New Members: Your Key to Staying in Business
By Joe Dinoffer
“Recruit or perish.” Many organizations live by that saying. So, too, should your club or facility. Since some degree of annual attrition is unavoidable, if you don’t bring in new members, your business will gradually whither away.
The tennis club business is just that — a business. Profit and loss is calculated like any other business. Although there are many sources of revenue, such as food and beverage, lessons, pro shop sales, racquet stringing, and ball machine rentals, the primary revenue stream comes from membership.
Rates of attrition in the club business vary from region to region, but all clubs have this challenge in common: namely, how to bring in more new members than the number of members who leave. For a club manager, who budgets revenues in each category, finding ways to bring more members to any club or facility is like printing your own money.
Before sharing ways to bring in new members, we need to note the importance of conducting interviews with both incoming and departing members. For incoming members, it is most important to determine their expectations and reasons for joining. Obviously, if those expectations are met, chances are they will remain as members.
For departing members, exit interviews are essential to keep any facility vibrant and healthy. Many will leave for reasons totally beyond a club’s control. However, some useful feedback will inevitably be gained from exit interviews. Just be sure to act on it. Surprisingly enough, a high percentage of clubs do not conduct exit interviews. The most successful clubs, on the other hand, use this tool religiously and reap the benefits of long-term success in the process.
Free Guest Days
Marketing campaigns always differentiate between cold-calling and contacting “warm” leads, always preferring a warm prospect to a cold one. For our purposes, a friend of an existing member definitely qualifies as a warm lead and is a good prospect for membership.
Establish a regular “free” guest day and be sure to offer the guest a special packet that they will value. Consider including a discount coupon for the pro shop or an introductory lesson. Keep them coming back to your facility and your ultimate success is guaranteed.
One of the primary reasons people join clubs is to be with friends. If you want to entice new members into your facility, the best way is to create opportunities for potential members to make new friends who, coincidentally, happen to be members at your club.
Nearly every club schedules member-guest social events. The trick is to plan your social so it stands out from other clubs in your area. Some ideas are to offer terrific participation prizes, in addition to quality food and beverages that they will come back to experience.
I recently switched dentists at the recommendation of a close friend. The new dentist, as a thank-you, sent my friend a $50 credit, and he also gave us the same amount as a first-visit discount.
Consider a coupon for the pro shop of $100 as a thank-you to the referring member. It’s a substantial amount of money, yet the actual cost of goods to the club may only be $50. And, for the new member, I’ve always been a fan of a free 30-minute introductory lesson. Even if the new member doesn’t invest regularly in lessons, this is a great way to help them feel welcome.
Non-Member Usage Rates
For many potential members, the amount it costs to join your club or facility will play a major part in their decision. Ideally, you want to capture their hearts and get them to regularly use your facility.
However, chances are as non-members, they’re paying for guest passes, or paying higher non-member lesson rates, or are unable to take advantage of member savings on pro shop and club snack bar purchases. These “member benefits” should gradually convince the non-members to take the plunge and join your facility.
Serve the Kids, Recruit the Parents
It’s an established fact that clubs with prospering and expanding junior programs have healthy bottom lines as well. Why? When the young children are well-served and happy at a particular club, parents naturally consider how the facility can benefit their entire family.
Parents are always looking for creative options when planning their children’s birthday parties. What if you designed a series of theme birthday parties and promoted them in a brochure for your existing members? Themes could include hiring clowns, magicians, or jugglers to entertain the children. Hire your own pros to run games with prizes on your courts (not tennis-specific).
Now, imagine weekly birthday parties with an average of 20 young children and their parents looking on. Since the vast majority will be non-members, what a great way to regularly expose your facility to a large group of potential members in a favorable environment, all at the same time. Just remember to give the guests a packet including discount coupons along with a special offer to entice them to enroll their children into one of your junior programs.
See all articles by Joe Dinoffer
About the Author
Joe Dinoffer is a Master Professional for both the PTR and USPTA. He speaks frequently at national and international tennis teacher workshops as a member of both the HEAD Penn and Reebok National Speaker's Bureaus. He is president of Oncourt Offcourt Inc. and has written 16 books and produced more than 30 instructional videos.