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Entries in member retention (70)


Profiles of Success is now available

This week IHRSA released 2012 IHRSA Profiles of Success a comprehensive report featuring a detailed analysis of performances from the top health and fitness clubs. Included in Profiles are key metrics like revenue and membership growth, payroll, member retention, non-dues revenue and EBITDA.

Membership and financial data for 2010 and 2011 was used for the report, provided by 99 IHRSA members, representing 3,256 facilities. The types of clubs represented included fitness-only, multipurpose, independent, and multi-chain. The report also contains a profit center section that analyzes revenue streams from different areas like racquet sports, spas, pro shop/retail, food & beverage, and children's/youth programs.

For more information, click here.

Fitlife Conference stresses member retention, personal service

Bill McBride, chairman of the IHRSA board of directors, was a speaker on social media at the Fitllife Conference in Bend, Ore.The annual Fitlife Conference, which takes place at the Seventh Mountain Resort in Bend, Ore., is a close-knit network of clubs in the Pacific Northwest. 

Attendees for the July 29-31 event come from Oregon, Washington, and Montana, including Athletic Club of Bend, Sunset Athletic Club, RoundUp Athletic Club, Peak Health & Wellness and Timberhill Athletic Club, just to name a few of IHRSA's longterm members.

This year, the recurring topics are member retention and delivering customized, personal service to club members. 

Special guests include IHRSA Board members Robert Brewster, owner of The Alaska Club, and Bill McBride, president and COO of Club One. Other keynotes included Greg Pressler ("Focusing on Today"), international adventurer and endurance athlete who told stories of great accomplishments, like a six-day marathon across the Sahara Desert. There was also an international flavor with the Retention People, including a final keynote from Dr. Paul Bedford ("Retention Fundamentals, One Size Does not Fit All"), the fitness industry's guru on customer experience, retention and attrition management. 

Fitlife is excited to feature some new vendors this year including Buck & Affiliates Insurance, RTI Fitness, and Whole Body Vibration Systems.

The theme this year is "Class Reunion" so there has been plenty of fun reminiscing on 32 years of Fitlife conferences. Old high school-like photos were submitted by the attendees.


Hard or Soft: Which Sales Approach Works Best?

Coby HalpinHard sell? Or soft sell? Which club membership sales system works best? Which one yields the best long-term results? Which one leaves the sales staff feeling honestly good about what they do? Coby Halpin, the manager of the Goldfields Oasis Recreation Center, in Kalgoorlie, Australia, has tried both approaches—as well as a number of variations on the two themes—and has reached a conclusion. His thoughts on the topic follow.

Click to read more ...


Still not sure on webinar? Check out Miller's answers to a few questions

So you still are on the fence for IHRSA's next webinar on Thursday with Mark Miller? 

He said in a Q&A - just added today to am IHRSA website feature - that clubs can't not find the time to work on member retention. With that the subject of his discussion, the decision should now be made: you need to attend on Thursday.

Check out answers to what he will be talking about and how to register, here.



Is fitness industry 'recession-proof'? Some think it is

A wide variety of topics in This Week in the Fitness Industry, which scours the web for interesting, informative and sometimes just plain fun stories relating to our industry.

One of the more interesting is a report from a California research firm, IBISWorld, that shows how the industry is growing. One source even felt the industry is "recession-proof."

For this, and more, check out This Week in the Fitness Industry.




Next webinar: Member retention

Mark Miller, a fitness industry veteran, will lead the next IHRSA webinar on Thursday, July 12. His segment, Best Practices to Increase Your Member Retention, sponsored by Cybex, will touch on subjects such as the real meaning and make-up of retention, how retentions impacts your club, structures that are critical to your member retention and hidden items that can affect retention.

For more information and to register, click here.



Improve Member Retention! 

Two of the industry’s most prolific and highly regarded authors have produced yet another book that’s definitely worth your consideration.

Fresh off the presses at Healthy Learning is 101 Strategies for Improving Member Retention in Health/Fitness Clubs by Stephen J. Tharrett and Patricia C. Amend.

Click to read more ...


Motivate Trainers to Understand Their Role in Membership Retention

Fred Hoffman, Scott Lewandowski, Mark Miller and Anthony Wall discuss leardership ideas used to motivate trainers to understand their role in membership retention in the club in this week's Best Practices

Q: "What are some leadership ideas I can use to motivate my trainers to understand their role in membership retention in the club?"

AI believe that whatever takes place in the club is a reflection of the company and it’s management. Policies, procedures, suggestions, etc. must be based on the company’s mission statement and should represent the company’s core values. The following should help motivate trainers to understand their role in membership retention.

1. If not already done, determine the company’s mission statement (or re-visit it if one already exists). The mission statement should be a precise description of what the company does and should speak to the company’s culture and how that is demonstrated on a daily basis. It should state the company’s core values: what they stand for and how actions are taken and shaped to obtain results with customers, suppliers, and staff.

