How To Host The Perfect Opening Day

by | Dec 10, 2018

7 minute read
Ready, set, go! It’s time to open your doors, but what’s the best way? Read this article for tips on the best way to get people through your doors.

How To Host The Perfect Opening Day

So you’re ready to open the doors of you brand new gym, and you’re debating the best approach to get the show on the road.

Should you throw a BBQ and a big partner workout and invite all your friends and their friends? Should you spend a few hundred dollars to advertise hard on social media and offer free giveaways for those who show up to the grand opening? Or should you start out quietly by personal training a handful of clients?

Let’s take a look at where people are finding success:

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Use Social Media, But Gym Owners Warn: Don’t Give Away Too Much For Free!

Social media giveaways seem like an effective way to generate awareness that your gym exists, and even to gather people to come check it out. Where gym owners go wrong, however, is by using social media to give away serious amounts of potential revenue, such as an entire year free membership.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advertise or post on various social media platforms to generate awareness of your brand—especially in the final two weeks leading up to opening your doors—but most gym owners we speak with suggest keeping your giveaways to a minimum.

Instead of free months and free years or two-for-one deals, offer a free one-on-one introductory or consulting session. If social media can help you book 20 introductory sessions for you to administer in the first week you open, you’re going to be much further ahead than you would be giving away free months to strangers who have no intention of ever paying for a membership. You’re not creating buy-in when you give away your service for free. Mostly, it just sets your culture up as the discount gym. A new dental practice doesn’t offer free fillings to the first 10 patients… So, if you want to be a professional coaching service—i.e. the most expensive steakhouse in town instead of the discount gym—then this needs to be reflected in your online brand right from Day 1.

Social media can, of course, also be a great way to advertise and promote your grand opening, if you choose to host an official grand opening. This allows people to sign up on social media and commit to being there on the day. Some say offering small incentives, such as a free t-shirt, a workout, food and drinks, a free info session or a nutrition consult helps them keep their commitment to showing up.

Grand Opening: Hosting a workout versus an info session?

Options are plentiful if you host an official grand opening: Some gym owners have had success running a workout, hosting a BBQ with burgers and booze, or bringing on a taco truck for post-workout eats, while others say it’s best to keep the grand opening to an information session only.

A workout can be a great way to bring in 50-plus eager fitness enthusiasts keen to get their sweat on and sign as many of them up as possible for your fundamentals program. It’s also a perfect opportunity to take hundreds of pictures and some quality videos to generate content for future social media posts that shows your gym is a new hot place in town.

On the other hand, sometimes running a workout with a group of unexperienced athletes can be challenging and frustrating for the coach, and intimidating for the new athletes. If your demographic is full of younger folks in their 20s and 30s, running a workout is often very appropriate. However, if you are recruiting and attracting people of a slightly older demographic than that, like the 40 to 60-year-old crew, a scary workout can backfire if they’re not made to feel comfortable. If this is the case, you might be better off using the grand opening as an information session only.

There’s also nothing stopping you from doing both: Offer a grand opening with a BBQ and group workout, and then offer a group information session on a different day. This gives people the opportunity to select what they’d rather be a part of.

Whether you run a workout and BBQ or an information session or both, the key is to get people to sign up for an introductory session or fundamentals and become full paying members of your gym, so make sure you’re providing ample opportunity for people to sign up and commit to a specific time in the future to begin their fitness journey.

What About Soft Openings?

Some owners have also had success with launching “soft openings” before the grand opening, which is usually a chance to invite family and friends to check out your space, similar to what a new restaurant does before opening to the public. The hope here is they’ll all sign up when you do open officially.

A soft opening is also a chance for you to verbalize to your friends and family that you’d appreciate if they would all come to the grand opening and bring a friend with them. Let them know what will happen at the grand opening, and how your goal is to get 20 (or 30 or 40 or whatever your goal is) people to sign up for an introductory session or fundamentals.

We have also heard success stories of gym owners inviting family and friends to help paint or set-up your facility. If you do this, we recommend offering food and drinks if you’re going to put them to work, but, generally speaking, people who care about you will be more than willing to both lend a hand and help promote your business. On your end, don’t be afraid to ask for their help doing both.

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 .
For more information and a ton more tips, tricks, hacks, and concepts make sure to read thru the whole guide.