This was the activity in my cages one Saturday morning this past winter:
A few classes, rentals, and lessons – not bad – but even on a busy day, the cages are rarely booked solid.
Most sports academies end up with some last-minute openings that could be filled by rentals, even when they’ve done plenty of marketing. Use these tactics to fill them.
Send Last-Minute Discount Emails
Create an email list just for clients who want to hear about last-minute discounts, then periodically send them a list of rental openings with special pricing about 24 hours in advance. Highlight the best deals in the email subject line (for example: Tonight Only: Get 60% off HitTrax Cage Rentals).
If you track your clients’ interests, you even can create interest-specific email lists to avoid bothering the wrong groups – soccer families don’t want to hear about last minute batting cage rental openings, for example.
Encourage your existing clients to opt-in to this special deals list, but also consider adding a “Send Me Special Discounts” email sign up form to your web site. This can be a good way to attract new clients, because visitors are more likely to sign up for discounts than for general news.
Don’t Overdo It
You should already be using your scheduling software to automatically adjust rental and lesson prices for slower times of year and times of day (eSoft Planner is one program that does this).
Your clients should understand that they’ll pay more for peak times, and that these last minute discount emails are for irregular and one-off openings. Make the people on your email list feel like they’re getting inside information and special opportunities. Don’t email them every last-minute opening on your schedule, or even send openings more than a few times each week.
Consider sending irregular “alerts” only for particularly popular spots, or only for days that have more openings than usual. You could also combine your openings into a weekly or bi-weekly list, giving steeper discounts for the ones that are coming up sooner.
Finally, if an upcoming last-minute opening is for a high-demand time slot or instructor, you may choose to skip the full email and just post the opening to your social media accounts, which may fill it more quickly. You can also reach out personally to clients who you know will be in the facility around the time of the opening to avoid contacting the full list.
Experiment with Your Operating Hours
Your facility should only be open during the hours you can get it full enough to justify the costs to heat, cool, power and staff the space. Tweaking your operating hours can mean fewer empty time slots and savings for your business.
For example, we’ve offered an early morning fitness class for adults several times at DNA over the years. But when demand for the class dropped and marketing efforts didn’t fill it back up, I didn’t hesitate to cancel it and push the opening time to later in the morning when the facility was busier. (My instructors didn’t love waking up at 5 a.m. to open the facility, only to wait hours for their next lesson or class.)
The best operating hours for every sports academy will vary a lot depending on client demand, but try experimenting to see what works the best. The fewer last-minute openings you have to fill, the easier your life will be.