Small Group Training for Gyms – DIY or License?

Do you feel that you, or one of your trainers should be able to design, launch and manage a set of successful small group training programs for your club?

... one that makes the most money for the trainers and the business?

Do you, or they have the spare time?

Will the club achieve better results with DIY (Do It Yourself) or Licensing?

This 4-Step blog explores these questions and poses an interesting proposition.... 

Step 1 - Set your club's Small Group Training goals

What does a successful small group training program actually look like?

  • Engagement: At least 5% of members are enrolled in the program.
  • Revenue: The members are paying at least $25 per week extra by direct debit. Hint: Do the maths for your club to calculate the extra direct debit (= total members x 5% x $25 pw) then compare that with your current SGT revenue numbers. Many club owners do not have the confidence that they know how to get around 5% of members paying extra for SGT. Of course, any trainer can design an SGT program that the club gives away for free.
  • Different programs for different member segments: To have a wide appeal, there's at least 3 different programs that members can enrol in. The programs should have professional branding as well.
  • Variety: To maximise member retention, the lesson plans for each program change every session. Somebody has to design each lesson plan, connect the sequence of lessons to ensure progressive training, and write each lesson plan out. With 3 different programs that's at least 6 new written lesson plans per week. All lesson plans should be pre-tested, too.
  • Quality control: There's a process to ensure all trainers use consistent instruction for each exercise and all sessions. 
  • Recruitment of trainers: As today most trainers are self-employed, there needs to be a system where they are incentivised to coach the Small Group or Team Training programs. Ideally they should be able to earn at least as much, if not more than, they earn from training individual clients. This way, they'll be less inclined to say "sorry" when their clientele builds up. Trainer churn is an industry-wide problem.
  • Recruitment of members: There needs to be a launch marketing program and sales process to ensure at least 5% of members enrol. Then there needs to be ongoing marketing events to top up enrolments and to continue to grow the number of members engaged.
  • The creation of a great member experience: This requires training the trainers (and perhaps even the group-ex teachers) in world class group/team-training delivery plus creating and purchasing great background music to match the energy of the different programs.
  • Management/admin systems: There needs to be systems and processes to make it all work: for the members, the trainers and the business. Otherwise things fall off the rails.
  • Bottom line: After all expenses and payments to trainers, the club should make a fair margin. This margin should be as much as the club receives in PT rent. This is the hard bit: How to get enough members paying enough, so you can pay the trainers enough and have enough left over for the business, to justify its investment in the space and equipment. In today's competitive gym marketplace clubs can no longer rely on membership as their sole source of income. Clubs need extra, secondary "non-membership" revenue as well.

Step 2 - Who's Going to Make It Happen?

Successful execution requires someone to take responsibility for execution.

Here's the interesting proposition...

You're lucky enough to have on your team someone who says they can do all the above. They make the club this offer:

"I'll do all the work to create the programs, all the sessions plans and all the rest above for just $150 per week. I have the free time.

It will only take 3 sessions for the club to make $150 profit... that's after paying a trainer well to deliver the sessions.

This means that the club's program development and ongoing programming costs are fully covered.

From then on the club keeps the profit from all other sessions."

Would your club management say YES or NO?

 Step 3 - What are the downside risks for the club doing DIY SGT?

The biggest downside risks for the club management to consider before developing SGT programs internally include:

  1. As the fitness professional has got great technical skills the club asks them to do it, but they don't have the branding, marketing sales and systems to make the program work smoothly and generate the sales to its full potential. Despite the fitness professional having great technical skills they really don't have a track record of building a small group training "business within the business".
  2. Without the systems in place, it may take a long time to build the numbers, if at all. Also, without good systems the program's retention is not good.
  3. The small group training team is dependent on an expert.
  4. The expert goes away on holidays or leaves!​ Worst case, they take members who want to continue doing the program with them.

Step 4 - Is there an alternative to DIY SGT?

The alternative is to license all the above and the expert systems from TRIBE Team Training. This gives the club 3 key advantages:

  1. Speed of execution: Why miss out on the extra income that the club and trainers could be earning by having quickly scalable systems? Why let local boutique operators get all of this growing high-yield market?
  2. Cheaper execution: It's cheaper to license proven systems and belong to a growing user group than to invest the time to re-invent the wheel. Your time is better spent driving membership growth. If you and your team could really do this, you would have done it already - and done it well! The profit from just one team of 10 members can pay all the license and music costs for 3 programs this can be scaled to unlimited sessions. One club has licensed just 3 programs and has grown to a schedule of over 50 pre-paid sessions a week!
  3. Quality of execution: Each program comes with branding, marketing, systems and processes, along with fully tested, connected and pre-written lesson plans plus online video education for all trainers. This avoids the challenges of reinventing the wheel.

​Small Group and Team Training represents a massive opportunity for clubs to grow an extra source of secondary revenue (from within) and increase member engagement.

With TRIBE Team Training it takes just one full team to cover all the license costs for 3 different programs that can be scaled to multiple teams. There's clubs with over 20 teams doing over 40 pre-paid sessions per week.

If you'd like to see how TRIBE Team Training does all this for clubs, and learn the key differences between small group training and team training, click the button below to book a time to chat that suits you.

Need to read more? Here's a case study.

About the Author Jamie Hayes

Jamie Hayes is the CEO of TRIBE Team Training. Together with his wife Ellen, he's owned and operated 8 fitness centres. He's presented many times at Filex on group-ex, strength training, management, marketing, plus business panels. He's written articles in Network magazine and Fitness Pro magazine. His passion is to maximise community health through exercise.

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