Casablanca: A Club With Plenty To Cheer About

Casablanca Gymnastics

When Doug Bacon and his family picked up the keys for their new gym in 2016 it was the culmination of a quarter of a century of hard work.

A new beginning. And to mark the occasion they turned to Gymnastics Club Manager Software to help cope with the increase in numbers and interest.

Casablanca Cheerleading, Gymnastics and Trampolining Club is a family-run business, the Bacon family consisting of Doug, his wife Claire and daughter and son Carli and Daniel.

Doug was a British International in Trampolining in the 1970s, Claire a gymnast. When they retired from their respective sports Doug worked in a sport centre and Claire as a nursery nurse. But the lure of the gym was always strong and in 1991 they started Casablanca, initially offering gymnastics and trampolining and hiring a local church hall to house a small number of enthusiastic participants.

New facilities, new software

Almost twenty five years on to the day from those small beginnings and inspired by the ambition of their children Carli and Daniel to expand,they received the keys to their new gym in Loughton, Essex. They needed somewhere with the space and height to cater for around a thousand members  taking classes in Trampolining, Gymnastics, Tumbling, Cheerleading and Hip Hop. In the end they found a warehouse which had been converted in to offices and stripped it back in to its original space to house the gym.

“It’s been great,” says Doug. “We had such long waiting lists and managed to clear them with the extra space and capacity. Only now – following London and Rio – we have a brand new waiting list.”

While the new building was being re-fitted and revamped they took the opportunity to try out the software at the same time. And, happy with the results, the Club decided to use it for members to coincide with the opening of the new facilities.

“Prior to that all of our information was in Excel spreadsheets and a book I carried with me everywhere. This is by far better.”

“The building was still being converted when we decided to go for the software. When we re-opened, everybody in the club had to register. They find it really easy to use, they’re used to doing things online in the rest of their lives.”

Casablanca gymnastics club

75% reduction in admin time

A significant factor in the dream to build a bigger club has been Carli, Daniel and the team’s efforts to develop the Cheerleading section. Now one of Britain’s fastest growing sports, cheerleading is the ideal sport for many – combining gymnastic and tumbling elements with dance. Casablanca boasts around 250 cheerleaders and the Cosmic 5 squad recently qualified to represent Britain at the World Championships in April. So these are exciting – but busy – times for the Club.

One of the most important aspects about the software for Carli is that it frees the coaches to focus on what they love doing – working with their squads.

“The software has definitely decreased the time we spend on admin. Every Monday I would spend at least four hours on admin, now it’s virtually nothing, I would say a 75% reduction at least. It means we can spend more time choreographing routines.”

gymnastics and trampolining club

Recommending other clubs

Doug also points to the ease with which the club can take and monitor payments.

“The big difference has been in taking payments. There’s no more waiting for people to pay. The direct debit works very well and if people don’t pay then they receive an automatic reminder.”

“Overall it makes life easier, everything is in front of you. It means we can deal with greater numbers but its less work. I have recommended the system to a lot of people. In fact we have a club coming to try it out today!”

As with so many other clubs around the country, Casablanca has plans to meet the need for a growing demand for gymnastics.  In the future Doug would love to be able to expand in to larger premises – a separate building which would deal with the extra interest. Cheerleading in one building, gymnastics and trampoline in the other.

But in the meantime Casablanca’s focus is on the Worlds in April and Gymnastics Club Manager will be following their progress in our blog.

Growing Your Gymnastics Club Audience With Twitter

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In part #1 of our Twitter series we showed you how to create your Twitter account, fill out your profile and send your first tweets. If you missed it, you can catch up here. In part #2 we are looking at how a gymnastics club can grow their audience on Twitter through easy engagement strategies and the creation of Twitter lists.

Lots of people want more followers and significant connections, but few people develop the practice and habits to implement these changes each day.

People will often refer to the number of followers a Twitter account may have. Our hope is over time, with the right strategies implemented, a number of these followers will turn into members (or at least their children will). And additionally, we’d anticipate that you’d grow your patterns and levels of engagement with these followers and members, using Twitter to help you do so.

If you were to spend your time following the guidance outlined in this post, you will find yourself

amongst a minority of clubs who are growing their accounts strategically without having to resort to guesswork.

Twitter Manners

Over time there have been so many unspoken Twitter rules that have grown up.

Here are 10 early ones you should employ, to prevent yourself from getting it wrong:

