Across Ireland and the UK, membership retention has become an ongoing challenge for gyms.
As a gym owner, it can be tough to know exactly what steps you need to take in order to keep your members engaged, without disturbing your so called “sleeping members”.
As a gym consultant and fitness sales director, Shannon White has spoken with hundreds of gyms and health clubs on their strategies to keep their members with them for life.
In this webinar, Shannon has condensed her 8 best techniques for you to keep your members for longer – providing practical methods that you and your team can actually put into action straight away in your club.
Watch 8 Simple Ways To Keep Your Members At Your Gym
Get Your Complete List of Free Resources
You can find all the free resources mentioned in the webinar to download below and start utilising all of these strategies to increase your gym member retention and drastically grow your business.
All of these strategies are designed for you to implement right now, with no extra spend and without overloading your staff with more work and responsibilities.
- Download the webinar slides here.
- Download our free e-book on how to maintain engagement with your members
- Use our Google Form template to create feedback forms for your members
- Read the latest gym retention report and statistics
- Join the Gym Owner’s Forum here
Read All 8 Retention Tips For Your Gym Here
The following advice for increasing your membership retention is not just words to make you feel good, every idea we suggest here has been:
- Tested by us in our own test gym – The Fit Club Redditch
- Sourced from the thousands of clubs that we partner with, as we frequently keep in contact with their strategies and provide advice for them to implement.
- 25 years of wisdom and industry knowledge.
Our 8 methods are going to focus primarily on that customer experience side. We’re going to look at what you can control right now in the way you manage your members, work with your staff to create a great environment and handle your onboarding system to get more of your members through their first 6 months and staying with you for years to come.
Tip 1 – Get a 12 month contract in place and lock your members down
This might seem like a no-brainer but some gym owners are worried that having a contract turns potential members off. Instead of looking at it as a negative, turn it into an opportunity to offer a lower cost membership to incentivise people to join.
That also offers a guaranteed period of time that you know you’ll have a membership for.
There is generally three methods of payments that can be used to collect regular payments during a contract:
- Standing Order
- Recurring card payment
- Direct Debit
Tip 2 – Increase your staff presence
The goal of any retention system is consumption. People rarely cancel or quit things they actually use. It’s much easier to quit a gym than it is to quit a relationship.
So with that in mind, let’s look at the first part of our onboarding, because that’s a huge factor in members making it past the first 6 months.
We’re splitting onboarding into 2 parts, which is your staff’s part to play, and then automating and rethinking your communications.
So how can you increase your staff presence with just the resources and staff you have now?
Be ready to review your staff’s responsibilities and cut out silly jobs – this is the most important part of freeing up your staff to focus on customer service!
- Make member interaction a job responsibility, not a bonus.
- Systematise making notes on members.
- Create rewards for staff to do feedback forms (every good review gets a bottle of wine / the most feedback forms get a spa day).
- Combine this with PTs to get more secondary sales.
- Automate areas of your club to get members off the desk – add a turnstile/kiosk/reduce staff phone time by redirecting customer service through live chat or Facebook messenger.
Tip 3 – Making your onboarding automated – “The Member Journey”
Many gyms underestimate how long their onboarding process should be when it comes to their initial communication with their members.
Regular contact breeds a sense of familiarity and loyalty to your club.
You need to be very simple and direct in how you get your members from signing up to their first few sessions in the gym.
It’s not as easy as getting your members into the club and then they’re all set. You need to have an onboarding system which keeps your members coming back, discovering more of your facility and finding what works for them.
It can be very easy to underestimate just how much of a newbie your member is. We’re all gym experts here, so we often look at our club as if people like us are attending.
Your onboarding process needs to be longer, more explicit in what you offer and be with your members every step of the way to breed loyalty to your business.
This will also help some members overcome what we call “gymtimidation”.
This is a very basic outline of what an onboarding process should look like, but these are the touch points you can do:
Not everyone reads every email, so be comfortable repeating yourself and even sharing tips and advice within your emails. Better to repeat yourself than say nothing.
