How to Master the ‘Member Lifecycle Journey’ at Your Gym

To be a successful health club, you have to be more than a place to work out. Here’s how to attract new prospects and keep current members motivated and engaged long after they’ve committed to your club.

We talk about brand identity so much these days that sometimes we forget that our customers have an identity, too. Serving health club members well means making a commitment to customer service beyond the on-boarding phase. You need to nurture the entire member lifecycle journey.

The changing expectations and increasing demands of today’s consumers complicate that task. Your members want personalization, multiple programming options, and mobile-friendly customer service. And they want more responsive communications with the businesses they interact with, not just health clubs.

This puts a heavy burden on your customer management platform. Because there are so many moving parts to customer service and so many channels to manage, you need to have comprehensive and sophisticated automated systems for communications, work flow, and operational tasks. Marketing, sales, on-boarding, scheduling, billing—it all has to be integrated and accessible, both to staff and members.

“Serving health club members well means making a commitment to customer service beyond the on-boarding phase. You need to nurture the entire member lifecycle journey.”

Many club management systems use artificial intelligence (AI) to help clubs manage this workflow (improved automated messaging is one benefit of AI’s growing capabilities). But some club operators worry these AI-supported automated systems are too impersonal. Instead of enhancing the customer experience, they reduce the human touchpoints that drive engagement and retention.

As IHRSA has reported, every two interactions fitness staff have with a member in a given month results in one extra visit from that member the following month.

Frequent interaction between fitness staff and members results in more member visits, and members who visit more often have higher renewal rates.

So how do club owners achieve that ideal balance between man and machine? Actually, it’s not so much a balance as a synergy.

This Time, It’s Personal

The ideal club management system should enhance the human element in your business. It should reduce the pain points for both your members and your staff.

Technology should free your trainers, coaches, and everyday staff to spend more time building a community, so your members have the best possible experience in your clubs.

But touchpoints are only part of the story. In fact, you can get bogged down when over-analyzing communication and lose sight of the big picture.

This is exactly what McKinsey & Company discovered in their research. When studying one company’s customer service strategy, they found that “at each touchpoint, the interaction had at least a 90% chance of going well. But average customer satisfaction fell almost 40% over the course of the entire journey. The touchpoints weren’t broken—but the on-boarding process as a whole was.”

McKinsey concluded: “An excellent customer experience must last the entire journey.”

How does that work for health clubs? This should be done in four distinct stages.

1. Online Services

This is attracting new members. You need to make sure your club’s online presence is mobile-ready, responsive, scalable, and programmed to capture the data necessary to create true lead generation. And it should be integrated with key components of your management software. It goes without saying that your online presence should have eye-appeal and offer an intuitive interface for consumers.

2. Sales Interactions

This is about conversion, about making your interactions meaningful. This is where you need that perfect balance between technology and human touchpoints. Your club management software should have technology touchpoints that streamline the process to become a member and integrate with AI tools that give your sales team the data they need to target the best prospects. Your sales team should know when to step in and what your prospects’ interests are to make that experience personal.

3. Managing Operations

It’s in this area where your club management software should be able to automate services that once took extensive man hours to complete. Check-ins, billing, point-of-sales transactions, scheduling, managing member accounts—everything that’s important for overall operational efficiency. Your software should also be able to generate readable reports that keep track of your KPIs (key performance indicators), non-dues revenue, member usage patters, and other key data to help you maximize your service proposition.

Member retention club automation CRM front desk column

4. Create Happiness

Is this really the job of your club management software? In some ways, yes. The technology behind club operations and customer service gives you the time you need to do what you do best. It frees you to create a community of motivated, enthusiastic members who are achieving their health and fitness goals.

When technology performs the essential administration and operational tasks, you and your staff can make the most of every human interaction. Today’s club software has to thread the needle in so many areas that you need a truly advanced platform to succeed.

A Club Management System Designed for the Entire Member Lifecycle

Club Automation has developed a club performance engine built to power member experiences and maximize the entire member lifecycle journey. This is a robust system that optimizes operational efficiencies while providing your members with a responsive mobile interface that satisfies the high demands of today’s consumers.

What makes Club Automation’s software so effective is that it is driven by clubs and was designed by people who know the challenges club operators face in today’s marketplace.

Jeff VanDixhorn, founder and chief revenue officer for Club Automation, is a club owner himself who created the company in 2007. He says it’s important that clubs have automated services, but not just to eliminate busywork and mundane tasks. It must also enhance the entire customer journey.

“We live in a world that is really about convenience,” explains VanDixhorn, who has 25 years of experience owning clubs, and still owns three multipurpose facilities. “You have to make it easy for people to access your membership portal, to get into the system easily.”

But first you have to have the members to begin with. Club Automation makes it a priority to help clubs develop an online presence that attracts prospects, improves lead generation, and enhances the conversion process.

“There's a number of ways that technology can help attract people to a club,” says VanDixhorn. “Many clubs have needs when it comes to their websites and online presence. We have a digital marketing company that does websites. We can help with that.”

When designing their software, Club Automation made it a priority to achieve the perfect automation/human balance. According to VanDixhorn: “I’ve learned that when technology is done well, it provides for more quality human interaction. We make it really easy for staff to do the simple tasks at a club, so they have plenty of time left over to engage members.”

It was important for VanDixhorn to have a product that was versatile and dynamic, making it a fit for all club levels, from luxury facilities to HV/LP. As an owner of multipurpose clubs, he knows these gyms need to maximize every revenue stream.

“You can't rely on just membership dues anymore,” he says. “You’re offering a range of classes and services at different fee structures. And we're seeing clubs opening up certain select programming for non-members. You need to automate all of that. We're servicing a couple of thousand clubs in the multipurpose sector, and they need auxiliary revenue to grow.”

It’s up to you to build a great team for your club. But it’s up to your software supplier to build a robust system that gives you everything you need to ensure a successful member journey that augments your club’s human capital. Club Automation gives you that.

To learn more about Club Automation’s software products and digital marketing services, visit their website or email them for more information.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org