Attendance key secret of their success
Global fitness company Les Mills has today released findings from a worldwide metrics survey undertaken in clubs during February 2011. This inaugural survey, called Scoreboard, was designed to measure accurate group fitness attendance data, and use this to better benchmark what is possible for clubs to achieve.
Additionally, Les Mills has released a ranking list of the top ten participating clubs, based on group exercise attendance. All clubs involved in Scoreboard have been provided with their individual rankings.
The rankings aim to give clubs greater understanding of how they compare with the rest of the world, which is something they’re not currently able to access from anywhere else, says Phillip Mills, Les Mills International’s Chief Executive Officer.
“The rankings give clubs a real understanding of where they’re sitting on a global scale, but also what is achievable – both as a ‘stretch’ goal and also in comparison to other clubs with similar membership numbers,” says Mills.
“Attendance is a critical measure that we’re currently lacking awareness of as a group exercise industry, yet it’s vital to have data if we’re to learn and grow. Les Mills has undertaken Scoreboard to ensure there is really good insight into trends, but also so we can help clubs see what is truly possible.”
Attendance is the key metric in the wider club and fitness industry but one of the least measured with many club owners tending to concentrate on profit and membership. Phillip Mills says those measures remain important, “but attendance is ultimately the biggest driver of membership, customer engagement and profit, and as such, it’s our biggest indicator and risk to financial success.”
Key findings from the research:
• Of the clubs that participated in the survey, the average club has 676 group fitness attendances per week.
- The top 20 clubs have an average of 3880 attendances.
- The top 10 attract 4656 weekly attendances on average.
• On average, in the 1200 surveyed clubs, group exercise makes up 33% of club attendance. In the top performing club, this is 57%.
- Generally speaking, 30% group fitness attendance is considered a high proportion in the industry. The norm is commonly considered to be in the 10% to 20% range.
- Note: the 1200 clubs who responded to this survey are predominantly Les Mills customers, so possibly have a group exercise interest or skew.
• Just five program genres comprise 75% of group exercise attendance every week.
- In order of market share, these are: strength and weights, cycling, mind and body, dance, and martial arts programming.
Les Mills believes the real value of the data comes from looking at the opportunity it presents.
“We have an industry average of 676 attendances a week, but clubs like The Edge in the US attract 4134 attendances every week. That’s a huge gap, and it’s not just about membership size - take Maggiafitness in Latin America. Sixty-seven percent of their visits come from group exercise, and they’re attracting 1750 visits a week from a membership base of just 1000,” says CEO Phillip Mills.
Scoreboard follows other industry research about the impact of group fitness on club growth and profitability. “Nearly 40% of people cite group fitness as the biggest influence in how long they stay a member of a club and we know that satisfied group fitness members refer people three times more than other club members .
“Prior research also shows that group exercise classes and facilities are one of the biggest drivers for consumers choosing to join a health club, with some 60% of people rating it as the most important factor . We also know that just one extra visit per week from each member can increase retention by around 3%, and that group fitness member retention rates are higher than other members, on average .
“There is absolutely a commercial connection between group fitness and long-term profitable clubs,” states Mills.
The Scoreboard survey looked at 1200 clubs from around the world, and was then weighted to provide a robust view. Clubs offering group fitness were able to charge higher membership fees, such as The Peak in Scotland, which offers multiple membership options for facilities within the club. Its group fitness membership attracts 57% of members and is the club’s largest income stream.
The top-ranking club in the survey, Les Mills Auckland in New Zealand, with 9658 group exercise attendances each week, has comparatively high membership fees of NZD$130 a month (USD$100), and also charges for specialised programs. Some 1900 members each week (equivalent to 15%) pay an additional fee to attend RPM™ (cycling) classes, which generates NZD$7600 (USD$6000) in weekly revenue, on top of membership fees.
“Sure, increasing sales will increase profit in the short-term, but more people in the door is the key to a sustainable and successful business. In the Les Mills Auckland club, more than 55% of visits are to do a group class, despite charging some of the highest monthly prices in town,” says Phillip Mills.
Mills says the survey proves that a new business model is needed which focuses on getting more people through the club door, more often, and highlights that scheduling group exercise is a key way to increase attendance and engagement, and the bottom line.
“We have to focus on giving members what they want, not just designing timetables around instructor availability, which is so common across our industry,” says Mills. “Above everything, tracking attendance gives you transparency, so you can ensure you’re giving the most popular formats and instructors the time they deserve, and driving customer demand as a result.”
Les Mills intends to run the Scoreboard global metrics survey quarterly, to ensure clubs can easily track their attendance and progress as they make changes. The next survey takes place in the week of May 30 to June 5, and involves a simple week-long process of counting people through the door. It is open to all clubs worldwide, with participants receiving their attendance and performance data in an easy to use format, as well as their club ranking, both in relation to global participants and clubs of a similar size.
Any club can join at www.lesmills.com/scoreboard. Clubs can also choose to keep their data confidential.
“This is a great opportunity for clubs around the world to be part of a survey that will impact the direction of our industry,” says Mills. “For all clubs, regardless of their size or whether they use LES MILLS® programming, participating in Scoreboard can give them insight into their own operations and help our entire industry perform better.”
Scoreboard fact sheet
Notes to editors;
Les Mills/HCD/IHRSA Member satisfaction Survey 2009
CMETO’s Group Exercise/Group Fitness Fall 2009 Survey – Skudder
Les Mills/HCD/IHRSA Member satisfaction Survey 2009
FIA (UK) Top 10 Strategies for Winning the Retention Battle, summary of two years research, 2006
For more information, please contact:
Global media enquiries:
Communications Advisor, Les Mills International
Phone (NZ) +64 9 366 9900
United States media enquiries:
Media Relations, Les Mills USA
Phone (USA) +1 213 268 3754