Having a strategy in place to retain gym members is the only true way to keep your fitness business healthy and growing.
On average it can cost 7x more to convert a new member than to retain existing gym members. Focusing on accumulating new members instead of aiming to retain your current gym members is the business equivalent of having a leaky bucket.
Would you rather plug the holes in the bucket, or constantly just keep filling it with water in the hope you can keep it topped up?
Topping up instead of fixing the underlying problem simply causes excess stress and pressure on your marketing and staff. A long term customer who spends a year at your gym is worth 12 members who only spend a month. It’s for this reason why a focus on membership retention is so important.
This Is How You Retain Gym Members in 18 Simple Steps
So instead of chasing after the next new customer, let’s take the stress away by giving you tried, tested and practical ways for how to retain gym members and grow your fitness business.
1) Survey your existing members and find out what they want from your gym
Let’s start at the root source of the problem. People don’t just leave their gym membership for no reason.
There’s always a reason and most of the time, it’s the gym’s fault. So let’s find out what those problems are without any guess work or assumption. It’s completely acceptable to ask your members what they want from their gym.
It’s a win-win, as they get better service and you improve your membership retention. So whether you send out an email with an attached form, or catch your members at the door, create a survey asking your members what you can do better. You might be surprised by the results and discover problems you never even knew existed that are easy to solve.
2) Give your members a “road map” to keep them focused
While gym memberships are a great way to get healthy, the one big downfall is that they don’t get you healthy and fit without some work on the member’s end.
If your member lacks motivation, then you can have the best gym in the world, but they won’t want to use it. The best way to keep a member out of this head space is to give them direction.
Create road maps and training programs that your members can access as part of their membership. The more clear and realistic goals you give your members, the higher your membership retention will be.
3) Have a great introduction and on-boarding process
Part of giving your members a great road map is getting things off to a good start.
Make sure you have an effective system in place that lets new members learn the basics and know what they need to do to get the most from your gym. A great on-boarding process is vital for retaining gym members.
4) Let your members pause their membership
If you stop members from being able to pause their membership, then they’re going to cancel it.
A paused membership is temporary.
A cancelled membership is forever.
Simple as that!
5) Allow your members to downgrade or change their membership
It’s always better to keep someone at your gym because they want to be there and not because they’re being held there through an agreement.
People’s gym requirements change all the time, so try to offer flexibility in their membership. If members want to upgrade, then fantastic. But even members that want to downgrade and stay with you are still more valuable than a cancelled member, or a member who can’t wait to leave.
6) Keep an eye on members who are losing motivation
This requires a bit of extra attention on your part, but it can be worth it.
One of the key reasons for losing membership retention is that a member loses focus and motivation.
Even if you give them a great road map, that doesn’t mean that they will use it.
So be on the lookout for members who are starting to flag. You can even install a turnstile system that will keep track of when members come to the gym, so you can track how much your members are using their gym membership and send them a helpful email or approach them to help keep them on track.
7) Let your members know the exciting things going on at your club
You want your members to always feel like there’s something going on at your gym. Always another event, class or resource to help them improve their fitness and give them the best gym experience.
So keep your members updated about what’s happening at your gym. If you can keep your members interested in what you have to offer for the next month, that’s another month for you to retain gym members.
8) Give your members tools, templates, tips… Be a part of their healthy lifestyle
Giving your members a way to manage their healthy lifestyle is just as important as their training.
So try to offer as many extras as you can with their gym membership. From diets, to scheduling their fitness and workout plans – give them access to resources that go beyond their time at the gym and give the gym membership even more value to your members.
9) Give your members a fitness app
This is the next step up from templates and tools, but the modern gym goer loves using fitness and health apps to keep track of their healthy lifestyle on the go.
By providing an app as part of your gym membership, you give your members not just extra value, but also the convenience to use all your amazing health tips, techniques and tools on their mobile device, all in one place.
One of Ashbourne’s services gives your members access to your own personalised app, which we’ve already built for you. You can find out more about it here!
10) Celebrate your members achievements in an open forum
You know what’s better than just giving your members fitness goals?
Giving them recognition for those goals!
If you have social media for your fitness business, or even just a cork board on the wall of your gym, then make your members feel special by recognising their greatness. Create a member of the month award, or even keep track of your members’ personal bests. It’s amazing what this kind of recognition does to help build a community, give your members a bit of extra competition to keep them motivated and help you retain gym members for longer.
11) Premium products will help your retain gym members
Your members are always aiming to improve their health and fitness, so you need to keep up with what they need.
Look at your current membership tiers and try to design a premium product that your most dedicated members can upgrade to.
It won’t ever be your best selling product, but it allows for you to make extra money and also give your members a greater incentive to stay at your gym and not go looking for a gym that can offer them more of what they need.
12) Keep everything nice and simple for your members
Providing your members with professional tools, road maps and extras is great, but an equally important lesson to learn is to not overwhelm them.
If you give your members too much to focus on or take in, it’ll quickly kill their motivation.
So while coming up with amazing ideas for extra help to give to your members, also think about how you can break that down, to deliver your members extras in the best way possible.
13) Schedule classes and training so everyone has the chance to join
People’s lives run on very different clocks and you can never be sure when a member will be available to use their gym membership.
There’s nothing worse for a member than feeling like they’re not able to get the most from their membership and are being shortchanged by classes that are taking place during hours that they’re working.
So make sure to vary when you host classes to be sure all of your members can get the most from their gym membership.
14) Consider longer opening hours to help your membership retention
In the same vein, people will be far more likely to retain gym memberships if they have flexibility for when they can visit their gym. 24/7 gyms have become much more popular in recent years, so one of the best ways to improve membership retention is by giving your members that competitive choice for when they visit.
One of the cheapest ways to make your gym open longer or even for 24 hours is by installing a turnstile which restricts non-members from entering the gym, so you can stay open longer while keeping your running costs lower. Installing turnstiles and the software to automate your gym is cheaper than you think and Ashbourne can help you get up and running.
15) Try online classes as part of their membership
If you can’t host classes at hours to suit all your members, then you could try hosting online classes.
Not only is this great for your marketing, as you can give prospective members sneak peaks at your fitness and coaching services, but it also gives your members even more ways to enjoy your health & fitness services when the gym is unavailable to them, once again, increasing the value of their membership.
16) Have automated follow-ups for failed payments or expiring credit cards
One of the best way to retain gym members is by actually having them pay for their gym membership.
Failed payments and expired cards are responsible for a huge number of cancellations.
It’s not only inconvenient for you to miss payments from your members, but it’s also a hassle for them as they have to once again give you all of their card details, usually when they’ve arrived at the gym and are ready to go.
To give your members the easiest time possible, set up a CRM that tracks your members payments and then email them automatically to let them know that their card is about to expire and needs to be topped up, to avoid any nasty surprises for your members. Ashbourne Membership Management can even handle all of this for you!
17) Get your members paying by direct debit
Direct debit is the easiest and cheapest way to make sure that your members pay on time, with a method that is convenient to both them and your business.
At Ashbourne we love direct debits and we’ve been focusing on helping gyms set up direct debit payments for over 20 years. Ashbourne’s service includes handling all direct debit admin and debt collection, so gyms can focus on other important things. It’s one of the most sure ways to increase membership retention than any suggestion on this list.
18) Always follow up with an “exit survey” for members you do lose
Much like how you should survey your members while they’re at the gym, try to implement an exit survey for your members when they cancel.
If a member is leaving, they’re far more likely to be open about why they’ve cancelled their membership, giving you better information and data on how to retain gym members in the future.