Whether you are just in the planning stages of your fitness business, or you opened your doors several months ago, the beginning of the year is a great time for an open house to introduce your offering to the community. All good health club marketing strategies include a gym grand opening. Ideas for themes, party logistics, and how to get a great turnout may overwhelm you. Here we provide structure on the major areas to consider, and the dos and don’ts to form your ideas around.
Many people make resolutions to get fit in the New Year. Thus, having a gym grand opening around the holidays is ideal, even if your center officially opened doors weeks or months before the event. Consider holding the grand opening two weeks before Christmas. Some fitness gyms offer low introductory prices around the holidays. This seasonal offering is a great way to gain new clients.
That said, do not decide to simply hold a grand opening without putting some thought into the effort. In other words, if you haven’t already started planning a January open house at this point, it is better to do it later when timing may be less ideal, but you are prepared enough to make the most of your opportunity.
Define your brand
There are fitness gyms all over the place. How is yours different? Define your ideal client, down to the way they think and the attitudes they have. During the grand opening, be sure your materials communicate your gym’s mission, and what makes you different. Your facility should demonstrate the culture that aligns with your ideal client’s attitudes and your mission. If you do this effectively, you will offer something other gyms do not or cannot offer. Take the occasion of the event to explain and demonstrate how you provide the best service to your clientele, that supports the ethos you’ve defined by following the above steps.
Additionally, a grand opening is a good time to push information about your professional staff and high-quality equipment. While you want to be different from the gym down the street or across town, you also want to provide information on how you compare to the competition. If you are not the cheapest gym in town, all of this is necessary branding that will make justify your pricing.
Don’t hold a grand opening on your own. This is a time to showcase the staff. You want to provide the opportunity for prospective clients to meet trainers, childcare providers, maintenance staff… everyone! For existing clientele, a grand opening allows them to chat with staff they may see at the gym, but not always interact with such as office personnel.
To drum up interest in classes or training, have staff offer free mini sessions. Also schedule staff members to speak about their expertise during the event.
Be sure that all staff is prepared for the grand opening and excited to participate. First impressions can be very lasting. Be professional and helpful. The success of the event will mean better things for all involved. Paying staff a little extra to promote the gym on this day is an investment for the brand overall.
Food and entertainment
A grand opening should be more than simply a meet and greet event. Play music or hire a disc jockey for the event. Make sure to play upbeat workout music, but not too loudly. You don’t want to drown out conversation.
If your gym has a juice bar or offers food onsite, this is a great time to promote your offerings. Have samples available and provide discount coupons for some items. If you do not have a cafe, consider hiring a caterer and serve healthy offerings. Small portions of fruit salads, sandwiches or smoothies are great options.
Avoid overdoing it
Gym grand openings can be exciting, but this is not the time to go crazy. Remember, this is a business investment.
- Keep within a reasonable budget.
- Don’t go to extremes with entertainment.
- Market to your target audience and showcase what you do best.
- Don’t try to be something you are not.
Plan something that will be memorable:
- Hold a competition and offer prizes.
- Provide a drawing for deeply discounted or a free membership.
- Team with another local business and give drawing prizes such as sportswear, athletic equipment or other related items.
- Hold a food drive for charity and provide coupons for free class trials in exchange.
Social media and a pitch to local media are great ways to spread the word about your grand opening. Be tasteful with the number of mailings or social media posts. Too many can turn off potential attendees.
Some grand openings involve ribbon cuttings, inviting the Mayor’s office, etc. What other business owners and prominent community members can you invite? If media arrives at the grand opening, don’t expect that you will be the breaking news story of the day. Be natural in your discussion about your business.
On the day of the event, take a deep breath and make yourself comfortable and welcoming. This will make others feel comfortable and welcomed. Keep in mind that a grand opening is a social event. Refrain from overdoing it with your sales pitch or marketing message. Allow visitors to network with your staff and become familiar with your business.