2019 is upon us and we all know what that means – the “resolution” season is in full swing. For fitness business owners, this time of the year presents an exciting (yet stressful) uptick in members looking to start healthier habits. The downside to this rise in “New Year, New You” clientele, is that they inevitably begin dropping like flies a few weeks into the year – and that means member retention rates will suffer.
While the initial spike in memberships is wonderful to see, this fluctuation in new members (and revenue) makes it difficult to plan for the rest of the year. So, how do you motivate new members to keep walking through your door? Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to inspire member loyalty and increase gym member retention from resolution-goers. Read on for seven new member retention ideas to get you started.
- Make New Members Feel Welcome
Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often the simple answer that gets overlooked. Starting a new activity, especially when you don’t know anyone, can be intimidating and nerve-racking. One way you can make new members feel at ease in your fitness center is to create a “Welcome Bag”. This can include anything you’d like to give new members to get them off on the right foot. A water bottle or sticker with your logo, branded t-shirt, protein bar, supplement samples (especially if you sell them), an invite to your members only Facebook page so they can interact with other members, a staff guide with pictures, titles and bios to help break the ice, etc. Providing members information about your staff and opening conversation between other members will help new members feel comfortable attending your fitness facility. People also always love freebies so anything you decide to include, especially geared around your business, will show your appreciation for new members and anything with a logo will further promote your facility.
- Build a Community
It’s harder for new members to walk away from your fitness center when they feel a part of your community. Here are a few easy ways you can create a personal connection with new members to foster your growing community and continue to make them feel welcome:
- Remember their name and make it a point to say hello whenever you see them.
- Reach out after their first time at your fitness center.
- This could be both in person or through email, a phone call, or text.
- Pro tip: Using your fitness center management software, set up automated email and text check-ins based on your members activity. Humblebrag – EZFacility makes it easy to set and forget these types of (and more) automated messages so you can focus on getting away from your desk and in front of members.
- Ask how they are liking your facility, do they have any questions, or make note of how well they are doing.
- Brownie points if you reference a specific activity you saw them performing.
- Make sure your staff is continually engaging with members to make them feel recognized and valued.
- Set up tasks for you and your staff to follow up with new members within your software. By setting up tasks, you’ll know exactly when staff are reaching out to members and how frequently – assuring no new members will slip through the cracks.
- Introduce new members to existing ones and encourage existing members to say hi and reach out to new members.
- Bonus – getting your existing members involved will, in turn, help them feel like they are contributing to the community environment.
- You can also run a “Peer Advocate” group where members involved receive benefits, such as free or discounted classes, for engaging with new members.
These small gestures will go a long way in making new members feel like a contributing and significant part of your fitness center’s community.
Another way to create a community is by hosting various events. Events can be both in your fitness center or offsite at a local park, restaurant, or bar. The events you host can range from charity events to holiday parties to competitive programs. Hosting an event for members will take a bit more planning and energy, but in the end is worth the effort since it will give current and new members time to get to know each other outside of their workouts – and forge deeper bonds between them.
- Get Involved in the Community
Another way to build a community within your fitness facility is to get involved in the community your fitness center is located. Make sure you have a finger on the pulse on community activities, like races or fundraisers, and encourage members to not only participate but arrange a meet-up at the event – you can even encourage your members to wear your fitness center’s t-shirt to the meet-up to boost the community feeling. More likely than not your new members live in the general area of your fitness center, so it will be easy for them to participate as well as get involved in their own community. This social buy-in outside of the walls of your facility will help to strengthen the community and retention within the walls of your fitness business as well.
- Celebrate Success
When a new member signs up, part of the onboarding process should be asking what their goals are – and if they aren’t sure, help them develop some! Once they have a specific and actionable goal(s) set, make sure you and your staff are tracking their progress through your fitness center management software. Fitness Assessment tracking will make it easy for anyone on your staff to see how a member is progressing without having to check in with the last staff member who interacted with them.
After a while, reach out and give some encouragement so they feel someone is holding them accountable for showing up to put in the work. Also, make it a point to acknowledge when they achieve their goals. Completing a goal is exciting enough, but when someone congratulates you on that goal it can feel like you’re walking on cloud nine. Have a ‘Way to Go’ board where you post the accomplishments of members so others can congratulate them as well.
- Save Members Money
Everyone likes saving money – and new members are no different. Work with local businesses to offer discounts and/or deals to members and offer promos to their clients. Not only will this make members feel like they are making up the cost of their membership at your fitness center elsewhere (and in places they may already shop), but you will also be further establishing yourself as a part of the local community which can help attract new members and retain existing ones. Provide a “Local Partners Booklet” containing all deals in the “Welcome Bag” for members to easily reference. Keep the savings momentum going by promoting new deals throughout the year.
Another way to endorse local businesses and their deals is by holding a meet and greet with local vendors at your facility to create stronger community bonds as well as offer members new resources they can take advantage of.
- Gamify Loyalty Rewards
People inherently are drawn to gamification reward systems because of the additional benefits they receive for their efforts.
Here are a few tips and ideas when developing loyalty reward programs:
- Make it easy for members to join and participate.
- Offer an exclusive/premium level.
- Include referral benefits.
- Consider friendly competition programs.
- Know your audience. Have rewards that make sense for your members, so they don’t lose interest.
- It needs to be fun and challenging, not frustrating for members to achieve the goals you set.
- Provide External Resources
Offering resources for members to access outside of your health club expresses your investment in their success and keeps you at the top of their mind. In turn, members will view your business as a place to go for industry expertise and advice and will come to you with any questions they have. A couple resources you can make available to members include:
- A video library of common workouts and proper use of machines.
- This can also help new members just starting their fitness journey feel less lost and reduce their risk of injury.
- A comprehensive fitness center management software will be able to provide you with a pre-made library of exercise videos so you can hit the ground running and don’t have to spend hours shooting, editing, uploading, and organizing video content.
- Easy travel workouts.
- Maintaining a collection of pre-made workouts for members will show you’re committed to them reaching their goals even outside of your fitness center.
- Nutrition guidance or suggestions.
- This could include easy recipes, healthy eating tips, or a meal plan template.
- If you don’t feel comfortable providing recommendations, partner with a local nutritionist to establish a mutually beneficial deal which you can include in the “Local Partners Booklet”.
- You can also point new members in the directions of various apps or useful articles and books to help them reach their goals.
For these ideas to help build loyal members and increase retention they need to be consistently kept up. There, unfortunately, is no magic potion you can add to your water fountains to keep members coming back to your fitness center without any effort on your part.
But the good news is that improving in any of these facets will go far in building a better environment within your fitness center that drives new members to stick around for the long haul and achieve their goals. And, the great news is all these tips will work for any new (or current) member throughout the year!
These are just a few ideas to get you started increasing member retention in 2019! Let us know in the comments below what you have found successful to keep members engaged after the New Year glow has faded.
Interested in learning more about how EZFacility can help increase retention rates? Request a free trial and schedule a live demo today!