The retention rate is one of the main concerns of any fitness operators. Many focus only on recruiting new members and forget about those that are already members. This strategy is not the best choice, since most studies show that recruiting a new client is almost twice more expensive than maintaining a client you already have.
In the end, your members' loyalty is more important than recruiting new members that can drop out after a few weeks. If someone who has been with your gym for a long time is happy with your services, they will genuinely promote your gym better than any commercial or campaign you might run.
The question is how to ensure your members stay loyal in the future. The short answer is by providing an excellent experience. Weather we are talking about quality services, state-of-the-art machines, simple tasks and warm employees that are always there to help them, all these details can craft a wonderful impression, that will convince members to renew their membership faster than any special price.
Unfortunately, all these aspects are dependent on many factors, that are not always under your control. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't several things that you can do to ensure your gym's retention rate is holding up. Here are my suggestions!
This is one of the most popular strategies in fitness and for good reasons. Most people who quit the gym don't have the necessary drive to train regularly. It can be quite the challenge for your team to provide motivation and support to every single one of your members. However, a strong-knit community can easily do that. Therefore, organize different competitions for your members, encourage them to form teams and don't forget to keep a score.
The competitive spirit will win over laziness every time. Members should be excited to visit the gym, and they should count the days and hours until the next competition. And not just to win a prize, but for the experience of the competition that is fun and exciting.
You can organize weekly, monthly or even year-long competitions. You can measure kilometers on a stationary bike or treadmill, the number of reps of a particular exercise, lost kilograms or lifted weights. Set up a board in the gym to write the results and update them constantly. The satisfaction to see their evolution in writing will be extraordinary for your members and they will immediately become loyal customers.
You already know that the first impression is the most important. Therefore, put yourself in your new members' shoes and analyze the first impressions for them at your gym. I am sure that your front desk just popped into your mind. But that is not always the first contact with your gym for a new member.
Study your gym's website carefully, the ads you run online and offline, the way you communicate on social media. Most of the times, these are the first impression for a brand. Make sure the information published online about your gym are correct and updated. Do you provide the option for new members to register online? Excellent! How simple and user-friendly is this process? Does it take more than a few minutes? That is not very good!
Next review your front desk. How are members greeted by your employees at the reception desk? Do they smile? Do they talk politely, even in difficult moments? If there is a queue at the entrance, does your team ignore newcomers until it's their turn or do they great them when they arrive and ask to be patient?
Once you make sure all these aspects are taken care of, go to the next step. The new member purchased their membership and visited the gym for the first time. How are you going to convince them to come back? Unfortunately, most new members don't come with an already set habit of visiting the gym several times a week. And if the new member doesn't use their membership, they will definitely not renew it.
So, how are you going to convince them? By communicating with them!
Send automated welcome emails, in which you explain all your gym’s services and benefits. Provide all the information a new member might need, no matter how small obvious.
You can create an entire scenario of new members, depending on their activity, through which they can receive automated emails about their membership, your online services, the machines in the gym, trainers ang group fitness classes and more. You can suggest exercises for beginners and what to do the first time they visit the gym.
If you are not convinced that this strategy actually works, you should know that a personalized onboarding process can increase the retention rate by 75%. Of course, that means that once the member arrives at the gym, your team will be available and excited to help them find the right workout and their own exercising rhythm.
If your gym is the place where people can solve at least one of their problems, then surely, they will not quit. Do they want to lose weight, increase their muscle mass, heal an injury or train for a competition? All these are problems that you should have the right answer for.
Trainers and instructors must be opened to help them reach their fitness goals, but sometimes, they can’t do that for everyone, particularly when there are a lot of people in the gym. But you can publish blog articles with suggestions for workouts for each goal and provide the necessary resources for members to reach those goals on their own. That might mean a newsletter for all members, short brochures with advice on different topics, like how to lose weight, or posters displayed in the gym about different workouts and their benefits.
In no way should your gym create more headaches for your members. That means they should be able to easily solve any task, like online class bookings or membership renewals, on your gym’s website. If going to the gym also means logistics, then your members will easily get discouraged and give up.
