4 Ways You Can Turn Your Facility Into A Summer Oasis

4 Ways You Can Turn Your Facility Into A Summer Oasis

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You’ve been there, walking in a world that’s basically the inside of an oven. And when the world is an oven, just about every place that’s cool is a refreshing break from the heat. With that in mind, turning your facility into a place to escape the heat can bring in a bit of summer profit.

So…how? Remember the second step in our Blog 5 Ways To Overcome Gym Membership Retention Challenges? That’s right, incentives and rewards. The simple act of giving a small gift can do member retention wonders and we’re going to revisit that idea but this time, under the lens of a summer season perspective.

Advertise your water

Water. Water. Water. It’s important more than ever to stay hydrated in the summer but still, we can often forget that. We go on trips without a beverage and we feel it just about everywhere in our body. When you’re craving water, you need it, now. If I was thirsty while walking in the summer heat, I’d run to the nearest water fountain or bottled water provider. In the season of scorching heat, a nice sign outside your center advertising water could very well drive some local joggers into your facility. Heck, you could do a free water period for members to encourage and reward your clients.

Summer Merch Sales

When summer is around, having an extra pair of everything is almost a necessity for anyone. There are two great experiments to try if you have merchandise to sell at your facility. The first is the opportunity for a sale on winter and fall items and the second is a tactic to increase audience engagement. The summer sale on winter merch is self-explanatory. Select which out of season products you wish to discount with the intent of retaining clients for the colder seasons now that they’ve bought workout clothes with your business on it as a reminder. There are endless approaches to a sale of course. You could even go a step further and attach discounted memberships for the fall/winter seasons if clients spend a select amount on your merchandise. Now the step to increasing audience engagement would be to make the summer sale accessible to members who sign up for a particular class or new members.

Free Giveaways Through Engagement

When it’s free, it’s got someone’s attention. Let’s say you have 100 t-shirts you’d like to get rid of. Put up a sign saying you’ll give them out for free to the first 100 people on a Monday. If they’re a member add a discount to upcoming classes along with the shirt. If they’re new, ask for their contact info in exchange for the free shirt . But let’s say only 50 people entered your facility on Monday so you still have 50 shirts left. Repeat your giveaway strategy to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but limit your supply of shirts to 10 each day. It is now Friday and you have 20 shirts left so you decide to raffle 10 to the your members and 10 to new members who previously gave their contact info. By the end of the week, you have no more t-shirts and a handful of leads to reach out to during the colder seasons.

Introduce an R&R Space

When your work out you’re not just thirsty. You’re hungry and tired and not every facility is going to have a café running inside it or a place to lounge for a few minutes. (If your facility does happen to have a café inside, share on social media #EZDoesIt and we’ll share it on our Twitter and Facebook pages!) However, the presence of a separate station for food and drink can boost the interest level among clients. If there’s no room in your facility to make a rest stop, advertise your facility as a delivery friendly location. (Sounds like the perfect time to team up with some of your local eateries near your facility!) Build a connection going and turn your spot into a place people go to workout and relax. When summer arrives, it can be quick—so there’s no time to lose! Be the first fit summer oasis spot in your town! Be the first fit summer oasis spot in your town! Check out more information about our sports facility management software.

HubSpot’s Marketing Event

3 Vital Lessons We Learned From Attending HubSpot’s Marketing Event

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Nothing beats a good stretch of fresh perspective. Our blog team took a trip for some fresh perspective on the marketing industry and we’re happy to share what we learned with all of you. Take a dive into the marketing world today, join us in our recapand let’s get a new perspective on social media together!

Build Your Client Profiles With Social Media

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Facebook is still the most popular social media platform and per its own quarterly report, an average of 50 minutes or more a day is spent on their site per person. So if the average person reads around 200 words in a minute, then an estimate of 10,000 words are read in that 50 minutes a day from Facebook users. That’s more than two chapters of the first Harry Potter or Game of Thrones book!
So, what does this mean? One takeaway is the importance of personalization. If people are taking around an hour a day at minimum to engage in content relevant to their personal lives, then the messages they will want to continue reading should ideally be in line with their established preferences. These preferences can of course always be recorded in a Client Profile for future occasions such as birthdays or client anniversaries, etc.
How can a business tailor their content for personalization? I would say a variety of options never fails to accomplish a personalized experience. For example, if you develop a poll post on social media you can utilize the comments section for that post as an “other” option answer. Not only does this prompt engagement among clients—it also gives them an opportunity to type their message directly to you in their own words rather than selecting an answer.
I also reached out to my boss for her thoughts too!

The average amount of time that people spend per day on Facebook alone is incredibly eye opening to the opportunity it creates to engage with not only clients but attract potential clients as well. The stats learned while participating in Hubspot’s marketing event, further drove home the importance and value of crafting the right message for your audience. One tip I would give anyone looking to utilize this platform for their business would be too often check the built-in analytics to gauge how your content is performing. From there you can easily make informed decisions to tailor your message accordingly.

Great advice! Another insight from social media we learned comes from an out-of-the-box perspective. Because Facebook is so popular, what is the preference for platform access? Do clients prefer a computer, laptop or going mobile? These preferences can very well determine the presentation of your content. For example, video news content on mobile devices is commonly featured with large captions and an option for no audio. For the mobile user who may be quite literally on the go, the video then connects to them in the same way that it would for a user who is stationary. With the captions, there is no need for raising the volume or finding a quieter environment to concentrate because the content is tailored to their situation and therefore instantly digestible.

Communication Makes the Experience

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In December, we mentioned the value of overlooked communications that, while may feel technically dated, can still carry an impact. Examples of these communications include ‘Thank you’ notes and—it may seem a bit contrary to recommend handwritten communication, however, to assume all our clients who use social media and technology don’t enjoy a letter can be a mistake. Not to mention we’re honoring grandpa and grandma each time we sit down and handwrite a letter. Remember that you can always double check your clients profile page under the Customer Relationship Management feature for their contact info as well as any information you have recorded for them. We also encourage watching our online webinar: How to Become A Data-Driven Powerhouse, to ensure the best is being made of your EZFacility account.
You can also start an experience with members by communicating a follow-up. Follow up conversations have become somewhat prominent due to how fast communication has become so email is where to start. Our Email Marketing Tools has hundreds of templates to choose from. If you need a quick brush up on how to make use of email templates, please check our support guide here.
And if you are interested in keeping in touch more than often, the EZFacility Branded App could be your best step of all! A branded app permits clients the ability to have access to your business within their smartphone. With the help of our design team, we will help you visualize the brand identity of your business into an easily accessible app from the symbol to the layout colors. Bigger buttons? You got it! No social media or carousel images? Done and Done! We’re happy to help you sculpt the app to your liking.
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Self-Service is awesome

Ah, self-service. It can be seen from car rentals, hotel check-ins, gas stations, grocery stores… The list goes on and it won’t stop anytime soon due to the popularity it serves for a pleasant consumer experience. As the saying goes, convenience is king, and with the time saved throughout our day-to-day lives it would benefit more to add Member Self-Service to your time-saving helpers tools. Member Self-Service grants client access that puts them first. They can book sessions, lessons, update their contact info, pay bills, view schedules and cancel appointments online. In addition, you have the power to define requirements for bookings and package classes as well as set restrictions for members with unremitting balances. You may even open self-service to the public—enabling a bigger market audience towards your business. It wouldn’t be self-serve if it didn’t serve both your client and yourself! We welcome you to take a tour of our newly improved feature in our support center.

