In our “Owner’s Manual” column, we ask gym owners to take us “under the hood” and give us their secrets to what keeps their gyms running so smoothly. Find out how Tara Cain puts her own “twist” on attracting athletes below:
Name: Tara Cain, Owner
Gym: Maryland Twisters All-Stars, Inc.
Location: Glen Burnie, MD
Size: 500+ athletes; approximately 26 teams (cheer, dance & special needs)
As a business owner, I’m not just looking at filling up my teams—I’m also generating business for camps and classes. Unlike many all-star gyms, we welcome athletes from everywhere to participate in our classes, private lessons and/or camps. You do not have to be a Twister to benefit from our training. Professional, high school, recreation & other all-star athletes are a part of our training curriculum. We really want everyone in the cheer arena to feel we are the primary training facility in Maryland; so far, that has worked to our benefit. Some of our classes include stunt class, flyer flexibility, tumbling classes by level, trampoline class and open gym.
In previous years, before we grew so big, we focused on attracting new athletes with many creative plans. We would go to various fairs and places our audience would be and perform or set up a booth to generate awareness about all-star cheerleading. (Some people still don’t even know what it is here in Maryland.) We also provided a referral fee as an incentive during certain times of the year. At one time, we also had a direct mail piece to everyone who has ever walked in the doors—once around tryout season to promote tryouts and another at the beginning of the year to create awareness of summer camps. It was sent to anyone who has ever taken a class or attended at camp at Maryland Twisters. Those are the people you’re actually targeting, as they’ve already been to your gym and met the staff.
We have partnered with our county recreation programs to “train the trainers” on stunt technique, safety, and other types of cheer training. Some of those programs have also rented our floor space for their teams as they prepare for county competitions. We have explained to our rec friends that we are not a threat. All-Star isn’t for everyone—but cheerleading and gymnastics is. We would like to continue to strengthen our sport throughout Maryland with no attempt to recruit. Inevitably, a few of their more serious athletes may transition to our all-star program, but that is few. [We want] those coaches to know we are not doing it for our team gain; we are really there to help & be a resource to them as well.
In addition to our teams and class business, we also have developed a dance program that houses two competitive hip-hop teams. That has also extended our business into dance classes (tap, ballet, hip hop, jazz, etc). We are still growing that division, but it has certainly attracted kids who are not at all interested in cheer or gymnastics. It’s another great avenue for those all-star athletes who are ready to “retire” and transition into something less demanding.
We pride ourselves on NOT recruiting all-star athletes at other gyms during events or competitions. If a parent or athlete approaches us, that is one thing. But we don’t proactively seek them out.
Creating a certain atmosphere for walk-ins can also be a good recruiting tool. We have three viewing areas for parents and articles written about us up in the lobby, along with a display of our Worlds trophies. The employees in the front office are trained to create the right first impression. Having the right staff in place will also attract families to not only feel welcome, but stay within our Twisters family for the long-term.