Building Community Relationships in the Health Club Industry

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Strong community relationships are an asset for every successful health club. Whether it be working with community groups or developing relationships with local, state, and federal legislators, successful operators should always be looking beyond the four walls of their club to build valuable ties with their community. Learn how to reach out into you community and become engaged in grassroots advocacy that can help you protect and promote your business.

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Building Community Relationships in the Health Club Industry

  1. 1. Building Community Relationships Bre McGahey Public Policy Communications Manager International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association FitLife Summer Conference August 4, 2008
  2. 2. Becoming the 3rd Place Home Work Club? Can clubs become a place for the community?
  3. 3. An Inward Focus •  Financials •  Operations •  Employees •  Members •  Sales •  Retention •  Programming •  Long-term Planning
  4. 4. What is Community Relations? •  Establishing and maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship between a company and the community it operates in •  Accepting civic responsibility, taking an active role in community well-being •  Core business strategy
  5. 5. Community Looking Outside Your 4 Walls Your Club • Financials •  Operations •  Employees Relations Relations •  Members •  Sales •  Retention •  Programming •  Long-term Planning Community
  6. 6. Benefits for Your Club Enhance Create a sense Boost your recruitment and retention of community bottom-line of members Enhance Improve Strengthen recruitment positioning in and retention competitive reputation of employees market Build Increase loyalty Foster goodwill community ties and support
  7. 7. Local government State Local Citizens government Your Federal Media government Club Community Schools groups Health Physician Organizations networks Charities
  8. 8. Identify the Need What are the biggest problems facing your community?
  9. 9. Provide a Solution •  How can your club provide a solution? •  What resources at your club are under- utilized? •  Time of day •  Day of the week •  Facility area •  Staff expertise •  What are your business goals?
  10. 10. Vision •  Create a written vision statement –  Acknowledge that community issues have direct impact on the club and its future success –  Statement of responsibility to community and commitment to being “neighbor of choice” •  Make it part of your club culture
  11. 11. Create a Budget Line Item •  To foster long-term relationship building, ensure adequate funding –  Start out small, continually evaluate •  Create criteria for use of funds •  Schedule community relations calendar
  12. 12. Staff •  Who are staff •  84% of employees feel members that would that a company’s thrive with a new community image is challenge? important •  Opportunity to educate, engage, and enrich the community they live and work in
  13. 13. Who to partner with? •  Identify the people/organizations who can help you achieve your vision •  Get with those people/organizations and help them succeed •  Let them reciprocate by helping you do the same •  Stay in regular contact with these people/ organizations •  Enjoy mutual success AND a great relationship
  14. 14. Become a Member •  Local business association •  Chamber of Commerce •  Visitors Bureau •  Rotary International •  Kiwanis Community groups
  15. 15. Create a Community Wellness Coalition •  Partner with like-minded organizations •  Work together •  Share resources •  Become community leaders Community Physician Charities Health orgs groups networks
  16. 16. Programming •  Partner with the right people and organizations •  Create programming that is mutually beneficial and solves the needs of your community
  17. 17. Disease-based Programming •  Partner with local health organizations and physician networks –  Cancer recovery (ACS & oncologists) –  Orthopedics Physician Health Charities networks orgs
  18. 18. Diabetes •  Dedham Health & Athletic Complex partners with renowned Joslin Diabetes Clinic •  Provided a healthy lifestyle solution to patients •  Increased membership •  Received media coverage Physician Health orgs networks
  19. 19. Charity-Based Programming •  Partner with charities that are addressing a vital need in your community •  Be sure to evaluate the strategic benefits, not just the “feel good” factor –  How does it relate to your strategic business goals and your community relations vision?
  20. 20. Gold’s Gym & American Diabetes Assoc. Tour de Cure •  Official sponsor •  Raised $218,797.22 so starting in 2005 far this year •  Gold’s sold Tour de Cure merchandise, offered free spinning classes for riders training for the event and hosted diabetes awareness days Health orgs Charities
  21. 21. Reaching Out to Families •  PE for home school kids •  Trained staff visiting local schools –  Special “training sessions” –  Hosting “Field Day” •  Opening doors to local PE classes Local Community Schools Citizens groups
  22. 22. Rochester Athletic Club “The Neighborhood” •  Turned 4 racquet ball courts in a kid’s paradise and a parents dream •  3 Dance Dance Revolution systems •  3 Aeroball stations - trampoline basketball •  18-hole signature miniature golf •  3 Golf cages – Automatic tee up •  2200 square feet of Synthetic ice •  2 hockey slide boards •  2 Throwing lanes •  Large climbing / play structure by PlaySmart •  High School size Gymnasium •  3 Batting Cages •  Sportwall play area •  Foosball, air hockey, dome hockey, and ping pong •  Concessions with Free WIFI •  9 hole golf putting green
  23. 23. “Parents Leading Active Play” •  Just Aerobics and Fitness Center in Frackville, PA •  Bringing parents and kids together in an active environment •  Ages 3-13 •  Membership increased 20%, with a projected 40-50% increase over the next five years
  24. 24. Reaching Out to Seniors •  Create a senior outdoor walking program •  Donate pool time to the local senior center •  Send instructors to senior centers to teach gentle strength and stretching exercises Community Local groups citizens
  25. 25. Become a Voice for Healthy Lifestyles •  Pen articles for the local paper •  Offer yourself as an expert on fitness and healthy lifestyles •  Take your PR to the next level •  Write letters to the editors •  Invite the media to your club Media
  26. 26. IHRSA Health Promotion Programming •  Designed to foster community relations and health promotion, not sales programs •  Turn-key community relations programs •  Designed to benefit clubs and enhance positioning with stakeholders •  Help retain current membership and present growth opportunities
