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8 Ways to Make Your Gym Member Retention Program a Surefire Success


Retention is so much more than creating a nice atmosphere and saying hello when a member walks through the door. Don’t get me wrong, both those things are really important, but just focusing on them alone won’t make your members stay. 

Some gym and studio owners overlook the fact that you need to have a clear strategy for retention that every staff member in your fitness business understands. It needs to be embedded into the day to day of how your business operates.

But before this can happen you need to know what makes a great retention strategy. As we have said, while it’s important to be friendly and welcoming to a member, there is so much more to it. You have to think of your retention strategy in terms of the journey your member goes on. 

From the moment they step in the door there needs to be a pathway they can follow to achieve the best results they can. And, you need to have protocols on place if you find that member straying from this path. 

In this article we will go into why a good member retention program is so important and explore 8 ways to make it successful.

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What Is a Gym Membership Retention Program?

As the name suggests, gym member retention programs are initiatives put in place to keep member retention high and keep member churn low. Successful member retention programs should lay out the key touch points where you need to connect with the member on their journey to reaching their goals. 

A gym membership retention program could have many components to it. Fitness operators should try a number of different strategies within the one program to see what works best. Here is a list of the most common strategies used by operators: 

  • Referral programs
  • Challenges and competitions 
  • Events 
  • New member onboarding 
  • Accountability calls 

The objective of all these strategies is to deliver the member value on a consistent basis and ultimately build a steadfast loyalty. 

Why Is Retention Important For Your Gym Business?

It’s as simple as this – the cost of acquiring a new customer can be five times higher than retaining an existing one

And while growth is obviously important, it’s just as vital to maintain the membership base you have already. Recently Chris Cooper of Two Brain Business gave us some great insights into why you need to focus on the members you have and not to grow before you are ready.

According to Chris, the ideal number of members that you can maintain valuable relationships with in 150. Going beyond that, without the proper resources, it’s a challenge to maintain a quality service for all your members. Check out his podcast interview with us on the Fitness Founders Podcast here. 

Before we get to the part about improving retention programs, let’s look at the most common reasons for such high attrition among gym goers –

  • Lack of time 
  • Not enough motivation
  • Expensive memberships
  • Better deal from a competitor
  • Less than ideal training facilities

Most reasons have to do with the quality of the facilities offered. By improving your offerings and going the extra mile, you can become the main player among the gym owners in your area. 

How Do You Make Your Retention Program Successful?

We’ve listed nine best practices that are crucial for ensuring the success of your retention plans. Whether you’re going to offer a uniquely designed program, online sessions, or other kinds of incentives for your customers, the following tips will surely come in handy. 

1. Crunch Those Numbers!

Continuously monitor your retention campaign’s sales figures. 

Using core fitness industry metrics to analyze the effectiveness is a crucial aspect of retention. This allows you to make the necessary tweaks or overhauls to your campaign and helps you keep your budgets in check.

Moreover, this exercise will help you answer essential questions such as:

  • Is your marketing campaign genuinely increasing sales from existing customers?
  • Are there other factors impacting your bottom line figures?
  • Is the entire retention exercise cost-effective?
  • What are the aspects that drive your clients to the gym every day?

2. Have Tech-Enabled Solutions

We are moving towards a world where almost everything happens remotely – working, shopping, dating, and more. So why should fitness and wellness be left behind? Start hosting online sessions or live-stream your usual drills for members. This way, your members will never miss a class due to travel restrictions.

Additionally, your customers might want to limit the physical exchange of bills, receipts, and cash in the Covid-19 era. Offer solutions like apps for increasing engagement, self-check-in kiosks, and calendar integration for bookings.

Such initiatives show that you care about the well-being of the customers. Furthermore, it can automate many mundane aspects of your business.

3. Adapt to Changing Member Behavior 

You might not know anything about psychology or behavioral science, but you can undoubtedly use tells to figure out if a customer is losing interest. The most common ones include showing a lethargic attitude, lesser interaction with personal trainers, and irregular attendance.