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5 Gym Membership Retention Strategies & Ideas

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If you are a human living on planet Earth, chances are you pay a LOT of monthly bills. You have your car payments, your cable bills, cell phone bills, mortgage or monthly rent and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t have Netflix these days? With all of these obligatory payments each month, chances are you are going to be extremely picky about how you spend your precious leftover income. A recent study found in the fitness industry that most people who cancel their gym membership –for reasons other than relocation or medical issues—do so because they aren’t utilizing their membership to its full potential and are sick of watching their monthly dues sucked from hard-earned paychecks.

With the rise of boutique clubs offering loyaly programs and services at lower prices, gym owners are now put on the spot to create rewarding experiences and perceived value for members. The cost to save a member is much less than the cost of acquiring a new member, so there is a tremendous benefit in having a set of efforts, activities, and resources allocated to trying to prolong the experience with the existing member. Now, more than ever before, gym owners need to focus on making clients feel motivated and confident in their gym membership investment.

So, how can fitness facilities compete with lower-priced alternatives and meet member retention challenges head on? Here are 5 key gym membership retention strategies to increase loyalty and customer satisfaction:

1. Exceptional Onboarding Process and the Right Staff.

Start off on the right foot and straight off the bat. You don’t want members to feel lost, intimidated or overwhelmed when they first sign. Make it a policy to place a personal phone call to a client two days after they join or send them a handwritten postcard. Let them know that your club is full of friendly people that are easy to connect and relate to! When it comes to hiring your coaches or personal trainers, focus on quality over quantity. A critical component of exceptional customer experiences is matching a client with the right trainer and allowing for smooth connections with other members. Hire people who are great listeners and fully committed to keeping in line with your club’s image and goals. Trainers should easily be able to identify client needs and interests. For example, if a client is into group classes, trainers should know to pair them up with other attendees and create a mini “fit fam” they can turn to for support and help to reach their goals. It’s also important to avoid “friction points” during the onboarding process and the first few weeks. For example, avoid frustrating situations such as forgetting to give them their membership cards or neglecting to teach them how to book a class or use equipment properly. You must give them the tools to succeed in order to build customer loyalty to increase retention.

2. Incentives/Rewards:

Who doesn’t like presents? Offer rewards and incentives to keep clients coming back. This is extremely critical for the first few weeks and months. Offer a $25 reward for attending a trainer’s program or for getting their picture taken. Offer a free class to clients who attend classes twice a week for 60 days, or 3 free PT sessions once they reach 3 months. Maybe after one month, you give them one month free (who doesn’t like free!) or a special discount at your smoothie station—the possibilities are endless. The point is, you need to keep your clients interested and perceive the value of returning to your club.

3. The 21-Day Rule and Effective Software for Tracking Activity

One of the most frustrating issues clubs face is figuring out WHY a client leaves. Most of the time, it could have been anything. Did they dislike one of your instructors? Was the music too loud? Did they face gymtimidation? WHAT WAS IT? The challenge is your lack of information. Aside from asking how a client is doing every time they sign-in at the front desk, how can you track client activity and identify “fragile” members before they leave?

The solution here is an all-in-one management software. Most gym software out there has more sophisticated tracking tools that will allow you to identify information such as who hasn’t been visiting your gym as often. Once you have this precious information, you can start putting together a strategy to interact and re-engage them. You can also use sophisticated tracking tools to easily see which classes have the highest attendance and focus your marketing efforts on promoting them even more.

Using these tools, you can then implement the 21-day rule. The rule is simple: if a member has not visited your facility after a full 21 days, your club reaches out to re-engage them. Be sure to establish a membership retention team to reach out 21 –days, 60 days or even once per quarter. Methods of re-engagement can range from sending an encouraging email to personally checking up on the client the next time they attend a class. Your goal is to reignite their motivation to be a part of your club’s culture and “family”.

4. Cutting Edge Fitness Center Classes

Last but not least, offer fitness classes and programs catered directly to your gym member’s interests. Keep on top of trends! Want to compete with that boutique Crossfit gym down the road? Offer Crossfit classes and, while you’re at it, create a Groupon to encourage clients to bring a friend! Do your research to make sure you remain on the cutting edge.

These are just some tried and true tactics to combat retention issues; but in reality, the possibilities are endless. Start with these 5 key tips and use what works best for YOUR facility. Need help making your fitness center or gym more efficient? Check out our gym management software.

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A Simple Guide For Calculating Retention- It’s Easier Than You Think!

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The last thing we want to do while on the job is crunch numbers. However, the fact of the matter is, for a business to succeed—especially in the fitness industry—calculating your retention rate is vital, and this means we need to do a little math.

Calculating retention rates can be VERY confusing, but we’re here to break it down to some more manageable formulas. The key thing to take away from all this is, regardless of the equations you use, keeping members satisfied is a sure way to keep your retention rate high.

What Is Retention and Why Should I Care?

In laymen’s terms, retention is the percentage of the members that stayed in the past year or 12 months. It costs a LOT more to attain a new client than it does to keep loyal members, so it’s pretty safe to say that membership-based facilities should focus energy and resources on retaining members to be successful. Although reaching sales quotas and getting new faces in the door are important parts of the business, if you are not keeping those members, you’re working harder for the smallest profits.

How Do I Calculate My Retention Rate?

One of the biggest mistakes club owners make is they just total cancellations in a year and divide this by the membership total at the end of the year. Don’t make this mistake. Instead use any of the methods listed below.

By far the easiest way to track retention is by using the following steps:

1. Start with a 12-month chart and record the beginning monthly membership for each month.

Use the equation:

Previous month’s beginning membership + number of sales in previous month + number of reinstated (unfrozen) memberships.

PMBM + SPM + RM

2. Subtract the number of canceled memberships and the number of frozen memberships.

3. Total the canceled membership for the last 12 consecutive months.

4. Total the beginning monthly membership for the last 12 months and divide by 12 which indicate the average beginning monthly membership.

5. Total the number of canceled membership for the last 12 consecutive months. Divide this number by the number of average beginning monthly memberships in the previous step. This answer is your annual attrition.

For annual retention, take the number from step one and subtract attrition. The process is pretty easy, but make sure you are meticulous in your calculations.

Another popular formula for calculating retention rates:

Member retention rate = ((ME-MN)/MS)) X 100

ME = number of members at end of period

MN = number of new members acquired during period

MS = number of members at start of period

I know you’re probably starting to get painful flashbacks of high school math class, but don’t be intimidated. These formulas are actually pretty simple to use. Think about it:

If you start with 100 members in your club’s first month, and factor in the 15 members who canceled their contracts and 20 new members, then you are left with 105 members at the end of the month. Using the numbers above, your equation should look like this:

((105-20)/100)) X 100 = 85 percent of your members are still active.

