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Accelerate Growth with These Vital Gym Membership Retention Ideas

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In our blog on the gym membership retention statistics worth retaining in 2019, we found that it costs nine times as much to acquire a new member as it does to retain an existing one. Recent research suggests that increasing member retention rates by 5% increased profits by between 25% and 95%

The ultimate goal for a fitness studio is member retention. The group fitness model especially is propelling a new type of workout experience that is experiencing high retention rates. The Association of Fitness Studios says that the retention rate among fitness studios sits at 75.9% while the retention rate of more traditional health clubs and gyms is around 71.4%.

And while there is an advantage in terms of retention when it comes to group fitness, there still needs to be the correct retention strategies put in place. In this article, we are going to provide you with several of these retention strategies and ideas to help you retain more of your members and ultimately grow your business.

However, first of all, to understand how to keep your members, you must first understand WHY they leave.

There are multiple reasons why gyms may have a problem holding onto members. You should ask yourself these questions if you find more and more members canceling their memberships

  • Is there an absence of improvement?
  • Do you notice a lack of motivation in class?
  • What is your member onboarding process like?
  • Is their new competition in the area with better services and competitive pricing?

Fortunately, there are various methods that you can adapt to ensure member retention that will ensure your members are correctly looked after, well-motivated and receiving the necessary support. Click on a section on the table of contents below to travel down the page.

Personalize Your Members’ Experience

The number one way to retain your members is to ensure that they always feel taken care of so top customer-service must be a priority. To truly deliver the best (and most meaningful) experience for your clients, you have to get to know them personally. Your member data can play a vital role here.

Member data is the data that you collect directly from your customers. This can be:

  • Class attendance
  • Items purchased
  • Aims & objectives
  • Equipment usage
  • Competitions entered

The easiest and most effective way to collect such data is during the onboarding process. You can make the most out of this process to discover more about their goals, previous fitness experience and what areas of their lives they want to improve with a better fitness level.

Knowing your customers will not only make your members feel more valued, but it will also let you know precisely what they expect to get out of attending your fitness classes. Use this data to give you a better all-around picture of the destination your members want to reach – and the journey you have to take them on to get there.

Once this data has been collected, it’s essential to use it to your advantage. Give your members relevant content that will keep them both engaged and motivated. Send nutritional tips to members who you know are trying to be healthier, provide instructional videos to those who have recently signed up for new classes; or perhaps send out some motivational articles to customers who haven’t shown up in a few days.

How Can You Keep Members Engaged?

Reservations and check-ins: Nowadays many fitness facilities are asking customers to sign up to class in advance through an app or website. It allows the gym to keep tabs on member data and enables a client to have peace of mind about their spot in the class. Besides, you can messages through an app or social messaging group before their workout for motivation.

Tracking members goals: Every client signs up to a gym with a goal in mind. This may be to lose weight, get stronger, or lead a healthier lifestyle. Have a system in place that allows you to track the goals or milestones that your members might make when they join. An excellent way to do this is to have regular weigh-ins and fitness competitions to test your member’s progress and fitness levels.

Fitness challenges are a fantastic way of giving your members a goal to hit within a specific amount of time. The fitness challenge is one of many retention strategies used by studios the world over. As part of this, offer the services of an expert nutritionist to help them improve their nutrition. It will give them a better chance of reaching their fitness goals. To get more information on the types of challenges you can run, take a look at our blog on 14 first class gym event ideas.

Personalized communication & segmentation: This may not apply to all facilities, but if you are running a fitness studio that offers a variety of activities, it can be beneficial to segment your members into different groups. Personalized communication has a much more significant impact on members and will encourage them to keep coming back to an environment where they feel cared for.

This can also come in the form of direct mail or text messages. When It comes to your membership base, there is no one size fits all strategy. To stand amongst the best, you must use the best retention strategies. This means creating dynamic campaigns that are centered on client conduct and interests.

Member purchasing habits: Do you sell retail items at your reception desk? Or do you have a coffee shop at your studio? Keep track of your client’s purchasing habits and preferences. As your clients are signing into their prospective class, you can also ask them if they would like to put in an order for a drink/protein bar post class for those who are in a rush. This small detail can make their whole experience more valuable and will ensure that they return. Additionally, this will help to eliminate queues for transactions.

Keep Your Studio to a High Standard

Like with everything in life, quality will always win. You must maintain a high standard of excellence for classes, equipment, staff, and premises. This should be a given for a fitness studio. It’s all down to the standards you set for yourself and for the instructors you hire. Read our article on how to be a group fitness instructor for more information on the qualities and qualifications you should be looking for in a group fitness instructor.

