If you are a human living on planet Earth, chances are you pay a LOT of monthly bills. You have your car payments, your cable bills, cell phone bills, mortgage or monthly rent and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t have Netflix these days? With all of these obligatory payments each month, chances are you are going to be extremely picky about how you spend your precious leftover income. A recent study found that most people who cancel their gym membership –for reasons other than relocation or medical issues—do so because they aren’t utilizing their membership to its full potential and are sick of watching their monthly dues sucked from hard-earned paychecks.
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. The cost to save a member is much less than the cost of acquiring a new member, so there is tremendous benefit in having a set of efforts, activities and resources allocated to trying to prolong the experience with the existing member. Now, more than ever before, gym owners need to focus on making clients feel motivated and confident in their membership investment.
So, how can big gyms compete with lower-priced alternatives and meet retention challenges head on? Here are 5 key ways to consider:
1. Exceptional Onboarding and the Right Staff.
Start off on the right foot and straight off the bat. You don’t want members to feel lost, intimidated or overwhelmed when they first sign. Make it a policy to place a personal phone call to a client two days after they join or send them a handwritten postcard. 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 critical component of an exceptional customer experiences is matching a client with the right trainer and allowing for smooth connections with other members. Hire people who are great listeners and fully committed to keeping in line with your club’s image and goals. 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 attendees and create a mini “fit fam” they can turn to for support and help reaching their goals. It’s also important to avoid “friction points” during the onboarding process and 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.
Who doesn’t like presents? Offer rewards and incentives to keep clients coming back. This is extremely critical for the first few weeks and months. Offer a $25 reward for attending a trainer’s program or for getting their picture taken. Offer a free class to clients who attend classes twice a week for 60 days, or 3 free PT sessions once they reach 3 months. Maybe after one month, you give them one month free (who doesn’t like free!) or a special discount at your smoothie station—the possibilities are endless. The point is, you need to keep your clients interested and perceive the value of returning to your club.
3. The 21-Day Rule and Effective Software for Tracking Activity
One of the most frustrating issues clubs face is figuring out WHY a client leaves. Most of the time, it could have been anything. Did they dislike one of your instructors? Was the music too loud? Did they face gymtimidation? WHAT WAS IT? The challenge is your lack of information. Aside from asking how a client is doing every time they sign-in at the front desk, how can you track client activity and identify “fragile” members before they leave?
The solution here is all-in-one management software. Most gym software out there 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.
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 club’s culture and “family”.
4. Cutting Edge Classes
Last but not least, offer classes and programs catered directly to your clientele’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.
These are just some tried and true tactics to combat retention issues; but in reality, the possibilities are endless. Start with these 5 key tips and use what works best for YOUR facility.