Both formulas work for large clubs and small boutique facilities. Tracking retention rate is the foundation of growing a business. Whichever method you choose, make sure to take a serious approach to keeping members loyal and reducing your attrition.

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Understanding What Makes Your Members Tick

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Recently, my son and I were in an old-curiosity-shop kind of store on a quaint little Main Street. It was the kind of place seemingly designed to ignite the imagination of a nine-year-old boy, full of tomahawks and fishing equipment, moccasins and hiking boots, old-fashioned toys, unidentifiable objects, kitschy souvenirs, wind chimes. We’d spent nearly an hour poking around in there, and I was on parenting auto-pilot: “Mom, can I have this?” “No.” “Why not?” “Because.” “Mom, can I have this?” “No.” “Why not?” “Because.” Finally, my son stomped his foot and shouted in frustration, “Don’t just say because!”

What struck me was his reason for getting frustrated: It wasn’t so much that I was saying no to most of the junk/treasures that he wanted to purchase, it was that I wouldn’t give him reasons for my refusal. When I looked him in the eye and explained how I felt — the real feelings behind my “no” — he relaxed. We left the store with just a tomahawk (don’t worry, it’s wooden) and a better understanding between us.

All of this was still on my mind when I was reading IHRSA’s blog the other day, and I stumbled on an article about the best ways to understand a prospective’s motivations for seeking a health club membership. The fact is, when we understand another person’s reasons — when we have more from them than just a “because” — we’re able to make things happen. My son could calm down and accept my refusal to buy him all the things he wanted when he understood why I was refusing. You can make sales to prospectives more effectively and up your member retention when you understand why your clients are seeking — (or renewing, or considering giving up) — membership. As Casey Conrad Tamsett, President of Communication Consultants in Wakefield, Rhode Island, puts it on the IHRSA blog, “If you don’t know why a guest happens to be standing in front of you, or what a member wants from your club, how can you possibly meet their needs?”

The question is, how do you go about discovering your prospectives’ and members’ true motivations? Justin Tamsett, Managing Director of Active Management in Sydney, Australia, advises, “In your first face-to-face conversation, when asking about them and their life, you need to show an authentic — not a feigned — interest.” In other words, you have to earn a client’s trust before being allowed to understand his or her true motivation. Earning that trust is a process, Tamsett says, one that begins with your staff’s commitment to making the moment of initial contact a special experience. “You need to convey the fact that you genuinely care about them,” he says. And that caring has to carry through, with every employee in the club working hard to regard the visitor as a guest.

Keep in mind, though, as Conrad warns, that most people purchase gym memberships not for logical reasons but for emotional ones. “Their ‘trigger,’ the factor that brought them to your door, usually is related to some significant personal experience,” she says. But that experience is hidden under layers. Conducting a needs analysis, in which you peel back the layers with careful questions, gives prospective clients a chance to open up. You have to spend the time listening until you get to the feeling that prompted action — just like my son had to spend the time listening to my underlying feelings in order to understand my reasons for saying no. Of course, it’s a give-and-take: I had to be willing to reveal my underlying feelings to my son before he could listen to them. But if you create the right environment in your facility, one in which the client is respected as more than just a commission score, one in which employees work hard to gain clients’ trust and form true relationships with them, the willingness to open up will come naturally. And the opening up will lead to more successful business operations.

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Finding Time to Combat Epic Gym Fails

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Most gym enthusiasts will, at some point, observe an ‘Epic Gym Fail’ whilst working out. With smart phones in hand, there is plenty of supporting evidence that more and more people are being captured executing what can only be described as ‘Gnarly maneuvers’. These videos range from misfortunate to downright stupid. To add insult to injury (which is very likely) these videos end up online for all to see.

Putting aside the ethical debate of posting these videos in the first place, it’s clear from reading viewers’ comments that some people find these clips comedic gold. On the flip side, there are others that suggest the people capturing these videos would be better off giving advice rather than jeering at these poor souls’ lack of education and safety training.

Other than the humiliation and obvious risk of serious injury to the gym member, you have to ask what it’s saying about the facility these events take place in. Imagine signing up as a new Gym member and then witnessing some crazy guy doing a Tarzan impression with a weight machine on your social media feed? I know I’d certainly question whether the staff are giving the right advice, let alone, if I’d made the right choice in signing up for this gym.

Having witnessed several gym fails for myself, I’ve often wondered why there are no staff members monitoring the floor at all times. Surely if more staff were around they would step in to educate, combat and eradicate these events from occurring in the first place.

So how does one go about finding time when resources and budgets are already stretched thin? Make no mistake; it’s not easy juggling schedules, payments, memberships, attrition rates, marketing, disparate systems and other managerial duties involved in running a Gym. It’s no wonder some Gym’s find it hard to balance a good mix of monitoring their members whilst adhering to all the other business processes required! I’m sure, if given the chance, all Gym owners would love to find more time to nurture the wellbeing and success of their clients’ goals by giving hands-on help at all times – sadly that’s not always an option.

So my point is this: How do Gym owners and their staff free more time to spend with customers, ensuring safety, good customer care and, most importantly, no Epic Gym Fails?.

There are two very simple answers: The more obvious one is to employ more staff, which we have already established isn’t always a viable option due to lack of funding. The second less obvious answer is to work out how to streamline, consolidate and automate some of your business processes to free up valuable time and resources. As with any business the first place you can always look to do this is by assessing the software you use to run your business.

Generally speaking, finding an all-in-one software solution is usually the way to go. Having a unified system to manage all aspects of your business will always significantly increase efficiencies/productivity, save time and, ultimately, money.

Luckily, here at EZFacility, we offer exactly that! If you want to benchmark your existing systems to see how much time we can save you, then sign up for a free demo/trial and assess for yourself what EZFacility can do for your business! Streamline, grow, nurture, inspire – it’s EZ

motivation

Keeping Members Motivated

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A musically talented friend of mine recently joined a band and was thrilled to have the opportunity to create new songs and practice regularly with other musicians. But after a while she found it difficult to keep going. “It’s hard,” she said, “when you have no goals and no ambition.” She meant that without a set date for an on-stage performance, the band’s enthusiasm and drive were flagging. My friend is prone to exaggeration — in reality the band has plenty of ambition, and they honed their goals enough that they played their first live gig a few weeks ago — but she was right to pinpoint goals and ambitions as the keys to motivation. Researchers in the field of exercise psychology have long understood that without these ingredients, an exercise program is a recipe for disaster. In a 2009 study, for example, Kylie Wilson and Darren Brookfield estimated that only 50 percent of new members in a gym remain after six months. Without specific goals, they concluded, it’s highly challenging for an exerciser to remain committed to any workout plan.

Of course, it’s in your best interest to help your members stay motivated. How can you get them coming to your facility more than once a week? How can you get them to keep coming after six months, and to return year after year? Here are a few tips for helping them define their goals, feed their ambition, and stay loyal to you and your brand for a long time.

