Retaining Members Effectively

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For many gyms, the end-of-summer push for new members is coming to a close; that effort won’t be ramped up again for another six months or so. So what do you concentrate on in the meantime? Retaining members, of course! As profitable as new sign-ups, or sometimes, with upselling, more profitable, retaining members is a goal all clubs have — but the goal is sometimes elusive. Here are a few refresher tips on retaining members effectively.

  1. Train Your Employees to Treat Each Member Like a V.I.P. – If you make your members feel important, no matter how big or small your facility, they’ll want to keep coming back. And the truth is, they are important — each one is someone whose loyalty is valuable to you. The trouble is that, as a manager or owner, you can’t be on the floor everyday, personally greeting members and doing whatever you can to make them happy. Showing them their importance starts with training your employees to treat them right — greet them with a smile, recognize them and address them by name (this can work wonders), and always be approachable. These are gold standards.
  2. Offer Something Special – During college application season, you sometimes hear the phrase “cookie-cutter” being tossed around. Schools are eager to make clear the fact that they are not “cookie-cutter” institutions — that is, that they’re not like all the rest. Don’t be a cookie-cutter facility. Find something that makes you stand out. Offer a service or a product that your competitors don’t; if your competitors start to offer it, move on to the next thing. Be the pioneer in discovering new offerings; your members and clients will stick around just to see what you come up with next.
  3. Cultivate Suspense – This is related to Number 2. A few months before your new offering, let your members know that something exciting will soon be revealed. Tease them a bit; mention it often in e-mails, on blogs and social media sites, and via posters and flyers in-house. Get them worked up about seeing what’s to come.
  4. Incentives – This one needs little explaining. We see it work all the time, because all successful businesses engage in it. Just as airlines, credit cards companies, banks, and other institutions keep their customers loyal by offering incentives — frequent-flyer miles, cash rewards, appliances or other products — gyms and health clubs must find incentives that keep members signing up again and again. A free month, a discounted session with a personal trainer, a discount at the facility store or juice bar — all these are viable options. If you’re not sure what kinds of incentives your members would be interested in, ask them. You can send out e-mails or, more effectively, have your front desk staff or trainers take an informal, in-person poll, and find a service (such as Perkville) to help automate the reward process.  Your members will appreciate the personal touch, and you’ll gain valuable information.

These are tried-and-true methods for keeping current members happy. If you haven’t given them a shot, begin doing so immediately — you’ll see results. And if the worst thing happens, if a member leaves, don’t give up on him or her. Pick up the phone and make it clear that you’ll do what it takes to get them to sign up again. Then offer whatever discounts you can to get them to come back, or figure out how to fix what was making them unhappy. If you can’t win them back, at least try to get them to tell you why they left — you’ll know what to fix for the next client.

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