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To Grow Your Health Club’s Non-Dues Revenue, Focus on Your Strengths 

This post is an IHRSA Institute preview.

When Merritt Clubs management noticed the prevalence of before- and after-school care programs near their Eldersburg, MD, location, something clicked. They already had the infrastructure—the club’s summer camps were consistently successful—so why not start a before-and-after care program of their own?  

After identifying the need in the market, “we developed a plan, hired the staff, got all needed permits and licenses, set up our actions, and in the first three weeks we had a waiting list of 29 people,” says Merritt Clubs COO Mark Miller. “We just finished our first year and have sold out next year already, and are looking at how we can expand it so we are able to accommodate more members.”

The Benefits of Non-Dues Revenue

Merritt’s program exemplifies the many benefits of growing your club’s non-dues revenue. These kinds of supplementary services add value to membership in addition to strengthening your bottom line.

“It makes you more than just a membership-driven organization,” he says. “This can help in marketing and retention—it can create a level of differentiation in your marketplace. It will help your business become more resilient and ultimately better, as well as [more] profitable.”

For clubs looking to grow their non-dues revenue, Miller suggests aiming for a 70/30 split, with the ultimate goal of getting to 60/40.

“While there is no magic number, one should establish some goals,” he says. “Depending on the type of offerings this number can also diverge from these recommendations.” 

Identifying Non-Dues Revenue Opportunities

The process to identify new opportunities to generate non-dues revenue can be extremely detailed, Miller says. He suggests starting with what your business is already good at.

“That is the first opportunity,” he says. “You do not want to overcommit and then have no plan or actions.” 

The before-and-after care program at Merritt’s Eldersburg location is an example of just that. Since they already excelled at summer camps, that kind of program was a logical next step.

We knew “adding this program would allow another opportunity/service for our current members and potentially bring in new members,” says Regional Program Director Maria Miller.   

The program also aligns with the club’s primary offering—fitness and wellbeing.

“The program provides a safe, fun, and caring environment for the children in the community.  It’s a place where children can make new friends and build self-esteem,” Maria Miller says. “They have the ability to learn about health and fitness as they participate in weekly fitness programs, as well as an opportunity to complete their homework daily.” 

Another potential resource for new non-dues revenue ideas is your club staff.

“When looking for new ideas or innovations, it is sometimes best to look into people’s passions—the things people do when not in the club,” Mark Miller says.

Merritt Clubs often taps its passionate team members for this purpose, resulting in programs such as a scrapbooking workshop and a weekend run club.

Strengthen your Non-Dues Revenue Strategy 

Miller will share even more of his expertise during his Thursday, August 3, IHRSA Institute session, “Non-Dues Revenue: Management & Growth Strategies.”

The two-hour course will help attendees evaluate their market and determine growth areas to effectively use space, engage members and prospects, drive growth, and increase non-dues revenue and profits.

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 1-4 in Chapel Hill, NC.