  1. Don’t ask anyone to Retweet something for you, unless they’re a close friend. It’s like saying to someone in a pub, ‘Can you buy me a drink?’. Their followers may have no interest in what you’re writing about, so therefore you’re putting others in an awkward position of having to ignore you (which is common) or say no to you.
  1. Don’t keep following and un-following someone hoping they will notice and then follow you back. If someone notices, they won’t be impressed by it, they’ll simply think you’re trying to spam or follow them in order to get your follower count up.
  1. Don’t follow people and then unfollow them once they have followed you. It just looks like you’re using them to increase your follower count. And, if you’re honest, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
  1. Different people use Twitter in different ways, and so therefore, there’s no set formula. If one of your goals is to grow an audience, you’ll simply succeed by providing tweets that people want to read (and implementing these other strategies). By focusing and delivering your content around a specific niche, this will help your audience know what tweets they can expect from you. Keep in mind what your audience wants to read. The days of ‘I’m about to have dinner’ as a regular tweet from accounts trying to grow a following are long gone. Unless you’re a celebrity and the product you’re offering is you, keep the dinner to yourself.
  1. Don’t forget to retweet other people’s content and don’t avoid referencing the source or person who tweeted it initially. It’s considered good etiquette to recognise those who’ve sourced content you like. Also, it’s a great way to build relationships with that person or organisation.
  1. Don’t over tweet (repeatedly more than 5 times an hour) or under tweet (less than 1 time each day).
  1. Get your links right. Don’t send out a Tweet if the link doesn’t work.
  1. Don’t click on DM’s that look spammy: eg ‘I saw this and was worried about you. Are you ok? http://linktospammersaccount.’ The rule here is, if it seems a little weird or bizarre that someone is sending you such a message then it probably is, especially if it has a link. Sadly, if you fall for this trick, you’ll find lots of your followers getting similar messages from your account. Quick way to lose respect.
  1. Don’t spend all your time trying to get a one-off interaction from a big superstar Twitter user. They either have a large number of followers because they’re already famous, or because they grew their account consistently and faithfully. One Tweet from them is not going to change your world. Tweets come and go within seconds. It’s more important for you to build your following from the ground up, albeit with influencers being a part of this strategy.
  1. Don’t forget to respond to people who send you @mentions. If you’re a company or an organisation, it’s considered bad practice not to respond to people. (It’s the equivalent of being kept on hold on the company phone). This is especially important from a customer service perspective. People feel permission led to moan in public about the service they may have received from an organisation, and if you don’t respond to messages quickly, it can damage your organisations reputation. As with email/ text messages/ any forms of communication; don’t leave people waiting.

And before you go any further, make sure you are familiar with Twitter’s terms and conditions. Twitter have set rules for the number of people you can follow each day and the number of tweets you can send. It’s important that you don’t break these as you’re in danger of having your account suspended if you did do so. You have been warned.

Growing Your Audience

Are you looking to have a large number of followers? Lots of people are and for good reason. The number of followers that someone has can be a quick indicator of credibility. The more people who are following you, the more apt you are technically and the more people consider you / your content to be of importance. Crowds attract crowds.

And that is why some people have felt disappointed by others buying followers. This is understandable, as it’s gaming the system and that trust metric disappears. Anyone in the know can look to see if you’ve bought your followers, and organisations are being ‘outed’ for this.

So here are a number of ways you can grow your follower base without buying them:

  1. Tweet out interesting and good content. It’s always good content that people are drawn to.
  1. Respond to people when they @mention you. It’s not one-way traffic, it’s conversational. Therefore if people only ever seeing you pumping out content then they are far less likely to want to follow you. If you’re an organisation, respond to every mention. If you’re a person, you’re allowed to be more selective.
  1. Tweet content to people that you think their audience will like. They’re likely to retweet things onto others if they’re having to do less work in sourcing the content.
  1. People enjoy people who like them and speak positively. So be warm and friendly with others, and draw people to you. Send us a friendly Tweet @GymnasticsMGR and we’ll be sure to send you the love.
  1. Join in days like #FF (Follow Friday) to reach out to new audiences.
  1. Use the advanced search tool in Twitter to search around keywords that are important to you and start interacting with people who have similar interests. Use Twellow and WeFollow.
  1. Tweet pictures out. These are now displayed with more prominence. Therefore these Tweets are more striking.
  1. Follow people who are in your niche and they are more likely to follow back. Be careful that you don’t churn your account (the process used where you aggressively follow and un-follow people).
  1. Get your Twitter name on Twitter directories like Twellow so that when people are looking for specific people in their niche, they can find you.
  1. Have more followers than the number of people you’re following. People are far more likely to want to follow you if it doesn’t seem like you’re following them just to get your numbers up. This is implied when you are following more than those following you.

Engagement Strategies

Attracting new followers is one thing, but the deeper levels of interaction and engagement are where it gets far more exciting. We know that engaging with members is one of the major priorities for the clubs we work with. People want to feel like they’re important and being taken notice of.

But to start with, the problem you’ll initially face will be dealing with others ignoring you. Don’t let that put you off.

Here are 5 engagement strategies to build deeper connections with your members and followers (some of whom, we hope will convert to become members over time). Equally, it’s important to look to build a sense of community with your members. Therefore, think about how you can foster this community with these engagement strategies:

  1. Ask yourself what content someone would like to see and then seek it out for them. Provide them with value that benefits them and their followers.
  1. Make good quality introductions, introducing one party to another. Just as offline networking works on referrals, when you make introductions you’re not only helping both parties out, but you’re getting yourself known as someone who is generous with their contacts. By nature, you’re more likely to add more people to your contact list as a result.
  1. Respond to what other people are tweeting about and go out of your way to answer them, retweet them, support them, follow the link to their blog and leave a comment.
  1. Don’t just retweet their most recent tweet. Show them that you’re far more interested in them than that, and retweet past tweets they may have sent a few days ago.
  1. Intentionally, tweet regularly to a few superusers. It’s tempting to feel that you need to be all things to all people. And within a club, there will be those who are on Twitter a lot. You want to go deeper and tweet more regularly to those who can grow a sense of a wider community. By focusing on them, you give them the motivation and momentum to look after other followers, members and potential future customers. Set yourself weekly targets of people you want to reach. You may create a Twitter list for these people to enable quick access to others.