1. Highlight the importance of tracking results. We all know that it’s easier to stay committed to a goal if we can see progress. This begins with establishing a baseline — make it a practice to offer new members a free consultation with a trainer. The trainer should help the member identify exactly where she stands at the start of her new exercise routine and teach her how to measure her progress. Beyond that initial meeting, encourage your members to track their workouts by documenting the machines they used, their weight levels, and the number of reps and cardio routines they’ve performed. Offer them logbooks and workout sheets for this purpose, and promote fitness tracking apps that allow exercisers to stay on top of their performance electronically. Take it a step further by creating your own app or website function that allows for fitness tracking.

2. Design and host collaborative events, and get members to join in. Offering positive challenges that rally your club as a whole allows members to feel truly connected to the community you’re providing. Seasonal hooks can be a great way to get started. For example, around Halloween, host a costume fun-run. During the build-up to major marathons, challenge members to run or walk one or more miles of the marathon until the full distance is completed. Have dance-a-thons on Valentine’s Day, and get a huge volleyball tournament going at the start of summer (you might even cart in loads of sand and set up an indoor beach for this one). Whatever the event, get your members working together. The more fun they have, and the more of a community feel there is, the more likely they’re going to stick to their goals — and keep coming back.

3. Encourage members to think about the kinds of goals they’re setting. Emphasize the idea of SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. With goals clearly defined along these lines, members are well-poised for success. In order to set the right SMART goals for themselves, though, members have to understand what types of goals would work best for them: performance, process, or outcome. You can help them determine which goals they’re best suited for. Performance goals use an objective or measurable standard with a specific due date. Process goals focus more on method — how will an ultimate goal be achieved? What are the steps along the way? Outcome goals measure achievement in comparison to other people. For many individuals, identifying some combination of these three types of goals works well; a performance goal might be best relied on at the start of a membership, while process and outcome goals might be more effective later on.

On the whole, seek opportunities to connect with your members, the new ones and the existing ones, to elicit their feedback and create a caring, responsive, dynamic community. If your members know that you’re there to help them, if they feel you supporting their goals and cheering on their successes, they’re much more likely to stick around. In that sense, helping members stay motivated is helping your own bottom line.

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Attract New Members with More Creative Classes

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I have a dear old friend who’s always been a bit on the chubby side. In high school, he preferred sci-fi films and Dungeons and Dragons to sports or, really, any form of exercise. You get the picture. I hadn’t seen him for years and years and then unexpectedly ran into him the other day — and what a shock. I didn’t recognize him at all. He’s in such great shape that he puts Rich Froning, Jr. to shame. Okay, well maybe not Rich Froning, Jr., but he’s muscular and trim now, fitter than he’s ever been in his life. “How did you do it?” I asked. “Star Wars,” he said. Huh?

Turns out he’s been taking fitness classes inspired by the great epic film series. Several times a week, he duels with a lightsaber in classes at a local gym that incorporate marching maneuvers (a la Stormtroopers), one-handed cartwheels (the other hand holding the lightsaber), and handstands of the sort Yoda makes Luke Skywalker do (not one-handed, though). He learned about the classes through a friend of his who knew how much he hated — but needed — exercise. “My friend thought I might be willing to try it because of the Star Wars theme,” he told me. “I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but I knew I had to do something, and this sounded like the only exercise I’d ever heard of that I was even remotely interested in. Now, I want to go every single day. I never knew exercise could be so creative and fun.”

Why don’t more people know how creative and fun it can be, I started wondering. Maybe health clubs, fitness studios, and gyms need to work harder to incorporate creativity and fun. What better way to entice non-exercisers off the couch and onto the exercise floor than to give them a way to forget that they’re exercising? That, said my friend, is ultimately what did it for him. “I’d get out there and start getting into it, and before I knew it, I was fighting with a lightsaber — I wasn’t working out. Forgetting that I was in the gym and just letting myself go all out with role-playing made it possible.”

A number of health clubs around the country are starting to launch Star Wars classes, and they’re benefitting by pulling in new members from a population they weren’t able to reach before. A recent article in California’s Orange County Register mentions a gym in Dallas that “developed a workout that included the Stromtrooper march and Wookiee sandbag slams.” The article also describes Star Wars-themed summer camps and sports facilities that are helping to reduce the U.S.’s childhood obesity epidemic by getting otherwise inactive kids interested in lightsaber-fights and related workouts. Appealing to these new populations, those gyms, camps, and facilities are boosting their membership numbers and, by making workouts fun, probably increasing the likelihood of retaining the new members they sign up.

If cult film-inspired exercise doesn’t seem like the right thing for your facility, don’t worry: There are other ways you can kick up your creativity factor. The key, again, is to design workouts that help people forget they’re working out. One trend that’s been catching on lately is 305 Fitness, classes that feel more like a night out at a dance club than like a class: live DJs spin records, strobe lights and colored lasers flash, and instructors incorporate high-intensity dance moves. Another is planting in an exercise studio props that approximate the feel of an outdoor park and letting members race around parkour-style. There are also always good, old-fashioned dance classes. Take the time to consider the ways in which your facility might appeal to new audiences with fun, unique, and creative classes. If you do, your audience will find you. Or, as Yoda might put it, the force will be with you.

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Encouraging Exercise Partnerships

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Thomas Acquinas said, “Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.” The corollary, of course, is that with friends even the most disagreeable pursuits become less tedious. As far as exercising goes, whether one sees it as an agreeable pursuit or a disagreeable pursuit, one thing has been made adequately clear through both rigorous research and personal anecdote: Doing it with a friend makes it more effective.

Studies have shown, for example, that we lose weight better when we work out with a partner. At Miriam Hospital/Brown Medical School and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, for example, researchers found that participants in a weight loss regimen that included exercise lost more weight when their support partners took part in the same program and were successful at dropping pounds. Others who participated alone, or whose workout partners did not lose weight, did not lose as much weight themselves.

It turns out that even just spending time with fitter friends helps. In the book Friendfluence, journalist Carlin Flora writes, “We seek out health and weight-loss advice, but the most effective plan might be to hang out with fit friends. Not only do they make it easier for us to eat better and work out by setting an example and dragging us along on active outings, but they also provide the human connection that fosters robust physiological characteristics, such as lower blood pressure and increased immunity.”

And, perhaps even more surprisingly, we don’t even need real-time interaction with friends to make exercise more effective; even just being part of an online group can help people achieve their workout goals better. For example, a Northwestern University study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface found that people who actively engage in online weight-loss communities lose a higher percentage of their body weight compared with users who participate less. In the study, the most active participants, who recorded their weight and engaged with other members of an online forum that grants access to weight-loss tools, lost more than 8 percent of their body weight in a six-month period. The least active users, who had the fewest online friends and social interactions, lost only about 5 percent of their body weight in the same time span.

The question you should be asking yourself is clear: How can your facility capitalize on friendship? The more you can encourage your members and prospective members to come in and work out with friends, the more you’ll be leading folks to success in their exercise goals, and the better your retention numbers will be. It’s as simple as that. So, consider offering special “friendship deals” — classes half off for members and their friends, if they bring them. Or launch membership drives during which anyone who becomes a member by a certain date wins a month’s free membership for a friend? Or start a weekly “Friend Day” initiative: Members bring a friend to the gym for free on that day. Make sure that your club management software handles guest passes as well as robust reporting on membership data.  Also, consider whether you can build an online community for members to offer each other support. There are endless variations on these possibilities, and the potential benefits for your facility are huge — as are the potential benefits for your members and their friends.

