It’s the most frustrating question in the fitness industry: once you get members to join, how do you retain them?
After all, increasing your gym member retention rates is a sure way to drive up revenue. According to a study conducted at Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new client is anywhere from 5-25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
Statistics show that by boosting customer retention rates by 5%, businesses can increase profits by 25%-95% due to compounded sales and increased lifetime value.
So yes, retention is important. Understanding just how to increase retention means understanding why members leave in the first place.
There are many reasons why gyms have retention problems. For clients, these reasons involve:
- Lack of progress
- Loss of motivation
- Memberships are too expensive
- Local competition
- Not enough time
- They don’t receive the right care or training
Luckily, there are a few different gym member retention strategies and best practices you can put into place to make sure that your members are properly cared for, motivated, and getting the support they need to stay active and motivated.
Personalize Your Members’ Experience
Making your members feel personally taken care of with great client-service is perhaps the number one method for retention.
To deliver a truly personal and meaningful experience to your clients, you have to know them.
This is where your member data comes into play.
It’s 2018 and now gyms have more 1st party data than ever before. 1st party data means that you have information you collect directly from your members.
The type of 1st party gym member data you collect can be anything such as:
- Class attendance
- Club attendance
- Purchased items
- Goals & milestones
- Equipment usage
You may collect this information from them during their signup process to learn more about their goals, fitness experience, and current fitness metrics like weight, body fat, etc.
However, you can also collect 1st party data through your gym software provider or partner applications.
With the use of 1st party data, you can make each client feel like they are a priority within your gym and retain their business longer by developing a personal relationship with them.
We’ll dive into some ways you can use 1st party data to bring a more personalized experience to your club members and retain them for longer periods.
Member Purchasing Habits
If you’re selling retail items like supplements or branded retail at your reception desk, you can have each client's favorite products listed in the point-of-sale module. This can help make them feel like your business really takes the time to know their preferences and behaviors.
For example, if an active member frequently buys a protein shake after every workout, you can have one ready at your reception desk the moment they will finish their workout.
This will help eliminate queues for a transaction that otherwise takes less than 30 seconds to complete.
As clients buy more and more products at the reception desk, the system will log which products are purchased most often and list them accordingly.
Personalized Communication & Segmentation
If you’re running a fitness center that offers a lot of classes and activities, it’s important to segment your members into different groups.
For example, members that consistently buy Yoga related retail products, but don’t necessarily attend Yoga classes can be sent automated e-mails or push notifications that encourage them to sign up for upcoming Yoga classes.
Personalizing messages can improve click-through-rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% on average.
This may seem small, but in reality it can make a huge difference in online retail sales and class signups.
Additionally, you can ask members during their signup process if they want automated messages sent to them before their usual workout times for motivation.
Also consider adding direct mail or postcards with a good offer to your strategy, since tangible mail pieces have a longer shelf life. (They're often stuck on the fridge or stashed next to the computer to be redeemed when it's convenient).
Before you roll your eyes: consider that direct mail has evolved over the years to be just as personalized and targeted as email or other methods, as long as you have the right data.
When it comes to your members, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it anymore. Create dynamic campaigns based on client behavior and interests for a more relevant approach and higher member retention rates.
Keep Track of Client Milestones
Every client has a goal when they first start out at the gym. Either it’s to lose weight, build muscle, or simply become healthier.
The good thing about this--aside from the physical and wellness benefits--is that these milestones are easily countable.
You can use your club's mobile app track client milestones as part of your member retention strategy.
You can have these goals be part of club challenges where members get to compete within your club for extra motivation. As everyone's results will be visible, then you can monitor everyone's progress.
If they're struggling, you can contact them to schedule free or paid consultations with your trainers or nutritionists. They can find out the problem and help them to better achieve their goals.
When clients do reach their goals then you can send a gratulatory message and offer them a prize to increase their satisfaction and boost your retention numbers.
Equipment and Class Feedback & Prioritization
A huge problem some clubs encounter is overcrowding. Anyone who’s been in a gym at peak hours knows how annoying it can be to wait 10-30 minutes to use the squat rack.
Sometimes it’s not even worth waiting and they leave.
Try to understand which kinds of equipment your members use and value the most. This can be hugely beneficial when it comes to deciding which equipment to buy and which equipment you don’t need anymore.
