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5 Steps to Prepare for the Post-New Year's Crowd 

Each New Year's, health club operators steel themselves for the influx of members—old and new alike—who will flood their facilities with the hopes of getting a jump start on a healthier year. While the bump in club memberships is always welcome, the increased volume can put a strain on staff and turn-off regular users.

“The phenomenon of people making New Year’s resolutions is often demonstrated with a desire to get in shape or get back into shape,” says Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., owner of Paris-based Fitness Resources Consulting Services. “So it is not uncommon that health clubs and fitness centers find themselves with an influx of people coming into the club in early January.”

To help you thrive during the early 2016 rush, we asked three experts how they approach the challenges caused by January “resolutioners” and curated five steps for success.

1. Be aware that the post-New Year's influx is made up of two main groups: new members and existing members who haven’t visited the club for a while. “Club operators need to be prepared to welcome back existing members and to sign up and welcome the new members,” says Hoffman says.

2. Fine-tune your processes well beforehand. “We evaluate every aspect of our company, from staffing, sales training, systems, and incentive programs,” says Shawn Stewart, chief operating officer for O2 Fitness in Raleigh, NC. “We begin by making sure we have the necessary staff hired and fully trained. Having the right staff is critical if you want a successful January. We generally keep extra staff into mid February.”

3. Expand your staff schedule and class offerings to match member volume. “Operators must guarantee that there is an appropriate amount of staff for the increased numbers as well as a sufficient amount of group classes available at all times of the day to accommodate everyone,” Hoffman says. “As the influx is anticipated, management needs to assess beforehand what the needs of the club will be and plan accordingly.”

4. Ensure new members are properly integrated into the club. “We work with our PT department in regards to ways to get our current members and new members off of the equipment and into groups on the floor to work out and we coach our sales teams to stay engaged with all of the new members that they sign up to make sure that they are seeing results and getting the most out of their membership,” says Maria Miller, regional programs manager for Merritt Athletic Clubs in Maryland. “This then turns into referral opportunities because family and friends will want to become a part of it.”

5. Keep a positive attitude and share it with staff. “We change our mindset and don't look at it as ‘dealing with it’ but as, ‘this is awesome,’ and we encourage it,” Miller says.

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