What Are the Top Tips for Keeping Classes to a High Standard?

Class consistency: Consistency is critical, regardless of who is teaching. To begin with, classes should start and finish on time, and there should be consistency in the way the class is run. For this to happen, there must be constant communication between all instructors. Providing a consistent member experience is just one of the steps in achieving operational excellence.

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Make equipment available: If your studio also has a free weight and equipment area, you may run into the problem of overcrowding. It’s a problem many gyms encounter, especially during peak hours. Members who find themselves unable to use specific equipment during these peak hours may become annoyed and worse decide that it is not worth the wait.

Try and figure out what equipment is particularly popular or valued amongst members. It can be extremely advantageous when it comes to updating old or purchasing new equipment.

Classes & Trainers: The same applies to full classes. By limiting the number of members present in class, you can deliver a much better experience to your members. You can ask for class and trainer ratings which will, in turn, allow you to know which classes to promote and which trainers are providing the best return on investment.

Member feedback should be the basis of any growth or retention approach, and by inviting clients to evaluate classes, you will know which classes and/or trainers are steering user engagement and success.

Extras: Offer different services which create added value. This may mean starting earlier than rivals, providing toiletries and towels, offering nutrition services or even food. Give clients a reason to stay with you. Offer classes and programs that are catered specifically to your member’s interests.

Keep it clean: It goes without saying that you must keep your facility and all equipment clean. Encourage members to wipe down equipment after use and create an environment that people want to be in! No one wants to work out in a dirty gym.

Get Social and Build a Sense of Community

Creating a positive environment in your club will be a significant determining factor in whether you increase membership retention. Harvard Business Review found that 64% of customers maintained that “shared values” were the chief stimulus in creating an enthusiastic affiliation with a brand.

The culture and environment of your studio should reflect the beliefs and ideals of your members and that of the surrounding community. As a gym owner, you should make it a priority from day one to form an encouraging and upbeat fitness environment.

How Do You Build a Sense of Community?

Get social: Social media plays a crucial role in building a fitness community. Not only does it let a wider audience know about your business, but it is also a great way to promote conversation with members. It is a space that allows you to advertise events, competitions, new classes, etc. and where members can share their stories.

There are many ways in which it can help you to create your tribe:

  • Photo Sharing: Encourage photo sharing, post photos of your members (with their approval of course).
  • Blogging: a fantastic way to share information about your club, and any news. Use your blog to share information with your clients. It could be nutrition tips, recipes, workout inspiration or just club news!
  • Facebook Groups: Another terrific social media tool for sharing information and general member engagement. Share tips and tricks, blog posts, encourage members to participate in the conversation actively. Create a vested interest in your community. Set up your Facebook pages as a kind of interactive community forum. This group will permit people to share their successes and maybe even their failures.
  • Encourage a two-way conversation: To make someone feel like they are part of the community you must first make sure they know that they are being listened to. Invite feedback regularly.

Inspire competition in a supportive environment: Fitness challenges are a great way to inspire a healthy dose of competition! Encourage all members to participate! A great thing about competitions is that they give you a chance to mix members who perhaps don’t usually cross paths. They are also a fantastic way to construct competitive camaraderie with your whole club as people cheer on their peers.

Challenges can come in many shapes and forms, from longer-term weight loss challenges to simple races, or even team-based events. The options are limitless. You can also run a charity challenge. Pick a charity that resonates with your members and raises awareness as well as building community.

Events: Host events that are not gym based. Encourage members to get together socially outside of the gym. Perhaps host a barbecue, a hiking day, a trip to the beach. You have a life beyond the gym as do your members, leverage this and find more common ground. This will go a long way in building a real sense of community, and it will also help to foster more relationships.

Off-site workouts: Maybe you are struggling to keep members during summer months as they are leaving the gym to train outdoors. Find a local track, trail, or maybe if you’re lucky enough a beach and make workouts more fun for members.

Accept regular feedback: To truly make your members feel like they are part of a bigger community, feedback is vital. Always encourage input from members, and more importantly, incorporate this feedback.

Creating a sense of community amongst your members will not happen overnight, but the rewards are truly worth it. If you create an enjoyable, social and stimulating environment where people feel welcomed and supported, they will want to continue their membership for years to come.

Referral programs: A referral program is one of the most common strategies used by any fitness club worth its salt. As well as being an effective method of lead generation, referral programs can be a good gym membership retention strategy. If a member is resistant to recommend your services to a friend, then there may be an underlying issue with your studio. You can bundle this in with a loyalty program to incentivize members to refer their gym to a friend. Use the referral programme as an opportunity to intervene early and potentially stop a member from churning.


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