Keeping Your Facility Germ-Free-- And Your Members Happy

Keeping Your Facility Germ-Free—and Your Members Happy

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In 2008, IHRSA published the Guide to Health Cleanliness, which highlighted the startling results of a survey: More than 90 percent of survey participants said they were more apt to renew their membership with a health club facility if the facility was clean. That might not be so surprising, but here’s the shocking part: Only slightly more than half said they would renew if the facility was not clean.

Keep in mind that this was six years ago, before the Ebola scare, before enterovirus D68, before super-strong strains of the flu were floating around. With these threats around us, and with media hype that frequently blows such threats out of proportion, it’s little wonder that health club and sports facility users are even more cautious than they used to be. Add to that the fact that we’re smack in the middle of cold season, and you’ve got potentially a lot of skittish members on your hands who want assurance that their health is protected when they’re using your facility.

What can you do to reassure them? First of all, make sure you’ve got a plan for keeping your place as clean as possible. Review your cleanliness policies and procedures. Are they up to date? Do they follow best practices? Are they generally in keeping with standards set by the Centers for Disease Controls (for example, wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or rub an alcohol-based sanitizer on hands for 15 seconds before and after workouts; shower after workouts; avoid walking barefoot across exercise floors and locker rooms)?

After you’ve polished up your policies, start thinking about your staff. Do they know the policies? Do they know what to do if they’re sick (best practices say they should stay home)? Do they know what tasks they should take responsibility for in order to help maintain the highest standard of cleanliness possible? Organize a mandatory staff meeting solely around these issues and make sure everyone is on board. Do frequent walkthroughs with a cleanliness checklist to make sure rules are being adhered to.

Finally, communicate directly and explicitly with your members about cleanliness in your facility. Send out an email explaining your concerns during the season, highlighting the steps your club is taking to stay as germ-free as possible, and asking members to remain aware of ways in which they can help contribute to a cleaner club environment. List specific tips, like the Centers for Disease Control standards shown above. A post on IHRSA’s blog describes an email Newtown Athletic Club recently sent to its members. Linda Mitchell, Newtown Athletic’s director of PR and Marketing, devised a letter with the subject line “Healthy Facilities Initiative.” She and her team carefully worded the letter, avoiding making any promises but being sure to explain procedures. They assured members that maintaining a clean facility is a top priority. Then they described new procedures being implemented and outlined member responsibilities. Mitchell told IHRSA that the email had an unheard-of 35 percent open rate—to her a clear indication that members were hungry for information about facility cleanliness.

Ultimately, you want to make your members feel secure, and you want them to know you welcome their questions and can answer them satisfactorily. Over and above that, you want to keep your facility as germ-free as possible — for your members’ sake, but also for your own and your staff’s. Provide a safe environment, clearly communicate the details about how you’ve done so, and keep everyone feeling strong and healthy all winter long.

different workouts

Boost Retention: Help Your Members Achieve Their Goals

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There’s a powerful little word in our industry, one we love (when things are looking good) and hate (when things aren’t). I’m talking, of course, about “retention.” The word carries some kind of magical power. If retention is working in our favor, that’s an indication that business is good and we’re making the right decisions. If it’s not, it’s an indication that something is off, but often it’s mysterious what that something is.

The thing that makes great retention an especially slippery goal is that it depends so much on factors in the lives of our individual members; factors that we couldn’t possibly control. Whether each member is happy or depressed, employed or suddenly unemployed, in a good relationship or in a psychologically draining one — each of these factors, and dozens of others contribute to a member’s decision to stay or go.

Fine. Some stuff you have to let go of right? No sense in getting worked up over things you can’t do anything about. But what about the things you can do something about? That’s what you’ve got to focus on, and for gyms, fitness centers, health clubs, and the like, that really means one thing: helping members achieve their individual fitness and weight-loss goals.

The key here is the word “individual,” because the fact is that no two bodies are alike. There’s no one-size-fits-all fitness or weight-loss program. Diet books, workout videos, and advice blogs might want us to believe otherwise, but the fact is that what works beautifully for one health club member might not result in any improvements for another; the HIIT routine that allows one person to become mean and lean in four weeks might not show results for another person until after six or eight weeks. This, incidentally, is the beauty of the gym. The gym is staffed by real, live humans: trainers, concierges, nutritionists, class instructors, and cardio equipment experts who can listen to members express their goals, worries, and limitations, and help them chart out the best possible course for themselves. The best, most successful businesses in our industry do just this: They listen and respond accordingly.

So, back to that magical equation: improving retention by helping members achieve their individual fitness and weight-loss goals. If you want members who keep coming back, you have to offer them human attention. Employ knowledgeable, caring staff who are trained to:

1) Ask your members what their goals are; these can be tiny or huge, about health or about weight, short-term or long-term. The important thing is that they have goals, and that your staff knows how to help them define those goals.

2) Construct a realistic plan of attack to help them meet their goals. This means finding out what they enjoy in a workout and what they can’t bear — if they aren’t enjoying it, they’re not going to do it. It also means determining what kind of commitment is sustainable for each member. If they can’t keep up with the schedule, they’re likely to quit.

(3) Offer them support and guidance throughout. You just can’t do this kind of thing without a community, without someone cheering you on.
(4) Revise the plan if it’s not working. Help your members check their progress and make adjustments as needed. Can they handle more reps? Should they be doing less? Is there any measurable improvement? What are they struggling with?

It is also crucial to have a gym management software that allows you to track this critical data. With an all-in-one software that allows trainers and staff to create client profile pages, scheduling for both trainers and clients, as well as client fitness assessments, you will be making your lives and the client experience so much better!

Again, the purpose of all this — in addition to helping your members — is to keep them coming back. With the kind of attention outlined here, and the kind of help that will lead them to a better understanding of the individual plan that’s best for them, they won’t be able to help themselves.

