Great answers. Starting a new business is certainly a difficult challenge. I concur that taking the advantage of current clients is a good foundation. Offer some complimentary sessions, invite the public in to see your facility. Signage, as Martin suggests, is most important. Create signs that make the public want to come in to see what you have to offer.
Do a really awesome job with whatever members you have. Offer free sessions to friends and family if you need bodies in there. Getting referrals from the people you are already helping meet goals is the best advertising out there. Make sure the service your offering and the results your getting are high quality and people will come flocking in. Our gym never did any advertising, but focused on keeping the trainers educated, making sure we all knew all the members by name and created a family like environment. To this day, it’s the longest standing and most successful personal training studio in the city it’s in.
Aside from that, know what you’re good at and what clientele you want to serve. Learn how to meet their needs using your skills. Too many gyms are trying to help everybody, rather than focus on the people who they are naturally good at helping. Each trainer has a unique set of talents, cultivate those and help each person bring in business that fits their unique leadership style and passions. Align the trainers with the populations they will fit best with and you’ll be on your way. Easier said than done, but it creates longevity and happy careers.
Try to find out how other businesses in your area are connecting with the public. Signage is very important. If no one knows your location, how can they come in and check you out. Find out if there are any fitness events in your area. We have regular swim, run, and bike events here all of the time. Also there are health fairs from time to time. Having a presence in the community goes a long way.
There are four key steps I’d recommend you go through:
1. brainstorm with your partners / staff / board (depending on your size) on ideas to get members
2. choose to do just 1-3 of them. They may be a mixture of techniques, such as advertising, referrals, or promotion.
3. Measure how your members are currently coming to you.
4. Repeat at #1, but this time think about improving any technique that has been working for you, rather than just new techniques.
You can always get a lot of people by offering really “affordable” prices, going to Groupon etc.
However, think it through
Once you go cheap it’s hard to go up in price
Quality over quantity is my belief.
Offering a ONE time Special with an expiration date. Or have an open house and offer memberships as a prize for a drawing.