How To Combat Gym Member Retention

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.

Environment

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.

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Giving Your Clients A Voice: The Benefits of Customer Management Systems

As the owner of a gym or health club, you want to do whatever you can to stand out to your members. The little things can make a big difference in the long run, and help you promote your fitness club and be successful. One tool to do this is through a customer management software.

Giving your members the opportunity to give you feedback using customer experience software can help you go the extra mile to keep and gain clients. Here are some key information points customer management software can help fitness club owners learn:

Get to know your gym members: Are your customers mostly young people, interested in exciting new workouts? Senior citizens trying to find some light movement classes? Night owls? Earlier risers? Families? All of this information is important to know! If your members are mostly young professionals looking for exciting new workout classes, it won’t help to host yoga classes at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. Knowing who your members are will help you better serve those coming to your health club.

Keep up with trends: There’s always a new type of workout routine or fitness class that your clients might be eyeing. Maybe they wish there was a certain type of machine, or maybe they’re looking for classes on a certain subject. If you’re not in touch with them, there’s no way to know what they’re looking for. There’s no way to have your finger on the pulse of everything at once, so use surveys and other tools to keep up with trends.

Interact with your members: Everyone loves a place where they feel welcome. If your members walk through the door of your health club, and your staff is there to greet them, it makes a big difference. It makes an even bigger difference if the next time you see that client, you ask how they enjoyed that class they took or how their kids are doing. The same is true online. If you follow up with your members, you’ll be able to build connections that will entice those clients to keep coming back.

Make your clients feel heard: People don’t like yelling into a void. Instead, make sure your customers know their voices will be heard with interactive customer management system. Giving them a place for feedback where they know you’ll listen will help build that relationship for years to come.

Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of customer management software? The team at MXM can answer your questions. Contact our team today to get started.

What To Look For In A Customer Experience Platform

As a health club owner, you know that you should listen to your members’ feedback. It’s a simple, easy way to build great relationships. But how do you get that feedback from your members? As someone managing a  health club, there are so many avenues to glean feedback: social media, online reviews, pen-and-paper suggestion boxes and even face-to-face meetings. How are you going to take the time to retrieve all the feedback, let alone sort through it and implement it?

One of the best ways to get client feedback is through a customer engagement software. This type of management software is a valuable resource to help you retrieve, record and sort through data. As you begin looking at customer management software, keep a few things in mind. You need a software that:

  • Gives your customers a voice

Membership satisfaction surveys and online polling offer your members a place to express their opinions, wants and needs. Giving them a place to put all this information down in a forum where they know you’ll be listening is very empowering — not only does it give the customer a voice, but it builds on the relationship between the business and the customer.

If your members are loving your new class schedule, you want to know that. If they want more weight lifting machines, you need to hear that. But if they’re unhappy with an aspect of your business, or are starting to look for something different in a fitness club, you need to know that too. With a customer experience platform, health club managers want to be able to identify trends as soon as possible so gym owners can stay ahead of the curve. Using a customer engagement software will help you spot those trends.

  • Provides data you can’t find on your own

How do you spot those trends? By using real data to see what your members want and who they are. Not only can you figure out who your client is, but you’ll also be able to learn about what they want and how you can provide that. And that leads to our final item…

  • Shows you ways to improve

So what good is data if you can’t use it? Once you gather data from a customer management software like, you’ll be able to use that data to create real economic growth for your business, as well as improve every member’s visit to your health club.

Are you ready to find your customer management software? Check out MXM and contact us today for more information.

You guys are insane!

According to the Urban Dictionary: Blind loyalty involves being loyal to a person or cause despite the damage the person or cause does to himself or herself or others. Versus: Loyaltyfeeling of strong support for someone or something, Merriam-Webster. Are your customers and employees loyal – or blindly loyal? Before you answer, think about this:

tgc-blind-loyalty

Blind Loyalty, what does this mean exactly? Think of your pet! Now there is an example of blind loyalty. You work 12 hours a day, the pet is left alone, and yet they are so happy to see you when you get home. Maybe you are a great pet owner or an abusive one. Your pet is still loyal and still loves you no matter what.  And parenting! No matter what kind of parent a person is, young kids are loyal and want to impress (at least until the teen years!). I consider myself a good parent but I’m sure some day one of my kids will tell their therapist about something I did as a parent that has caused them grief as an adult.

As adults, we think we like something, and are loyal to it, whether it is a business, a person, or a product. Until that business, person, or product does something outrageous to cause mistrust. BUT, why we do wait until that moment?! As business owners/managers, why do we wait until our customers are angry or sales are declining? As consumers, why do we wait until the business or product disappoints? As employees, why do we wait until we can find something better?

If you have customers and employees, chances are YOU are blindly ignorant. Ignorant to the fact that perhaps your employees only work for you because there isn’t anything else available or your customers are customers because they haven’t discovered something better. Don’t be that guy/gal! Loyalty starts from the top.  If you run your business on loyalty and truly care about your employees as human beings and care about the product or service you are offering, then LOYALTY is what you will have, not Blind Loyalty. Don’t assume your employees and customers love you or what you do, KNOW.  Ask, find out, LISTEN and truly learn from your people and customers. (Notice I said learn. This is different then TELL.)

If you are the boss or the manager, find out from your people what makes them tick. Why do they love working for you and your company? Let them be candid. If you have truly loyal staff, you will have truly loyal customers. Be true and be loyal to your people and profits will result.