Spin class

Getting Past the Summer Attendance Blues

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This is it, folks—we’re now in the throes of what I like to call Summer Attendance Blues. Every year it’s the same story: June hits, attendance at gyms, fitness centers, and health clubs takes a dive. It stays low till the end of August. You watch in despair as a handful of only the most loyal clients straggles in for classes, while your front desk crew twiddle their thumbs and your locker rooms stay woefully empty.
Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but some days can feel that way. What can you do?
It may be daunting to imagine cutting back on your group exercise schedule, but that could be the first step to take. On IHRSA’s blog, Anne Whiteside, program director at the Yakima Athletic Club in Yakima, Washington, says, “It’s absolutely necessary to cut back on group fitness classes during the slower months.” Frances Michaelson, Owner/Director of Muscle Up, Inc. in Quebec, Canada, agrees. “In the summer,” she says, “there’s always a drop in the numbers and it’s acceptable to reduce the number of classes.”
If you do cut back, you’ll inevitably displease some people, but both Whiteside and Michaelson say there are steps you can take to assuage them. Whiteside recommends educating members very directly about why you’re cutting back. “Inform them about industry averages for classes, and/or your own personal goals for the club’s group exercise program. Let them know what the numbers are, that that they’re falling off due to seasonal low attendance.” One possible benefit from doing so is that members may begin to pay more attention to the shrinking numbers—and they may start to encourage others to attend regularly in order to keep the classes on the schedule. Another option is to combine classes, says Michaelson. “For example, if you offer a step class and a toning class that are both popular, then why not put the two together with a circuit-style format, and call it ‘Step ‘n Tone’?”
If reducing the number of class offerings doesn’t seem like enough, or if it’s something you’re simply not willing to do, there are still other steps you can take. You could consider instituting summer hours, keeping all your offerings but compressing them into just four or five days a week. Or design an incentives program. Perhaps if members attend 35 classes between July 1st and August 31st, they receive a discount for September, or if they bring a friend to at least 10 classes during that time, their friend gets a month’s membership free. Think about what kind of program would work best for your facility, and get creative. You might also try simply getting members to pledge at the start of summer that they’ll make it to your facility a certain number of times before the summer ends. Studies show that people are more likely to stick to promises and goals if they take the trouble to state them in a formal way.
Whatever your plan, make sure you have one, even if it’s just doubling down on efforts to keep attendance high during the fall, winter, and spring. The last thing you want is that experience of sitting around watching the numbers dip, feeling powerless and waiting for the year’s sunniest season to end. And remember: Summer does end. Everyone will be back.

Motivation

Keep Your Clients Motivated

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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.

Help Your Clients Make It to the Gym

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Every year around this time of year, it feels like someone has turned the dial up a couple notches. Whereas earlier in the fall everything was just busy, suddenly now everything is insanely chaotic. Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving break mean quite a few no-school days, and there always seem to be a couple professional development and parent-teacher conference half-days around the same time. At work, everyone is scrambling to finish projects before the end of the year, and all of those projects seem to land up on your desk at the same time. Meanwhile, you find yourself invited, in the span of three weeks, to more parties than you’ve been invited to all year. And then there’s the holiday shopping, cooking, planning, and wrapping to do (don’t even ask me about season’s-greetings cards — I gave up on those years ago).

What this means for your facility is that client visits will slow down. Fewer client visits equal less revenue, either in the short term, because you’re missing out on class payments or members aren’t spending on personal trainer sessions, massages, and other extras; or in the long term, because if a member goes for a month or two without making it to the gym, she’s less likely to renew her membership when the time comes. What can you do to help your clients make it to the gym in the midst of their busy schedules?

First, remind them that the most important time to maintain gym-going habits is now, when stress increases and tempting, sugary foods abound. Come up with a simple slogan: something like “Make Time,” for example. Hang up motivational signs bearing the slogan, and reiterate the message via email and on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.

Consider extending your hours for the season, and if you’re able to do so, then widely—and proudly—advertise your extended hours.

If possible, have your instructors or trainers develop abbreviated workouts. Give these a snappy name, something like Twenty-Minute-Holiday-Workout, and, again, advertise heavily: Let everyone know that you’ve got a new program created specifically to address the trouble we all have making time to exercise right now. Luckily, the high-intensity interval training workouts widely praised these days for their dramatic results and intense health benefits are perfectly suited to short workouts; pull together a few of these and you’re all set.

Finally, craft a message specifically for patrons whose records indicate they haven’t made it in for a while. If you have a fitness concierge, have him or her send the message personally, with an invitation to call and discuss their difficulties making it to the gym. Offer to help devise a plan. You won’t hear from everyone, and there may well be a client or two who disappears and never renews, but chances are you’ll reach at least a handful who will feel grateful to you for reaching out, and who will re-apply themselves with new vigor. Happy holidays.

Continue reading “Help Your Clients Make It to the Gym”

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.

What Does Being Sensitive Have to do With Running a Gym?

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In a recent post on the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) blog, fitness consultant Michael R. Mantell discussed “the 4 S’s” of membership retention. To keep members — and keep them happy — you have to pay attention to four things that begin with the letter S: Social, Success, Sensitive, and Science. Three of these are pretty intuitive: For the “Social” element, you have to have a friendly, well-trained staff; for “Success,” you have to find ways to motivate your members toward meeting their own goals; for “Science,” you have to pay attention to new advances in technology and how the rest of the fitness world is putting them to use. But what’s this about “Sensitive”? What does being sensitive have to do with running a gym and keeping membership retention high?

Here’s what Mantell writes: “Today’s thriving clubs are busy cultivating relationships with medical and other health professionals, creating critical services to help people live healthier and otherwise better lives—fit, happy, and exceptional. Does your club make it easy for the overweight and obese individual to feel comfortable?”
It’s that question that made me realize that it’s true: As a service provider in the business of helping people find their fittest selves, a gym, health club, or fitness center does have to be sensitive. You can replace the “overweight and obese” part of the question with any descriptor, really: Does your club make it easy for the elderly individual to feel comfortable? Does your club make it easy for the disabled individual to feel comfortable? Does your club make it easy for the foreign individual to feel comfortable? Whatever the particular condition of the individuals in question, it’s worth considering what your club is doing to make everyone who walks through the door feel welcome. Do you offer services that meet your members’ needs? Does your staff speak the languages they speak? Are you cultivating relationships with medical professionals and others who might enhance your offerings? What can do you do to ensure that you’re being sensitive to their needs?

Retention is, of course, a tricky business. But at the same time it’s straightforward. Would you want to stick around in a place where no one is sensitive to your individual needs and issues? Probably not. Your members don’t want to, either. It’s a good piece of advice: Think about who your members are; ask them what they need; try to provide it. If you do, you’ll find they stay members for a long, long time.

Want to Retain Your Clients? Motivate Them

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Back in the fall, when I joined my current gym, I signed up for a free training session. The trainer I was assigned, Cliff, was friendly, knowledgeable, kind, and encouraging. I met with him twice. I felt I could learn a lot from him — if nothing else, I found him motivating, and I knew I needed motivation — so I intended to meet with him again, but, somehow, I didn’t manage to. (As I’ve confessed before in this space, my gym-going became — I don’t want to say a complete fantasy, but it certainly didn’t happen too often.)

Recently, thanks to my gym’s cheerful and persistent fitness concierge, I worked up the courage to return to my old routine. On my first day back, I didn’t see Cliff. Honestly, I was a little worried about seeing him. Would he grill me about why I hadn’t been there for so long? Would he take it personally? Would he think badly of me, or judge me in some other way? On the other hand, he probably wouldn’t even recognize me. I’d met him only twice, and I hadn’t shown my face there in several months.

On my second day back, I walked in, and the first person I saw was Cliff. “Hello!” he said to me, grinning broadly. He came over and high-fived me. “I haven’t see you in a while!” “I know,” I said sheepishly, and I launched into some kind of pathetic excuse. “Aw, that’s all right,” Cliff said, chucking me on the shoulder. “You’re here now, right?” “Right,” I said. “Well, get to it!” Cliff said, tossing me another grin and leaving me to do my thing.

