In the area where I teach, I’ve noticed a pretty distinct attendance cycle. Jan / Feb the gym is busy and classes are PACKED. March and April, attendance tapers off a bit. May, people come back to get ready for “bikini season” and then through summer attendance ebbs and flows as people vacation. In September, attendance bumps up again when kids go back to school, giving parents more time. October attendance is good. But from Thanksgiving to December, you can hear a pin drop. OK, I exaggerate, but Thanksgiving to the end of the year, class attendance drops big time.
Just curious about others’ strategies for retention during a slower time of year. Now’s the time to be thinking about it, before it dips.
Although the ebb and flow are predictable, I do think there are things we can do to keep members engaged. Here are some of the things we’ve done.
1) Group-ex attendance contests – have people sign in and the instructor initial when a member comes to class. And then give prizes of varying value. Depending on the gym, we’ve given cash prizes, free massage (to build our massage therapist’s business), free personal training, a basket of fitness goodies, etc.
2) Resilience planning with training clients – I know their attendance is going to go down with holiday parties etc., and we build that into their wellness plan for November / December so they don’t completely fall off the wagon for 2 months.
3) Special holiday group-ex classes, events, fundraisers.
4) This year, I might add a little extra to my existing classes, or do a few specialty seminars. For example, I’ve been letting people in early to my Thursday morning class and showing them how to foam roll their calves and do small-ball rolling for their feet in preparation for class. I don’t charge extra for it, it’s something I do for myself anyway and now I have a group that does it with me (started with 2 gals who are always early 6 weeks ago, and now we’re up to 8). I’m thinking I might add that as an extra, optional, service to a few other classes where I have time, or do a special class on foam rolling / SMR.