// CLUB PROFILE: Fresh Start Thrive Over 55 Fitness, NSW

Still in its infancy, Fresh Start Thrive Over 55 Fitness may be a niche club, but it has some big plans for the future. Club Network spoke to Rebecca Mountford, club co-director and Finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, to find out what makes this facility so special to its special population members.

Fresh Start Thrive Over 55 Fitness

5/1 Mona Vale Road, Mona Vale
W: www.thriveover55.com.au
E: info@thriveover55.com.au
Ph: 02 9999 5530
Fax: 02 9999 5511

Facilities and services
Weights: Life Fitness free weights and machine weights
Cardio: Large range of Life Fitness cardio equipment
Group fitness: We use our large open floor space to run stretch and balance classes
Circuit:
We use our large open floor space to run circuit training sessions
Other:
We offer Nintendo Wii Sports and feature Brain Training computer consoles in the club. We also offer beauty therapy and have a walking group and are about to launch movie nights, book clubs and possibly an over-55s singles night.

Snapshot

  • Number of financial members: 300 (club is only 5 months old)
  • Size of centre: 340sqm
  • Owned or rented/leased: Leased
  • Growth of membership since opening: 300. Aim to be at 750 by end of first year.
  • Access to parking: Yes, undercover and open, access is direct and easy
  • Population to draw on: Population of Mona Vale is approx 9,500, but as our demographic is over 45s-only it is hard to accurately gauge our potential population to draw on.
  • Proximity of closest competitor: 100m
  • Membership prices: Start from $18.50 per week.

What is the target membership demographic of the club?

Thrive Over 55 targets clients 45 and up, with a particular focus on those clients looking for strength and balance training, as well as rehabilitation in a non-intimidating environment. We tend to attract a lot of clients who have never participated in a program before. As we also have a beauty therapist, we target this area of the business to all ages, not just over 45s.

 


Rebecca Mountford, co-director of Fresh Start Thrive Over 55 Fitness

What do you look for when hiring staff?

The main thing we look for when hiring staff is the individual’s personality and their attitude to work and towards the fitness industry as a whole. We look to see if their personality fits into our culture and the culture of each club (we also have Fresh Start Health and Fitness Centre, Narrabeen, but this profile is only about Thrive Over 55). Experience and qualifications are good but not vital; you can train an inexperienced person and put them on courses, but you can not train their personality and attitude. This is incredibly important in Thrive Over 55, as our members expect quality service – and it is what they receive. Great service tends to be a product of the way in which an individual staff member interacts with a member, rather than how qualified they are.

What is your staff breakup?

Thrive Over 55 employs a full-time club manager who oversees the sales team, personal trainers and reception, between three and five personal trainers who also instruct classes and assist members on the gym floor. We also have a full-time beauty therapist, between three and five casual reception and sales staff (the numbers go up and down based on our needs).

Do you promote the multi-skilling of your staff or do team members have separate roles?

Because we are a family-owned business (Rebecca is co-director with her partner Scott Flint and her brother Ryan Mountford) and don’t have a multimillion dollar budget to play with, it is vital for our staff to be multi-skilled. We need everyone to be capable of promoting and selling the facilities but also providing that personal touch.

All staff members are trained in membership sales, so they are all able to handle enquiries, though only the manager and receptionists are actively involved in prospecting and attaining membership targets. The full-time beauty therapist is responsible for all beauty therapy and retail management.


Thrive member during a session with trainer Jane

We need the trainers to be comfortable doing one-on-one and large group training. This is great for us as a business but it also benefits the staff members as it teaches them new skills and how to deal with different situations. Through multi-skilling, we have had many individuals start in one area of the business and advance and progress their careers to change roles within the company, providing a platform for longstanding loyal employees.

How do you price yourself in the marketplace?

Our club is priced competitively. Memberships are priced just under those charged by the large chain gyms, giving a lower entry point, and they are all non-commitment. Our 'Results' membership (including first fortnight + assessment) costs $125 then ongoing $17.95 per week +$1 per week billing fee, and our 'Results Plus' (including first fortnight + assessment + Kick Start Pack) costs $175 per week then ongoing $17.95 per week +$1 per week billing fee. Our ‘extra’ programs and profit centres are pushed heavily, with 20 to 30 per cent of customers participating in at least one per year, meaning the average spend per customer is slightly higher. These programs also act as retention services, creating a higher customer lifetime value.

What is your most successful retention strategy?

Our memberships at Thrive Over 55 are all month to month, so the need for retention services is paramount. Our most successful retention strategy lies in the way our client programming works. Each member needs to have been signed off by a doctor and is then assessed by either a senior trainer or exercise physiologist before commencing their training. They then partake in 24 sessions before being re-assessed to ensure their program is right for them. After achieving improvements they are given a new 24-session program, after which they are reassessed, and so on. As most clients have never experienced training (or have been deconditioned for some time) this provides motivation to continue training, as new goals are created within the sessions.

What is your most successful marketing campaign and how did you track its success?

Our most successful marketing campaigns have been non-traditional. We found that this market do not respond to print advertising, so we decided to hold regular, information-based seminars, educating the over-50s community on health, fitness and lifestyle improvement issues commonly faced by this age group. By giving them free information in our purpose-built facility, people can come and see the club and then learn all about our programs and services. We find this is an effective way of seeing a large group at once and even if they decide not to continue, they tend to tell their friends which allows for a lot of free word of mouth advertising. By visiting us, they have allowed us to meet them and record their information, enabling follow-up and lead conversion.

Which frontline computer software do you run?

We use Clubware in Thrive Over 55s and in our other club.

Do you have any programs for special populations? How profitable/successful are they?

We have dedicated our whole business to special populations. Fresh Start Thrive Over 55 was started in our other general population club as a way of filling quiet times throughout the day. It soon grew to become our most popular program. We saw a gap in the market which the large chain gyms and other smaller gyms were not filling, so we decided to open a specific facility designed to cater to this demographic.

What non-membership profit centres do you have?

Fresh Start Thrive Over 55 has an in-house beauty therapy service, owned and operated by us, called Refresh by Fresh Start. We also have a bank of Brain Training computers which our customers can use after a work out. We have beauty and fitness retail and will soon be introducing our Weight Loss and Body Shape Challenge (already popular at our other club) which will be tailored to suit the needs of the over-55s.

Describe your personal training operation

At Thrive Over 55 all the trainers are employed by us. This means that we can run promotions and focus more on the customer service side of things. The trainers play a very important role in our business as they are the ones who spend most time with members. In addition to delivering personal training sessions, our PTs also have the role of gym floor instructor, thereby continually providing members with the best possible service.

What is your five-year plan?

Fresh Start Thrive Over 55 Fitness will have purpose-built centres right across Australia and New Zealand. We have major plans for rapid expansion to ensure we are the leaders in over-55s preventative health and fitness care. In its infancy, we have already won two business awards and I (Rebecca Mountford) was a Finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, so we have already been recognised for our product and services, and we know we have a great product that will better the lives of Australia’s over-55s. Fresh Start is in the process of seeking a major investor and also appointing a new CEO to help us achieve our long term goals.

What is your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge has been reaching the market. What we (for our general population gym) and other gyms have done in the past does not necessarily work for the over-55s market, so we have re-invented the ways to reach and gain the trust of this market. We will continue to grow and develop ways of marketing to this age group so that we can reach our goals and maintain our fabulous community-based reputation.

 

Club Network • Spring/Summer 2010