None of this has to require anything fancier than a pre-written email that’s useful, has a purpose and is interesting to read.
And when you automate it, you only have to do this once and free up your staff for that customer service in the club itself!
In short, make sure your onboarding process is simple, clear, covers every aspect of your club, and lasts into your members first few months.
Tip 4 – Get your numbers together
You need to do a full club review and have a system in place to allow you to get an oversight into your members and how they’re using your club.
Find out who your sleeping members are, who your active members are, and even, how many members you have who are using the gym but aren’t paying by sharing codes or just by virtue of being a familiar face (this number will be higher than you think).
The more you know, the more you’ll know how to targetyour business’ problems!
Tip 5 – Community Building
It is proven that being active in your community and turning your gym into a social space increases retention.
So come up with some fun ways for you and your team to make your gym a social space, by hosting activities that involve the local community and make your gym a social space for your members, that they won’t want to ever leave behind.
The best thing is, this can all feed into your marketing to gather more new customers, so it kills 2 birds with 1 stone.
Always think about how you can recycle your retention strategies to appeal to new customers.
Tip 6 – Community Building
It’s becoming a huge trend that people want overall health advice, rather than just focusing on exercise.
Diet, mindset, mental health – you need to fully integrate yourself in your members’ life. If you only focus on exercise, then you can easily become a place that your members dread after a few off days.
Create resources, blogs, social media with simple and followable advice for your members. Stop them going on other Instagram pages and using other apps for this advice. Become the place they go for that advice.
And most importantly – Partner with local business to add more value
Be sure to add extra benefits. Partner with local businesses that specialise in health and wellness.
Dieticians, health food shops, doctors, physiotherapists – be active in making sure your club has wider benefits in the community, and give your partners the same benefits.
Tip 7 – Consider a member’s app
This is one of the more technical suggestions on this webinar, but if you want to make investments in your club, then this could be a technical route to go down.
The most cost efficient way to get one is usually through your gym software provider – for example at Ashbourne we split the cost of the app monthly which makes it more affordable.
The benefits of an app are clear:
- Find new ways to contact your members – push notifications, texts.
- Change your members mindset, allow them to track their behaviour and make it a challenge that they can stick to.
- Make using your gym easier – book classes and book personal trainers.
- Protects against “Gymtimidation” by providing online support like on-demand videos.
- What’s key about this is only paying members can access the app, or you can create a special membership for it and sell just that. This online service model is still relevant even post covid.
And of course, you can achieve some of these benefits by expanding your website’s offerings, so there are ways to achieve similar results and services without developing an app at all.
Tip 8 – Find out why members have stopped coming to your club
More data, data, data – this is key to knowing what’s going on with your club.
Don’t leave it up to assumptions or industry wisdom to know what’s happening in your club.
Be direct with your members and send them out quick, easy feedback forms where they can identify their problems with your club.
As we’ve mentioned before, fitness professionals don’t think the same way as the average gym-goer or newbie. We need to understand those members better or else risk losing them to a cheaper and simpler club.
Don’t give them a reason to go to a large budget chain.
Bonus Tip – Change your gym’s layout
If you can’t upgrade your equipment (one of the biggest reasons why members stick with a club), then change your gym’s layout.
Freshen up the place, make it open and more inviting and clear to use for new members.
Look at your club and see if it’s inviting. Is the first thing a newbie will see is a squat rack being used by your gym veterans.
Get In Touch With Shannon At Ashbourne
Ashbourne is focused on making it easier for health clubs to grow their business and keep delivering their members a better service.
Ashbourne can manage every single aspect of your fitness business, handling everything from your payments to your website, entry and booking systems.
This gives you more time and freedom to focus on your members, revitalise your marketing and have time to actually manage your club properly.
And of course, Ashbourne are here every step of the way with free resources and advice to help your club be the best it can be.
If you want to discuss the future of your club, then don’t hesitate to set up a chat with our sales manager Shannon White and she can introduce you to our club management solutions.