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Treat members as a guest for better retention

This week in Best Practices we look into member retention. There are many methods that club owners use. We talk to three of them - Gina Deese, Dan Strayton and Tiffany Smith - to see what their tried-and-true ways are.

Read on to see what they have to say, in Best Practices.

A: What advice do you have for club owners who are losing members or having trouble growing their customer base?

 A: The greatest danger to business during tough economic times is the loss of focus on customer relations. Balancing the value of expenditures with those of customer demands is more important than ever, and ultimately affects client retention, procurement of new market share, and your corporate reputation. While budget cuts may be essential, it’s critical to keep a vigilant eye on your customers' level of satisfaction, their vision of value, and the degree to which they measure the importance of your product/service to their chosen lifestyle. It may be time to evaluate employee attitudes, to institute training programs that focus on employee-consumer interactions, and to be sure that feedback is continually monitored for customer satisfaction, especially during periods of budget related changes. While economic conditions create new challenges, happy customers are still the best source of current business success for a solid future market.

Gina Deese
A.C.T. By Deese, Inc.
Greensboro, N.C.


Spend more time with your members and staff at the front desk, on the fitness floor, in classes, etc. Interact with your membership on a daily basis so that they feel a greater connection to your facility and, while you're out there, make sure your staff is doing the same. Your members must feel a strong social connection to your facility, your staff and, most importantly, your other members. If their friends exercise there, they will, too. If they know the owner and are connected to the staff, it is more difficult to leave. However, if they feel as though no one knows them or cares whether they are there or not, your members can easily go elsewhere or simply stop going to your club at all. People can exercise at home and outside, but it’s the social connection many of them find in a club setting that motivates them. Focus on that and your members will stay, and their friends will, too.

Dan Strayton
General Manager
Health Unlimited Family Fitness and Aquatic Center
Mt. Airy, Md.


Retention is the most important statistic to monitor. Focusing on great customer service and building relationships really works. We can all learn from Disneyland. From the moment you enter, you are treated as a guest, not just a number. No request seems like too much trouble. Learn your guest’s names, interests and about their family. Make regular contact with all members, including personal phone calls. We call clients after one week, one month and then six months to check that they have everything they need to reach their goals and to show them that we care. Send birthday cards, get-well cards and membership anniversary gifts. Holding social functions, theme classes, and anything that gets people to walk in the door, have fun and chat with other members will improve their experience. When your members are happy, referrals will come naturally.

Tiffany Smith
Vibe Fitness
Emerald, Victoria, Australia


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