Designing Simple and Clear Pricing
7 minute read
Keep your membership and pricing options simple and designed in a way that helps your clients get fit, stay fit and stick around.
When it comes to setting up membership options and prices, experienced gym owners agree less is generally more.
Too many options, especially when presented online, usually serves to confuse the client and cripples them from making the right decision. Think back to that acronym you learned in grade school about writing: KISS: Keep it simple, silly.
More importantly than keeping it simple, though, is that your pricing should be designed to help all parties involved in the gym: The coach, the client and the business. If you offer options that don’t help—or even hurt—the client or the business, why are you still offering them?
Here are 7 concepts from gym owners about designing simple and clear pricing that help the client get fit and the business be profitable:
7. Frequency: Two Options Only
I have seen gyms who charge different prices once a week, twice a week, three days a week, four days a week and unlimited group class memberships.
Usually this multitude of unnecessary options emerged because one client one time requested a specific membership option not currently offered. The gym owner was eager to please and fearful of losing the client, so he granted the person’s wish. And before he knew it, his membership pricing options looked like that confusing restaurant you went to that time that served Chinese, Italian, Mexican and American food, but nothing at all tasted that good. On the flipside, a small menu with just a few features is usually an indication of a higher-end, higher quality restaurant.
The overarching point here is to keep your group class membership options to just a couple useful choices that will benefit the client most. If someone can’t commit to coming to the gym at least twice a week on average, chances are he or she isn’t going to reap the benefits from the training program, so why even suggest a once-a-week option? Similarly, three days a week is plenty for many (arguably most) people, so why not consider three days a week an unlimited membership?
Thus, the most logical two options to include when it comes to frequency are twice a week or unlimited. Leave it at that.
With that in mind, three to four days a week is probably what’s best for most people’s fitness (twice a week might be optimal for someone who plays another sport twice a week or goes skiing every weekend, but most people should be coming three or four days a week), so it’s best to avoid discounting the twice a week option too heavily. Keeping the twice a week option in the neighbourhood of 90 percent of the price of an unlimited membership (this means, for example, $200 a month for unlimited or $180 for twice a week) often encourages people who were considering the twice a week option to opt for the unlimited membership instead, which is probably what’s best for his/her fitness.
6. Build Personal Training Into ALL Of Your Memberships
Meeting your clients in a one-on-one environment at minimum once per quarter (every three months) goes a long way in connecting with them to find out what’s going on in their bodies and in their lives. It also gives your the chance to work with them on their specific weaknesses and goals. All of this goes a long way in ensuring they’re happy and getting what they need from their membership.
With that in mind, why not build at least some personal training into all of your group class memberships? It’s what’s best for client’s fitness and retention, and thus what’s best for your business, as well.
Once again, keep it simple. We like three options here: Group classes plus a quarterly personal training session, group classes plus a monthly (or once every 6 weeks if your gym runs 6-week cycles in classes) personal training session, and group classes plus a once-a-week personal training session.
For example, your three options might look like this:
- Bronze Membership: Twice a week or unlimited group classes plus one quarterly personal training session
- Silver Membership: Twice a week or unlimited group classes plus a monthly/once every 6 weeks personal training session
- Gold Membership: Twice a week or unlimited group classes plus a weekly personal training session
As a relevant side note, consumer studies show most human beings avoid selecting both the cheapest option and the most expensive one. This means they usually settle for the pricing option in the middle. This is as true of gym memberships as it is of selecting wine at the liquor store or a car wash at the gas station. In this case, most people will select the middle option—the Silver Membership—meaning once a month personal training (with unlimited group classes because it’s a better deal than twice a week). As a coach and gym owner, the silver membership is probably the option that’s best for most people when it comes to their fitness and their retention. In this way, your pricing and membership options are set up perfectly to help both the client and the business maximize success.
This depends on what your fundamentals program is—whether you offer group fundamentals or one-on-one personal training as your fundamentals program—however the concept is the same: Keep it simple!
If you do personal training as your fundamentals program, the number of sessions the person needs will likely depend on their fitness level, their age, their injury history, how they move etc. The easiest thing to do in this case then is to include just your hourly rate for personal training with a note that explains the number of sessions required depends on the individual. For example:
- Personal Training: $75 an hour (the number of sessions required depends on the individual’s needs, wants, goals and abilities).
Similarly, if you offer group fundamentals, keep it to one option only. For example:
- Group fundamentals: $500 for 10 sessions. Ask us about when the next session begins.
4. Don’t Advertise Discounts
Many gyms do a military, student or family discounts.
Though discounts aren’t necessary and might be something you want to avoid altogether, there are times, such as the above three scenarios, where you might think it a good idea. We advise you, however, not to advertise discounts for certain groups on your website and do it on a case-by-case basis instead.
