Make This One Simple Change & Watch Your Gym Memberships Explode

For some health clubs, paid trial memberships seem like a no-brainer: give people a low-cost taste of your product that goes beyond a complimentary workout in the hopes of their committing to a longer term membership when it ends.  But is your paid trial membership really helping to generate additional leads and full memberships at your gym, health club or athletic club?  Maybe not!  If your club meets any of the following criteria, it’s quite possible that a paid trial membership is simply prolonging the buying process!

  • Your monthly dues are $50+ per month
  • Your facility is “the only game in town” at your price point/value level
  • Your club provides differentiating amenities beyond your competition such as tennis courts, a pool, a gymnasium, functional training, etc.

Put yourself in the shoes of your perspective member and imagine you are making the decision of whether or not to join. Given the above circumstances, it is nearly impossible to “comparison shop”, meaning that your decision will either be a “yes” or a “no” vs. “should I join club A or club B”.  Does the gym offer the equipment, programs and amenities you desire?  Is it clean?  How is the energy?  Is it overcrowded?

Your facility stands on its own and either delivers or doesn’t.  You simply need to give people an opportunity to make this determination.  A 30-day paid trial is very unlikely to be any more effective in landing new members than a generous “all access” guest pass program.  So in this case, just offer the free trial!

Chicago Athletic Clubs, whose monthly membership rates start at $75 on the low end, does not offer a paid trial but instead provides potential members with a one-day all access pass to the club location of their choice.

Bill Higgs, General Manager of Shula’s Athletic Club in Miami Lakes for the past 33 years, agrees that paid trial memberships have their place.  “For us, [at Shula’s], we’ve concluded that paid trial memberships are simply not very useful. We offer a very known, unique product in our local market and the decision to join our club is unlikely to be impacted by a paid trial membership.”

Rather than offer paid trial memberships, Shula’s offers a one-day all-inclusive guest pass, giving potential members the ability to experience the facility, the energy and group fitness classes free of charge. And since their price point is on the higher end ($59 – $69 per month, depending) and there are no other options competing in that space, members who join Shula’s are there because they want to be. “Our product is strong and there are no other providers in the area which match our value,” noted Higgs.

Not sure if you should employ free or paid trial memberships to generate leads or to increase sales at your club? Drop me a note at joe @ exaktmarketing.com or give me a call at 888-949-5487 x701 to get a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation!

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