Member acquisition is something that we often hear our customers talk about, but what happens once you’ve made the sale and converted that prospect into a member? At that point in time, the more successful gyms turn their attention to member engagement and one of our favorite metrics – retention.
Study after study, and analysis after analysis has shown that member retention is less expensive than recruitment. It typically costs a gym around five times as much to recruit a new member as it costs them to retain an existing member. Of course it is important for the growth of your gym to continue gaining new members, but you also must focus attention on strategies to decrease membership cancellations and hold onto your current valued members.
With the rise of boutique clubs offering programs and services at lower prices, gym owners are now put on the spot to create rewarding experiences and perceived value for members. Since we know that the cost to save a current member is much less than the cost of acquiring a new member, there is huge benefit in having a set of activities and resources focused on trying to prolong the experience with the existing members. Now, more than ever before, gym owners need to focus on making clients feel motivated and confident in their membership investment.
How can gyms meet retention challenges head on? Here are a few ways to consider:
Extraordinary Onboarding and the Right Gym Staff
Right off the bat, you can make yourself stand out as a gym when a new member is acquired. You don’t want your new members to feel lost, intimidated or overwhelmed when they first sign up. Make it a policy to make a personal phone call to new members two days after they join or send them a handwritten postcard in the mail. Let them know that your club is full of friendly people that are easy to connect and relate to! When it comes to hiring your coaches or personal trainers, focus on quality over quantity. A crucial element of an excellent customer experience is matching a client with the right trainer and allowing for smooth connections with other members. You want to hire people who are fabulous listeners and fully engaged in keeping in line with your club’s image and goals. Your personal trainers should easily be able to identify client needs and interests. For example, if a client is into group classes, trainers should know to pair them up with other gym members and create a mini “gym family” they can turn to for support and help reaching their goals. It’s also important to prevent friction points during the onboarding process and during the first few weeks. For example, avoid frustrating situations such as forgetting to give them their membership cards or neglecting to teach them how to book a class or use equipment properly. You must give them the tools to succeed and they will keep coming back.
A Reward Program
Name one person who doesn’t like presents? We thought so. Offer rewards and incentives to keep your members coming back. This is very crucial for the first few weeks and months of your new members’ experience at your gym. Offer a monetary reward for attending a specific fitness program or for getting their picture taken for your social media pages. Offer a free class to your gym members who attend classes a certain number of days for a month or even two months. Surprise members with extra perks for celebrations, such as reaching a fitness milestone. Encourage engagement, contests and other events that get members engaged with your club and with other members, is another great idea.
A good gym is a community, not just a place to work out. Perhaps after their first month of membership, you give them one month free (who doesn’t like free!) or a special discount at your smoothie station inside your club—there are endless possibilities. The point is, you need to keep your members interested and see the value of returning to your club.
Effective Software for Tracking Activity
Determining the reason a member cancels, or leaves is one of the most frustrating issues clubs face. Most of the time, it could have been anything. Did they dislike one of your instructors? Was the music too loud? Did they face intimidation inside the gym? WHAT WAS IT? The challenge is your lack of information. Besides asking how a member is doing every time they sign-in at the front desk, how can you track their activity and identify “fragile” members before they choose to cancel their membership?
The solution is Customer Experience Management software. This kind of software has more sophisticated tracking tools that will allow you to identify information such as who hasn’t been visiting your gym as often. Once you have this precious information, you can start putting together a strategy to interact and re-engage them. You can also use sophisticated tracking tools to easily see which classes have the highest attendance and focus your marketing efforts on promoting them even more. Customer Experience Management software helps build loyal customers, loyal customers bring friends, loyal customers stay longer, spend more money, and say great things about you even after they leave.
Using these tools, you can then implement the 21-day rule. The rule is simple: if a member has not visited your facility after a full 21 days, your club reaches out to re-engage them. Be sure to establish a membership retention team to reach out 21 –days, 60 days or even once per quarter. Methods of re-engagement can range from sending an encouraging email to personally checking up on the client the next time they attend a class. Your goal is to reignite their motivation to be a part of your fitness club’s culture and “family”.
Cutting Edge Classes
Last but not least, offer classes and programs catered directly to your member’s interests. Keep on top of trends! Want to compete with that boutique CrossFit gym down the road? Offer CrossFit classes and, while you’re at it, create a Groupon to encourage clients to bring a friend! Do your research to make sure you remain on the cutting edge.
Your club’s ability to create a positive environment will influence whether people keep coming back. According to the Harvard Business Review, 64% of customers cite “shared values” as the prime motivator in forming an enthusiastic relationship with a brand.
Your club culture and environment should reflect the atmosphere of the area, as well as the beliefs and ideals of your members and the surrounding neighborhood to create a positive work-out environment.
These are just some tried and true tactics to fight retention issues; but in reality, the possibilities are endless.