My goal is to never hear something like this about my company, my people, or my product:

“You guys are insane. Working like dogs and retaining blind loyalty to some jerk of a boss who doesn’t give a toss about you.” Urban Dictionary 

May it never be so.

Start with a smile

Today I did an informal experiment. As I was riding my bike to work, I decided to count how many people either returned my smile or said good morning/hello or some other acknowledgement (even a head nod!). No, it wasn’t too early and it was a gorgeous day! Apple Capital Loop Trail– I live in an amazingly beautiful area with a bike path that connects two towns on either side of the Columbia River. Along the way, it is quite normal to see eagle, osprey, fish jumping, salmon fisherman fishing, and even some other unsightly creatures (snakes, skunk).

In other words, the reasons to be happy, to be smiling, to be friendly were numerous! We are alive, we are able bodied enough to be outside enjoying the beauty and breathing clean, fresh air!

Back to my experiment: my trip to work is only about 45 minutes of brisk biking but I passed no less than 47 people. I am not counting the ones who were plugged in or chatting away with others and, therefore, would not hear my cheery voice. 47 people (plus the others with headphones or friends)! Isn’t that amazing? So many people up and exercising and enjoying the outdoors. Guess how many people smiled back at me? Or acknowledged me in any way? 13. Yes, only 13 – roughly 26% I was overly cheery and loud with my greetings and still – only 13. That makes me wonder: what is going on in their minds that they are choosing to not be present? (Perhaps they thought I was a bit loony or “one of those annoyingly happy morning people?)

Which leads me to this article – how often do we go throughout our day not being present?be present What are we missing by letting our minds run ahead? How many people do we not connect with by not paying attention to our surroundings and missing the best parts of our day? It’s so easy to get absorbed in what we have to get done, our stresses, or our life but by not being present, we might miss that open door to the next greatest opportunity. Even the missed opportunity to really “see” and acknowledge some really great people!

Do you know WHO those 13 people were? They were the ‘seniors’ (older than me!) who I suspect were out there because: 1) they had the time 2) they enjoyed the beauty of the outdoors or even 3) perhaps they wanted to make someone’s day better by offering a hello or a smile. I can see their smiles, the look of peace and contentment. For me, they reminded me just how much a smile means. They made my day brighter.

Even if you don’t have the opportunity to ride a bike to work or don’t live in a place that is beautiful, there is still joy in being alive and being in the moment. Take a look around – I’m sure you can find at least one thing to smile about?

A smile is easy. A smile is cheap. A smile can make someone’s day. The best gift you can give yourself is to make someone’s day brighter by offering a free smile. Enjoy!

How do you practice being present? What makes it hard for you to be present? Please share with us.

This blog was originally published Oct. 2, 2015 and was so good the first time that you just have to see it again, courtesy of Jenny Hymer. Enjoy!

Weighting out the winter

 

Winter is here and your members and future members are evaluating their fitness right now! They are considering their gym memberships and resolving in their minds to really get serious this next year. set goal, make plan, work, stick to it, reach goal - a success cThis is great for business but the challenge is always how to retain more of these people before they get discouraged and move on or just stop coming in.

Here is something to think about.

Do you know what fitness goals your member’s have? How would you know if they met their goals? If you are a health club operator You should absolutely know this information. Knowing what your members are trying to accomplish is key to connecting them with the right services and keeping them as members long term. If you could keep each member from cancelling even for an additional 2-3 months, how much additional revenue is that?

Here are a couple of ways to learn about your members fitness goals.

  1. Start with asking people when they first become a member. Try this, “Tell me what you are hoping to accomplish with this membership?” Hold the assumptions and give them a few minutes to answer. It is amazing what a few thoughtful well designed questions can produce. It should be no surprise that many people will be eager to tell you about their fitness goals. If they are sitting in a sales office at your health club, they will assume that you are an expert and will be able to advise them how to meet their goals. Capture what they have shared with you so that your trainers and management can access this information. Your engagement with this member should be driven by a desire to see them succeed.
  2. Another way to understand a member’s fitness goals is via a survey. The right member experience management system can provide you with an opportunity to engage personally with your member about their fitness goals and to learn how you can help. Soliciting regular feedback from members is the only way to know if you are actually providing them with what you promised when they first joined you club.

Here are just some of the things your members could be trying to accomplish.

  • Lose weight
  • Gain weight
  • Train for a race
  • Recover from surgery
  • Make new friends
  • Start dating
  • Need a break from their kids
  • and many more reasons

Take the time to understand what your members are trying to accomplish. A few respectful and thoughtful questions will go a long way towards keeping that member engaged and active at your club.

retain_gym_members

Are you doing anything to understand and track fitness results at your club? Let us know!

Free Webinar: The Four Habits of Exceptional Clubs

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Exceptional clubs don’t happen by accident, and they appear in every strata of the marketplace – low-price, mid-price and high-price. Their common denominator is the conscious choice to make customer experience their strategy and the adoption of the habits that make it successful.

Learn what “exceptional” really means and how you can put your club(s) on the “exceptional” path. If you want to learn how many of the world’s best companies, including fitness organizations, drive customer experience strategy, this webinar is for you – regardless of the size of your organization.

PRESENTER
Blair McHaney, president, ClubWorks Inc.


Blair McHaney is the former vice president of strategic initiatives for Medallia, an operational customer experience management (OCEM) technology company. He is a subject matter expert on operationalizing voice of customer systems, a Medallia Institute educator, a club owner for more than 30 years and president of ClubWorks, which is Medallia’s partner for operational customer experience management in the fitness industry.

Register Here