How To Survive The August Dip

I remember August 2008 all too clearly.

I had cancellations. I had unforeseen bills. I had clients who wanted to put their membership on hold; staff who wanted to take time off; and PT clients who weren’t showing up for their sessions.

I remember no money, no sleep and mounting pressure. I remember saying, “I’m never going through this again.”

I knew I had two choices: close up the following July, or make a plan. I’ll share it below. If August isn’t the worst month in your fiscal year, that’s okay: just replace “August” with your worst-performing month.

The best step YOU can take is to think about August back in January. Work with your mentor through an Annual Plan. Schedule some revenue-boosting activities in July and September, and schedule expenses around it. Plan to take a little vacation in August yourself, and schedule your staff some time off too!

Here’s how I bridged the gap the following year, and every year since:

  1. Plan an event for the first weekend of September. Charge enough to keep people committed to training through August.
    The Catalyst Games were born for one reason only: to boost August revenues. But they also improved adherence (people trained more through August so they weren’t “wasting” their $50 entry fee.) We just completed our 11th year.
  2. Sell prep courses for your event. Release events slowly, Castro-style. Run workshops or short courses to help people succeed at your event.
  3. Run a no-risk apparel order in July. We use the Forever Fierce preorder system.
  4. Run a no-risk supplement order in July. We use the Driven preorder system.
  5. Ask clients to be realistic about their 1:1 bookings in August. “I want to see you succeed. How realistic is it to expect you to make your Friday at 3pm appointment time?”
  6. Focus on nutrition. Book goal reviews for July.
  7. Schedule staff meetings and time off. You might as well rest: September is coming!

Here are some other options that gym owners in Two-Brain are using:

  1. Bingo challenges – clients are rewarded for adherence and other tasks in August
  2. Nutrition challenges – clients pay to enter and earn prizes
  3. Teachers’ Week – invite local teachers to try a class before the school year kicks off
  4. Corporate challenges – focus more on delivery of your services outside your daily clientele
  5. Sport-specific training for preseason – it might be too late for football, but winter sports should start doing their strength and conditioning work now
  6. Increasing ad spend – not EVERYONE stops exercising in August. Balance out lower attendance with the opportunity to onboard more new clients.

In my city, high-earners “go to camp” in August. It’s the end of the kids’ summer vacation; it’s the warmest time of year; and many Catalyst clients like to spend as much time on the lake as possible, or taking vacation. If you plan for lower adherence (and possibly lower revenue) that’s GREAT. If you don’t plan for either, August can be CATASTROPHIC. You’ll wind up sitting in an empty gym, hating life and stressing over your bills.

No matter what your plan, August is a critical month for mentorship. The best time to plan for August was back in January; the next best time to plan for NEXT August is NOW. And if you’re panicking about your bills, this is actually a great time to think ahead. Tell yourself, as I did back in 2008:

“I’m never going through this again.”

Then take steps to make it so.

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