We repeatedly see fitness industry publications outlining class action lawsuits against health clubs, or articles that detail settlements in the hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars in response to accusations that gyms have violated the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act).

Some think that the best way to protect their business against these types of lawsuits is to avoid SMS or Text Marketing campaigns altogether.  However, text marketing can be a powerful and cost effective way to reach your members, or prospective members.  But with great power comes great responsibility. 

If you chose to engage in text marketing, here are some best practices that will help you stay within the lines of the law, provide your members with respect and discretion, or at the very least, put you in a defensible position in the event that you are the subject of a lawsuit alleging a TCPA violation. 

  1. Consent – You MUST get consent before sending marketing text messages.  Without consent, you run the risk of fines, lawsuits and reputational damage. 
     

  2. Frequency – Don’t text too much! When you are gaining consent, you should state how many times you will be texting per month, and STICK WITH IT! Your business could be sued for sending more text messages than the client originally agreed to. 
     

  3. Opt-out – Over communicate with your members that they can opt-out at any time.  If you use a text marketing vendor, they can include the opt-out instructions in the initial message, or in every message.  It should be as easy as texting “STOP” to unsubscribe.
     

  4. Hours – Only send texts during business hours.  You wouldn’t appreciate a marketing text message at 3 a.m., would you?  Neither do your valued members.  Use common courtesy to avoid annoying your customers.
     

  5. Disclaimers – “Msg & Data rates may apply” – This lets your customers know that they can be charged for receiving your text messages, just as they would for any other text. 
     

If you still chose to engage in text marketing, work with a reputable vendor that understands and continuously updates themselves on the TCPAs requirements and trends in the legal environment, not just in your state, but country-wide.  Be sure your employees are educated on the rules of engagement and also understand how significant the consequences can be if they don’t.