2. During the interview and hiring process trainers should be clearly informed of the mission statement, and what their role in membership retention is. Responsibilities should be clearly articulated in the job description and trainers should agree to all before they sign a contract. Their responsibilities and related actions should be reinforced during the orientation process post-hire.

3. Communicate with trainers on a regular basis, and if needed, refer back to the mission statement and company policies and procedures concerning membership retention. Review and update those policies as needed, and inform trainers of any changes. Remember that trainers can only be successful with clear direction from the company and its management team, and when provided with the means and tools necessary to accomplish what is expected of them.

Fred Hoffman, M.Ed.
International Fitness Consultant, Speaker and Author


A: Trainers must first understand why the retention of members is important, the club’s retention goal, and how retention will improve their business of training.  It costs approximately 3 – 5 times more money to attain a member than to retain a member due to advertising and marketing costs and sales team compensation.  Retaining members adds money to the bottom line.    This additional money as a result of improved retention pays for new fitness equipment for the trainers to use with their clients, potential club growth and promotion opportunities, or increased compensation and bonus. 

Trainers need feedback.  Send an online survey to members who have worked with a trainer for their feedback.  Share the favorable surveys with the trainer.  Use non-favorable surveys to create training tracks to improve service. 

Trainers need to realize that the scope of their business is beyond just their clients.  Trainers need to service not only their clients but service all members who will be future clients.  Servicing all members through consultations and seminars will result in higher retention number for the club.  A recommended incentive for a Personal Trainer is a bonus for recruiting a first time client.

Keep the trainers engaged in all club activities, communicate their impact on your business, and retention will grow.  

Scott Lewandowski
Regional Director
Fitness Formula Clubs

A: Well great question.  Motivation is a tricky thing – it’s an internal value that one needs – the old carrot and stick ideas no longer work with long term motivation.  Read Daniel Pinks book – Drive.  So to offer some leadership advice here goes:

  1. First Hire for the right person – the player that embraces the us mentality, not me. The player that understands their job is not a one dimensional thing, but a multi one. The player who sees the interconnections of everything they do on the success of the business first.
  2. Be crystal clear in what the expectations are and role they play in all they do.  Make member retention just that – job 1
  3. Give them the tools to deliver – educate how to interact and build rapport,  empower them to solve problems and inspire them to a great purpose of “why “ they do what they do.
  4. Model the way for them and course correct in the moment when you see them not doing it and celebrate in moment when you see them do it.
  5. Lastly be the energy driver, the needle mover – go model the way set the example.  You’re a retention driver now.  Have fun


Mark Miller, VP
Merritt Athletic Clubs Corporate


A: Trainers may simply not be aware of their role in membership attrition – i.e. it has never been discussed in their training and the club never spends any time focusing on it. The flipside to this issue is that other trainers believe that their role is pivotal in membership retention and that without personal trainers a gym cannot survive. Both of these perspectives have long term effects on how members are influenced by trainers.

An effective strategy is to give trainers an understanding of the relative contribution that they make to the organization as a whole. Typical personal training contributes somewhere from 3% - 12% of the gross revenue of a club.  

Membership retention is about making the member feel valued, by providing a positive experience and creating positive relationships with the staff. The more positive interaction they have with members the better the retention will be. Obviously training a member on a regular schedule is going to create that desire to come back again and again. I tell trainers not to forget the rest of the members, even if that’s encouraging them to do something other than personal training. Long term that philosophy always pays off.

Anthony Wall, MS
Director of Professional Education
American Council on Exercise (ACE)


This post is a part of our weekly Best Practices series. We post a new question and answer every Monday morning. If you have a question you'd like our Industry Leaders to answer, submit your question today.


How to Retain Clients When a Personal Trainer Leaves Your Club

Photo: hellojenuine.

Phil Kaplan, Mark Miller and Nicki Anderson discuss how to retain clients after a personal trainer quits or leaves your club in this week's Best Practices.

Q: "When a personal trainer quits or is fired, what's the best way to inform/approach their clients so they stay at our club rather than following the trainer to a new club?"

A: Well, the best way, is the way that prevents the “oops I wish we had done it differently” and that is to build a culture of community among the training staff.

Prior to employment, every new hire should sign a document that clearly spells out a no solicitation policy (you cannot solicit any members to train outside of the facility) and that document should also clearly explain the agreed upon policy related to client transfer upon trainer exit. However, or whenever a trainer leaves, it should be clear that the clients are clients of the business and not of that individual who worked as an employee.  

I’ve found the absolute best way to retain clients is to have the trainer, together with the fitness director, spend 5-10 minutes meeting with each client explaining that the trainer will be leaving and together they will make every effort to find another trainer who meets the client’s needs.  Under those circumstances the client is typically very open to the trainer recommendation.  