Give the extra push wherever needed and dedicate more time to help members who seem to be on the verge of quitting. You can try training like-minded people and those with similar fitness goals in the same group.

Talking about push, you can also send push notifications and emails using the Glofox gym retention software. It highlights the ‘At Risk’ members who have a history of no-shows and have a high chance of quitting the gym early.

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4. Hop Onto the Social Media Bandwagon

Talk about your gym or fitness studio’s story and the wonderful people behind it. Offer incentives for your existing customers to publicize their fitness journey on public platforms.

Nothing beats a good social media fitness challenge. It doesn’t have to be something over the top – even a simple task like posting a selfie with the trainer can do wonders for your business. Be creative and come up with some great hashtags.

Posting fitness updates on social media can improve member engagement. On the other hand, it could also be a boost for other current members who haven’t been active for a while.

5. Celebrate Your Members’ Milestones

Being in the fitness business, you know the importance of the six-month mark in a customer’s journey. So, why not celebrate the occasion with them?

Don’t limit your celebrations to anniversaries. You can call for a mini-party when someone hits 1000 km on the treadmill, recovers from an injury, or drops a few stones. The idea is to develop a bond by being a part of their highs, lows, and everything between.

This also shows the world that your gym is a closely-knit community that treats members like family. Once such aspects of your business become popular via word of mouth, your sales reps will be able to surpass their goals easily. 

6. Keep Those Equipments Spick and Span

You clicked on this blog post because we had a cover image with shiny equipment, didn’t you? That shows how much impression matters.

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of servicing and cleaning gym equipment. 

Having even a few untidy or poorly-maintained pieces of equipment can be a dealbreaker for many customers. It gives an impression that you don’t care enough about hygiene or the safety of your customers.

Invest in an AMC and regularly follow up with your staff members on the health of the equipment. Have back-up all the time and try not to fall short of equipment, especially due to repair and maintenance reasons.

7. Don’t Get Too Salesy

We know the importance of customer retention in this world of cutthroat businesses. But at the same time, it’s essential to respect their decision and let them move on if they decide to.

The same goes for all your sales pitches. It can get annoying if you bombard existing customers with tons of offers and marketing emails. 

Remember the 80/20 rule – 20% of your efforts will yield 80% of the desired result. It also means that you should spend the rest of the time and resources adding value to the customer’s lives. For instance, only one of five blogs should be a sales pitch, or only six of the thirty emails should be about your latest products.

8. Cater to Your Audience

Gather all the member data points about your customers and curate your retention programs accordingly.

The older folks might not be too keen on the referral programs. On the other hand, it’s hard to get twenty-somethings excited about the free pilates or yoga classes. 

Introduce specialized sessions. A curated workout for those who have long working hours, fitness classes in their post-natal phase, and training sessions for those who aspire to have a ripped body. That’s the key to building an inclusive fitness space.

In short, the lack of suitable fitness classes should not lead to an increase in drop-outs.

In Summary

A Bain & Company study suggests that a 5% increase in retention rates could bump up your profits by a whopping 95%

As simple as this sounds, retaining those 25 people out of 500 enrolled members could be quite a painstaking task. Your retention strategies work only if you stay ahead of the times and cater to the specific needs of your clients. Keep experimenting with your offerings to find out what works, take customer reviews seriously, and don’t be too aggressive in your approach.

You need to give good reasons to demand your members’ loyalty. Or else, you might lose them to tough competitors like Netflix! 

Try these member retention strategies to create an impact in the world of fitness. While some of them might not be feasible due to budget and logistical constraints, the rest should be enough to achieve a decent retention rate.

Who knows, your gym could soon become a case study on this blog for using unique retention methods.

You can also listen to our podcast, where Dr. Paul Bedford, an expert in retention and founder of Retention Guru, gives his two cents on how to increase gym member retention.

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"I think Glofox speaks to lots of different fitness businesses. I looked at a few options, but the Glofox positioning was more flexible. Without it the business wouldn't be scaleable”
Mehdi Elaichouni
Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

Trusted by studios, and global gym chains.

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