Tips for Avoiding Backlash When Raising Health Club Membership Dues

January 1, 2012

You do not have to look too far these days in order to find people taking their frustrations out online in response to health club membership price increases.

One look at blog posts and comment strings indicates price raises are a sore subject with many.

NYC Talking blasted a club for their apparently indiscriminate increases. And while one local gym asked for other operators’ insight on how to best raise their rates in a forum on, the number of comments showed prices – like services – vary from gym to gym and city to city:

  • “I’d try to see what others in your area charge that will be a better gauge for you. I pay $40/month for membership with a 2 year contract, but it’s a big gym and that’s all inclusive with their classes, equipment, day care, etc. (does not include personal training though, I pay extra for working with my trainer).”
  • “Prices seem to vary pretty dramatically from city to city! Here in Australia I pay $55 a month on an 18 month contract. When we were living in North Carolina we paid $50 total for a couple’s membership on a month to month basis.”

In fact, the result of rate increases has led to the desire for many gym goers to have a no frills facility available at all hours – which has been the foundation for new health club membership models such as seen in a recent post.

It’s obvious that dues hikes have a direct effect on member morale. It’s not surprising when members cancel their memberships in protest over increases, making it clear that health club owners and managers need to carefully consider the size of the hike as well as how it’s communicated.

This is especially important at the beginning of a new year – the time that clubs traditionally raise their health club membership dues.

So when you need to raise them, how do you determine what increase your members will bear with as little push back as possible?

Here is where some analysis goes a long way. Consider these three things when deciding how much you can afford to ask for when raising health club membership dues:

  • Develop a formula showing the impact on attendance after your last dues increase. Leverage this formula against your club’s current attendance.
  • Determine the attendance rates of your most popular offerings. Calculate if the additional fees can be enhanced solely for these offerings, eliminating the need to increase dues on all members.
  • Analyze your club’s equipment usage, based on attendance data, to determine how much more revenue must be captured to keep up with maintenance costs. You can base your membership fee increases solely on this metric, making the decision easier to communicate to members.

Health club membership dues hikes are a natural part of health club operation, but when you base your increases on measurable data, you’re more likely to avoid the loud backlash of members who feel your increases are not justified.

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