Adding Twitter Lists

Lists are vital for you to run an effective Twitter strategy. It’s a way for you to see a needle amongst the haystack and to group people effectively in order to prioritise your interaction with them.

There are two types of lists: public and private lists. When you add someone to a public list they are notified that they have been added. Other people can also subscribe to these lists. Not only are you providing yourself an effective list to track and engage with, you are also providing a service to others who don’t have to do the hard work of seeking such people out.

When you add someone to a private list, they are not notified of this and no one can see this list. This is helpful where you may have a client list or a list of people you want to keep confidential. eg may be a target list for of people you want to see become members.

Once you start using lists, you will quickly find it replaces your need to see all your followers tweets from your homepage. Why don’t you schedule 10 minutes interaction with people from a specific list once a week?

To find a good list, you’re normally finding good people and looking via their homepage to see what lists they have created. These could be people you already know or those you search for via Twellow or WeFollow. These sites allow you to search for people based on interests.

And that’s all for part #2 of our Twitter series. Once again if you missed part #1 you can read it here.

Post #3 will be published soon where we will talk about developing your content strategy and some of our favourite Twitter tools. Or click here to download our free Twitter eBook.

Until then, why not drop us a tweet with any questions or just to simply say hello: @GymnasticsMGR.

Gymnastics Clubs: Getting Started With Twitter

gymnastics clubs

Like the 218 million people on the planet, you’ve recognised that Twitter isn’t going away and so you’ve signed yourself up. Welcome to the club. Unlike many, you’re one of the minority who is tangibly thinking strategically about growing your influence and engagement levels on Twitter. Welcome to our club.

Twitter is a great tool and way to reach people you’d never normally be able to reach. It’s a way to have your finger on what is important to people. And it’s a way to raise the profile of your organisation.

More importantly, we know from listening to our customers that your two biggest priorities are increasing your membership numbers and additionally improving the levels of engagement and communication with them and between them.

Twitter can help you do both of these.

In the first part of a 3-post series, we look at how to setup your Twitter account and how to make your first tweet!

Setting Up Your Twitter Account

  1. Username

When you are setting up your account, consider using a @username that has as few characters as possible, whilst still being in keeping with the rest of your brand. This will become important when you want people to Retweet your content as you only have 140 characters to work with. If your username is long it may take your tweet over 140 characters. As a result, they’re likely to delete your username in the tweet so they can send it. That would be a shame to go to all that work where people want to share your tweet, and they can’t easily. Start with a short username.

  1. Bio

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. As you look to increase your membership numbers and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of engaging with them, inspire them by communicating what makes your club different from the others out there. Let your bio communicate this fact. Make sure you add a website link into the bio text, as this will act as a live link when your name comes up in search results. If one of your desires and aims is to drive traffic back to your club website this is crucial.

  1. Homepage

Your homepage (which is the background people see when you click on someone’s name) is where others get a flavour of your club. They form more of a picture of your organisation and what is important to you. What do you want to display here? Pictures of your members to help engage them / design work that inspires others to enquire about becoming members/quotes you think others will like? It’s good practice to keep a consistent design from one social media account to the next when promoting your club.

  1. Picture

This picture will accompany you wherever you Tweet. Often it’s a great idea to use a similar image on all your social profiles so people are able to recognise you quickly, and your brand is consistent. As a club, it’s likely you’ll have a logo or some thing that denotes that. If you’re displaying a photo, we’d recommend looking into the camera. Smile and be engaging, so people want to respond to you. Whatever you do, get rid of the egg!

Once you’ve put your profile together, take a step back and ask whether you’d follow yourself. Keep tweaking your profile until you would. Getting a profile that people will follow is one thing. As our ultimate goal is to help you grow your membership numbers and increase the levels of engagement with existing members, we now need to look at what you communicate.

How To Tweet

  1. Length

A tweet is a maximum of 140 characters long. Think short bite-sized conversations as opposed to in-depth discussions. On the basis that our attention spans are much shorter, learning to say more with fewer words is critical. But you actually need it shorter than 140 characters. You really want it about 100 to allow space for people to add in a Re-Tweet and their username.

  1. Who are you tweeting it to?

This often gets people a little confused, as you’re not sending someone a tweet to what seems like a fixed destination. (A Facebook wall seems easier to comprehend because it’s always visible there). In short, all of your activity on Twitter is public unless you send a DM.

a) New Tweet. To tweet just to your followers (think of it as a status update on Facebook) and so in ‘Compose a New Tweet’ write anything. To bring this message to the attention of someone else add their @username at any point apart from the beginning of the Tweet and everyone will see it and the person you’ve added with be notified of it.

b) A Mention. To tweet to one person non-privately (think of it as posting it to someone’s wall on Facebook), add their @username at the beginning of your Tweet. If someone is following both you and the person you’re tweeting, then they’ll see this Tweet. Otherwise, it would only be seen by those who visit your profile to read your specific Tweets. Send us a Tweet @GymnasticsMGR and say hello.

c) Direct Message. To send a message to a person or organisation privately (think of it as an email to one person) send a Direct Message. They alone can see it. DM us @GymnasticsMGR to try it out.

d) RT. Retweeting is where you press retweet and it copies the message of the tweet you’re wishing to retweet along with the original tweeter’s username. You’d do this when you want your followers to see someone else’s content, and when you’re affirming someone else for what they’ve written.

e) Favourite. This is a simple star tool to say you like the Tweet. It’s a good way to affirm others if used in moderation, and equally, a good way to keep track of important tweets you may want to go back to at another time.

