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Entries in member retention (70)


How Your Gym’s Cancellation Policy Impacts the Member Experience

This post is an IHRSA Institute preview.

Today’s health club market is in a state of constant flux. It seems like every week there’s a new workout trend or must-have fitness technology, and it’s near impossible for independent clubs to keep up.  

On the bright side, your club is poised to deliver a competitive advantage that will never go out of style: a phenomenal member experience.

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IHRSA’s Member Retention Tune-up Checklist [Free Download]

Is your health club’s member retention as high as you’d like it to be? 

If you answered “no,” you’re not alone. Even the most successful health clubs are challenged with managing their retention rates.

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Who Is Responsible for Delivering Stellar Customer Service at Your Health Club?

Ask any health club operator who on their staff is responsible for delivering stellar customer service, and you’ll likely receive this reply: everyone.

They’re not wrong—each and every staff member can make a positive impact on customer service delivery. But when correlating stellar customer service with member retention, data from the IHRSA Member Retention Report series points out the critical role fitness staff—including group exercise instructors—plays.

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To Boost Member Retention, Prioritize the Member Experience

This is an associate feature post, sponsored by Digilock.

March Madness is right around the corner, which means the New Year’s Resolutions crowd has probably already started waning. As the January 1st frenzy fades, many health clubs and facilities are left with empty ellipticals, unused weight rooms, and one longing question: why did our members leave?

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What Do Members Expect from a Health Club?

When someone buys a membership to your health club, it’s crucial to meet—and ideally exceed—their expectations in order to keep them as a long-term, satisfied club member. 

Nobody knows more about health club member expectations, behavior, and retention than John McCarthy, the former executive director of IHRSA, who has authored several IHRSA publications on these topics. In particular, IHRSA’s Guide to Membership Retention: Industry Lessons on What – and What Not – To Do, which was sponsored by TechnoGym and was published exactly 10 years ago, is still incredibly relevant and valuable for any club operator, whether new or seasoned.

Here are some key excerpts from this guide...

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3 Ways Top Gyms Create Raving Fans Using Their Net Promoter Score

This post is part of our Session Spotlight series, previewing just some of the extensive education that will feature at IHRSA 2017, March 8-11 in Los Angeles.

Your health club’s raving fans might be hiding in plain sight.

Knowing your Net Promoter Score (NPS) is one of the best ways you can identify the raving fans who will promote your brand, spend more money at your club, and recommend their friends to join.

Mike Hills, general manager for The Retention People

Better yet, your NPS will also help you determine which members are indifferent and which are unhappy with their relationship with you. Why is that a good thing? Because that knowledge sets you on the path to turn those groups into more raving fans.

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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… 

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5 Reasons Health Club Members Quit (and How to Make Them Stay)

It’s easy to blame member attrition on outside sources—maybe a boutique studio just opened up nearby, or perhaps your most popular group exercise instructor left. But, while those are legitimate obstacles, there are several factors causing members to leave your club that are well within your control.

In this blog post, we dig into five reasons your members are quitting, and offer strategies to make them stay.

Reason 1: You’re Not Offering (or Successfully Marketing) Group Fitness

Health club members who participate in group exercise are more likely to retain their membership than those who only use gym equipment, according to a The Retention People (TRP) study.

For the study, researchers analyzed survey results from 10,000 UK health and fitness members and followed up with them at regular intervals to measure changes to their habits and membership behavior. They found that 48% percent of members reported just one activity as the usual reason for a club visit, 32% reported two and, 20% reported three or more.

As of January 31, 2014, 88% of group exercise members retained their membership compared to 82% of gym-only members. And the risk of cancelling was 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers (27.6 cancellations per thousand per month versus 17.7). 

Action Point 1: Think about the barriers that stop members attending group exercise and overcome them. Remember—the uninitiated look into a group exercise studio and see a room full of lycra clad people all completing complicated moves in perfect harmony. Also, think about what would make group fitness classes more engaging for young males, who are the most likely to be gym-only members.

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Health Club Member Retention Is a Team Effort

The average health club has an annual attrition rate of 28.6%, according to the upcoming edition of IHRSA’s Profiles of Success.

