5 min read
How to flex your member retention muscle
Reduce the cost and effort of acquiring new members, by learning how to keep the ones you already have.
Let’s face it, unless you’ve got an endless amount of cash to pour into advertising, you’ve got to do everything you can to keep your current members coming back.
Even though there are times throughout the year when sign-up periods can thrive (i.e the beginning of a new year), loyalty is much harder to earn. Why? Because we are living in a world of choice and shifting expectations. Plus, consumers are getting savvy on how they can take advantage of every free trial within reach.
While you can’t completely control the free trial churn, you can create a better membership retention strategy to keep those who have committed to your fitness club beyond the free trial. Here are some ways you can improve member retention in your business, with key takeaways pointed out along the way.
(Actually) listen to their goals and motivations
For some people - getting to the stage where they are sitting in a gym ready to sign up is a huge milestone for them. For others, they might have decided to switch from another gym, recently moved into the area or being encouraged to sign up with a gym buddy.
When you don’t dig deeper into these motivations and goals at the start, you’re missing a huge opportunity to find out how you and the team can help them stay on track so that they do see the results they set out to achieve.
There’s a reason why so many of the cult-like fitness regimes such as Kayla Itsines has caught on. Not only is it a supportive community, they are held accountable with regular check-ins to achieve incredible results.
But this surge in app-based fitness regimes can also be used to your advantage, but it might require a little bit of an exercise machine shuffle and investing in some extra workout equipment.
Key takeaway: Take the time to learn about their WHY and help them get the most out of your fitness centre or club. When you do that, you’re helping them find value and holding them accountable to make change.
Be aware of how members are using your facilities
If you’re offering group fitness classes and attendance is low - this is a chance to revise what your current members are looking for and how they currently use your gym.
The same goes for gyms that have booked out group sessions but hardly anyone is utilising the equipment.
Sometimes it’s a mix between the two.
While there can be limitations both structurally and financially in what you can do, there are always small changes you can make if you take the time to ask your current members what you could be doing better.
Also read: Why you need to wake your sleepers
It might surprise you that there’s simple things like getting an extra fan, water cooler station or shuffling some equipment to make some extra floor space for functional training and stretching.
It doesn’t hurt to ask. Send out an email, physically chat to some of the members or keep a suggestion box near the entranceway to make it easy for them to discreetly offer some anonymous feedback.
Key takeaway: Don’t get complacent with what you’re already offering. Members who have been there for a while can get bored of their routine and want to shake things up by switching to a new health club. Take the time to observe and proactively find out what improvements you can keep on top of to satisfy long-term members.
Make it easy to get paid
At the end of the day, you’re providing a service and you need to get paid. But a poor payment experience can really sour the relationship. The challenge here is being able to cater to the multiple ways people prefer or expect to pay.
Subscription based models like Netflix thrive on a set and forget basis. Payments become white noise and unless there’s a declined transaction, it never really has to come up.
Signing up clients to direct debit is mutually beneficial for you and the client. It reduces administration on your side and makes it a much more seamless experience for the client as they can forget about having to manually transfer money every week, or make sure they have the cash to bring with them.
The other benefit to direct debit is financial accountability. Once a payment schedule is agreed on, the client wants to make sure they see value in what they’re spending. This means they might be more likely to use the gym more than someone who just pays as they go. In the long-term, the more you can encourage clients to use the gym and see results, the better your member retention will be.
Then, there’s people who would prefer to pay upfront. While others might like to do it on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Once you find the right mix of payment solutions that works for you, it all works towards reducing the effort needed to retain members.
This is where you need to think about having EFTPOS terminals to cater for in-store purchases and properly integrating the right software to allow members to book casual visits online.
Key takeaway: Offering a full suite of payment solutions will make it as easy as possible for members to do business with you. With Ezidebit, you can offer all major payments types via our four payment methods - Direct Debit, EFTPOS, BPAY and Real Time Payments.
Anticipate waivering motivation or drop off points
New year, new you.
Summer bodies are made in Winter.
Beat the Winter slump.
Get shredded for Summer.
Sound familiar? There is a distinct connection between the weather, the time of year and how our motivations can shift. But these messages are quite generic.
What can really drive better member retention is learning more details about the key events or goals in a member’s life. Whether it’s shredding for a wedding, training for a competition or beating a PB in a weighted squat - these could be considered as a drop off point if new goals aren’t set.
Key takeaway: It’s easy to lose accountability and motivation when new goals aren’t set. Make sure you check-in with members who have been working towards a goal, celebrate their wins and help them set new challenges to keep them on track.
There’s no one-size fits all membership retention strategy because every health club is different. Plus, turnover is normal for any health and fitness club. People move, their financial circumstances change and their routines change.
Simply put, communication really is at the centre of it all.
- Do you feel all of your members know what you are doing to retain them?
- Is the experience of visiting and using your facilities seamless?
- Are you spending enough time proactively talking to members and check in on them?
- Have you provided as many avenues as possible for members to provide feedback? Are you actually listening and responding to this feedback?
To get started, it might help to launch an information collection campaign. In other words, make sure you have the most up to date contact information of your current members so you can communicate with them.
Gaining new members is exciting for your business, but don’t do it at the expense of neglecting your current members - especially in an industry with so much competition.