Running special events at your gym can boost retention.
These events can keep your clients engaged, and sometimes they can generate a bit of revenue.
But most often they create extra work for the owner, burn out the staff, accidentally instill bad habits in clients and don’t generate a dime of profit.
In this series, I’m going to show you a better way. I tell you how to run events with partners, I’ll explain how to run in-house events that make you money (and actually boost retention), and I’ll give you a sample annual calendar of four great events to copy.
6 Steps to Successful Event Partnerships
First, running events with partners.
If you choose a local event (for example, a 5-km run or Spartan Race), you can run a specialty program to get your clients ready. Your members will benefit, your gym will benefit, and, usually, the event coordinators will benefit from increased registrations. And the best part: You can even participate in the event if you want to—because you won’t have to set up or clean up!
Here are the steps:
1. Find two or three local events that your clients will want to support. Go for variety here: 5- and 10-km races are great, and so are Spartan Races and other obstacle-course events. But also look for golf outings or powerlifting meets. Don’t always try to find “the local throwdown”—but including one per year might help if you run a gym for “competitors.” (If you can’t find events you like, you can host them yourself. But this shouldn’t be your go-to strategy. More on that in the next post in this series.)
2. Offer a prep program six to 12 weeks out from the event. Promote it internally first, then externally. Ensure the price per session is higher than that for your normal classes. Choose one coach to run the program, and pay them 44 percent of the revenue collected. (Two-Brain clients can get the full playbook for several types of events—including promotional materials and programming for events such as Spartan Race—in our Toolkit.)
3. If you’re partnering with a local event, let the organizers know you plan to get them more registrations! Sometimes they’ll promote your program for you. This is rare, so don’t expect it; treat it as a surprise bonus if it happens. For example, we started a Couch to 5K running group for new runners who were preparing for a local race called The Mountain Maple. We doubled the event’s registrations. Ten years later, we still have an amazing partnership with them.
4. Collect the money up front and pay the coaches when the course is complete.
5. Show up for the event in force. Bring banners, sidewalk chalk and noisemakers. Be supportive and be seen!
6. Put the prep group (and the event) on your calendar for next year.
Run Your Own Event?
Partnering with a local event is so much easier—and usually more profitable—than running an event yourself.
But what if you can’t find anything local that you really like?
I’ll tell you how to run your own event in the next post in this series.