Sheldon McBee: Retention is something we are always striving to improve at Universal Fitness, our multipurpose club in Lancaster, PA. Before the pandemic, we had well over 10,000 members, and our retention rate was 88% (versus the 72% industry average).
Our member journey is quite clear up-front. We show new members exactly what their first six weeks will look like. This reduces anxiety and fear, and increases the likelihood that they will show up. We hold their hands a lot. We don’t want them just jumping on equipment.
Within 48 hours of joining, new members are introduced to their “concierge”—a staff member who is part of a unique member services team. The concierge is dedicated to guiding the new member’s engagement and success for the first 24 weeks of their membership, with the primary goal of making sure the new member visits the club at least twice per week.
This post-sale handoff must be silky-smooth and frictionless. During the meeting, the concierge listens to the client’s needs, does an assessment, and creates a four-week integration pathway. If the new member is going to use digital/virtual services, the concierge also makes sure they know how to access them.
The member is then introduced to a small group training coach for two training sessions per week for four weeks. These sessions can be either live or virtual. Now the new member has two people—the concierge and the coach—to guide them toward their path to success.
Nurture the Relationship with Multiple Touchpoints
After those first four weeks, the new member can pay for additional group training classes if they choose (we have a whole sales process to support this). If the member declines, we don’t just walk away from them and say, “Good luck—you’re on your own.” They’ll still be connected with their concierge and have another follow-up (six weeks after their join date). The concierge will write them a program, or they can keep going with their group training program. They will also be encouraged to engage in more group exercise classes. The concierge continues to track their attendance for 24 weeks to be sure they show up at least twice per week.