Peter Keller is the CEO of Fringe Sport.  At parties, when people ask him what he does for a living, he tells them he sells barbells. But really, he is building a company that is amazing for you- awesome equipment at a great price with world-class customer service. Oh, and free shipping to the lower 48. Check him out at FringeSport.com or hit him via email at peter@fringesport.com. Mention you read this bio and he’ll give you a free t-shirt for free.

At Fringe Sport, we have the privilege of working with thousands of boxes and gym owners on a regular basis. Among these boxes, we have seen a few techniques that help to attract and grow a thriving membership base.

Generate and share photos of your clients looking awesome in your gym

Find a local photographer who is interesting in trading a few hours of work a week for a free membership. This doesn’t have to be a professional photographer- but it does have to be someone with some skills. You give them a free membership in exchange for them coming to your box once or twice a week (at a different class than the one they are attending) and taking pictures of your members. Make sure that they are getting your members looking amazing and inspiring. Then, you post those pictures on Facebook and tag the members.

The way that I’ve seen this work best is if you actually post the pictures from your own Facebook account, and of course you then tag the member.

If you’re posting pictures of your members working out and looking awesome, many times their Facebook friends are going to ask, “Oh, where are you doing this?” or something like that. Then, your member is going to do the marketing for you.

One of the reasons why I mention to post these photos and tag them as yourself rather than as your Facebook page is that if you post them as yourself, it creates a more personal and emotional feeling for the member. Everyone likes to have photos of themselves looking awesome, but people don’t want to appear narcissistic. If someone else takes a picture of them looking awesome and then posts it and tags them, it’s way better than them actually posting it themselves.
If you are looking for a photographer to put this tip into action, ask your members first! Chances are you have a member already who would love this deal. If not, ask your members if they know anyone who is a non-member, but might be interested.

Have one special “bring your friends week” per quarter

Have a week where you program low-complexity moves into your WODs, and hype this week as your “barbell buddies” week. Suspend your drop-in fees for this week, and get your members excited about introducing their friends to your gym.

You’ll want to do the week’s programming in advance, and program in movements that are easy to coach- no need to teach a newbie the snatch, let alone a whole class of newbs.
You may have a drop-in policy that allows drop-ins all the time, but if you create a specific week that is exciting for members to bring their friends, then you’re going to get a lot of new people coming by your gym. One gym that I know of, Atomic Athlete in Austin, calls this week “F**k Your Friends” week. You definitely don’t have to use profanity when you determine what to call your week, but find a name that is exciting and gets your members interested.
The benefit behind doing a specific week that comes around every quarter is that it creates excitement around people bringing friends, and you can even create a prize for the person who brings the most friends. Or for every friend who attends a session, the member gets one entry into a lottery, and then you raffle off something fun. This creates a little competition among your members to bring the most new people in, and it creates a really great community feeling. Plus, done right, you get a lot of leads.

Create a private Facebook group for your box

I know at this point, this may be a very common recommendation, but I advocate investing time- maybe a few hours a week- to ensure that the Facebook group is thriving.
The way that you can do that is by you and your coaches posting in there often- with interesting and engaging posts. The purpose behind the private Facebook group is to create and deepen the feeling of exclusivity and community that your members will have being a part of your gym. I would suggest that you might even allow members who left on good terms or people who are potentially friends of your gym but not necessarily members join the community, but do make sure that the Facebook group feel exclusive.

The key is to cultivate a thriving community. It should be someplace that people want to check every day be a channel for connecting members to members.

Facilitate deep member-to-member connections

Building off that private Facebook group comment above, one thing that we’ve seen in very strong gyms is they encourage and have very strong member-to-member connections.
What I mean here is it’s fairly easy to have a box and to have members show up and work out in that box, but to really build community, you want to have member connecting with each other in a way that is not directly mediated by you.
In other words, you want to build a community so strong that members of the community get together- even without you. So your box has made the initial connection between those members, but then the members have taken hold of that connection and deepened it amongst themselves.

If you’re able to build a community that has members who go on vacations together, who go to lunch together, and do things like this, your members are going to get so much value and have such an emotional tie to your community and your box that your business is really going to thrive.

Continuously build new benefits into membership

Constantly be on the lookout for ways that to bring additional benefits to your members that have relatively low costs to your box but high value to the members.

An easy example here is yoga, for example. In my experience, many CrossFitters either do yoga or would like to try yoga but often don’t have the time or don’t want to get a membership at a traditional yoga facility. It is relatively inexpensive for a box to set aside one class of yoga a week and hire a yoga instructor to run that class. You can then offer that as a free membership benefit to your clients.

Other things to consider offering are monthly seminars, using subject matter experts from your local community. You can usually set up a arrangement with a local provider to do these classes at very low cost or possibly even for free.
Mike
Founder at TheBoxBusiness
CF-L1 Trainer. Owner of CrossFit COMO in Columbia, MO. Founder of TheBoxBusiness.com. Former College Professor.

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