If you have quality services and a resourceful sales team, attracting new members shouldn't be a big problem for your gym. Instead, one of the biggest challenges for gym operators is how to retain those members and how to persuade them to renew their membership.
There is an … "old" saying that persuading a current customer to purchase again is only half the effort of attracting a new customer.
This means that the members you already have are much more valuable than potential members. According to a study conducted by Paul Bedford, a fitness retention specialist, an active member of at least nine months will generate at least 40% more income from secondary expenses at the gym than a new member.
The first month spent at the gym by a new member is essential, and the way they use their membership during this period will dictate how loyal they will be in the future. That is why it's imperative to set up an onboarding process for new members so that as many of them as possible can quickly form the habit of going to the gym and training constantly. Only then will they become loyal and long-term members.
The first step in any new member onboarding process is to attract those new members. No matter how modern your gym equipment is, what top services you offer, or how good your trainers are if the people interested in fitness in your city don't know about the existence of your gym, your effort is in vain. So make sure your fitness gym is easy to find. How do you do that? Very simple!
Add your gym to Google Business, and don't forget to fill in your business hours, exact address, and contact details. This is the most popular way to make a business known. All companies added to this platform are shown in Google Maps and Google search results. So, when someone is looking for a gym in your city, your business should be among the first results.
Also, update all your fitness center's social media accounts with the exact address and contact details. My colleague Alexandra has created a detailed guide on optimizing your social media accounts to attract fans from your city. .
Your gym's website is a second front desk that new or potential members usually turn to. Thus, make sure that it is optimized primarily for this type of audience. Specifically, the club's website must contain the business contact details, operating hours, and exact address in an easy-to-find section.
This way, when someone interested in your gym accesses your website, they have all the information they need at hand. These include the available services, the membership price list, the team of trainers, the class schedule, and anything else that could tell you apart from the competition..
Once a new member has purchased their first subscription, they should automatically receive a welcoming email explaining how things work. This email may contain information about your online services. For example, if you have a member's app or an online members portal, you can explain how to access them and their login credentials.
The welcome email can contain helpful information about what they need to know when they first visit the gym. Don't assume that all new members already have experience going to the gym. The first visit is intimidating for everyone anyway, especially those who have never done it before.
That's why it's essential to tell them what to do from the very beginning: to bring a towel from home; to come with indoor shoes; to have water on them or the fact that they can buy water from the gym's front desk; what to eat before coming to the gym; what workout or equipment is recommended for beginners and so on.
All new members should receive a free assessment session with one of your trainers. This assessment is not a personal training session but rather an introduction of the new member into your gym's community.
The trainer can show them all the facilities, explain the rules, and help them set a real fitness goal. The trainer should also give them some guidelines on the type of workout or group classes that are right for the new member's goal and maybe even some nutrition tips.
The assessment session should not take more than half an hour, and at the end of it, the new member should feel more confident and comfortable in the room. In addition, these sessions are great methods to create a relationship between the trainer and member. As a result, the trainer has greater chances to persuade them into purchasing PT sessions and additional services..
Make sure new members actually attend these sessions. It is not enough just to include it in the new membership. When the member buys their membership or comes to the gym for the first time, the front desk employees should schedule this session on the spot.
Whether you're investing in the latest gadgets or prefer old-school methods, members must have a variety of ways to measure their progress at the gym.
In addition to the gym equipment, you can offer at the front desk or online, in the welcoming email, a form with a few questions that they can fill in when they start going to the gym and as they go along, monthly, or every 6 weeks. Questions may be about body weight, waist size, the weights they can lift, the number of times they can repeat a particular exercise, and so on. As the new member trains and fills in that form, they will be able to monitor their progress more easily.
Don't forget to add a question regarding the number of visits to the gym. This way, the member will notice that the more often they go to the gym, the better the results.
Your fitness trainers should be experts in exercise, sports, nutrition, and more. So why not offer this knowledge to your members to add value to their memberships. Usually, personal trainers give their clients specific tips to help them achieve their goals. This is part of the PT session package. But for the rest of the members, you can create articles or videos with such general tips.
Although you're probably already doing this or thinking that you could provide such content either on the fitness club's website blog or through social media posts, my recommendation would be to offer it exclusively to your members.
You can do this either through a private group on Facebook, the member app, or the online portal. Regardless of the method, access should be done based on a member account's so that members feel special and know that only if they have a membership to your gym will they have access to all this helpful information.
You don't know what kind of content to create? Start with some nutrition tips on what to eat before and after going to the gym, which dishes are recommended for losing weight or gaining weight. Then, suggest various workouts that can be done with the equipment in your gym, film a yoga or pilates class that can be practiced at home. Finally, don't forget to ask for your members' feedback, so you know exactly what content to create for them.
