Managing Fitness Business Membership Retention Challenges
Many fitness businesses focus their efforts on member recruitment strategies. However, retaining current members is equally if not more important. After all, your members have already shown their willingness to pay for your products and services -- so why wouldn't you prioritize keeping them around? Here’s a closer look at why membership retention matters, along with an overview of common fitness business retention challenges and solutions.
The Retention Imperative
As more fitness centers enter the booming market, they represent a growing challenge for existing health clubs. Not only is there more competition for new members, but there’s also the rising threat in the form of lower-priced or better-outfitted alternatives. Addressing the latter is just as -- if not more important than -- the former for one simple reason: "It costs seven times more to attract a new member than it does to keep an existing member happy," according to Fitness Marketing Group.
Which begs the question: When the reality is that your members are yours to lose, are you doing everything you can to keep them satisfied and confident in their fitness center investment? As it turns out, many fitness business managers and owners are shying away from this issue -- to their own potential detriment. As Rick Caro, president of New York-based health club consultancy Management Vision Inc., told Athletic Business, “There has been an attitude that says we are really interested in making a difference to those potentially leaving, but some clubs have opted out and said either they don't know how to make a difference or that's not their business model, so they just let these members leave.”
Continued Caro, “One of our challenges is a lack of information — understanding who our fragile members are, which ones are most likely to leave based on various data or insight that we can now gain through more sophisticated tools. Assuming we know who they are, we then need a plan for interacting with them and getting them to either re-engage with the club or get them committed to additional activities."
The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, health clubs can address attrition and support retention in several ways.
For many fitness centers, the 21-day-rule” offers a glimpse into waning member engagement. But waiting this long may be a case of too little, too late, according to Caro. "If you wait until someone has a pattern of no-shows, it gets harder to change their behavior because you let it occur and be, to some extent, reinforced,” he says. "Normally people don't go from medium user to non-user. Usually, they go through a cycle where they ratchet down their behavior pattern."
His suggestion? As soon as you notice a change in member behavior -- and these insights are much easier to glean now than in the past thanks to the preponderance of data and metrics in our digital age -- it’s time to take action. This can include everything from a phone call informing a member about a new class or program to offering a coupon book as an incentive for discounts on personal training, massage, and other attractive services.
But fragile members aren’t the only ones worthy of your retention efforts. Retention strategies can and should be built into everything you do.
In today’s era of all things instant, consumers have high expectations. Delivering on these can be the key to keeping members happy. Above-and-beyond customer service is a huge part of it. This doesn’t mean merely being nice to members, but rather determining how to best meet -- and exceed -- their needs from a health care center. Some tools for supporting top-notch customer service include addressing the individual needs of your members; hiring the right team with the ability to both provide the services people are looking for while simultaneously building a rapport with them; and soliciting feedback from members to know where you’re excelling and where you’re falling short.
Consumers are also more educated than ever before, which puts the onus on clubs to offer the type of programming, products, and services their members are looking for. This comprises everything from offering desirable operating hours and class schedules to adopting the latest trends, such as the hottest fitness classes and wearable technology.
One last thing to remember when it comes to member retention? The community factor. Are departing members just quitting the gym, or are they leaving behind relationships that matter to them? Group fitness classes, clubs, social activities, challenges, and public recognition can all help people build connections that are much harder to walk away from. To learn more about how the Accurofit System can help support your member retention goals, request a demo today.