I just counted 3 different fitness marketing forums discussing the same topic: How to Raise Your Rates.
Listen… this is nothing new. The issue of rates and price-point strategies has been a “front-burner” topic for more than 50 years! It’s discussed among fitness business owners at every trade show, conference and workshop.
And for good reason.
Rates: It’s a challenge that never goes away!
It typically centers around this scenario: A competitor with shiny new equipment opens up just down the block from you and sells cheap memberships. The typical knee-jerk reaction is to immediately drop your rates just to compete.
Back in the 70’s it was Jack LaLanne’s European Health Spas. Then, in the 80’s came Holiday Health Spas. Then Bally’s Fitness and Ray Wilson’s Family Fitness followed by 24 Hour Fitness and then Curves, and now…. Planet Fitness.
The price-point strategy just won’t die.
And, of course, it goes on at all levels — from the big multi-club chains to the smallest studios “duking it out” in Smallville.
So now… here we are. Thousands of club owners, studio owners, franchisees and independent trainers are challenged to actually raise their rates…. just to keep the doors open.
It’s a new twist on an old challenge: RATES!
Yes… everyone has his or her own unique set of circumstances. Nonetheless, after 35 years of marketing experience and 20 of those years working with some of the top fitness success stories… this issue can be boiled down into one single element:
Yup… that’s it. What is your VALUE PROPOSITION?
Rather than explain it, let me give you an example of a mid-size studio that successfully raised its rates $10 per month among it’s 250 members by simply upgrading its VALUE PROPOSITION. ($10. X 250 = $2,500 per month X 12 = $30,000 per year).
And yes this is a little self-serving since we were a key component to the solution – but it’s a good example.
How Matt Did It…
In 2016, Matt Walbrach owned a mid-sized members-only studio in Ohio with 250 active dues-paying members at $40. per month. He was faced with a situation where he absolutely, positively HAD to raise his rates or shut his doors (lease renewal rates were increased).
The first thing Matt did was construct a Fab Form and validate it with his members through simple conversational interviews on the floor during sessions or at the front desk during check-in. (To download a FAB sheet: Click here)
The Open Letter
Matt carefully crafted an “open letter” to his members. It explained the situation regarding his lease. It also went on to detail his commitment to his members, staff and the level of “excellence” his studio would continue to provide in all services, equipment, training knowledge,etc. He wove much of his FAB sheet into this letter.
He also made a big announcement of a special new service that each member would be receiving for free as part of his commitment and his way of saying “thank you” for remaining with his studio in view of the rate increase.
The open letter was posted around his studio. He also individually addressed and hand-signed the same letter to each of his 250 members and and sent it via U.S. Mail. In addition, he posted the Open Letter on his website. He did NOT post in social media!
In all communications, he offered to discuss it, personally and privately, with anyone who had questions. Matt had nothing to hide. He completed these tasks 21 days in advance of his rate increase.
This was the introduction to his new VALUE PROPOSITION.
Attrition Rate and How to Beat It
Matt calculated a 10% attrition rate figuring that at least 25 people would quit his studio rather than pay the increase.
To compensate for this attrition and bring his membership back up, he announced a FREE Weight-Management Seminar followed by Free Body Composition and Flexibility Evaluations — open to the public.
He sent two media releases as “public service announcements” (PSAs) to his local radio stations, local television stations, local newspapers and his hometown community website.
He also posted on his website the time and date and suggested all members bring along friends, spouse, family and co-workers.
This combination of Seminar and Free Body-Composition / Flexibility Evaluation was a demonstration of his FAB sheet and, when compared to competitors, increased Matt’s VALUE PROPOSITION.
O.K. here’s the self-serving part. Matt also purchased the done-for you ONBOARD 101 Platform which allows an unlimited number of clients/members.
Thus allowing his current membership of 250 to immediately login and gain instant access to Matt’s Branded ONBOARDING HEALTH EDUCATION PLATFORM
He also scheduled three different class times where he offered to teach and embellish the course curriculum (through a projection system) to all members. ONBOARD 101 increased his VALUE PROPOSITION.
The Value Propostion Strategy was a huge success. Matt did lose members.. but only nine.
Within 6 weeks after the seminar and evaluation (more than 125 in attendance including a television reporter), he gained 23 new EFT monthly members for a net gain of 14 new memberships. (that’s $50. x 14 = $700 per month x 12 = $8,400 per year).
This is in addition to the net $30,000 per year in rate increase for a total net increase of $38,400.
There is so much more to this success story… and Matt continued to increase his VALUE PROPOSITION with new products, services and additional professional staff. But here’s the point….
Many fitness business owners miss the opportunity to increase their VALUE PROPOSITION.
It does require thinking, planning and, most importantly, execution.
But, once you re-frame the “raising rates” issue into an “increasing your value proposition” issue… well, it all takes care of itself. You are happy. Your members are happy — and you still get the love!
Matt did just a few things.
1.) Completed his FAB sheet (click here for FAB sheet)
2.) Wrote an Open Letter and distributed it multiple ways
3.) Created an event Weight-Management Seminar
4.) Purchased 250 stamps, already had letterhead and envelopes
5.) Purchased annual subscription to ONBOARD 101
So… back to you. What is your current Value Proposition?
What could you do to increase your Value Proposition?