Adding Images & Videos

Images and videos have increasingly become more significant on Twitter in recent times. Twitter has made moves to move a little into Pinterest’s territory with the photographs being given more prominence in search results.

Naturally, it’s a great idea to have a series of images that you can utilise. Get images and videos from your club’s events. Alternatively, Flickr.com is a great resource to get Creative Commons images, which can be adapted for the purpose.

Hashtags

A hashtag is the sign #. When a word is put after this, you can search all the other people who have used this hashtag on Twitter, eg #gymnastics. Sometimes it can be very helpful to interact with a group of people around a hashtag.

For instance, if you were putting on an event and you wanted the people in the room to be able to communicate easily with each other, there could be a hashtag for the event eg #XYZGCAGM (XYZ Gymnastics Club, AGM).

Different hashtags become popular at different times when many people tweet it. Often when people are watching TV programmes, various TV programmes will trend e.g. #QuestionTime. Hashtags ‘trend’ in different areas: these can work on a city basis or on a Global basis e.g. #RIPNelsonMandela.

Engaging on a hashtag, especially if it’s in an area of your expertise where you have some helpful content, can be an easy way to meet others online who have similar interests.  Additionally looking at the trending hashtags can give you a quick level of awareness of what the world is talking about. Many news stories are broken initially on Twitter now before it arrives on more traditional news channels.

So now you should have a great looking profile page, a Tweet-friendly username and have sent out your first tweet(s). Look out for post #2 or click here to download our free Twitter eBook where we will talk about growing your following and easy engagement strategies you can follow.

Until then, why not drop us a tweet with any questions or just to simply say hello: @GymnasticsMGR.

Planning your Gymnastics Club Christmas Party

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With barely a month to go until Santa’s sleigh and a host of reindeer sweep across the starry sky, Christmas is on the minds of many – and that includes your average gymnastics club manager.

Christmas is a time for giving. And for many of us it brings joy. But it can also give us headaches and present us with dilemmas. What to buy, what to wear, how to party?

Many clubs now open up their facilities to host parties for special occasions including the festive season and birthdays. It brings in much-needed cash and helps raise the profile of your venue as well as bringing the sport to new audiences. But your party may also just be looking forward to an opportunity to celebrating the end of another successful year with your members.

So whether you’re planning to host an informal Club Christmas get-together or a festively-themed party for patrons there are a sackful of gymnastic party ideas to help liven up proceedings. Here are a few top tips ‘yule’ maybe try out if you’re having a party!

Themes and decorations

Alongside the glitter and glamour of trees and baubles why not give your party an Olympic theme? 2016 has seen Britain’s leading gymnasts storm the podium in Rio and a legion of would-be Whitlocks are keen to get in on the action.

So ramp it up to the Max by playing an Olympian theme tune – Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire or Heather Small’s Proud are normally sure fire winners. Build on the atmosphere by allocating partygoers in to teams and marching them in like competitors. Form a centrepiece by using hoops for a five-ring Olympic symbol and covering them with different coloured tinsel. Display your club’s medals and trophies to help inspire participants and then … get the action started.

Games and activities

If your partygoers are new to gymnastics then often just having supervised access to the apparatus can be enough to provide plenty of fun. Some basic floor exercises, vaults and walks along the beam or time on the trampoline will get the blood pumping and laughter flowing.

But there are dozens of innovative yet simple ways of using your equipment to make things more memorable. From who can hula the longest to forward roll relays across the mat. But for your trained gymnasts you can also try a form of musical statues while balancing on balls with the last one standing the winner or use the same format for the steadiest landed back flip. And gymnastics apparatus is ideally suited for an all-swinging, all-tumbling assault course.

Of course there should be prizes for everyone, for both the winners and losers alike.

Food for thought

No party is complete without a little creative catering. But we all know you need to be a little careful when it comes to mixing food with your facilities. And also full stomachs and excited kids are not always the best combination. So many people prefer to play and then eat. It’s Christmas so don’t be shy of the traditional fayre of mince pies and sausage rolls but how about going healthy and assembling a Christmas Tree made of fruit? Then you can indulge in a cake topped with icing and smarties for Olympic rings.  

At the end of the day parties should be fun. But if you find a successful template then you can apply it all year round by just changing the theme. Making best use of your facilities is the key. Then everyone can profit from you hosting a party.

Case Study: Colchester Gymnastics Club – A Big Club With Big Ambitions

 

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Colchester Gymnastics Club is a big club … with an equally big admin workload. So they turned to Gymnastics Club Manager software for help. And the decision is already paying dividends.

A few weeks into the new setup, Gymnastics Club Manager caught up with Wayne Southby and Louise Pennell who combine coaching with admin manager roles and Keeley Hazelhurst who runs a tight financial ship.

Wayne says, “We were living in Excel World, it was death by spreadsheet. Now we have a system which has improved everything from class organisation to register keeping and payment collection. It almost eliminates the possibility of human error.”