Identify members in the database who are about to terminate their membership. This can be quickly done if you have a few features in the membership management system. Generally, you can identify a member about to drop out by the number of visits to the gym made in the last 2 or 3 weeks. This can also be compared to the frequency of their visits in the previous month.
In the case of new members, you can easily determine whether they will renew their membership or not, depending on how often they come to the gym in the first weeks.
As I've said before, the first month of a new member is essential. Your management system should identify new members who did not come to the gym during the first few weeks of their membership and send them automated emails encouraging them to train. These emails may contain tips for first-time visitors to the gym, a training suggestion, or group classes for beginners that might interest them.
Ideally, the gym's management system will automatically handle the entire process. Otherwise, it will be a lot of work to identify daily or at least weekly members who haven't come to the gym lately and send emails to each one.
Going to the gym is a social activity, and the community that is formed around your gym is the one that will motivate the member to come constantly. But it is more difficult for new members to join this community. Therefore, I advise you to organize various events in the club to encourage members to get to know each other better.
It doesn't have to be a very complex event that takes up a lot of your time. For example, you can organize a kind of informal "meet & greet" at the end of a group class or in the evening after the peak period.
Invite members already in the gym for a glass of juice or a healthy shake at the front desk or in the relaxing area. Encourage participants to ask you or your trainers questions to initiate a discussion. The goal is to start an informal conversation between members and make the new ones feel included.
Doing this constantly at a particular time and day will become a habit for members, so your contribution will be kept to a minimum. However, it is important to encourage members to attend and promote these events, both at the gym and online.
On the other hand, avoid trying to sell something during these meetings. No matter what fantastic offer you have or what wonder product you are selling at the front desk, members will quickly lose interest if these events turn into sales sessions.
All the steps I explained above may… or may not work. You will not know until you try them and then find out the feedback from your members. No matter what new services you introduce or what retention strategies you are developing, it is important to learn from members whether they work or not.
You can do this using various forms at the front desk or online. Members should be asked to complete a short survey with questions about what they like about the gym, what they would improve, what their favorite services are, what they think about trainers, how they initially heard about your gym, and any other questions that might help you get an idea of how the onboarding program works for the member. You should do this after the first month of their subscription and after the third one.
Based on this feedback, you will be able to update this process to make it even more efficient. Of course, no matter how hard you try, at first, you will not be able to create the perfect onboarding for all members, but as you gather their feedback, you will be able to turn it into something really useful.
As with any campaign, it's essential to keep track of your results. For the onboarding process, the result is measured in the retention rate. Keep track of these figures, compare them with previous months in the context of changes made to the onboarding process. Based on these trends, you will easily figure out what works and what doesn't.
It is generally a good idea to change complex processes after at least one month since the last change. If you constantly change the onboarding of members, it will be harder to figure out what worked and what didn't. Be sure to consider their feedback, but some members' suggestions may not be appealing to others.
That's why it's essential to monitor your retention rate to see precisely how many members you've lost each month and whether or not a specific change has improved that value.
Although most gym operators tend to focus more on attracting new members, it is essential to take care of those who are already members. Especially those who have recently bought a membership.
Ideally, people who buy their gym pass for the first time already have a habit of training at the gym a few times a week, they know exactly what they need to do, and they don't need any help. This would be the profile of a perfect new member, which is more of a myth.
In fact, most people who come to the gym for the first time don't even know what to bring with them. As for the types of workouts, they are definitely guided by the advice of a non-professional friend or videos found on YouTube. Therefore, the chances of a new member learning on their own what to do and getting used to coming to the gym are minimal.
That is why the onboarding process of new members is so important. The first month of the membership is essential, and you need to make sure that not only do they use their membership during that period, but they also become familiar with your services and your trainers and integrate well into your gym's community.
If after the first four weeks of membership, the new member gets used to coming to the gym at least twice a week, they have attended a few group classes and had at least a pleasant conversation with one of your trainers about how to train, that member will be much more open to renewing their membership.
Therefore, develop a detailed onboarding process for new members, including as much communication and helpful information as possible. Then, take care of them and give them all the possible resources to change their habits and become interested in a healthy and active lifestyle. In this way, you will quickly create a community of loyal members who motivate and help each other, and the retention rate of your gym will get better and better.
There is an easier way to get more members! Communicate efficiently with them through automated emails, provide them the option to purchase memberships online, delight them with a professional mobile app and member account, and surprise them with fast services at the reception desk.
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