Ideally, if the trainer is concluding employment with two weeks notice, within those two weeks the sessions are either shared with the recommended trainer, or are handed off.  The key to making this work is a sense of team and a strong fitness director who is empathetic and a strong communicator. The client need not feel pressured, but should be led to trust that the same caliber of service will be maintained, even after the familiar trainer exits.

With that said, if a trainer leaves in anger, there often is an attempt to take the clients and the reality is legal action is often more costly than it’s worth.  I’ve found it valuable to identify the point where a trainer is going rogue and immediately terminate his or her employ.  The fitness director would then contact every client and invite him (or her) in for a comp consultation session to determine what trainer would be best to take over the client program. 

There are those clients who will leave the facility out of loyalty to a trainer (even without blatant solicitation), but if all else is handled professionally, the number of clients who leave should be insignificant.

It’s a great question and there really is not a “best way” to handle it after the fact as much as there is a “best way” to prepare for it.

Phil Kaplan, Founder
Be Better Solutions, Inc

A: The best approach is to make it clear upfront that clients are members of the club and not owned by the trainers. Periodically have other trainers train clients and personal training managers should have relationships with all clients so there is a rapport built.

In the event that trainers leave, it is best that the manager who has the relationship and rapport with the client to schedule the next workout, meet with the client, do a reassessment, temperature check on where their head is and facilitate a two-session transfer program to another trainer or two.

Usually I find it best if the client experiences two trainers and can make the decision so they are part of the solution. The key at the end is to not really ask if they want to continue it is to assume that they are staying and just moving to the next phase of their program advancement. They are the clubs client and the club will ensure their success.

Mark Miller, Vice President 
Merritt Athletic Club

A: If a trainer quits, clients will usually take it a little easier.
If the trainer is fired, it becomes a very sensitive issue because clients can take it personally - “How could you fire my friend?” 

I will typically call them as soon as the trainer leaves and let them know that so-and-so will be leaving. I try to set up a consultation with them so that I can reconnect and then place them with another trainer. If a trainer has two weeks before leaving, I will do the same thing: call the client, share the fact that their trainer is leaving the company but I would like to meet them. Setting up an appointment with them shows them that you care about their success.

Nicki Anderson AFP, CPT, President
Reality Fitness


This post is a part of our weekly Best Practices series. We post a new question and answer every Monday morning. If you have a question you'd like our Industry Leaders to answer, submit your question today.


Members Don't Join Fitness Clubs Just for the Fitness

By Bill Churchill, Director of Strategic Planning at Fitcorp, Inc.

Bill ChurchillThe fact is, if someone wants to be fit, they can buy some free weights off of Craigslist (Parabody Chrome Weight Set with Rack, $500), or a rowing machine from Dick’s Sporting Goods (Stamina ATS Air Rower, $399.99), or heck, a pair of running shoes from City Sports (Nike Free Run+2 – Women’s, $90.00), and they have everything they need to become or stay fit.

Why, then, do they sign up for membership that costs $60 per month, $90 per month, or $180 per month, if it’s not for the fitness?  I suggest it’s for the other people.

Personal trainers know that the key to building a client base is the personal connection. And their clients know that the benefit of having a personal trainer is that they get fitter (or stay fitter) when there is someone helping them do the right exercises, at the right weights, with the right sets. But most important of all, it's getting them to show up.  This is the simplest example of how someone else makes your fitness goals happen.

Less expensive, but also very effective, is group fitness.  Yoga classes, Zumba, Spin Groups, Pilates and the like all tap into the benefits of doing exercises with other people.  Sometimes it is the inspirational class leader/teacher that motivates the participants to get up before the sun rises, or stop what they are doing during the workday to make sure they get to class on time, but it can also be the relationships with the other participants.  The social connections that build up over time between the people who take Kathy’s 7AM spin class or Mike’s 5AM boot camp (not kidding) get so strong that they know they will be missed if they don’t show up.

Even the headphone zombies on the cardio equipment, who barely acknowledge the front desk person when they scan their card, must take some comfort from, and get some joy from, running in a gym with dozens of others nearby, doing the same thing.

What does this mean? Why does this matter? Because it means that your primary job at your fitness club isn’t to focus on fitness. It is to focus on relationships.  Specifically, fostering relationships.  It’s the relationships between members and trainers, between members and group fitness leaders, and especially between members and other members that are key to keeping participation high.  This translates into a more rewarding experience for the members and this means higher retention.

In the olden days, the role of Cruise Director was to introduce strangers to strangers and create relationships that make the whole experience better for everyone.  (The last cruise I went on had a population of 3,000 passengers and there was no one playing that role).  I suggest the focus of the fitness club general manager is to think of ways to create groups of members with similar interest and schedules and get to know each other.  They may become more vocal, ask for more from the club, and complain more about changes in instructors, but those are all excellent outcomes.  It means they care, and that’s what you really want.