Around this time of year, there’s a lot of motivation in the air. Even people who avoid making resolutions find themselves catching the New Year’s bug, and they and the resolution-makers alike launch fresh exercise schedules, re-dedicate themselves to weight-loss plans, research new fitness programs to try, and put their workout-related holiday gifts to use. All well and good, but by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, a lot of that motivation fades away like a bouquet of old roses.
This means you have a tough job, because if you want to keep clients coming back to your facility and spreading the word about it, you have to help make sure the New Year’s bug sticks — that is, you have to keep your clients motivated. How do you do this? Three main strategies will give you a good start.
First, charm them into it. Your front-desk staff, trainers or coaches, and head administrators should have the charisma to make members and clients feel drawn to your facility. Any business is only as alluring as the people who make it run. Make sure your people are alluring: Do they smile and greet customers in a friendly way (preferably by name)? Do they go out of their way to establish a personal rapport with clients? Can they do what the best teachers do: make others desire their approval? If you have employees who make your members feel welcome, recognized, appreciated, and inspired, you’ll see high motivation levels all year round, and high motivation levels equal retention.
Also, hold your members and clients accountable. This is a strategy that works especially well with youth; if you run a sports facility that trains kids you’ll want to employ this one. We all perform better when we know someone is watching and when we feel someone is counting on us. Let your members know that you’re paying attention: If someone trains really hard, beats a personal record, or wins a competitive match, send an email — you, the owner or manager — to say you heard about the accomplishment and you feel proud to have that client on board (and make sure coaches, trainers, and other employees truly are paying attention so they can let you know about it). Make it clear that you consider their success your success. Motivation will come naturally as a sense of responsibility for the larger organization sets in.
Finally, make it fun. Some college professors are good at this one. They’ll bring donuts to class, hold a session outdoors, show a film, or have an entire seminar over for dinner one night. You don’t want to bring donuts to your spin class or baseball training, of course, but you can liven things up in other ways. Hire dynamic instructors and coaches who aren’t afraid to make jokes, smile, show clients that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Maybe there’s a music video or film clip your aerobics instructor could show; maybe he or she could surprise the whole gym by taking the class outside of the studio one day and having them run a lap around the facility. A coach could bring a pitcher full of smoothies to practice. The possibilities are endless, so encourage your staff to be creative.
The more fun they put into workouts and practices, the more likely your members and clients are to want to stick with you.