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5 Keys to Hosting an Awesome Open House

By Josh Leve

It seems like the term “open house” has become a mainstay in today’s fitness world. It’s the go-to opportunity to throw a party and bring together your fitness community. But what makes some open houses better than others? What can you do to ensure the next one you throw is your best one yet?

At the Association of Fitness Studios we recently inquired through our member network to find out what some of the most success fitness businesses out there have done to maximize their success.

1. Identify Your Business Goals

Throwing an open house means a prime opportunity to expose your business and the different elements that make up your business. Take some time and focus on what you want your strategy to be. Is it to just throw a party and make sure everyone has a good time? Is it to attract new clients who might otherwise be intimidated to stop by? Ultimately the goal here is to create buzz that keeps people talking.

2. How to Market the Event

Here’s something to think about. Change the name. Instead of “Open House” AFS members have used “Fitness Fest” to garner more attention and change up the same old same old. Also it’s never too early to identify your communication vehicles…

- Facebook ads

  • - Door hangers
  • - Flyers in local businesses
  • - Partner with neighboring business
  • - Create a community Facebook page
  • - Sandwich boards outside for a few weeks prior
  • - Word of Mouth through current clients with discounts

This is also where you want to leverage the 5 T’s of Word of Mouth Marketing. First and foremost, find your Talkers – these are going to be the people who have found the most success with you and will likely spread the word of the event to those after they’ve left your studio/gym.

3. Make it Different

Nothing’s worse that showing up for an event only to feel like you’ve been there done that. Try switching things up to have fun! Offer a free class outdoors (or inside), have a kids station for face painting or coloring.

Talk up clients/members to bring a friend – which in turn means they’ll be registered to win a $200 gift card and think about partnering with a massage therapist to offer chair massages. Remember, just like your fitness business – the EXPERIENCE your guest receive needs to make an IMPACT and a lasting impression.

4. Be Prepared

Anytime you throw a party, there are several logistical items that need to be thoughtfully planned out. For example, how will you deal with the best case scenario – too many people showing up? How do you handle crowd flow? What stations will you have and what will they be dedicated to? Who’s welcoming people?

One idea is to dedicate a staff member not only to “work the room” but also someone dedicated to taking pictures, videos, etc., and posting live to social media during event! What a great way (not to mention tons of follow up video and pictures for marketing materials) to spread the word!

5. Timing is Everything

Your clients may love coming during the week to train or take classes but aren’t likely to show up on a Friday or Saturday night over spending time with the family they haven’t seen much of all week. Prior to throwing an open house, conduct a survey (surveymonkey.com is the easiest way to go about this) and find out from your members/clients where they believe would be the best time for a gathering.

Bonus: Here are some other great ideas pulled from the AFS community.

  • - Provide incentives for attending- Get active with chambers of commerce
  • - Create stations for visitors to engage with your team
  • - Build in contests (push up test, sit up desk, tricep dips, etc)
  • - Have someone dedicated to point of sale
  • - Have a raffle and build excitement around the prizes. Also have a raffle for guests of your members and clients!
  • - Invest in an app for signing people up and for those checking in.
  • - Ensure your tracking all visitors
  • – provide proper follow up with thank you for attending, here’s a special offer to try us out.
  • - Make sure you don’t run out of food or drinks!
  • - Have a Wall of Fame posted in high traffic areas . We all love to see ourselves having fun! Use past event pictures or major milestones to reinforce the positive experiences and encourage more participation. Doing so creates more interaction as clients are reminded of the fun they had! And they can be alluded to during the sales process to show prospects that you genuinely support your clients. You may want to consider using a photo release waiver.

About the Author

Josh Leve is the Founder & CEO of the Association of Fitness Studios (AFS). AFS is known industry wide as the most trusted and fastest growing online community, dedicated to fitness entrepreneurs that take a chance on themselves and strive to run the best studios and gyms in the industry.

With over 60 industry partnerships – Josh’s success has translated into being featured in all major fitness publications and is also a featured speaker for all major fitness events such as IHRSA, Athletic Business, Club Industry, NSCA, NASM Optima, EMPOWER!, ZUMBA, and more.