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Best Practices: How to Best Market a Club That’s Under New Ownership

The following post was written by Paul Brown and Joe Cirulli for our weekly Best Practices series.

Question: How can we market a club that’s under new ownership to let consumers know we’re making major changes to what had been a mismanaged facility?

Answer: “New owners, new attitude!” When you take over the reins of an existing business, be excited, be bold, and be loud. … But there’s no need to highlight the failings of the previous owners. The public and your clients will see for themselves. My list of must-dos would include:

  • Define your company’s vision, core values, and mission
  • Hold a team meeting to obtain feedback on past performance, expectations, and ideas
  • Hold town-hall-style meetings with past and present members. Avoid judging the past management; simply seek useful feedback
  • Solicit editorial coverage in local and regional newspapers and Websites. Invite interviews and offer to submit prewritten pieces
  • Create a members’ blog and invite clients to share honest feedback on the club’s new direction
  • A new name, slogan, and/or logo might be advisable. New signage, a fresh paint job, and updated lighting can also demonstrate that things are changing at the club without breaking the bank
  • Have a grand club relaunching day. Invite local dignitaries and members of the Chamber of Commerce to participate in a ribbon-cutting and plaque-installation ceremony
  • Attend lots of local events—e.g., fairs, fun runs, and Rotary and Toastmasters meetings—and distribute free passes and your new “core values and mission” statement

Paul Brown
Face2Face Retention Systems
Paradise Point, Queensland


Answer: The strongest and most effective marketing you can do as a health club operator is to create the right environment inside of your center. The first thing that requires is any requisite or appropriate changes to the physical plant—e.g., cleaning every part of the facility, making sure that all of the fitness equipment is in perfect working order, etc. This means that, as far as members are concerned, nothing is ever broken down; if something isn’t functioning, it should be removed from the floor until it’s fixed.

A second major priority is the retraining of the entire staff. In order to achieve this, you have to make sure that your vision, mission, core values, central purpose, and corporate culture are perfectly defined and clearly aligned with those of employees. If your current people aren’t a match, you’ll have to find ones who are.

As you do these things, attending to the facility and staff, you should update your members regularly via e-mail and with signage inside the club. Then, when everything is ready and going at full force, have a large grand reopening party for, among others, your customers, their friends, and members of the Chamber of Commerce. That’s the point at which I’d begin making use of advertising on TV, in the local paper, and via e-mail.

In the final analysis, word of mouth will prove to be your most powerful advertising tool.

Joe Cirulli
Founder & CEO
Gainesville Health & Fitness Center
Gainesville, Florida



Best Practices features answers from experts from both inside and outside the health club industry to thought-provoking questions on a wide range of topics. If you have a question you'd like answered, submit your question today

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