For seasonal businesses like Cheerleading gyms, the season may be shorter than a full calendar year. The result? Months where no registrations are taken and revenue is consequentially lower than average or next to nothing. This can pose a serious issue for small business owners that still need to cover costs during these periods. We caught up with Cj Pugh from Power Cheer Toronto (PCT) who shared some tips on how to run a successful Cheer gym, especially surviving the infamous, not-so-funny “Moneyless May”.
As the owner and director of PCT Cj has grown his business to serve over 600 families and 480 competitive athletes. While he’s a savvy businessman, he stayed true to his mission to teach life lessons through the sport of cheerleading, committed to building its athletes’ confidence, self-esteem and work ethic.
“Moneyless May- It's a Cheer thing“ – CJ Pugh, PCT Owner
What is Moneyless May?
It’s a cheer thing, Cj explains. The technical cheer season starts with enrollments in late May and local competitions end early April and Worlds (The Cheerleading and Dance World Championship) ends at the end of April. This phenomenon could be applicable to other seasonal businesses, but in the Cheer industry it’s so infamous that we gave it a name.
What effect can Moneyless May have on a Cheer gym?
Technically you have the month of May where nothing is happening. Some Cheer gyms only charge membership for 11 months. This is very dangerous. There’s the obvious downside that you’re missing out on revenue. Some gyms don’t pay their staff for that month, but they still have fixed costs to cover. Not to mention employee satisfaction is affected. To us it felt like we would be letting our staff down. In addition, it could affect customer retention. Since the season is over, athletes and their parents might choose to look at the offering of other gyms. Removing a client from a financial commitment, at a time where they are most likely to shop around is crazy, Cj adds.
“Removing a client from a financial commitment, at a time where they are most likely to shop around is crazy.“ – CJ Pugh, PCT Owner
How do you get around it at PCT?
At PCT we charge membership for 12 months, since charging for 11 months seemed strange despite being common practice. Financials aside, we feel that our athletes benefit from the spring training we offer in the period of time others call “Moneyless May”. During this time, they practice and keep up their skills up to stay ahead of the curve before the next season begins.
Any advice for businesses that can’t charge for 12 months?
Even for organizations that can’t drastically change their business model, there are options. You could run drop-in sessions like skill clinics, classes and private lessons. It’s additional risk until you ramp up the practice, but some heavy promoting can help inform your customers. To further close the gap, you could run an early registration period starting in April. At PCT we found that incentivizing early-birds works very well with either discounts or early access to classes.
“Calling it Moneyless May is just bad business in my opinion.“ – CJ Pugh, PCT Owner
Any further advice for those affected by Moneyless May?
Calling it Moneyless May is just bad business in my opinion. Cheer is an industry of passion, but that doesn’t mean we should be neglecting the business side of operations. With some creativity and business know-how the issue of Moneyless May can be avoided. Owners should take charge and stay away from following technical seasons, industry traditions or common practice. Shape your business practices around the needs of your customers, employees and the overall business.