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Why do gym members quit? What can I do to make them stay?

Daniel Lopez for Pavigym

Fitness Program Manager at Pavigym

If you have a large core of faithful members in your gym, it is because you have done a great job promoting loyalty and it would surely be difficult to improve this data. On the other hand, you would´ve observed this reality. What does happen in the attraction and loyalty of a client? What percent of your members are in this segment? In this article, you´ll find exemplary solutions and some clues to finding the difference between obtaining members and retaining them.

We can assure to have a focus on retention is the most reliable and profitable strategy. According to Harvard Business School, it cost 9 times more to obtain a new member than to retain an existing one. A 5% increase in retention translates into an increase in revenue of between 25% and 95%. The principal focus is to encourage retention by increasing the income for the average member, this is to aid actions that promote the creation of communities and to bet strongly for group fitness sessions (annual report IHRSA 2017). Paul Bedford highlights the importance of a good induction process, with improvements of up to 75% in retention.

Surely if you have ever read or heard this data, then you are aware of the importance of being a “loyalty schemer”, but… have you ever wondered what it means to increase the average member lifespan in the results of your club? Imagine that the average fee per member is 50€ and your club has 3000 members. An increase of this half-life by 0.5 points (which is, half a month more than the average member lifespan) would mean an improvement of 75,000€ in the results at the end of the year in your gross profit margin.

Although we insist on denying it, all the clubs have a percentage of members that come and go. They are members who are a few months a year with us and makes them unable to retain. To ignore this fact is to lose an opportunity to improve your gross profit margin at the end of the year. It is a mistake to consolidate the data of all partners, without differentiating between long-term and non-long-term partners. If you present the data of these two types of merged partners, the facts are slightly “distorted”.

The objective of “fighting” retention is not to convert short-term partners into long-term partners. This is more expensive (and strange) than we would like to acknowledge. The idea is to increase the average life of these members in the club, that is, to get them to come one or two months more a year than they normally would. Do not get me wrong… if you are able to grow loyalty, do it and if you are not capable … try to keep it as long as possible!

Here are 4 solutions to augment the average gym lifespan of your members

Taking into account these premises, here are the keys to drive on the road to member retention:

1. Segment the types of your members, take the core of your business out of the equation and analyse what happens with the rest.

2. Arrive on time. Once they have requested their withdrawal, it is too late to act and try to regain them. You risk a traumatic “rupture” that can end up having detractors. In the reports of IHRSA, we can find this interesting fact: the average of the permanence of “faithful members” is 22 months, while that of the “non-faithful” is 4 months. It would be ideal to schedule a notice in your CRM when the third month starts to ensure that you have a list of all the members that have just completed two months of membership. With this, you will be able to gain a month’s margin before you presumably request your withdrawal according to statistics.

3. Be or at least seem natural… Do not fall into the comfort zone of sending an email or an automatic SMS to make a loyalty scheme proposal! Instead, create a notification so you can spontaneously provoke a conversation between the member and your specialists.
4. Last is the WHAT. What can you offer to make this person pass the four-month line? Hold on with to this concept: short-term motivation. Talking about long-term goals is useful in obtaining members, however not at this point. Propose a short-term objective that requires a “soft” commitment. For example, according to Europe Active, the average attendance of the sector does not reach 2 days a week. You can propose a monthly challenge of 12 training sessions (which involves 3 weekly sessions, increasing your attendance rate and with some guarantee of improving your profit). It would be interesting to evaluate those who are assigned in the challenge, a before and after to animate the members so they can meet their goals on a weekly basis: “It’s only a month! You can do it! ” If you grant a symbolic reward to those who engage the challenge, you will excite more than one smile.
These four ideas can inspire you to create schemes in the first 6 months of a member’s life in your club. This is a critical period and you can substantially improve your profit with a very inexpensive investment cost.

Measure, anticipate, be natural and motivate! … but in the short term.

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