  27. 27. •  IHRSA’s campaign to •  Demonstrate combat overweight supportive, safe and and obesity and fun environment promote active •  Help people get lifestyles started on an exercise •  May nationwide open program that will fit house and “bring a their specific lifestyle friend” Local Physician Media Citizens networks
  28. 28. •  Drive traffic to the club and promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles in your community •  Benefits – raise awareness about the importance of exercise, create positive PR, reinvigorates current members, build community relations Local Physician Media Citizens networks
  29. 29. •  8-week weight loss campaign •  Runs every January •  Designed to help members, new and old alike, lose weight during the New Year’s “weight loss season” Local Physician Media Citizens networks
  30. 30. •  Community outreach campaign designed to introduce your community to you club •  Reinvigorate and retain current members •  Benefits: Successful weight loss = powerful message to media, members and community Local Physician Media Citizens networks
  31. 31. •  Designed to introduce exercise to teens by offering free summer matinee memberships •  Community outreach initiative •  Opportunity to give back to community and provide solution to growing adolescent obesity epidemic Local Physician Schools Media Citizens networks
  32. 32. •  Benefits: •  Building community relationships •  PR opportunity •  Introduce parents and teens to your club •  Educating young people about healthy lifestyles Local Physician Schools Media Citizens networks
  33. 33. IHRSA Health Promotion Resources •  IHRSA.org Wellness •  Turn-key Resource Center programming •  Health E-Review email •  Benefits of exercise and marketing tools searchable database •  Publications: •  Educational track at IHRSA Convention –  Get Active! Magazine –  Health Benefits of Exercise –  Economic Benefits of Exercise
  34. 34. Local government State Local Citizens government Your Federal Media government Club Community Schools groups Health Physician Organizations networks Charities
  35. 35. Why you should be involved with public policy leaders •  Why you should be involved in public policy
  36. 36. How is Advocacy and Government Relations Community Relations? •  Health promotion legislation seeks to help people across your state and across the nation solve critical needs •  Becoming a resource on healthy lifestyles = mutually beneficial relationship
  37. 37. Local Government •  Local Selectperson •  Town/City Council •  Mayor Goal: •  Educate them about the value you provide to the community •  Educate them about the solution you provide to a critical need •  Educate them about the preventative power of exercise Local government
  38. 38. State Government •  State Representative •  State Senator •  Governor •  State Council on Physical Fitness –  Oregon Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Goal: •  Educate them about the value you provide to the community •  Educate them about the solution you provide to a critical need •  Educate them about the preventative power of exercise State government
  39. 39. Federal Government •  Capitol Hill Office •  US Representative •  District Office –  House Committee on Ways Means –  Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) Goal: –  Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) •  Educate them about the WHIP and PHIT Acts •  US Senators •  Educate them about the –  Senate Committee on Finance preventative power of exercise –  Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) •  Educate them about the role of health clubs in the solution –  Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to the health care, obesity, and –  Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) physical inactivity crises –  Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) Federal government
  40. 40. •  Workforce Health •  Personal Health Improvement Program Investment Today (PHIT) (WHIP) Act Act –  would ensure that the wellness –  allows for expenditures for benefit from off-site fitness physical fitness programs and facilities is not taxed as exercise equipment to be additional income for payable out of pre-tax health employees investment accounts –  encouraging employers to –  encouraging Americans to offer more wellness programs spend on preventative health that include fitness services to care (i.e. exercise); improving their employees; improving the the health of the American health of the American public; and decreasing the cost workforce; and decreasing the health care cost of employee health care for employers
  41. 41. Grassroots Advocacy 101 •  Available online •  IHRSA staff is always available to help
  42. 42. 8 Grassroots Concepts •  Voting is not enough •  Elected officials are people too •  Geography is #1 •  Money is part of the •  One angry letter does not change the world game •  It takes time to settle •  Instant grassroots (i.e. an issue signing a petition) isn’t especially effective •  Staying “on message” is vital
  43. 43. Building Relationships Fundraising Clubs Visits Office Visits Phone Calls Emails
  44. 44. Emails •  Introduction to advocacy •  Personalized email will get better response •  An email will not resolve an issue
  45. 45. Phone Calls •  Next step –  Still very brief time commitment •  Know the issue –  Have the talking points and bill number handy
  46. 46. Office Visits •  In-person meetings are the most powerful grassroots action you can take to fight for an issue •  They are people too and want to listen to their constituents
  47. 47. Club Tours •  Use to help establish a relationship •  Demonstrate the impact that the club is having on the community
  48. 48. Fundraisers Events •  Advanced advocacy •  Use to further existing relationship
  49. 49. IHRSA Resources •  State Federal •  Legislative Summit lobbying •  Legal hotline •  Capitol Report •  Grassroots Initiative •  IHRSA.org/ PublicPolicy •  Legislative Advocacy Alerts •  Coalition leadership
  50. 50. Next Steps •  What are the needs in •  Who are potential your community? partners? –  Which stakeholder •  What solution can groups to focus on? your club provide? •  How many of your –  Under utilized elected officials do resources? you know? •  What is your vision? –  How could you reach out to them?
  51. 51. Community Relations Roadmap What are the needs What solution can What is your vision? in your community? you provide? Which stakeholder How much money Who are your groups will you can you dedicate? potential partners? focus on? Who are your elected officials? When are you going What is your first • Local to start? action step? • State • Federal

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