That was all I needed. I worked out harder that day than I had on my first day back. Now I notice that each time I go, if Cliff is there my workout is better (we usually give each other a little wave when I walk in). If he’s not there, I think about him, not even about what his expectations for me are, but about the fact that he has somehow become a partner in my success, someone who’s in it with me, and I find myself pushing harder.

This is what a good trainer does. He or she makes your clients feel like they’re not alone in their endeavors. It’s extraordinarily motivating to believe that someone cares about what you’re doing, cares and believes that you can do it (and will tell you, when you need to be told, to get to it). Finding motivation can be one of the hardest parts of sustaining an exercise routine — and your clients sustaining an exercise routine means your membership retention rates staying high. You can help them (and help yourself) by providing staff members who will inspire motivation in them — staff members like Cliff, or like my fitness concierge: smiling, caring, sympathetic, encouraging people who prod clients, spur them on, welcome them back (and even recognize them!). I’m pretty sure now that when my membership expires, my gym will find it’s had no problem retaining me.

Bottom line – if you want to retain your clients? Motivate them!

Perkville

Activate Perkville on EZFacility and Gamify Exercise this Year

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For this blog post we’ve asked Sophia Wong, Marketing Manager for Perkville, to share some insights on how to best use Perkville for your business!

To survive in the competitive health and fitness industry, club operators must focus on what differentiates their club from their peers.  Did you know that an EZFacility user can customize a rewards program by activating Perkville?

Perkville provides health and fitness businesses with a competitive advantage — giving businesses a platform to drive lifestyle changes by providing gamification tools to boost retention, referrals, and social media.
Gyms and studios have the ability to log into Perkville and customize their reward program to reward class attendance, personal training sessions, and more.  The reward program can be updated at any time to accommodate new behaviors, classes or services that the staff determine they would like to incentivize.  Staff can easily modify the list of point-generating activities in just a few clicks.

Redeemable rewards are viewed as tangible tokens of achievement in the fitness game.  While nothing can substitute for a great workout, redeemable rewards are motivational factors and help retain clients.  For many clients, rewards provide a goal they can strive to achieve.   Based on our discussions with gyms using Perkville, we recommend a 40 to 1 ratio where 40 works outs or activities equate to a retail, service, or discount reward.
“Perkville has created a buzz in our gym as well as on social media and has helped us perform better in comparison to last year.  Our annual memberships grew by 6.6% this past September (2012) compared to 3.0% in September 2011.  We saw an improved trend in October as well, and November is looking good too.  I get really excited by annual membership growth,” said Anne Co-Owner of Royal Fitness Gym.

For more details here is the link to Perkville’s Gamification White Paper.

Increase your sales and client retention by using F.A.B.

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Here at EZFacility, we frequently speak with businesses that struggle to increase revenue and clients.  In many scenarios, one big problem is a failure to adequately communicate the services they offer to their clients and prospects.  This can range anywhere from failing to communicate what differentiates their business from the competition, all the way to (and I’m not making this up) not advertising their company’s offerings at all.

Among the many sales and marketing strategies that exist, there is one that has stood the test of time across many industries – F.A.B.  More specifically, Feature Advantage Benefit, a simple concept to guide the way you and your staff communicate your services to, and earn more business from customers.  Your Feature will be easiest to find in your differentiators- unique courses, more courses, pro athletes on staff, newest equipment, 24 hour access.  The Advantage involves explaining why the feature is unique to your business, so the client isn’t playing any guessing games.  The Benefit is expressing the value proposition clearly for the client.  This process encourages you to teach your clients about your business by walking them through what you offer to why they need it in their lives.

As a simple example, let’s draw clientele to XYZ Gym using the FAB framework to promote their unique suspension training classes:

“XYZ Gym’s offers the only suspension training classes in town.  The advantage of XYZ’s suspension training is a total body work out that will increase your strength, flexibility, and core.  What this means to you are more significant fitness results, faster than you would receive elsewhere.”

Obviously, a conversation with an actual prospect or member may require more dynamic dialogue, but the goal should remain the same:  to constantly communicate the value of your offerings to the client.  Give them the story of why you are different and why they should spend their money and time with at business.   Using this methodology becomes even more impactful when you use it to reinforce all of the features that differentiate you from your competition, not just for prospects, but existing clients too (read: retention).

Stay tuned for more tips and information to help with client retention and make your business the best it can be.

The key to achieving excellent customer success results

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No matter what your particular field of expertise, your primary focus as a business owner/manager should always be to help customers successfully achieve their goals. While this may seem fairly obvious, full workloads and hectic schedules can often lead to falling into a potentially harmful routine, especially when it comes to handling customers. This could lead to missed opportunities to help boost your client’s chances of success.

Every client is unique. Although many will be looking for similar results, they all have their own reasons and motivations for giving you their business. The more you know about their personal goals, the better chance you have of helping them succeed. Take the time to ask them questions, and be sure to listen carefully to their answers. Do your best to understand the impact the work you do with them will have on their lives, and be sure to follow up with them as they progress to be sure they remain committed to achieving their goals.

If a customer feels like a cog in a wheel or just another dollar in your pocket, the chances of them reaching their goals with you will decline dramatically. Be a partner in their progress, listen and understand their expectations, and you’ll be in a much better position to help them find success – and to help you keep them as a customer for the long-term.

brand-apps

The Importance of a Mobile App

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On the heels of our recent announcement regarding the launch of MemberMe, we thought it would benefit our clients to know the importance of reaching their members through their smartphones.
Here are just some of the vital stats that you might be interested in:

  • Mobile use in general is increasing 39% year to year, while app use is doubling year over year
  • 6.8 million iPhones and Android smartphones were activated last holiday season alone
  • Market share for smartphone operating systems is split almost 50/50 between iOS (iPhone) and Android.  All other smartphone operating systems (including Blackberry’s RIM system) make up less than 10% and have been shrinking in their market share significantly every quarter
  • Pew polling and research estimates that 35% of all US adults have phones with apps on them
  • The number of app downloads in the last week of December 2011 was 1.2 billion worldwide (half were from the US)

Our goal is to arm our clients with these facts and help you in taking the right steps to reach these smartphone and app users. You might ask yourselves, “What does this accomplish for my business?” By offering an app for your business, you’ll have a valuable tool at your disposal to help you retain members. It also sets you apart from your competition in the eyes of potential members, giving you the leverage you need in a very competitive industry.

MemberMe provides your business with a different avenue to engage members in events that you are holding, and also creates an easy way for them to book classes and share this with their friends on Facebook, turning this into not just a retention tool, but a promotional tool as well.

Feel free to download MemberMe and take a look at what an app for your business can look like. Just type in “MemberMe” in the App Store search bar and download. Here’s a QR code that will take you right to it or you can download it from iTunes here.

Adding Value to Your Business

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As many of our clients may have noticed recently, EZFacility has been endeavoring to add more value to the services we provide our global customer-base. On this note, we’d like to encourage our customers to continuously add value to their own business in order to keep members engaged and excited about the services you provide. Whether it’s setting up a simple rewards system (enter Perkville!) or by adding a special service to a package that you currently offer, your clients will notice and appreciate the added value.

