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15 Surprising Facts About Health Club Member Retention

Did you know there's a resource right under your nose that can generate 600% more income per member than your salespeople can? 

To learn what it is—and to pick up other valuable tips—check out the IHRSA's comprehensive Member Retention Report, (Volume 3, Issue 3): Focus on Member Interaction. Conducted in partnership with The Retention People (TRP), the report is based on a survey of more than 13,000 health club members in the United Kingdom. 

Here are 15 key takeaways… 

1. Almost 90% of club members say they value communication from staff members. 

2. Email is a more effective means of communication than phone calls (across all membership groups). 

3. Every two interactions fitness staff has with a member in a given month results in one extra visit from that member the following month. 

4. Every additional visit by a member in a given month, in turn, reduces the risk of that member cancelling in the subsequent month by 33%. 

5. Social interaction affects renewals. The risk of cancellation was 56% higher among members who just use gym equipment vs. those who exercise in groups. 

6. Social interaction also affects overall member satisfaction; 70% of club members who had made new friends through their membership self-identified as club "promoters" rather than club "detractors." 

7. Your best salespeople are your fitness staff. The TRP study determined that fitness-staff members can generate 600% more income per member than salespeople alone. Frequent interaction between fitness staff and members results in more member visits, and members who visit more often have higher renewal rates.

8. Longtime members are the group most likely to become dissatisfied and convert from promoters to detractors. So don't take your most established members for granted—keep them happy and engaged.

9. A TRP analysis of 40,000 member surveys generated "word clouds" associated with both "promoters" and "detractors" at top-performing clubs. The word that promoters used most frequently was "staff." The word that detractors used most frequently was "crowded."

10. Reaching out to a member—whether by phone, email, text, or social media—more than doubles the likelihood that they will be a "promoter" rather than a "detractor."

11. At any given time, one of the highest-risk groups for membership dropout are those who have not attended for more than a week—but have attended within the last two weeks.

12. Your best promoters are both your youngest (ages 16–24) and your oldest (65+) members. 

13. Your memberships are expensive—for you. IHRSA's Industry Date Survey (IDS) found that leading club operators spend a median of $118.65 in sales and marketing costs per new membership account. 

14. On the other hand, the survey found that leading club operators generate a median of $793.40 in annual revenue per member.

15. Doing something—anything—to try to retain members is better than doing nothing. Said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA's executive vice president of global products, "Results show that any type of interaction with a member at risk of canceling can reduce the likelihood of dropping out by nearly 10%."

Related reading: 

Reader Comments (4)

Really interesting, just goes to show the importance of treating people like humans, ie. Communicating with them to make them feel wanted, appreciated etc. Get article!

The team :)
January 30, 2017 | Unregistered
Some very useful insights. It seems like member experience is number one these days and the more you can keep members engaged the more likely they are to become stick around and become promoters. I like #15...just do something! email, walking around and saying hello to members, birthday phone calls, thank you cards, so many other effective means really WORK!
January 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJames H
It's all about the relationships! Just go out of your way to be kind and caring. Doing it often enough will no longer be "going out of your way" but become "everyday natural". You just may make the only bright spot in someone's day, and you may be surprised how great it makes you feel (as long as it's sincere) Kindness given out always returns back to you in one way or another. It goes back to the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would want done do you. And who doesn't want to be treated nice and with kindness?
February 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie W.
We believe the people are key and the quality of your in-house personal trainers can make a huge difference. Its worth focusing time on your onboarding and including PTs in every step of the way. This will improve retention and customer satisfaction.

Pummel - we love personal trainers -


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