Some attrition is inevitable, of course. Members relocate, change jobs, etc. However, chances are your club is losing at least a few members each month that you could retain with some additional effort on the part of your team. And by “team,” we mean every single employee. Each one contributes—either positively or negatively—to each of your club members’ long-term satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, with their experience at your facility.

Consider the following, which is excerpted from IHRSA’s Guide to Membership Retention, written by former IHRSA executive director John McCarthy:

Few clubs attach compensation opportunities to improvements in membership retention.

The message that almost every club’s compensation plan sends to its staff is that membership acquisition is more important than membership retention.

One of the ironies of contemporary club management is that almost every club manager gives lip service to membership retention, yet relatively few put hard cash on the line. Even more alarming is that whereas every club manager assigns two to five people to sell club memberships, and each of these people is accountable for a monthly sales quota that is the basis of their compensation, there is no equivalent allocation of responsibility, accountability or compensation for membership retention.

At many clubs if one were to ask who is responsible for membership retention, the answer would be: “Everyone.” Yet, as we know, whenever “everyone” is responsible for something, it means, in effect, that “no one” is responsible.

If membership retention is as important as everyone affirms, and if it is measurable, and if it is a responsibility that can be allocated, then there is no reason not to provide financial incentives to those who are accountable for improvements in this arena. 

Accountability continues to be the missing link in the way most clubs approach this issue. In this respect, membership retention stands in the sharpest possible contrast to the way in which most clubs approach membership acquisition in which accountability is standard practice.

The bottom line with respect to membership retention is ownership. Who owns this opportunity/challenge? Until someone senior in the organization takes ownership of this opportunity, and until compensation opportunities are attached to it, and until budgets reflect a commitment to success in this arena, creative solutions and significant improvements will continue to be unlikely.

The front desk is on the front line for combating attrition.

A friendly, welcoming, hospitable and efficient front desk is an important piece of the membership retention puzzle. Conversely, a cold, unfriendly, unwelcoming or hostile front desk can be a major factor in accelerating membership attrition.

Whereas a warm and welcoming front desk is no guarantee of rising retention rates, a cold, impersonal and hostile front desk is almost certainly a leading indicator of a club that is destined to have higher membership attrition. If there is any single litmus test for the personality of a club and, in particular, for the personality of a club’s general manager, it is the hospitality (or lack thereof) of the club’s front desk.

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German Fitness Studio Uses Data to Drive Innovation and Membership

To those of us who aren’t mathematically inclined, the prospect of working with data isn’t exactly appealing. But, when done strategically, data collection and analysis will begin to tell a valuable story for health club owners and operators. 

When Mrs. Sporty, a fitness studio chain in Germany, took a hard look at its membership data a few years back they noticed a striking change. 

“The previously homogenous target group of plus-50 women, which had been a niche for decades, changed to a diverse mass market,” says Mrs. Sporty CEO Valerie Bönström. “We understood from the data that we have to change and adapt our product—otherwise our target group would choose something else. The needs of our target group changed and so we did. When you focus on the needs of your customers you will constantly innovate—if you don’t, you die.” 

To adapt to its new target group, Mrs. Sporty transitioned from hydraulic machines to pixformance, which offers a fully individual functional workout for each woman. 

“Exercises are shown on a screen and feedback is given from the machine,” Bönström says. “It allows 100% goal focus.” 

Bönström will share her expert advice in her IHRSA European Congress session, “Innovation by Collecting & Analysing Data to Win Members Long-Term.” Her presentation, held Thursday, October 18, in Seville, Spain, will help attendees:  

  • Determine which data you have and what you will need to obtain.
  • Discover whether you know the patterns of behavior and needs of your customers.
  • Learn how to deliver what they want to have by innovation.
  • Identify controlling numbers to avoid missing when customer needs or behaviors change.
  • Gain insight on why to never stop questioning your business model.  

“An easy example of how to use data in a simple way is, if you know when members change their pattern of how frequently they visit the gym, you can already predict three months ahead when they will potentially cancel,” she says. “So data allows you to act before the member even knows them self that they might cancel. That is proven statistics and really a big win for the fitness industry.” 

Learn more about the IHRSA European Congress, October 17-20 in Seville, Spain.