You need to determine if you should price your gym similarly to the competition- perhaps there is a high demand for another budget gym- or if you will opt for a different pricing strategy. If you choose to veer away from the competition, ensure that there is demand in the area for your model.
- Who is in the neighbourhood? Are you planning on opening up on the corner of 5th Avenue or in a small town upstate? Rent alone will force a very different price mark, but so will your target market. Single business people and wealthy families may have similar spending limits, but their desires are different.
Consider the services you offer
- A budget gym will offer the essential fitness equipment and changing room facilities, but all will be fairly basic- a meat no trimmings service. Often long hours or even 24/7 to cater to shift workers. Classes are basic and usually provided by on-site instructors or the occasional freelancer. Minimum staff overheads are attainable by using access control technology like membership pins, barcode apps or keycards. A high volume of memberships provides a healthy profit margin.
- A Mid-tier will offer an array of classes taught by good, reliable instructors. There will be plenty of on-site staff on-site to assist members and create a warm atmosphere. A medium range gym will most likely have a swimming pool- although not in a high-rent location- and should provide towels.
- A high-end gym will cater to specific needs. Childcare, on-site physio treatments and a well-run cafe mean that this is more than just a fitness facility. Swimming pools and sports facilities, as well as coaching academies and expertly-taught classes, add to the prestige and validate membership costs. Staff should make an effort to get to know members, creating a community feel that encourages members to lounge after workouts. Keeping the clientele in mind, you might add services to suit business people or wealthy families- squash and tennis are popular with both of these demographics.
Read more: 8 ways to increase revenue at your sports centre
Offer a variety of prices
- By time: You will need to offer a variety of pricing options. The most obvious example of this is an off-peak membership, which allows users to enjoy the club for cheaper at less popular times. This will benefit the club by optimising usage and controlling peak times.
- By genre: Some clubs restrict access to certain services, such as offering a Gym-only membership, a Gym and Swim, or Sports pitch access.
- By clientele: Discount models open up your gym to those who otherwise couldn’t afford to be members. While some high-end gyms want to remain uber-exclusive, a discount structure could boost your revenue. Students, corporate, family and elderly discounts can be as effective as off-peak and peak memberships in evening out usage. These demographics are all on different schedules, meaning you can bulk up mornings and take the heat of the peak 6 pm rush.
Tags: gym management, Memberships, pricing, revenue model
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7 November 2018
Is your current pricing structure optimising your revenue? Your facilities may be full, but that does not mean you are optimizing your revenue?
By rejigging your pricing structure, you can encourage greater customer loyalty and increase memberships without seeing your margins squeezed.
Today, a lot of fitness centres are experimenting with new tech, incorporating dynamic pricing into their revenue model. Dynamic pricing, the ClassPass marketplace and credit packages can be effective, but they may not be the best choice.
Here are five pricing structures to consider.
Class packages and pay-as-you-go
Class bundles are a better option, as they give customers time to establish a habit of going to your centre.
Many boutique studios offer class bundles, that work on a sliding scale: 1 class, 5 class, 10 class, 15 class, peaking at the Unlimited monthly membership.
The trick to getting customers booking higher bundles is to make the highest amount seem like such good value they cannot turn it down.
- This building-block pricing structure is ineffective, offering no reward for choosing higher packages.
- While this discount structure is logical and the most popular strategy, it can leave customers conflicted. They go home to think, considering if they will use the club enough to warrant opting for the highest option:
- The best structure makes the highest, most expensive option the obvious bargain:
Customers look at this and immediately realise unlimited is by far the best option. Thus, they are much more likely to choose it.
A set price per month or year will keep your revenue stream consistent and predictable. This is the prime choice for gyms, the ultimate hoop for studios to jump through.
So what is the best way to get people hooked on memberships? Well, first off there is a similar method to the class package: the decoy ascending pricing structure, as depicted above. A 12-month membership is by far the best value for money, while month-by-month is the most expensive option.
Offer free trials, be generous with your service- you need to get people through the door. Some gyms offer a three-day pass, so people can establish a habit and an attachment with your facility.
Offer different tiers of membership. For example, off-peak and peak, student or concession, gym only or gym and swim.
Dynamic pricing involves fluctuating class prices, usually determined by the popularity of the class and the amount of time between booking a sport and starting the class. It is a difficult option to get right and one that is still in the experimental stages. It is most used in the boutique fitness market, where customers pay premium prices for premium slots.
There are a number of software products on the market, each of which follows a slightly different a system. However, uniform throughout is a minimum and maximum cut off point, so classes will never be dirt cheap or sky high.
The most popular strategy is a descending model. This means that the earlier you book a class the more expensive it is, while those who book last minute can grab a bargain. The purpose of this is to maximise capacity, so spots that would otherwise be vacant get snapped up. The problem with this is that no one is loyal to you and it destroys your ability to plan ahead. In our opinion this model is a race to the bottom, all of your customers are hungry for a bargain and will forget to appreciate the value of your service.
An ascending model, on the other hand, is much like aeroplane flights today, the earlier you book the cheaper your flight/ class. While it is better to reward advance booking, this method will dissuade some people from booking at all. Your classes will be half full- or half empty, as we see it- and some of your customers will grow to resent this system.
Oh boy, this is a meat market, selling premium cuts at discount prices. It can be difficult to stand out in this marketplace since your competitors are merely a thumb-scroll away. Even your loyal customers will be tempted by the smell from the other sellers. Nobody knows where to look and so they float between stalls, grabbing samples as they go.
Classpass is not quite as cut-throat as it used to be; it understood that its model was pricing out many studios. One cannot deny that the service has opened doors and put bums onto yoga mats. It worked as a marketing tool for the boutique fitness industry as a whole, encouraging many would be gym-goers or non-exercisers into studio classes.
But Classpass monopolised the landscape, squeezing margins and turning loyal club members into casual drop-ins. If you think your boutique studio needs the marketing help, Classpass can provide an opportunity that will make your brand known. If, however, you have a loyal fanbase, think long and hard before making the switch. For all you know, those loyal customers might make the switch too.
Tags: class packages, classpass, dynamic pricing, fitness studio, gym management, Memberships, monthly memberships, pay-as-you-go, pricing structure
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