Most people who join a gym have a general idea about what to accomplish. Your role is to help them map out a serios objective, that they can reach. Do they want to lose weight? Help them set a number of kilograms or centimeters so their progress can easily be tracked.
Help them set obtainable goals, so they will not get disillusioned when they realize they cannot lose dozens of kilograms in a single week. Your team’s purpose is to guide members towards tangible goals and be there for them every step of the way, even when their progress is not always the best.
Many times, these services are offered by personal trainers during private sessions. But that doesn’t mean you cannot provide these options to all your members no matter the membership type they bought. Make sure every new member receives a free assessment session with a trainer, that will help them set the right goal and suggest several workouts for that.
Give out simple forms that will help them keep track of their progress, as well as the necessary devices (scales and other measuring methods).
A gym membership should not entail only the access to a room with machines. If should offer access to an entire experience that goes outside the gym’s walls.
That could mean professional advice from your trainers, either in person or as articles or video workouts published online, on exclusive channels.
Tangible things usually have greater impact, like discount vouchers for another membership or service, or goodies you can download like healthy recipes, shopping lists for a week-long vegetarian menu, sets of exercises for a particular goal. All these goodies will improve your retention rate and creating them should not take a lot of time.
Most members prefer to manage their activity on their own, instead of asking the front desk to perform different tasks. So why shouldn’t you give them that option? It’s not just convenient for them, but you will also reduce the amount of work of your employees.
Let your members renew their membership online and pay for it using their bank card, let them register online and create their own member account, or to download their contract or invoices.
Allow them to book their favorite classes online, and cancel bookings they don’t intend on participating, without having to call the reception desk. If a member wants to buy a PT or a massage session, they should be able to do so from the comfort of their home, and not just when your employees are working.
All these tasks can be easily performed with a dedicated app or via a member portal embedded into your gym’s website.
How would you feel if, after you purchase a service, you are completely ignored by that brand? Not very good, isn’t it? Therefore, make sure your employees know how to interact with all your members. This is one of the simplest strategies to increase your retention rate, but most of the times it is ignored.
Communicate with members constantly, and not just about your gym and its offers, but also about things that interest them. Launch a newsletter with useful info for your members. Bonus points if you segment your audience and send different emails depending on the member type, and its history.
Do you already have a member app? Very good! Use the push notification system to notify members about different things. And I am not just talking about the latest offers, but also when you publish a new workout video or if you change the program for the next weekend.
Encourage members to write reviews on different platforms like Facebook or Google Business. Keep track of the messages they send and if they encounter any issues, talk to them and try to help.
Group training is extremely motivating for members and most people join a gym only to have access to these classes and to the group of people that take part. If your classes are always fully booked or you don’t have a particular class they want, they will certainly quit your gym and look for another. That is why it’s important to carefully keep track of your group fitness classes.
Make sure the maximum number of participants is in accordance with the space, so members have plenty of space to workout. Identify in your gym management software what are the most popular classes and instructors. Add more of those classes in the schedule and eliminate those who don’t attract large crowds.
Set up a simple booking system, so members who make a booking are assured they will have a spot in that class, and they won't go to the gym for nothing.
From time to time, ask your members for feedback, and make changes depending on their likes and dislikes. Each feedback is very valuable, and when you make decisions based on members’ preferences, you will have an easier time gaining their loyalty.
Retaining your current members should be a priority for any gym owner, because it is cheaper than recruiting new members. On such a competitive market, members will stay loyal only if they get an extraordinary experience from the moment they find out about your gym. Which usually happens online.
There are many strategies that ensure your members are happy and willing to renew their membership every time. You can create a tight-knit community around your gym, you can create a personalized onboarding process, or you can provide additional value to your membership with advice and other useful resources. Don’t forget to keep in touch with your members, as often as possible, and make sure they feel valued by your team.
Provide simple methods to control their activity, from the option to self-register, to online bookings for classes and renewing their membership online. Keep track of your group training classes to identify the right maximum number of participants for each space, what are the most popular classes and instructors. That way you can change the schedule, depending on your members’ preferences to encourage them to remain loyal to your gym.
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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