Inspired By The Greats

Like so many gymnastics clubs in the UK, Colchester has mushroomed thanks to the dedication of coaches and volunteers and the successes of our Olympians. It all began in 1977 when the club launched with approximately 100 members.

The Club built their first gym in 1991 and grew steadily following a merger with Colchester School of Gymnastics in 1998. But the club’s real turning point was London 2012 when interest was sparked by a quartet of medals won at the O2 Arena.

In response, the Club decided to extend their facilities and the inspirational Beth Tweddle MBE officially opened the new gym in August 2014.

The ceremony featuring displays and, along with Tweddle, the participation of the Mayor of Colchester and a number of VIPs.

“Although national gymnasts can always be called upon to open new facilities, Beth’s cousin trains with us so that was a massive help in bringing her to Colchester. She stayed for hours meeting the gymnasts and signing autographs,” says Wayne.

New Facilities, New Challenges

The opening was a huge day for the club. Wayne says, “In 2014 we went from 600 to 1200 in one day and since then we have increased to 2,000 plus the waiting list.”

The charity-run club relies on fundraising and fees to run facilities and offers a fantastic variety of gymnast classes from recreational and artistic to adult novice and freestyle. There are also opportunities for tumbling and trampolining, school and special needs gymnasts. And the club provides space and support for locals who are undergoing stroke rehabilitation.

“It’s something we’ve been doing for years,” says Louise. “People who have suffered a stroke need to be able to cope with walking on uneven surfaces. They bring an instructor and use our facilities to build confidence.”

So Colchester has a lot to juggle. Cue Rio and the Max Whitlock Factor and the waiting list grew even further. The admin team realised that relying on spreadsheets and paperwork was no longer tenable.

A Big Tick For The Test Period

One feature the team at Colchester really loved was the dummy period when you could try out the system without worrying about making mistakes. Alongside face-to-face and online support from the team at Gymnastics Club Manager, this helped them tinker with the settings

Louise admits that it really helped quell her doubts during the changeover, “To be honest I was nervous about it. But it has been a lot easier to swap over than I thought.”

Wayne says, “When you first look at it may not look that user-friendly but it’s been great. It does exactly what you need it to and only took a few days to get used to.”

“You can manage all of one person’s info with the click of a button,” adds Louise.

Expect More, Then Expect More!

The team admit that when they went live on 1 September admin increased slightly while they got used to the new setup but it has reduced drastically now that things have bedded in.

Keeley comments, “Initially some parents had a few issues getting used to it but now they are really quite happy. It is so much easier for them to log on, manage the classes and check if they have paid.”

Wayne adds, “Collecting money for fees and insurance is so much easier as you can keep track of who has paid. The basket system of payments is also very easy to understand.”

As the team learn the ropes of their Gymnastics Club Manager software they look forward to a future where they realise the potential of their brilliant facilities with far less time spent on paperwork.

Gymnastics Clubs: Does ‘Time of Year’ Influence Membership Uptake?

gymnastics clubs

Ever considered that time of year could be an influencing factor in your efforts to attract new gymnasts to your club? Often gymnastics clubs will hold membership drives at the same time every year. And often with varying results.

Raising member numbers is a key part of your club activities, after all, no members, no club. But influencing those numbers could all be down to something as simple as timing.

In this post we will look at how a little seasonal planning can be an effective tool in your quest to attract new gymnasts to your club.

Thinking About Seasonal Variations

Gymnastics clubs are a business – they sell a service to the public. And just like any other business, it is vital you know and understand your target market. An important part of this is knowing when is the right time to pitch to them.

Market research will suggest you target new customers at certain times of the year. Consider for a moment all the seasonal campaigns retailers and businesses launch – Christmas, Easter, Summer, Valentine’s Day…. all of which are designed to tap into pools of customers ready to buy at these times of year.

Aside from seasonal events, sporting events are also a great opportunity for gymnastics clubs to tap into interest in sport, and in particular gymnastics – how many of you ran recruitment campaigns before, during and after the Rio Olympics?

The Olympics are a good example of tapping into target markets when interest is at it’s peak. Football clubs for example are wise to launch recruitment campaigns at the start of the new football season. Gym’s launch their campaigns at the beginning of the New Year – a time when many of us have getting fit high on our list of resolutions.

Trying to run campaigns at the end of the season or in the middle of summer when many of us are on holiday are unlikely to result in a high take-up.

This is why seasonal variations is a key factor in deciding when to run your membership campaigns – you need to identify a time when potential new members are ready and able to commit to your coaching sessions. Get this right and your numbers will be higher.

Choosing The Best Time of Year to Recruit New Gymnasts

Now you understand how seasonal variations play a part in raising member numbers, you need to determine the right time of year to launch your campaign to your target market.

As we talked about earlier, this might be obvious, especially as you give it more thought. One thing that is obvious is you should recruit when new gymnasts can come and enjoy what is on offer. Thinking about how you run your club and when your classes are running, when is the best time of year to prospect for new members? As you close for the summer break or at the beginning of September when you reopen your doors for the new season?

You’d be surprised how many gymnastics clubs choose the former!

What else could you do to discover ‘the right time’?

