It seems counterintuitive. Wouldn’t you want to workout in the summer? All those shorts, cute sundresses, rompers, and bathing suits show more skin and require more confidence than your baggy winter sweaters. But, alas. No. What seems like a busy time for fitness is actually known in the industry as the dreaded summer fitness slump.
You know, that time when it seems like almost all of your clients head out of town to the beach, the mountains, fabulous trips to Europe and the Caribbean, and a few more trips to the beach for good measure. It’s a time for fitness studio owners to hunker down, spend as little money as possible, clean out your back-storage room, and anxiously await your vacationing clients to all come back for a busy Fall—please come back! Pretty please! You haven’t forgotten us, right?! You have to workout eventually … seriously, we miss you. Come back soon …
But what if you could evade the summer slump? Is it possible to actually grow your client base in the so-called slow summer months? You’re damn right it is. In fact, adding clients in the summer is possible—yes, there is a segment of the population that doesn’t take a 3-month vacation. Unfortunate as they are (poor “vacationless” souls), they can keep your summers busy which is a great morale boost for your Team not to mention nice for your finances. Here are my top 3 ways to beat the summer fitness slump:
Don’t Switch to a “Summer Schedule”: It’s tempting to think that when a large segment of your client base heads out of town, you’d be better served to switch to a “summer schedule” and eliminate or consolidate classes. While it seems that you would save money by not having to pay a teacher for a class that’s not full, you’re actually giving clients a reason not to visit your studio.
The first summer Pure Barre Winston-Salem was open, we decided to eliminate the 9:45 AM class because attendance was really low. We rationalized that clients would just come to the 8:30 AM class or another time in the early morning or afternoon instead. This was a huge mistake. Clients who regularly took class at 9:45 AM thought we had taken the class off the schedule permanently and we actually lost about 15 clients who just couldn’t understand that the class would be added back at the end of August. Head hits desk. Bourbon is poured.
Lesson learned. Now, I don’t switch to a temporary “summer schedule” which eliminates otherwise popular class times. Removing classes can confuse your clients and thus give them a reason not to keep taking class at your studio.
Do Schedule Pop-Up Classes or Community Events: The key to attracting new clients in the summer months is to host community events or free classes that are open to the public. In addition to creating interest in your studio for new clients, community classes are also fun for your existing client base—a win-win for your business.
We actually just had a Pure Barre Pop-Up class this past weekend at Village Juice Company, an amazing local restaurant that serves cold-pressed juice, smoothies, grain bowls, and salads. It was great! We had a class outside and then all got to hang out drinking and eating some healthy treats—a nice little Sunday.
But as a business owner, there is a lot of risk involved in hosting a class outside. You’re trying to re-create an in-studio experience outside where things such as traffic noise, weather, and a host of other factors could potentially ruin the experience for your paying clients and any new clients just learning about your business. Ah! It’s a lot of pressure!
If you invest in the proper equipment and have some back-up systems in place, hosting a Pop-Up or outdoor class should be pretty painless. How did we do it?
First, we invested in the proper equipment including a branded tent, branded table and tablecloth, a portable speaker, and wireless microphone.
KD Canopy: We purchased our tent from KD Canopy several years ago and it’s been used a lot! While the company will tell you this tent can be set up by 2 people, you’ll have a much easier time with 3 or 4. The quality of this tent is great and it’s easy to pack up, move, and store. We also added on a branded tablecloth, which we’ve used many, many times more than the tent. Definitely get the tablecloth! It was an easy add on that is a staple to our marketing efforts at events. Both the tent and tablecloth have been great purchases and make a very professional first impression.
Weltron WAS-TUBE 5 Portable Bluetooth Active Tower Speaker ($455.04): We literally just bought this speaker after learning about it from a company we had been renting equipment from for our previous outdoor classes. While the cost seems expensive, we were paying the rental company $400 for each use of their equipment, so this speaker has already paid for itself and we have several other outdoor and off-site events planned before the year is out. I bought this speaker through Amazon using American Express points, making it virtually free (another way to save). Pretty amazing—which also describes the sound quality of the speaker. Did I mention it’s extremely easy to set up, break down, and transport? Simply connect your iPod or other player to it and turn up the volume. If you’re looking for professional-sounding equipment for indoor or outdoor use, look no further.
