January is one of the most important times for any leisure organisation running fitness facilities. It’s easy to see why. Every year, new years’ resolutions and festive over-indulgence send people flocking to leisure centres across the country to improve their fitness.
Because numbers spike so much in January, it can be tempting to focus too heavily on this one month. Looking at the whole year (and even further ahead) will help you to consistently grow your leisure operations.
Look Beyond The January Rush
When focusing on sustained growth, it’s easy to point the finger at January and say: “this spike in numbers, this increased footfall is crucial to our success.” It’s easy to imagine that the new members you get in January will support your growth for the whole year. And while this is true to a point, it shouldn’t be your whole focus.
Many January sign-ups don’t become long-term leisure centre members. Instead, they use your facilities a few times before drifting away to other activities as that new year health plan fades away. (Check out The Perfect New Member Onboarding Process infographic to help avoid this drift!)
Focusing too heavily on January could risk giving too much attention to those members with short-term goals. Just as they’re not sustaining their fitness efforts, you’re not sustaining your long-term success.
Long-Term Vision Lets You Plan Ahead
Beyond January, think about using other events throughout the year to create a buzz in your centres. For example, interest in sports and fitness rises around Wimbledon, World Cups, Olympics, or other high-profile events.
By looking past January and planning a whole year of campaigns, you can focus on all these potential surges in interest. You can also start to identify the quieter times of the year and start ramping up and tailoring your marketing outreach, your activities, and your classes to boost your numbers all year round.
Fitness Is For Life – So Is Your Leisure Organisation
A long-term approach lets you focus on those long-term, lifelong benefits that you offer to your community. Demonstrating your real value. The value of getting people active, encouraging social interactions, and building a real community feeling.
Avoid positioning your leisure centre as a get-fit-quick option for people with New Years’ resolutions. Create a more sustainable image. An image of your leisure centre being a long-term community asset for all your members, all year round.
Your Existing Members Want To Be Noticed
It’s tempting to offer all kinds of deals and discounts to entice new members through the door, especially around the festive period when people are looking out for bargains, but discounts for new sign-ups can leave your existing members feeling like they’ve overpaid.
By focusing on a long-term plan, you’ll make sure that anyone signing up in May or October doesn’t feel hard done by come January 1st.
Consider applying these 6 simple ways to improve your leisure centre retention rates.
Look Even Further Into The Future
If you want to succeed, your plans need to extend past 31 December 2023. It might seem like 2024 is a long way away but knowing where you want to be in 18 months’ time – and starting to plan for it – means you’re more likely to achieve your long-term goals.
Having one eye on the future also makes you more likely to focus on the trends which repeat year on year. If you’ve seen increased member numbers in March 2022 and see them again in March 2023, you’ll naturally be ready and waiting with a plan for March 2024. This success relies on looking ahead.
Track Incremental Milestones Towards Bigger Plans
No matter how far into the future your plans run, your goals remain the same. You want to engage members with long-term health and fitness goals and turn them into long-term members of your leisure centre.
And just like those members have smaller milestones to hit on the way to their final targets, so should you. It’s crucial to focus on a long-term plan and treat January 2023 as just the first in a long line of milestones.
It all starts with setting long term goals to renew, measure and track your success as the year goes on.
And of course, you’ll need to use the right leisure management software – like Legend – to help you set and track your progress towards those milestones, streamlining your communications and automating your marketing to make your job easier well into 2023 and beyond.