You can dig a little deeper into your club and look at the behaviours of your current members. Look at when they joined and the times of year which saw the highest number of new members join. Take out those instances where an event or recruitment drive were employed – you are looking only for the numbers of new members who joined without club influence.

Look at this data further to identify what factors were in play at the time e.g. seasons, pricing, sporting events. As mentioned earlier, major sporting events such as the Olympics or British Championships can have a significant impact on new members joining local clubs. These can be used to your advantage – check out what local, national and even international events are coming up over the next year and leverage these to help promote your gymnastics classes.

Using Gymnastics Club Software

Looking through your membership data can be tricky if you are using manual systems, such as spreadsheets and desktop databases, to manage your member information. Gymnastics Club Manager can help you analyse your member data quickly, easily and efficiently, helping you arrive at the figures you need much faster.

The software not only shows you the best times to recruit new members based on when your existing members joined, but can also let you look at sub-groups such as age, gender or any other type of data you hold for them.

The group email feature can help you reach out to your current members and other prospects on your contact list, to let them know about new member incentives and events you might be running.

Get the timing right and you stand a good chance of engaging those people and those within members networks, into joining.

And don’t forget about targeting lapsed members – those who left or cancelled their membership before they could really appreciate what you are offering. Don’t think that because they cancelled, it does not mean they are not open to rejoining.

Managing your membership is more than looking after your current members and the occasional notice hoping to entice new people to join. Do your research and you will discover the best time to pitch new members and raise your numbers.

Image: Time For Business Designed by Freepik

Case Study: Watford Gymnastics Club – Stick with it! For software that delivers

Nickie O’Sullivan of Watford Gymnastics Club laughs when you ask her about her first experience of Gymnastics Club Manager software.

“It was crazy. Mental. It was new for me and new for the parents. I thought – oh my God – what have I done!”

It was July 2016 and Nickie was so keen to get going with her new Gymnastics Club Manager software that she went live before the end of the dummy testing period.

Brilliant Customer Service

“My experience of customer service elsewhere has been pretty poor. So I assumed I just had to get on with it and I wasn’t fully prepared. But the team at Gymnastics Club Manager was brilliant and responded very quickly. I didn’t realise how supportive the team at GCM would be, they have been amazing. When you first start using the system don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you want.”

Now that the dust has settled on the new system Nickie is delighted with it.

“It is so easy to use, so easy to follow. I’m seeing the benefits now but can see how there will be even more in future. It’s very flexible. For instance, people used to pay on the first day of term but now they pay earlier and it’s so much easier to keep track of them.”

In particular, Nickie loves the email tracker function.

“The new email tracker is amazing. I now know whether I have the correct email for people and if it has been opened. And keeping track of payment collection is 100% easier.”

Coping With a Growth Spurt

Watford Gymnastics Club - Case StudyWatford Gymnastics Club is a new club which has experienced a growth spurt of more than 1000% in two years.

Nickie, a former national gymnast, and her husband Graham who continues to coach elite gymnastics decided to set up a club focusing on recreational gymnastics. Initially, they ran one class on a Sunday with 30 kids and started off using spreadsheets. But gradually the club grew, adding extra days and classes. Then there was a massive increase in interest following the successes of Rio.

“That’s why I wanted to get Gymnastics Club Manager software,” says Nickie, “I just wanted to make my life easier and the software has – it has made my life 100% easier. I’m really impressed with it, more than I could have imagined.”

Persevere And Play With It

And after her ‘false start’ Nickie has a word of advice for new users.

“Persevere. And play with it. Initially, it may look confusing, all of the different categories and fields but keep with it, I’m so pleased I did. I love it, I can’t recommend it enough.”

Nickie’s next task is to train her mum to use the system as well. “To be honest, she’s rubbish with computers but she’s getting on really well already!”

We’ll be back to see how Nickie, her mum and Watford Gymnastics Club progress in the next year with Gymnastics Club Manager Software.

If you would like to achieve similar growth to Nickie, and save time on paperwork and admin, then book your free consultation today.

Running Gymnastics Classes? Here’s How To Re-acquire Past Members

Gymnastics Classes

One of the downsides to running gymnastics classes is seeing members come and go. It’s a natural ebb and flow for any member organisation – some come for a couple of weeks, some stay a few months, some simply outgrow the club. There will of course, be new gymnasts joining and you will always have a loyal group of members who are there no matter what.

But a constant merry-go-round of gymnasts coming and going is not ideal when you want to create a stable gymnastics club. Keeping this ‘churn’ as low as possible is important, so in this post we are going to show you how you can entice lapsed members back and boost your numbers.

A Lapsed-Member Doesn’t Necessarily Mean…

That they don’t want to hear from you ever again. Many simply stop attending your classes, possibly without reason – their child just didn’t enjoy them, they have become bored with gymnastics and have instead moved onto hockey . . . the parents couldn’t manage to keep up with the classes, either for financial reasons or are time strapped… the reasons are numerous.

However, unless they have specifically told you they want to be removed from your member database or they do not want to hear from you any longer (in which case you need to honour this request), it is still ok to send them communications about things going on at the club which might interest them.

Keep in mind too, that a lapsed member is someone who has shown an interest in what you offer before and as such, they are usually easier to re-acquire than finding completely new members.