Samson Airline 77 Headset Wireless System with Fitness Microphone ($299.99): This is a similar model to what we use in our studios, which is a huge advantage to teaching a class in an unfamiliar environment. You can easily connect this system to the Weltron Tower Speaker and have both music and the mic working at the same time. Just plug the mic in, connect, and use. It’s that simple. We had a back-up mic just in case.
Announce a Multi-Month Challenge: Initiating a multi-month challenge is a great way to keep existing clients engaged and regularly taking classes in your studio during a time that would typically be slower. It’s also a great way to keep client energy high and keep your studio relevant.
During June and July, we have challenged all of our clients to participate in our Pure Health Challenge. Our past events this year seemed stale and uninspiring. We had just been recycling them from previous years. It was time to shake things up and drill down to what really mattered most to me and my clients—a total health experience. Here’s what we came up with and what we’ll be doing in my studios for all of June and July. That’s right! 60 days of Pure Health!
- First, we decided that we’d need a baseline to know where you are with your health. My chiropractor, Dr. Gray, has this body composition analysis machine called, InBody. We partnered with him to bring InBody to the studios in the beginning of June for every Pure Health Challenge participant to get an assessment including weight, muscle mass, fat mass, water, hydration level and many other indicators to know where they were at the beginning of the Challenge. After 6 weeks, Dr. Gray will come back to the studio with InBody to measure everyone’s progress. We’ll literally be able to quantify all of the work completed during the Challenge.
- Everyone gets the Simply Real Health cookbook to start planning healthy and tasty meals.
- During the Challenge, we’re asking everyone to take 4 classes each week. This seems reasonable and doable. If you complete 4 classes each week, you’ll earn a small reward from Pure Barre or our other partners, Village Juice and Kleur Shop. If you don’t complete the 4 classes, just reset the next week. But, sometimes just starting is the hardest part, so we’re partnering with Kleur Shop to host an evening to talk about what’s holding us back from committing to working out like we know we should.
- At Pure Barre, we have special Intensive classes which take our clients further out of their comfort zone to target specific areas of the body and do some exciting new things we wouldn’t normally work in a regular class. Everyone participating in the Pure Health Challenge will have the opportunity to take our Strength & Balance Intensive in June and the Full Body Burn Intensive in July. Sweat!
- And what Challenge calendar wouldn’t be complete with an outdoor Pop Up class?! We had an amazing pop up at Village Juice the morning of Sunday, June 25th and got some great juice and healthy snacks after. (This is the event I just described above.)
- Finally, one of my favorite restaurants in Winston, Spring House, agreed to create a Paleo Happy Hour for all Pure Health Challenge participants at the end of July!
Coordinating all these activities was a huge undertaking, so I’m glad I have my Team to help me. We’re about half-way through the Pure Health Challenge and this summer has started out strong with engaged clients and a new excitement for taking class and focusing on overall health.
While many of your clients will take the summer months to spend more time traveling than taking classes in your studio, that doesn’t mean you have to accept the so-called summer slump. By taking the time to plan some great events and keep things fun and engaging during the summer, you can actually keep building your client list which can mean thousands in additional revenue for your business at the end of the year.
One of the reasons I like to purchase makeup and skincare online through Nordstrom.com is that sometimes there are great gifts with purchase. Right now, you can double up on gifts—there’s a 19-piece gift with beauty purchase of $100 AND a Trish McEvoy gift with a purchase of $100 in Trish McEvoy products. Since I need to get a few things, I’ll tell you how you can double up on gifts to get the best value in Thursday’s post. On Friday, I’ll share my favorite sunscreens to avoid the dreaded burn.
Until then, stay on your toes!