Are You Committing CrossFit Membership Suicide?

Are you committing Crossfit member suicide?

I get it… It’s really a tough decision…

When setting up your box, deciding what sort of CrossFit membership structure to run with really is a critical decision.

Does this sound a little like your story?

In preparing to open your CrossFit box, you literally spend hours upon hours looking at countless different CrossFit Affiliate websites and you start to notice a bit of a trend – a lot of these boxes emphasise the fact that they only offer month-by-month memberships, strictly no long term contracts.

And this gets you thinking… “Well that makes sense. We love CrossFit and naturally we only want to train people that want to be here, right?… I mean, we don’t want to tie people down with long-term contracts, it’s just not CrossFit and besides, people will be a lot more willing to take out a membership if we’re not tying them down to anything long term.”

Like I said, it’s a tough decision. And on the surface, that sounds pretty logical. But, let’s re-consider our stance on the month-by-month membership thing by looking at the following question;

Business focal point No. 1

From the moment you open your doors in the morning, to the moment you wrap up the final session in the evening, are you putting all of your very best efforts into helping your members get fit and improve their health?

If your answer is ‘No’, your members are not the main priority in your business… Well I think it would be best if you stop reading this now and join the ranks of the ‘Globo’ – churn and burn gym or the plethora of clipboard holding, rep-counting personal trainers out there all trying to make the easy dollar – because there is a heck of a lot of them out there and CrossFit has no place for you.

On the other hand, if you answered ‘Yes, I’ve designed my business around doing what I can to get people in serious shape’, well this is a whole other story.

You’ve got your fundamentals program dialed in. You’ve up-skilled and worked intensively on becoming a better coach. You’re forever reviewing your programming and supplementing this programming for your members based on areas of weakness. You give your members nutritional guidance – to help them make the transition to ‘clean’ eating.

You really have got all of the training and nutrition bases covered in your business. But what are you doing to help with the accountability?

Are you helping or hindering?

Let’s say you’ve got a month-by-month member that is going really well. They’re loving CrossFit, it’s better than anything that they’ve done in the past. They’re getting some kick-arse results, their lifts are going up, their met-con times are coming down, as too are the clothe sizes. But then something happens that breaks their flow. Work gets busy. Maybe the niggling knee played up again. Or possibly, they went away on holidays. But the end result is the same, they lose their momentum and now they’re struggling and disheartened about the idea of coming back and having to work from the bottom up again.

It becomes something that they will get back in to next month.

But unfortunately, next month never happens because they’ve got a month-by-month membership, hence they haven’t put ‘skin in the game’, they have no accountability to their fitness. By not offering a long term membership, you’re making it harder for your members to get fit.

Only offering short term memberships, aside from committing membership suicide to your business, you could also in fact be hampering and making it significantly harder for your members to achieve the health and fitness that they’re aspiring to. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to come in to your box and turn in to a CrossFit addict the moment they smash out their first WOD.

In fact, the vast majority, while really enjoying the challenges, variety and community of CrossFit, will take much longer for the addiction to bite them. Even more again will never be that CrossFit addict. This is not to say that they do not get incredible benefits from CrossFit or that they don’t enjoy it, but given the option of short term memberships, the majority of these people will drift in and out of fitness routines for which CrossFit too will become part of that self-sabotaging repeating pattern.

You gotta put ‘skin in the game’

On the other hand, the long term membership is a tremendous way to elicit the ongoing commitment and give the accountability needed to achieve serious fitness results. The sort of results that you said you want for your members, what is the primary focus of your business. And the accountability that long term memberships give is a funny thing – we know that the member is now accountable because they’ve made an investment that they’re going to try and get some value out of. But this accountability also falls back on you as a business owner.

Because you’re in business for the right reasons – to help people – if someone is on a long term membership, you’re going to do your best to keep them going. You’ll make the phone calls when they’ve dropped off. You’ll modify the program when they’re injured all because you owe it to them as a member and this will be seen by the member as a high valued service, they will feel valued and cared for.

On the flip side, if they’re on a month-by-month and you’re giving follow up phone calls to get them fired up again, the member now feels sold to rather than valued – even though your intentions are for the same outcome, to get this person results.

A box offering long term memberships will ALWAYS make a bigger, more significant health impact on their local community than the box that only offers month-by-month.

Buy in bulk and save

So not only are you getting better results for more of your members by offering the longer term memberships, this can also be a means by which it can benefit the member in the form of membership savings. As with any bulk purchase, there is generally the principle of discounting larger purchases. The box can afford to reward the members committing to their long term health because they’re not having to invest the same time and money into recruiting new members each month.

Say NO to membership suicide!

From your operational perspective, it really is business suicide to only offer short term memberships. One of the best things about the longer term memberships is the continuity of income. Rather than waiting to see who has dropped off each month, versus who has signed up, focusing on longer term memberships gives an incredibly higher point of stability for the Box. You will be much better able to predict membership and subsequent cash flow trends.

Further to this, offering longer term memberships also increases the life-span of each client. Having members commit makes a massive difference for member retention. The member is making the time commitment needed to achieve significant results. They are being given the time needed to let their CrossFit addiction grow. The long term members are the ones that achieve more and refer more. This all in turn means that you get to focus on the CrossFit delivery, rather than continually trying to bolster up membership numbers.

The other huge benefit of a long term membership is that you will now no longer have to deal with tyre-kickers that occupy all of your time, demand a lot without being willing to put the skin in the game. You know the type, the ones that aren’t really serious about committing to their health, the ones that always blame and point fingers, but never look at their own responsibility as to why they haven’t gotten in shape in the past.

Long term memberships will not attract these people.

You do not want these people as very quickly you will see that they do not fit in to the CrossFit community. While CrossFit can help everyone, people first have to be willing to help themselves. You will find long term memberships attract the people that you enjoy training, the ones that will get the results and thrive in the box.

How should I structure the memberships?

As you can see, there are significant benefits to both the members and the business by offering long term memberships. So in moving ahead, what is going to be the best membership structures to offer?

Well from a sales perspective, three options have been proven to be the most effective (although this may vary slightly depending upon your sales process). But in the very least, offer two – a shorter term and a longer term membership. How short should depend on what is the minimum time that you need to help make some significant fitness improvements in your members.

Remember anything less than this is flying against what you said was important to you in your business – getting your members results. And in terms of how long for the long term – well that really is up to you. I’ve seen boxes successfully offer memberships from six months through to two years (although there is some legislation in SA that limits it to 12 months for direct debits).

Just remember if you don’t have it there, people can’t buy it.

At the end of the day, how you structure your memberships will be up to you. But recognise you will attract the members that you enjoy training, the ones that give back to the community. Your members will be better served, they will get better results, they will stay longer and refer more if you give them the long term option – worth considering hey?…

So let’s put it out there, who has tried the long term membership and what percentage of your members are taking up this option?







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