The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



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Learn how to keep members from bolting for competition

Any club owner or manager who thinks a member won’t bolt to the competition if it offers better equipment, classes or price point is living in a dream world.

That is why focusing on member retention is imperative to a successful business. But what are the best methods? 

IHRSA’s next webinar features Dan Griffin, general manager of Club Operations at Oxford Athletic Club, who will touch on ways to not give your members reasons to have wandering eyes for another club.

“Closing Your Club’s Back Door: An Interactive Approach to Increasing Member Retention,” is Thursday, Sept. 11, 2 to 3 p.m. IHRSA webinars are $39 for members, $79 for non-members.

Griffin said that it begins with the front desk/reception area. At Oxford, which is about an hour outside of Pittsburgh, member interaction is paramount. To that end, the club does not have a card swipe or sign in sheet. Members have to present their card, or another form of ID, in exchange for a locker key. And then upon finishing members turn it back in. During these times staff can ask the member how they are doing, what they are working on for that day. On the way out they can make sure everything was satisfactory or how their workout was. It also gives staff opportunities to learn members’ names and their habits.

“That little bit of a takeaway, in terms reducing the anonymity of a big club, can be key,” said Griffin, who has been in the fitness industry for35 years. “It is hard to quit something if you feel attached to it and people feel attached to you.”

“I think there’s an expectation, it’s a shame, but think many people expect once they are in the door the club forgets about them.”

Oxford also takes an interest beyond the front desk. Members are approached on the floor to talk about their workout and the equipment, while class instructors are sure to strike up a conversation

“We make it so it is non-negotiable for our staff, they have to say ‘hi’ to all of our members and acknowledge their presence,” he said.

His methods are working. The club boasts about 2,500 members but only see 30-40, on average, membership cancellations per month. And with the knowledge of keeping 99% of its members it opens many possibilities.

“I think we’ve got the formula on how to keep people when we get them,” Griffin said, “and that allows us to market the club in ways most clubs wouldn’t consider marketing.”

Griffin will touch on other areas that will aid in high retention numbers:

  • Review the 5 critical factors to ensure successful new member and new employee "launching".
  • Discover how member retention often mirrors staff/associate retention.
  • Obtain lessons from The Ohio State University - Why making your BIG club feel smaller works wonders for your bottom line.
  • Understand why your club newsletter is an important retention tool.
  • Learn how to issue the Kaizen Challenge to improve retention and your entire club.

For more information on IHRSA webinars, visit


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