When you meet a new client, you’ll probably quickly determine quickly whether he/she is a member of the military or a student. In this case, you can offer your 10% discount, which will come as a pleasant surprise to the person, as opposed to it being an expectation. More than 10%, though, and you’re doing your business a disservice.
Keeping discounts off your website helps the presentation of your membership and pricing options appear more clean and clear to the consumer. Secondly, it prevents other people you wouldn’t expect from demanding a discount. Do you really want to have this conversation:
“Do you offer a teachers’ discount?”
“But you offer a student discount…”
“Yes, but you’re a fully employed, functioning adult…”
The point is once you get the idea in people’s heads that you offer discounts, there are no limits in terms of who comes out of the woods and starts demanding 10% off.
3. Punch Pass
Similar to the once-a-week option, do you really want a plethora unreliable punch pass clients taking over your gym? Not only is their attendance less committed, the income for your business that comes in from punch passes is unreliable.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t cases for punch passes, such as:
- If someone travels a lot for work
- If someone moved, for example, 30 miles away but wants to continue to come once a month when he/she is in town
- If the person travels to your city for work periodically
In a case such as the above, by all means strike a punch pass deal. But you definitely don’t want your business to be built on punch passes.
Like the discount concept, don’t advertise punch passes. If someone asks about purchasing one, figure out if this will benefit both him/her and your business. If it does, then offer it, but charge a premium for it, so the person is incentivized to move to a full membership if his/her situation changes.
2. Monthly vs. Up-Front Payments
Many gyms offer a discount if someone pays for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, or 12 months up front. Receiving 12 months up front can be a useful thing, especially if you’re just opening your gym and are in need of cash flow. On the other hand, if you don’t want people to pay up front at all, then don’t discount it. Many gym owners choose this route.
If you do discount up front payments, we recommend you don’t discount them more than 10 percent, nor do you offer too many options. Keep it to just two: 6 months and 12 months up front are the most obvious.
That being said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strike a deal with someone who, for example, is in town for four months only and wants to pay up front. However, these deals can be done with a private conversation and on a case-by-case basis, as opposed to something you advertise online or at the gym.
In terms of online presentation of this information, keep it clean. One easy way of presenting it is to use an asterix so your page doesn’t become cluttered with all sorts of prices and numbers. For example, it can be as simple as:
- 10% discount on monthly rates for 6 months or 12 months up front payments
However, if you’re in need of cash flow for, let’s say, a new equipment order, you may want to be more bold and obvious about the discount to encourage people to go for up front payments. For example:
- Save $25 a month if you pay for 6 months or 12 months up front.
1. Steer People Accordingly
Before you even talk about price, the best thing to do is chat with your prospect or client about what you think is the best option them him/her. What kind of service and coaching does this individual require based on his/her individual needs? If you know the person is struggling with an injury, or is mobility challenged and moves poorly, he/she will probably benefit from more one-on-one attention, for example. In this case, it’s up to you as the coach to recommend more personal training until the person is self-sufficient in class. At that time, perhaps recommend to move from a Gold down to a Silver membership.
The same is true of your fundamentals options, should you offer the choice between group and personal training. If you know someone will do better with one-on-one personal training than the group, steer them in that direction. If you have done a good job developing trust, the person should value and respect your guidance and should take comfort knowing you have his/her best interest in mind.
In short, talk about the level of service and coaching they need first, and price second.
Considering all of the above, your pricing sheet should be one clean and simple page, whether printed out or online. Here’s an example:
Step 1: Fundamentals Options:
Group Fundamentals: $500 for 10 sessions. (Ask us about when the next session begins).
Personal Training: $75 an hour (the number of sessions required before you can advance to Step 2 depends on your needs, wants, goals and fitness level).
Step 2: Full Membership Options and Monthly Rates:
Bronze Membership: Group classes plus one quarterly personal training session:
2x week classes plus quarterly personal training session: $180
Unlimited classes plus quarterly personal training session: $200
Silver Membership: Group classes plus a monthly (or once every 6 weeks) personal training session:
2x week classes plus a monthly personal training session: $245
Unlimited classes plus a monthly personal training session: $265
Gold Membership: Twice a week or unlimited group classes plus a weekly personal training session:
2x week classes plus a weekly personal training session: $440
Unlimited classes plus a weekly personal training session: $460
*Save 10 percent on monthly rates if you purchase 6 or 12 months up front!
Final Words: Keep your membership and pricing options simple and designed in a way that helps your clients get fit, stay fit and stick around. As a result, your business will be successful too.
Planning a new gym, yoga studio, or martial arts facility?
This article appears as part of our Definitive Gym Startup Guide as a resource for everyone who’s planning to start a new .
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