How to make a difference with your fitness franchise

Opening a gym comes with plenty of challenges, especially when owners view it as a purely commercial opportunity.

How to make a difference with your fitness franchise

Opening a gym comes with plenty of challenges, especially when owners view it as a purely commercial opportunity. However, since the pandemic, the desire for fitness franchises to cater to people’s mental and physical needs has never been more significant. Cameron Falloon, the founder and joint CEO of Body Fit Training, believes the secret to running a successful fitness franchise is creating an ethos that values every individual that walks through the door, helping them to progress and feel important. Not only does this help you retain your members, but the likelihood is that they will recommend you to friends and family.

There are over 7.2 thousand health and fitness clubs in the United Kingdom, with over 10 million combined members1. Only Germany has more health and fitness club members in Europe, making the UK one of the continent’s fitness hotspots. However, according to the IHRSA, 81 per cent of health and fitness studios fail within their first year due to mismanagement or failure to generate enough profit. To avoid becoming just another statistic, focus on the service you provide to each member. Here are my tips on ensuring your fitness franchise makes a difference not only to your recurring monthly revenue, but to member engagement and retention.

Engage with your local community

Engaging your fitness franchise with people from your local community is a great way to make a difference with your gym. Believe it or not, the idea of going to a gym is quite daunting for most people, so getting yourself out there is a great way to meet potential members. By embracing your community, not only do you get yourself known, but you also ensure your business generates various benefits and business development opportunities.

There are a few ways to participate with your local community, such as offering membership discounts through purchases at local amenities or partnering with local charity events. You could also ensure you are present at community events – quiz nights, street parties, fun runs – giving out freebies or setting up a stall where people can come and talk to you. In addition, I recommend offering to speak and give advice in local schools, societies and clubs.

You can also utilise social media when connecting with people in your area. It is an effective way of transferring your fitness club culture to the local community. Using sites like Instagram or Facebook to hold online fitness challenges or competition giveaways will raise your profile and incentivise membership involvement while developing a community feel for your fitness club. Also, using social media platforms means you can engage with your members outside your gym’s visiting hours – this way, your brand appears more welcoming and approachable.

Build a bond with your customer base

Creating a sense of belonging in your gym is one of the most important assets to your fitness franchise. If your current members feel like they are part of the community, they will keep coming back. And they will also be more likely to recommend your facility to co-workers, family and friends – something critical to the success of any fitness franchise.

People frequently sign up for gym memberships when they feel a surge of motivation. However, after a few weeks, they often lose their enthusiasm and get bored of doing the same thing over and over. In fact, the majority of health clubs and gyms lose 50% of their new members within the first six months2, so getting past this difficult period and converting them into long-term customers should be your primary goal. To do this, I recommend training your staff to approach and engage with your members. The best advocates for your club are your employees, as their interaction with members can lead to increased member visits. Strong membership engagement can generate further sales, as satisfied members are far more likely to recommend your fitness club to their peers. 

Keeping customers engaged through various workout programmes is also essential to retaining customers. For example, at Body Fit Training, we have a variety of 13 programmes, including cardio, strength, functional, and core stability, which provide members with a varied fitness programme. This ensures our members see great fitness results, stay motivated and feel challenged throughout their time with us. When you combine various training methods with a coaching team that facilitates a positive, friendly culture, your fitness franchise is on the right track to success.

Share the load with your franchisor

The beauty of investing in a fitness franchise is that your franchisor has been there, done that. So, they will already have the marketing tools and systems in place to let you focus on providing the excellent customer service for your members. They will also have handy tips and tricks to boost member satisfaction and approach customer retention, whether that be talking directly with them to get feedback or a reward scheme offering perks and loyalty programmes. A good franchisor will provide a network of like-minded franchisees and a platform to ensure your continued growth and support, as well as offering extensive ongoing training, weekly and monthly update webinars, and one-on-one support as your business matures.

1 Statista, 2022, Fitness industry in the United Kingdom (UK) – statistics & facts

2 Noob Gains, 2022, 41 New Fitness & Gym Membership Statistics

Cameron Falloon
Cameron Falloon