Vital Behaviors to Skyrocket the Success of Your Health Club

During his IHRSA 2018 session, Don Murphy of Gold’s Gym Newburgh shared insights gained from his 30 years’ experience, from member onboarding to marketing strategies.

It’s no easy feat to drive a 57% increase in total health club members in just five years, resulting in a total annual revenue increase of 42%—but Don Murphy, managing partner at Gold’s Gym in Newburgh, NY, did just that.

Murphy, who has more than 30 years of fitness industry experience, shared some vital behaviors for financial success during his IHRSA 2018 session, “Vital Behaviors to Skyrocket the Success of Your Health Club,” in San Diego, CA, this March.

Sales Man Weight Lifting Column

Facility Design

Consider the aesthetic value of your club—do your lighting, flooring, and paint colors reflect your brand and offer a desirable ambience? Space allotment, equipment, and cleanliness have a huge impact on your members experience.

According to an IHRSA report, 90% of members surveyed said they were more likely to renew their membership if their facility was clean. In fact, the report directly states, “A club’s cleanliness is a vital part of its operational, social, and financial success.” Continually re-invest and renew your design vision to create an unmatched, awe-inspiring, energy-filled health and fitness destination.

New Member Onboarding

A successful health club needs an effective new member on-boarding program based on inspiration, education, and empowerment. Gold’s Gym Newburgh has set up an extensive automated onboarding campaign to keep new members engaged and motivated. New members are enrolled in a series of text messages that send in pre-programmed intervals and offer interactive links through the first weeks of membership. These links include offers for consultations, nutrition plans, class programs, and a personal welcome from Murphy himself. Messages are sent throughout the year with other offers and reminders, to keep new members on the right path to renewal.

Community Programming

Health clubs should offer unparalleled programming that creates connection and community. Effective programming will build camaraderie within the membership base and beyond. Murphy suggests making a big impact with community-based fundraisers. Fitness challenges offer a motivating way for members to stay engaged and can add a significant number to your bottom line. Holiday themed events can show your members how much you appreciate what they mean to your club. Recruit local sponsors to donate prizes with an incentive of increasing their own visibility to your membership.

Marketing Strategies

When sharing the strides this club has made in the past five years, one of Murphy’s most impressive accomplishments was a 50% drop in marketing costs. Gold’s Gym Newburgh utilizes smart and cost-effective marketing strategies, relying heavily on social media and word of mouth.

When planning your social media content, Don suggests keeping it simple. Don’t try to compete, just stick to what you know—your club. Be the voice of your club and show your unbridled passion for what you’re providing for your members. Share what your club does and what you do better than anyone in your community. Another pro tip? Befriend local press!

Non-dues Revenue

Murphy also touched on one of his most lucrative non-dues revenue: effective nutrition coaching. Gold’s Gym Newburgh has a strong focus on meal planning and quality shakes, showing a 270% increase in shake/juice bar revenue in just five years. Murphy strongly suggested that clubs implement a nutrition program, calling it the “missing link” in the health club industry. But for those clubs where a nutrition program isn’t feasible, the lesson in maximizing your non-dues revenue sources still stands.

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Carolynn Jordan

Carolynn Jordan previously served as IHRSA's Member Communication Specialist—a position that developed outreach for IHRSA members to gain knowledge on how to best use their benefits and stay engaged in the IHRSA community.