Discounts can be a confusing topic for gym owners. Most gyms will offer some sort of discount (or multiple) to their members and potential customers. The confusion stems from the details. Should you offer discounts? How much should the discount be? Who qualifies for a discount? Am I devaluing my product by offering discounts?
There are so many considerations that go into determining your prices that it can seem silly to then turn around and offer a discounted rate. Gym owners should be mindful when deciding how and when to offer discounts.
Should You Offer Discounts?
The short answer is yes, but be smart with the type of discounts that you offer. Discounts can be a great tool for bringing in hesitant potential members and rewarding loyal members who have stuck around. It is possible to offer thoughtful discounts without devaluing your gym memberships.
Types of Popular Discounts
You could potentially offer a discount on any basis or for any type of member. For this reason, many gyms get overwhelmed by trying to offer too many discounts and membership rates turn into a jumble of confusion.
Many gyms will offer a free trial week or discounted first month. This helps persuade prospective members into trying out the gym. Some gyms use companies like Groupon to offer their discounted rates to a wider audience.
A free trial week is a good option for letting people test out the gym before committing to a membership. They will most likely attend 2-4 classes and make a decision by the end of the week.
However, discounted months and Groupon offers should be avoided. Many people take advantage of the discounted rate for the month with no intention of ever signing up for a full price membership. These “Groupon-hoppers” only want to find a good deal and aren’t truly invested in finding a quality gym.
The most common profession-based discounts are offered to military personnel, first responders, nurses, teachers, and the service industry. Military and first responder discounts have been popular at gyms for years, but the pandemic increased the popularity of nurse and teacher discounts. By rewarding these difficult and necessary professions with discounted membership prices, you are helping them to afford quality fitness. An additional benefit is word-of-mouth marketing amongst these groups.
Service industry discounts are also a great way to increase word-of-mouth marketing. Local servers and bartenders chat with hundreds of people throughout the week. Furthermore, since they don’t usually work traditional business hours, service industry members can help fill in slower middle-of-the-day classes and appointments.
Typically, discounts for these groups are not very significant. Many gyms offer a 10-20% discount on memberships or personal training sessions. This means that these customers are still profitable for the business.
Family or couples discounts are typically offered as a percentage off each membership for a family or a pre-set total rate for couples/families. These discounts entice members to invite their loved ones to join them at the gym.
Couples discounts are pretty straightforward. Some globo-gyms will only honor couples discounts if both partners live at the same address. You’ll need to decide what you consider a couple for discount purposes.
Family discounts can require more consideration. Some gyms will offer a percentage off per person in a family (usually living at the same address). Other gyms choose to set a flat rate for the family. This flat rate is usually around a slightly discounted rate for three people in total. However, larger families (four or more members) would end up with a more significant discount per person. While the per person rate ends up being low, the discounted membership often means that family members will feel comfortable purchasing merchandise, protein powders, beverages, or person training on top of the membership.
A great way to build your membership before you open your gym is to offer a founder’s rate. This promotion is often run for a month or so before opening and then during the first couple weeks of operation. Some gyms only offer a slight discount while others choose to offer a substantial discount to a limited number of members. Most often, founding members are locked into the discounted rate for the lifetime of their membership.
Since founding discounts are offered for a very limited time and only when opening a gym, this is a helpful promotion for bringing in customers without devaluing your product in the long term.
Senior citizens are another group of people that can fill the slower middle-of-the-day classes and personal training appointments. Plus, you should want to encourage older members of your community to participate in age-appropriate fitness routines. Mobility becomes even more “use it or lose it” as we age.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can offer discounted rates for teenagers and college students. These kids are mature enough to be safe members at the gym, but they likely don’t have the income to afford full membership rates. A flat-rate discount for a summer membership can help keep high school athletes in shape or bring in college students that are home for the break.
Time of Day
If your gym has classes or personal training appointments throughout the day, you’ve probably noticed that the middle of the day is the slow period. Many of your clients work traditional business hours and come to the gym in the early morning or evening. By discounting your offerings during the middle of the day, you can spread out your clientele and potentially bring in new clients.
Stay at home parents or those who work odd hours will appreciate the discounted rates. Popular time slots like the morning and evening will have more availability for those whose work schedules dictate when they can work out.
It’s fine to use discounts to bring in new customers, but make sure you are also rewarding your existing members. Retaining clients is more profitable than finding new ones. One way to reward your members is by offering discounts based on their participation at the gym. This could be a discounted month for participating in a challenge or a one-time discount after attending a certain number of classes.
If you live in an area where there are one or more businesses that employ thousands of people, consider offering a discount to their employees. One example is Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. Local gyms and businesses regularly offer a discount for Disney cast members. This increases word-of-mouth marketing among the employees and can create a relationship with the business.
How To Offer Discounts
There is definitely a right and wrong way to offer discounts. You want to make sure your gym is still making a profit on memberships and that you haven’t created a convoluted system that is hard for your employees. These tips will help you create an easy, profitable discount program.
1. Don’t Offer Too Many Discounts
Discount programs can get overwhelming very quickly. If you try to offer reward-based discounts to members while offering a free week to new members while offering varying discounts to first responders, teachers, and service industry workers, it all becomes too much too quickly. Keep things simple and only offer the discounts that make sense for your gym and your community.
2. Limit Discounted Time Periods
For introductory pricing or free trials, keep the time frame limited. One week is a good amount of time for someone to test out the gym and see a few different workouts. You should never offer discounted pricing for longer than the first month. Potential members will hesitate to jump to the full price rate after getting the same service for the discounted price.
3. Use the Same Discount for Multiple Groups
If you’d like to offer discounts to many different groups of people, consider using the same discounted rate for everyone. For example, a 10% discount can be applied to couples, first responders, senior citizens, and military personnel. This makes bookkeeping easier and keeps you from having to juggle multiple membership rates.
4. Don’t Haggle
You know how much your services are worth. It is not worth your time to haggle with someone who wants a discount because they think your gym costs too much. A gym membership, especially one that provides small group classes or personal training, is an investment in one’s health. If a potential client does not see the value in your gym or their health, they are not the right member for your gym.
It’s difficult to track and manage discounts by hand. Even if you have fitness club software for it, it doesn’t always talk with the rest of your gym management tools. Gymdesk offers an easy discount feature that works seamlessly with the rest of the platform, including billing and the shop feature. You can offer discounts based on referrals.
Alternatives to Discounts
If you’d like to have some kind of special promotion for certain groups or reward your loyal members, you can always add to their experience instead of discounting your prices.
Reward programs for hitting milestones or attending a number of classes boost morale and keep your members happy. You can offer them free merchandise or additional training sessions instead of discounting their membership.
To encourage referrals from your members, give everyone a limited number of guest passes. They can bring friends and family to the gym with them. Your members get to enjoy a workout with their friends and you have the opportunity to meet potential clients.
To support groups like first responders, military personnel, and teachers, participate in fundraisers and community events. Host charity workouts that support groups that are important to you and your members. The groups in your area will still see your support even if you are not offering discounted rates.
Discounts can be a slippery slope if you worry about offering a discount to every group. The key to successfully offering discounts at your gym is to keep it simple. Only offer discounts to the groups that make sense for your gym and your community. Focus on providing top quality services so your members appreciate the value of your gym. Appreciate what your gym and your services are worth, because the right members will not be worried about getting a discount.