How to improve your sports club management and increase memberships

Planning ahead for 2024
February 15, 2022

Being a regular member of a sports club is a great way for kids to grow in confidence, make new friends and refine their skills. As a business, it’s important to create an environment where they feel comfortable and want to come back week after week. It’s equally important to attract new members and keep your classes full so you can keep growing your business.

Here are some actionable tips on how to retain customers and increase memberships across your sports club.

1. Spread the word about your school or club on social media

Showcasing your club and its members on social media will help create a community of engaged followers as well as show potential recruits how fun, friendly and welcoming your club is. Sharing regular updates, upcoming events and happy customers raises awareness and increases trust among your new customers by painting your club in a positive light.

Top tip: Include visuals to boost retention - posts with images or videos are 65% more likely to be remembered and tend to get more engagement than posts without.

Other social media hacks:

  • Ask your current customers where they are most active so you can focus on one or two channels rather than trying to juggle multiple
  • Include a link to your website on your page and in relevant posts to direct interested people to the right place
  • If you're not sure what to post, follow the 80/20 rule as a guideline (80% - inform, educate or entertain, 20% - business promotion)

2. Update your website for easy browsing

Think of your website as your club’s 24/7 digital hub - it’s where people can find you, view up-to-date information and find out more about your classes. An accessible, user-friendly website is essential to any business, especially one looking to attract new customers.

Be clear and transparent so visitors know exactly what to expect from your club. Consider including the following:

  • Membership options and what each includes
  • Membership pricing
  • Class information
  • Location and parking

If you use a sports club management system, you could also include a link to your online portal so prospective customers can easily view your timetables and availability. Some sports facility booking software even allows these new customers to book into a course without having to contact you or submit a membership request form.

For more marketing tips (including website management) download our free beginner’s guide and checklist.

3. Run a free or discounted taster session

Many kids feel nervous about joining a club, especially if they’re new to the sport and don’t know anyone. Holding a couple of taster sessions for different age groups/abilities will help them feel at ease and give them a confidence boost for when they attend their first lesson.

As well as taster sessions, here are some other things you could do to inspire people to drop by and visit:

  • Volunteer open days
  • Recreational sessions where anyone can come and take part
  • ‘Bring a friend for free’ for classes with low bookings
  • Fundraising day, with mini-competitions for both members and non-members
  • Membership incentives (e.g. one month free if you sign up before a certain date)

4. Turn your existing members into advocates

While it’s essential to leverage digital platforms to attract new members, there are other more traditional channels that are also just as effective. Word of mouth marketing remains one of the most powerful ways to promote your business and that’s because more than 90% of people trust friend and family recommendations over other forms of advertising.

The best advocates are your current members and their families - ask them to leave a review on your Facebook page and encourage their friends to join. You could even offer incentives for members that bring in referrals.

Another way you can encourage members to promote your club is by posting photos of them in action on your Facebook page (with permission) which they can then share on their profile. Similarly, you can re-post pictures they’ve taken at your club and share them on your business page, celebrating wins and praising their efforts.

5. Enable students and parents to track progression

Being able to track progress is both appealing and rewarding for students and their parents. If you don’t yet have sports club management software that offers this then it’s definitely something to consider if you want to retain members and attract new ones.

With an online portal, parents and students can access it from their mobile at any time, which enables them to view progress without having to interrupt the instructor. This works two-fold - parents can track their child’s performance and the student knows what they need to practice in order to complete that skill and move on to the next one.

6. Email past students to invite them back

Instead of focusing solely on recruiting new members, use your sports club booking software to reach out to past students via email to encourage them to return. You could share a new class you’re launching that they might be interested in or a limited offer if they sign up again within the month. If you have multiple locations, you could also include these in your email in case the student has moved and can no longer travel to the previous facility.

7. Upgrade your sports club management software

It can be hard to dedicate time to increasing memberships if you’re bogged down with the day-to-day running of your business. By moving from a spreadsheet to a smart sports facility booking system, you can automate time-consuming tasks (such as making bookings, taking payments and arranging classes) and use the extra time to put some of the above steps into action. Sports club software also offers key business insights, with real-time reports covering the number of new members, revenue, occupancy rates and attendance. You can even set up a survey question to ask customers why they're leaving so you can identify areas for improvement.

Udio’s online booking system for sports clubs makes it easy for you to streamline your admin and help you attract more customers with inbuilt communication tools, powerful reports and an online customer portal. Book your free demo to find out more.

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