Additionally, adding value to your business will go a long way in helping you retain members. Often, by keeping things “new” for existing customers, you’ll find that more and more members will stick with what you’re offering.

 Other great ways of adding value to your gym or sports facility includes offering a wider range or schedule of classes that members can select from, or even promoting a special two-for-one on certain group-centric services (like group fitness or batting cage rentals) to encourage people to bring friends with them to your facility. The possibilities are endless and require little effort on the business owner’s side when it comes to incorporating this type of value. However in the end, the payoff will be huge because members will always choose the best value for their money, which in-turn ensures that your business continues to grow.

Studies show Viral Referral Systems are the most effective tool for marketing

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We’d like to introduce guest blogger, Aaron Grove, from Share your fit. He reveals one of the most effective marketing tools and how you…our clients…can take advantage of it. Share your fit is a new referral system for fitness and health clubs and is an innovative way of spreading the word on your business. EZFacility has partnered with Share your fit to provide customers with another means of growing and improving their business.

By Aaron Grove
A recent poll of businesses showed that half of all health clubs count on referrals for 75% of their business. After all, referrals are the most effective and affordable way of increasing your sales and growing your bottom line. We all know referrals are integral in growing your customer base, but they take work.  Most gyms do not have a formal process or system in place for referral generation. In fact, most do not even ask for referrals or they ask incorrectly.  When you factor in your current customers and new members into a structured referral system that allows for exponential growth of memberships, it makes for an efficient, effective, and non-invasive way to generate referrals.
Did you know…

  • Referral-generated customers are the least expensive, most profitable, AND most loyal source of new business?
  • Referral-generated customers also tend to buy quicker, negotiate less, buy larger quantities, and refer more business to you?

Now, most members do not want to “sell out” friends to an invasive sales process, but are willing to send a personalized email with their name attached to a free pass.

Share your fit is a non-invasive landing page branded specifically for your club.  This page can be the homepage for your sales desks, the front desk, and even at a kiosk set up in the middle of your gym. As new and current members attend your gym, you offer a small incentive (maybe a week of free personal training) in exchange for them sharing a pass to your gym with family and friends.  Members can attach a personalized message as they share what they like about your club, when they workout, or the success they have had with their workout routine/trainer.  Everyone who views or receives a pass has the potential to multiply into additional referrals through Share your fit, even if they never make it to your club (in the fitness industry, only 30% of set sales appointments actually show up).  Share your fit decreases attrition rates, by helping build a “family atmosphere” in your gym.  Members are always more loyal and motivated when they work out among friends.

Share your fit is powered by pickagym.com, an online directory of fitness centers.  If a consumer receives a free pass to a gym that they have never heard of, they are able to learn about the gym by viewing video tours, testimonials, and a virtual gallery.

Gyms implementing the Share your fit referral system see an average increase in sales between 10% and 30%. The more it’s used, the more effective it becomes. All leads can be tracked and managed, so that no potential business slips through the cracks. Share your fit features a risk free 60 day money back guarantee. Contact us now to see how our state of the art referral system will be the most efficient and effective generator of new business your gym has ever experienced.

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The Building Blocks of Customer Loyalty

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While much of the battle is attracting new customers to your business, a key element to a successful business is retaining these customers you worked so hard to get. Like any crucial business activity, it is worth putting time and effort into doing it right. Sometimes following up is difficult and takes a large amount of work, but in the long run it will pay off for you 100 times over. Don’t let your customers slip away as keeping an existing customer costs far less than getting a new one. Below are tips to keeping your customers happy and coming back for more!

Send thank-you notes 

Take the time to tell customers that you genuinely appreciate their business. The thought will remain with them for a long time. A small gesture like this will stand out in their minds because most of your competition won’t send that you notes.

Mail postcards 

Make the message of your postcards meaningful if you want to have customers look forward to receiving them. Customers should want to keep the cards handy, especially if you keep it exciting with a “Health tip of the month” or “Quote of the month” type of theme. In these cases it may be best to avoid being promotional as they will appreciate information that is beneficial for them.

Send email updates 

Provide customers with information on product sales, special events, customer service updates, etc. Thinking of them as your personal press releases will ensure customers receive information at least once per month and will help build momentum. Over time, it gets them excited to be involved with your gym or facility and motivates them to give you referrals.

Follow up on health issues 

If you find out a customer has been sick, call periodically just to offer support. Send flowers or a card if the situation warrants it.

Offer referrals 

Keep records of which of your customers are self-employed. A great way to encourage loyalty is to refer people to your customers’ businesses. If they do, record the information which will enable you to help them through referrals, and chances are, they will return the favor.

Ask for post-sale feedback 

Demonstrate that you care about the quality of your service. Call customers and ask questions such as: Are you pleased with the service you received? What would you like to see improved? What product or program would you like to see more of? If you could change anything what would it be?

Send out 20 “great job!” cards per week 

This is both a fun and exciting task. It helps boost morale and keeps everyone excited. A simple card that tells a customer that you think he or she is doing a great job really goes a long way.

These tips will help you take your company to an entirely new level. Following up on all aspects of your customer interactions shows your customers that you are actively involved in keeping them thrilled with the service you provide. And when you ask customers for feedback and implement their suggestions, they feel a sense of ownership in what you’re doing and become even more loyal to your business. This is a great way to build your empire.

Good Customer Service Results in Higher Member Retention

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Providing good customer service is essential for member retention and spreading the (good) word on your club or facility. It’s important to ensure that staff members give meaningful service to your customers in order to show that you value their patronage. There are a few simple steps that gym and facility owners can take in order to deliver excellent customer service.

Greet members

Greeting members when they check-in is an easy way to build relationships with your customers, especially with membership software that displays their information upon check-in. This makes personalizing the greeting a more effective way of connecting and showing that you value them. It’s also a great opportunity to speak with them prior to their work out and find out if they have any questions or concerns. Sending them away with a sincere parting will ensure they leave with a positive feeling and experience.

Address and listen to members

Identifying and addressing problems is another essential component of keeping your members happy. By being proactive, you’ll be able to nip issues in the bud. Additionally, frequently asking members their opinion on what can be improved will assist in finding and fixing any problems. Gym and facility owners can easily do this by utilizing their software to send out an occasional email requesting opinions and comments from members.

Reward members

Rewarding members for being loyal customers will show your appreciation for them and the business they give you. Even the smallest show of gratitude can go a long way to improving the image of your club or facility. Using your management software, you can identify long-time members and reward them with a free month of membership or personal training session.

Make Good on Promises

Gaining and keeping loyalty from your members is integral to the success of your club or facility. Keeping promises and making promises you are sure to keep will cement member loyalty to your facility. Members that feel you are undeserving of their trust may reconsider giving you their business. The rule to this one is simple, keep any promises made.

By following these steps, you can be sure that customers will always remain happy and that you’ve pushed your club or facility to its fullest potential. Adjusting customer service to be completely about your member is a full-proof way of increasing member satisfaction and retention, ultimately leading to the total success of your club or facility. As always, stay tuned for more ideas and news from EZFacility.