Are Free Passes Really Driving your Memberships?

We’ve all heard of using the ‘Free Guest Pass’ method as a way to drive your memberships, but are they truly worth the loss of revenue? shutterstock_190463996Abuse of these passes is a common problem and if you’re reading this, chances are your gym is giving out free passes with no proper procedure in place.

Now, there is nothing wrong with giving out free passes, but you have to implement an effective strategy so you don’t run the risk of missing out on a potential “honeypot” of new members.

I’m going to give you a walk through as to your plan when handing over a free pass, how to continue building the relationship in hopes of them joining your gym family and how to get the best return on your investment.


  1.  Before giving out a free pass, collect all of the information you need to track and follow up with that potential member.  Your
    club management software
    should allow you to easily capture this information as in most cases it is mandatory when signing customers up.

*   Source/Referral
*   Date
*   Email Address
*   Mobile Number
*   Mailing Address
*   Assigned Sales Rep

  1. Once the pass is issued do not lose track of the prospect. An effective gym software program should allow you to track action items for each prospect and each sales rep. You should always have your member’s info at your fingertips and be able to report easily and accurately on items like: guests who are expiring within the next few days, guests without any entries into the club and a host of other reports that will help you improve your close ratio.

  1. Confirm that you are not giving away free passes to the same people over and over. Just because Jim came in one day with one phone number and the next day with a different number doesn’t mean he is a new prospect!  This is again where your software comes into play and should have the ability to quickly identify, duplicate and alert you at time of entry. Also, using a driver’s license scanner for check-in will help avoid scammers and human error.

  1. Figure out what is working and what is not. Track and report on guest passes by the source from which they were referred.  Did they hear about your cool gym via a buddy who is already a member?  Did they see your cool new online ad on Facebook?  Or was it a drive-by joining?

  1. Write them off! Free guest passes have a value and may be considered a loss against revenue. Make sure your staff can accurately report on all guest passes otherwise you could be in trouble if you are ever involved in an audit. The main word in that last sentence is “accurately”.

So did this make you re-think your “FREE” pass policy?  There are many opinions regarding free passes, how to use them, if to use them and when. But if you do use passes make certain you track them and market aggressively to those prospects. Make sure your gym management software can make this easy for you!


Written by:

Dean Giamundo glossy-black-new-twitter-bird  linkedin-2048-black

Dean is a Senior Sales Consultant at Jonas Fitness who brings 10+ years of sports, health and fitness industry experience along with over 20 years in the information technology field.  This unique background along with being a former Gold’s Gym franchisee owner gives him first hand experience in assisting club owners to implement technologies and software that will increase profitability, help eliminate stress and increase work-life balance.

We’d love to know what techniques work for you, so let us know in the comments.