I made many mistakes when I first opened CrossFit COMO. CrossFit was new to our community and my goal was to spread the kool-aid. I started with 30 days of FREE classes and exposed 250+ people to CrossFit over that time. It was awesome! We started our membership off with nearly 50 athletes and were cash flow positive the day our first rent payment went out.
One of the biggest mistakes I made was with my Foundations program. Our strategy got people in the door to experience CrossFit and gave them two additional weeks free to try it out. The commitment was low, only $19, then $25, then $30, then $50. They had a one day foundations course that spanned 3 hours where we dumped a ton of knowledge on them and taught them the 9 Foundational movements along with a few other things. Every class was amazing, inspiring. We had huge groups from 15-30 and 3 coaches present. People were excited, had a blast and did their free two weeks of classes. When they finished those two weeks, I checked in on them with an email and phone call asking them to purchase a membership. When they said how much, I told them $110 for 3 visits per week and $125 for 4 or more. Many said “I enjoyed the time there, but I can’t afford that.” Or some never called me back or answered my email. At the time I wasn’t measuring our conversion rate, but I knew it was low. But I was achieving the goal to expose people to CrossFit.
That wasn’t a sustainable business model…it required me to bring more and more people in the door and not to focus on our current athletes. It was a HUGE mistake.
Regardless, we still grew to over 100 members in the first few months, and were at 150 by the 6 month mark. We outgrew our space and started looking to expand. Around that time I came to the realization that this isn’t a long term strategy, we had to change.
The mistakes I made
- Initially, I didn’t have them pay for the Foundations program upfront, they paid when they got there. I missed out on about $4000 because over the first 6 months, nearly 200 people registered but never showed up.
- Too low barrier to entry. My price was way to low. Instead of gaining the exact type of members I wanted, I was getting a little bit of everyone. So people weren’t qualifying themselves if they could afford it or wanted to prioritize it. Plus a $25 to $125 is a big jumping point. There’s a psychological effect to that and goes against some basic sales approaches.
- Not auto-enrolling them into a membership. By asking them to purchase a second time, they had to take another action. We should have made this easier for them. It created another barrier to entry and hurt me financially.
- Not measuring conversion rates from Intro to Foundations to Memberships. Without knowing this information, I ignored the problem for way too long.
- We didn’t have a cancellation policy for our recurring memberships. People could cancel at anytime, it screwed my revenue and made it hard to forecast.
What we’re doing now that works for us
- We focus on our current athletes first, then our coaches, and finally incoming members.
- We track all of our data from when someone inquires to comes in for a trial to purchases foundations to enrolls as a member and their retention after 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and beyond.
- They prepay for Foundations prior to coming or right after the FREE intro class.
- We have one person strictly focused on member retention programs and efforts.
- Extended Foundations to 6 classes over 2 weeks. Still has a lower barrier to entry than 12 classes over a month, we charge $75 for the two weeks($12.50 per class) and then they auto-enroll the other two weeks($67.50), they end up sending $8 more in their first month than the regular “4 or more classes per week” membership. There’s not a shock when they pay the membership the following month.
- After you finish Foundations, you are automatically enrolled in the “4 or more classes per week” membership. We want people to take action to cancel, they must fill out a form.
- We went to a 30 day cancellation policy. Which creates a barrier to leave and requires the person to take action/second guess and allows us to predict revenue better.
With these changes, our foundations course converts to 98%+ enrollment in our regular membership. I’ve had 4 people cancel prior to the start of regular classes since we implemented these changes.
How many are you converting in your On Ramp/Foundations Program to members? What other strategies are you using to enhance the experience new athletes get in the gym? Let me know in the comments!