As the holiday season sets in, you’ll probably notice your class numbers fluctuating, even bottoming out. This is as common as warm weather enticing gym-goers outdoors and is a normal part of a gym’s attendance cycle. Take the advice salespeople use to increase sales to close your own “sale” and pack your classes throughout the holiday season.
Network like a crazy. The more people you tell about your class, the more people you’ll have in your room. Meet the people who are in the gym at the time your class is going on, talk to the folks who are being given membership tours, chat with the people you know outside the gym about coming and trying your class. People want to know and trust the person leading their class, which starts with an introduction and grows from there.
Create a niche. So, you are one of ten Step/Kickboxing/Yoga instructors at your facility. How can you carve out your own unique workout and become the class no one wants to miss? By focusing on your area of expertise or by developing your classes to have an identity. Be the hardest class, or the class where people feel the most welcome, or hear the best music or get the greatest variety. How you go about doing that is going to require you to figure out what you have to offer that is special to you and that can take some effort, but start now by identifying your strengths. See how those shape up to define a new focus for your classes.
Be nice. This one should be obvious, but just in case, BE NICE. People don’t want to spend an hour of their valuable time with a jerk. Even if your niche is to be the demanding drill sargeant and teach the world’s most grueling workout, you still must be respectful of the people who take time out of their schedules to attend your class. Being friendly is the best way to get people to come back.
Remember names. The single most attractive sound to a person in the world is the sound of their name. Find a way to commit them to memory and use them as often as possible. Even if you can’t remember, if you let them know that you want to know it, they won’t mind telling you again. Saying to someone as they leave, “Hey Sally, thanks for coming. I’ll see you next week,” is a surefire way to get them to want to come back.
The Golden Rule: Treat your students the way you want to be treated. In fact, take this one step further and treat them better than you treat yourself. If you can put yourself at their service, they’ll appreciate you all the more than if you are the diva who gets her attention fix from the people coming to her class.
Keep in Touch. If it is possible to get emails, phone numbers or addresses of your students, send them a thank you note. Let them know about your upcoming lesson plans. Give them reasons not to miss the next class. Most folks will be impressed by a handwritten note of thanks. Emails and phone calls are nice too, especially if they contain valuable information, but they fall more in line with marketing attempts that are easier to filter or ignore. If you can make your student feel wanted and appreciated, you’ll get a happier, repeat customer.
Don’t take small numbers personally. Sometimes you will meet people who for whatever reason don’t like or can’t take your class. Don’t be hurt by these small rejections and don’t be afraid to ask why a person hasn’t returned. Usually they have a reason that has nothing to do with you. Ocassionally, you’ll recieve a valuable gem of advice in their reason that can help you improve the quality of your class. Be open to criticism or suggestions if they are offered. Most importantly, do not treat a small room of people any different than you would a room that is packed. Be grateful to the folks that are there and use the opportunity to develop your rapport with those folks. They’ll be talking about you, and you want them saying good things! If you indicate your dismay at the dwindling size, your negativity will transfer to them which is exactly what you do not want.
Advertise. Hang signs. Have a contest. Send out invitations. Get on the PA system. Talk up your class and get others talking about it too. Ask folks if they’ve seen the signs, or if they know about the contest. Be enthusiastic and let people know when you are teaching and why they should be there!
Talk up the benefits. Make it clear to your students what they gain by not allowing the holiday craze to affect their workout schedule. Help to identify ways and reasons to keep coming even when they would rather rest or sleep off their imbibements. Remind them of the importance of consistency, the value of sacrifices, the great feeling of accomplishment they’ll feel if they can hang in through the new year, the rewards of being dropping a size in time for New Year’s Eve… Whatever you can think of to motivate them — shout it out! You might even think of a bribe — give a gift to the person who comes the most throughout between now and Jan 1.
They’re just ideas, but hopefully you’ve found a new way to increase your own numbers and keep em coming this winter!