How to Eliminate an Ineffective Fitness Program

How to minimize the pain when pulling the plug on an underperforming program.

There will no doubt come a time when, as the owner or manager of a fitness facility, you will need to evaluate which programs work and which ones do not. Getting rid of something is often a difficult choice. Will members complain? Or even worse, will they quit? What effect will its elimination have on the atmosphere of the club? Here's how to minimize the pain when pulling the plug on an underperforming program:

Publicize the change at least three weeks in advance.

Place signs on the walls around the club and contact regulars so that they can plan accordingly. Post notices at the front desk and in the locker rooms, too, and remind members when you see them that the program will be ending on a specific date.

Be prepared for questions (and complaints).

It's a good idea to brief all of your employees who have face-to-face contact with customers. Prepare them for how they should respond to such questions as, "Why was the class eliminated?" (Probable answer: Lack of participation.) Be honest with members. If the cut was financially motivated, explain that it's more beneficial to the facility and its members to offer programs that appeal to a broader range of participants.

Try to replace the eliminated program with something else.

If you drop a Tuesday class because of low attendance, consider offering that class (perhaps in a slightly redesigned format) on a different day of the week in the hopes of serving more members. On the other hand, if you have a program that simply isn't working, you may want to wait before trying something else and simply enjoy the cost savings.

Make sure decisions are based on what's best for the facility.

Just because a club across town added or eliminated a program or service doesn't mean you should have a knee-jerk reaction and do the same. Do what's best for your facility, and make decisions based on the best data you can gather. Remember, all of your programs and services should drive revenue and enhance retention.

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