Assess Your Lapsed Members

Attracting lapsed members back is not quite as simple as sending them an email with a special offer, for instance. Using Gymnastics Club Manager you can bring up a list of all your lapsed members, and if you have kept your membership database up to date, this list should provide plenty of insightful information.

As you look down your list, ask yourself these key questions as you check out each name:

  1. What was their reason for not renewing their membership? e.g. relocation, affordability, child lost interest.
  2. When did their membership first lapse? You are more likely to reacquire them sooner rather than later.
  3. How long had they been a member before they lapsed?
  4. What does the information you have on file tell you about them (the parents) and the ability of the child? Would gymnastics classes specific to the child’s skill level be enough to entice them back?
  5. If they were dissatisfied with something, what was it?

If answering these questions is difficult then a good place to start is to create an email template that deals with some of these issues, and then can be personalised with the information you do know about the lapsed members.

Example Email Sequence for Lapsed Gymnastics Classes Members

Here’s an example email sequence you could use to help re-acquire lapsed members.

Set up the sequence of emails to go out immediately after a member lapses.

  1. “Sorry to see you go”. Ask questions about their experience and reasons for leaving. Is there something specific they’re dissatisfied with?
  2. Consider offering them a time-limited opportunity/deal if they return.
  3. Continue to regularly send relevant communications about your gymnastics club unless they unsubscribe. (Consider putting them back into the promotional cycle.)
  4. At key points throughout the year remind them of the benefits of their child attending your classes, any additions you’ve made since they left and talk about what they’ll get on their return.

It’s not the end of the world when a member lapses, and there can be a number of different reasons why they may choose not to continue. Maintaining a good relationship with them will give you a much stronger chance of enticing them back, as well as the potential for them to refer you to their friends (even if they do not come back themselves).

Never assume the worst, but do always seek to find out the reason why they have lapsed and address any concerns or problems that come up. Ultimately, you need to make sure you keep an ongoing connection with them via email and ensure any communications you send them are targeted and relevant to them and their reasons for lapsing.

Sending group emails via Gymnastics Club Manager is easy plus you can track to see who opens and engages with your email.  To see how take a video tour here.

 

Are You Making The Most Of Your Gymnastics Club Website?

gymnastics club website

How’s your gymnastics club website looking these days? Do you even have one or are you still running the free site you threw up several years ago? When was the last time you looked at it?

Everyone will tell you the importance of having a club website, but are you really making the most of it?

In today’s post, we look at how a gymnastics club website can help your club management, as well as aid recruitment, communications, and retention.

The Value of a Gymnastics Club Website

The digital world is part of our daily lives and today most of us will go online first for the information we require. When it comes to your gymnastics club, be it big or small, the value of having a website should not be overlooked.

In brief, let’s look at some of the benefits a website can bring:

  • Local online visibility – allows local people to find you quickly be it on a desktop or mobile device.
  • Information – a well fleshed out website should provide visitors with the information they require, as well as providing valuable information to your members.
  • Member recruitment – as well as having plenty of information promoting your gymnastics club, adding a registration form to your website allows new gymnasts to join quickly and easily.
  • Contact – many of us prefer to make contact online instead of face-to-face or over the phone. A contact page with your club email address and form options will allow them to contact you quickly and easily.
  • Improve club administration – a website is the perfect medium to post notices and communications, recruit new members, provide complete information about your gymnastics club and allow people to contact you.
  • Promotion and Marketing – if you spend time on your website you can place your gymnastics club at the top of the search results for related search terms and phrases, this means potential new members will click on you first over the other club down the road. Add in social media accounts and local search directory listings too, and you will have a powerful and effective means of promoting your club.

Aesthetics And User Experience

How your website looks and it’s ease of use for visitors is very important. There was a time when having a fancy looking website was a considerable investment and well beyond the means of most clubs.

However, the website design and hosting markets are fiercely competitive and there are many cost-effective and even free options available. Check out WordPress, Weebly or Wix for market leading options.

Here are our top tips for creating a website which will wow:

  • Choose a paid domain. Paid domains are good for your online marketing efforts and will earn you credit with the search engines. Free domains are often difficult to remember and you run the risk of losing your entire site should the provider go under.
  • Choose a domain name which closely matches your club name. If your club is ‘Greendale Gymnastics Club’ then make your domain the same or as close as possible. Avoid choosing a name which closely matches that of another club. You can use abbreviations or nicknames if they are commonly known.
  • Choose a simple theme and make sure your site is branded with your club logo and colours.
  • Show who’s behind the curtain by including a fully fleshed out About Us page with names, roles, and pictures of all involved in running the club.
  • Have a clear menu at the top of the site so people can easily click through to other pages.
  • Want your visitors to do something specific? For instance, if you want to recruit new members then have a registration form or clear link to your registration page at the top of your homepage – make this the first thing they see and your new registrant numbers should improve.
  • Lastly, avoid creating hundreds of pages and make visitors click several times to find the information they want. Best practice is no more than three clicks.
  • Make your site mobile friendly! Today we are more likely to reach for a mobile device (phone or tablet) to look up a local business or service than use a laptop or desktop PC. Mobile friendly sites are also Google friendly and will improve your search visibility. Nearly all ready made website themes are mobile friendly (or responsive to give it’s technical name) and there are tools online which will show you how your site appears on different devices.

