We are all in the business of changing lives, which, as you know, does not happen overnight. It’s a process that can take weeks, months or even years. Ultimately, we hope to create within our members, a life-long commitment to change, but many people are hardwired to give up when the going gets tough. They may last a month or two, but when the results aren’t happening as quickly as they had hoped, they bail on their goals and leave your gym to pursue the latest craze or follow a Groupon deal to another facility. Guys, it is time to stop the revolving door mentality.
That’s why I want to dedicate this blog to customer retention. What can you do to keep your members on track and engaged enough to want to continue on their journey and stick with you to help them reach their goals?
I don’t know if you’ve ever taken the time to figure out how much it costs to keep a current member versus spending fitness marketing dollars to gain a replacement, but customer retention does not cause nearly as much of a dent in your bottom line, instead, it allows you to continue to grow your ROI. If you have to dig yourself out of a hole every month due to lost revenue attributed to a decline in memberships, you’re never going to be successful. Rather than playing the member replacement game every month and spending all of your time, energy and money to attract new members, why don’t you take a look within to retain the clients you already have?
At the heart of it all, your members want to feel comfortable, appreciated and challenged in your facility. There are many ways to accomplish this, but I wanted to share a 5 ideas I have tried in my own gym that have worked so well that I still have members that became members on my first day of business in 2009.
- Yearly customer appreciation events – At Pulse, we host a yearly celebration event on the anniversary of our grand opening. Nearly all of our members show up for this event where we extend our gratitude for their membership through complimentary food, drinks and prizes. This event works double duty in that it not only allows us to show our appreciation for the members’ patronage, but it also helps create a sense of community, where everyone feels welcome.
- Community Service – We support many charitable institutions over the course of a year and encourage our members to join us in our quest. Members enjoy participating in fundraising, toy drives, shelter collections and more because it provides the opportunity to focus outward, helping others, together.
- Internal challenges – Like many owners, I used to spend an inordinate amount of time focused on gaining new members at the risk of alienating my paying members. What a mistake! Now, every time I run a challenge to gain new members, I create a parallel challenge amongst my own members. This brings the overall atmosphere in the gym to a new high level of energy which is perfect timing to entice new members to join. Win – Win.
- Proactive Accountability – This one is a little different than most of the ones I have above, but it’s one of the most important aspects of customer retention. Signing up a member and letting them loose in your facility is almost a thing of the past. It’s important to know that they have a coach, peer, or owner onsite that cares whether or not they show up to work out. You need to ensure that everyone has an accountability coach who can ensure that they stay on the right path to reach their goals through weekly or monthly weigh-ins and even just being present to talk to them about their goals.
- Know Your Members’ Names – While this is kind of old school of me, there is something special about walking into a facility and having the front desk and coaches actually greet the members by name. I know this doesn’t always happen at larger facilities, but we make it a priority to learn our members’ names as quickly as possible so that they feel welcome the moment they set foot in the gym.
While this is in no way an exhaustive list of possibilities to help with customer retention, I promise you that if you start to incorporate some of them into your standards and procedures, your members will appreciate the effort and think twice before bailing on you. Now, there is always going to be the potential for attrition, but this way, you can keep a core group month after month, without relying completely on gaining new members to keep your revenue coming in.