We currently have between 400 and 500 children in our club programme. This means children who are coming to group tennis lessons on a weekly basis at our club. This does not include our schools programme or our tennis camps. Many of the methods in this series have contributed to this number, but let’s talk now about a FREE TRIAL.
Free trials really work
I had a quick look in our system to see how many we have done in the last year. The number is about 220. A lot! To me, there is just no question as to whether free trials work – the evidence is right there. We have done a lot of free trials and we have a large number of children in our programme – and that number has been growing rapidly over the last 2 years.
But there are mixed opinions amongst coaches about free trials, so here are my answers to some common questions and objections about free trials.
Make it part of an existing programme
The ‘trialee’ should come along to an existing group lesson. Giving a private session, even 15 minutes, is too time consuming, especially when you get busier. If they are coming along to an existing session, there is no extra time involved.
Try to have a good automated system for the whole process
I’ve written a whole post about systems in your tennis business in which I go into detail about our free trial process. So I won’t repeat that here, but I will just say that it is a mostly-automated process for a parent to sign up their child for a free trial and then the follow up to that. Again, we do not want this to be too time consuming.
ONE free session is enough
It doesn’t need several weeks or a whole course. Just the one session – after that, they can choose whether to sign up or not. And in my experience, more do than don’t. Of course, you need to be confident that you are providing a great experience – if not, you have a different kind of problem which marketing won’t solve.
We don't do free trials for tennis camps
The tennis camp format is much more casual – people can sign up for a day here and there. There would be a danger of lots of children taking free trials and not covering our costs. The free trial is to try our term-time programme, which is much longer term if they do then sign up.
So those are my thoughts on the most common objection to free trials, that it is too time consuming. But what are some other concerns?
People don't value what they get for free / giving things away makes us look desperate / people will take the free trial and not come back / we don't need to give things away for free to prove that we are good quality......
I have to say that I disagree with all of those. This is not the same as charging too little, which I DO disagree with and believe sends out the wrong message. In a way, the free trial is saying the opposite – it is saying ‘we are so confident that you’ll love it that you can try a session for free because we know you’ll probably be with us for a long time after’. And I do genuinely believe that. I think we just need to get them on court once and there is a very good chance they will sign up and possibly be in the programme for years.