6 Things An Effective Website Should Have

Your gymnastics club website needs to be more than just one page with a brief description of who you are and where you are based. Give visitors plenty to look at by including the following:

  1. Pages – Aside from the homepage, your website needs to include pages which describe who you are and what you do (About Us), a Contact page which details your club address, phone number, email, contact names and a contact form. If your site has nothing else, make sure you have these 3 pages at least. You can also add a registration page, blog or club news and a gallery of club images and testimonials.
  2. Blog – Blogs are invaluable for providing information to visitors, be they members or not. Use a blog to report on activities and achievements, important notices and other communications.
  3. Online registration form – GymnasticsClubManager.com gives you the ability to integrate your club registration on your site. This means new members can easily register to join (or add themselves to your waiting list) and the administration involved for you is greatly reduced. Put it on your homepage as well as other pages so it is always visible to potential new members.
  4. Member information pages – Include pages which provide important information for your members, such as dates and times, events, news, club rules, meetings. Your blog could be used for this but as new posts to your blog will push older ones further down the page list, it is better to create static pages for important information which is updated less frequently.
  5. Member login page – Gymnastics Club Manager provides a members-only page where they can login to their accounts, keep their membership information up-to-date, register for events, buy kit and pay their club fees.  A must if you want to cut down on that membership admin.
  6. Social links – Always include links to your social pages in a prominent place on your pages. As we discuss below, social media is a great partner to your website.

Social Media vs. A Club Website

You may be tempted into thinking that a Facebook page is all the online presence your gymnastics club needs. However, great as Facebook is for promoting clubs and organisations, people will still look for a website.

While social pages can provide all the same information a website can, they are harder for people to navigate and some may not trust a Facebook page on its own. Websites add credibility.

Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great partners to your website and add value to your online presence. Combining both mediums online really can help you recruit, retain and communicate with members.

Use social media to help promote your website and avoid the mistake of merely throwing up a website and thinking that is all you need to do.

Your gymnastics club website can be a highly effective, cost-efficient means of marketing your club. Just follow our tips above to help you create a user-friendly, informative online portal for your club and members.

Did you know, if you’re a Gymnastic Club Manager customer and process over £30,000 of online payments through the system a year, you can get a free website.  Click here for more information.

Case Study: Midlands Gymnastics Academy – A Vision Powered By Skill and Gymnastics Club Manager Software

gymnastics club manager software

The Midlands Gymnastics Academy in Nuneaton is everything you’d hope for in a club. Brand new facilities, a former British international in charge of coaching, a team with a vision. It’s a club which puts its gymnasts first and has used Gymnastics Club Manager software to help them get there.

The Academy’s head coach is Sam Thompson who was Junior British Bars Champion in 1995 and a multiple East Midlands medallist. Sam retired from competition in her late teens after travelling the world with the British International Squad. In those days there were no sprung floors, gymnastic careers were short but sweet.

Her husband Sean Ashton was one of Britain’s fastest junior hurdlers. Together they have a vision for the Academy. And a competitive side which makes them strive for and seek out the best. Their goal is to put gymnasts and their parents first and offer individual options and a range of classes rather than one pathway.

The Academy officially opened in April 2016 when Becky Downie cut the ribbon on the new facility in front of a crowd of excited youngsters. And since opening, it has experienced a massive demand for all classes. Peaking at the time of Rio and the magnificent seven medals garnered by Team GB.

“I think we underestimated how many would like to join,” says Sean. “There was a steady upwards trend but then the Olympics unleashed a bigger demand. The level of interest was a surprise.”

Dealing with that brought new challenges for the new club:

“Initially we started with spreadsheets, manual registers and standing orders. All of the things that were logical to have in place but a few months in we realised it just wasn’t sustainable.”

“To be honest, I’m quite an OCD person and I worried about manual error. We were transferring details from one spreadsheet to another or from bits of paper. It would have been fatal to have made a mistake with insurance or a safeguarding issue. And it’s very important to have everything covered even just from a commercial point of view.”

So how have things changed since using the Gymnastics Club Manager software?

“It has saved time and allowed us to collect all of the data we need. We have everything in one place and it’s very flexible – we can build the forms ourselves so we can add what’s important for us. The collection of payments for fees and insurance is easier as we have automatic reconciliation and can double check everything. It does exactly what it needs to do and to be honest, I don’t know how anyone could manage without it.”

And anything which could be improved?

“I suppose the time taken for direct debit payments to process is different from when we used standing orders,” says Sean, “but that’s not the software it’s similar for all online payment systems. You just have to factor it in.”

And when the Club do require support they always receive it. “The guys at Gymnastics Club Manager have been very good at responding.”

Using the software is now integral to a bigger plan to build a bigger and better club.

“We plan to build to full capacity and use our daytime sessions better. We’d also like to invest – hopefully, buy a minibus we can use to help parents and kids who can’t afford to travel. And we’d like to carry on extending the facilities for our parties and buying kit and equipment.”

They also have ambitions to train gymnasts to the highest level. To follow in Sam’s footsteps and become a member of the British team. The next generation of Becky Downies and Max Whitlocks.

The Midlands Gymnastics Academy plan to use Gymnastics Club Manager software to help them increase membership and usage by 43%. Would you like to do something similar and save time on paperwork and admin? Book your free consultation today.