Indoor tracking systems can help with that by tracking which areas members are exercising in the most.
You can compound Indoor Tracking with apps that integrate fitness equipment with a mobile workout tracking app to understand which machines are being used the most.
For example, you may find that a lot of the lower leg machines aren’t being used by the majority of your members. Additionally, you may see that all of your treadmills are almost always in use at peak hours.
Using this information, you can swap out the leg machines for more treadmills to provide your members with more equipment that they use.
When you optimize your equipment selection for what your members want and use the most, you’ll provide a great experience for them, even during peak hours.
Classes & Trainers
The same can be said for overcrowded classes. Being in a room where you can barely perform all of the class exercises because it’s too full can cause members to leave your gym for less crowded classes elsewhere.
But by limiting the amount of members attending classes, you can deliver a better class experience to your clients.
It’s important not to be greedy and overbook for more revenue. Remember, retention is much easier and less expensive than acquisition in most cases.
Furthermore, you can learn which classes to promote and which trainers are giving you the best return on investment with class and trainer ratings. It can be a huge boost for your marketing efforts.
Member feedback should be the foundation of any growth or retention strategy, and by allowing your clients to rate classes, you’ll know which ones are driving user engagement and success.
You can also send out gym surveys to segmented users about services, trainers, or classes in your gym.
Some good tools for that are:
- Survey Monkey
- Google Forms
All of them have a free option so you don’t need to add any expenses when using them.
Collect client feedback and listen to your members as much as possible. Every individual piece of feedback is extremely valuable, and when its aggregated it gives you the decision making power needed to retain members based on actionable analytics.
Increase Self-service Capabilities
Long lines at gyms are annoying. Members often have strict schedules and a limited amount of time they can spend at the gym.
With effective self-service solutions, you can eliminate queues at your reception desk, automatically collect client debt and new payments, and dispense product packages for clients without them needing to be present in the gym.
There are many options you can use to boost your self-service capabilities including a:
- Mobile app
- Client Portal
These options provide your members with different ways to manage their account and information without the need of spending longer periods of time in the gym for bureaucratic purposes.
Automating these processes allows for your employees to focus on retaining your gym members through personal connection and relationship development.
Turn Your Gym Into a Community
In a study conducted by Nielsen group, 36% of people who exercise prefer to exercise within groups and/or class activities.
That’s why implementing group or gym-wide challenges can help increase retention rates by:
- Allowing members to compete with their friends or peers
- Acknowledging individual and group success and progress
- Tapping into competitive nature as a source of motivation
You can create daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly challenges around a host of different activities and milestones within your gym to encourage more group related workouts and member accountability.
You can compound the competitive aspect challenges with ranking systems to motivate members even further.
The more rapport your members build with one another, the more they’ll be incentivized to stay with your gym to workout with their friends.
Increase Member Lifetime Contract Value
Sometimes members come across special promotions from your competitors or simply no longer have the funds to attend paid classes.
Separating your pricing plans into tiers and offering different payment options for members will decrease the likelihood that they churn for financial reasons.
You can try to entice members that may leave the club with heavily discounted long-term contracts once you understand what the reasons for their possible departure are.
This is where targeted client feedback can really help you. If you’re using a business intelligence or analytics department, you can pinpoint fringe clients on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
From there you can dispatch customer feedback campaigns to learn what their pain points are and work on strategies to retain them.
Remember, customers are far more valuable the longer they stay clients, so use your 1st party data to identify trends of churning customers to fix any ongoing issues they may be facing.
Here a few extra tips you can use to increase your gym member retention rates.
Monitor and correlate member attendance with class offerings. If you have a high amount of members that have shown interest in types of classes, offer a group class during those times to see if members become interested and book them.
Frozen accounts may be an opportune time to increase a little revenue; however, they can be a make or break case for some members that may feel taken advantage of when asking for short-term account freezes.
Be a bit more lenient with frozen accounts when applicable and increase member trust and satisfaction.
Stay in Touch
Build smart campaigns that are built around member interests based on your 1st party data. Give them advice and up-to-date fitness trends to enhance their workouts and wellness.
Hope this helps! Let us know in the comments below what strategies you use to retain your members.