August 29, 2019 Danni Poulton

Focus on Member Retention, Not Just Acquisition

Focus on Member Retention, Not Just Acquisition

It’s a well established fact in business that it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to hold onto existing ones. Despite this, many gyms fail to grasp the reality of the matter. Some of the reasons for this are obvious…

Motivating Members

Maintaining motivation to stick at the gym is hard for most people and gyms are often looking for ‘low hanging fruit’ when it comes to attracting new members. Lots of gyms find it challenging to properly motivate and inspire their members.

Finding The Ideal Member Can Be Tricky

Fitness tends to work in a very faddy way. For example, each January there is a huge influx to the gyms. However, most of these members will have quit by summer. 

Because of this, many gyms are geared to get as much money out of new members as possible, with marketing that tries to attract anyone that they can get through their doors.

Such an unfocussed ‘pay and spray’ approach to recruiting new members means there are lots of what marketers call “unqualified leads”… people who aren’t well matched to your gym’s offerings and therefore are more likely to leave down the line.

Understanding What Members Want

Many gyms also try and tap into the latest fitness crazes, be it Zumba classes or wearable tech, without doing so in a strategic way. For example, you need to know what demand there is for your gym offerings in your area as well as understand what it is your current members enjoy/would like from you.

If your gym is located in a working class area, having lots of high-end offerings with frills like physiotherapy, saunas and personal trainers may not be affordable for your members. Similarly, flogging low cost, short term gym memberships in a middle class area is likely to give you all the problems that come with low-cost gym retention and none of the benefits that come from tapping into the budget gym market.

As it is difficult to grasp all the factors that affect member retention, there’s a tendency for gyms to focus on acquisition – it’s straight-forward. When it comes to member retention strategies, there is no one rule for all and therefore working out a solution does require time, which some operators may not have.

Gym

The True Cost of Member Acquisition

IHRSA reports that the cost of creating a new gym member account is around $66 per account. However, the real cost to take into account, is how expensive it is when a member quits your gym. IHRSA data shows that every member who leaves your gym can cost you $674 per year for every dropped account.

Beyond the Monetary Benefits of Retention

More than just the financial cost should be taken into consideration when acquiring new members. Think of all the time and energy your staff has to expend onboarding new members. This might include:

  • Analysing target markets of potential members
  • Creating and distributing marketing materials
  • Actions of customer service staff
  • Time spent on induction training for new members

If you reduce attrition in your gym, you can then redirect all that creative and physical energy into developing your member retention strategy, implementing automation to reduce labour costs as well as time and savings.

Instead of working out how to attract a constant stream of new members, you could be scouting new sites for expanded gym facilities or pursuing even “bigger picture” strategic avenues for your brand. If more action is done to improve your member retention, your business will certainly benefit.

If you’d like a deeper insight into Keepme to boost your member retention, get in touch and book a demo now.

August 22, 2019 Beth Cadman

How A Smart Member Onboarding Experience Helps Better Retention

How a Smart Member Onboarding Experience Helps Better Retention

Paying attention to your member onboarding process can have a significant impact on member retention. 

The member onboarding process plays a crucial role in maximising retention and can help ensure that new members turn into loyal customers who continue to use the gym facilities and engage with the gym in a positive way.

The first four weeks are the most crucial in the membership lifecycle, and in this time frame, the more frequently a new member visits the gym, the better impression they have of the facilities and the more positive a customer experience they receive, the more likely they are to remain gym members.

A smart, thoughtful, cleverly designed onboarding process is crucial to ensure member loyalty, just as a poor, badly planned onboarding process can lead customers to terminate their membership.

Onboarding is also known as ‘organizational socialization.’ In short, it is the process by which a person acquires information, knowledge, and skills as well as learning appropriate behaviours to become an ‘effective organisational member.’ When applied to the gym member onboarding process, this is the way that a new member becomes familiar with the gym’s facilities, equipment, and processes via different interactions and experiences. Done well, and this process will positively change a member’s behaviour and attitude towards working out, as well as developing a positive relationship with staff, the gym, and the brand. 

So why does good onboarding help with member retention?

An excellent first impression will last. From the moment a new member walks through the door and is greeted by reception staff to how much they enjoy the facilities, the quality of their workout, the options for exercise available, and how they are treated by staff all form an opinion of the gym. If overall the member finds the experience positive and enjoyable, the benefits of continuing as a member will far outweigh the expense and effort, and therefore that new member will turn into a loyal customer – providing the balance remains tipped this way. 

How can gyms improve the onboarding experience for their customers? 

In a survey taken by the American Society for Quality Control, results showed that the number one reason why companies lose customers is down to an attitude of indifference on the part of an employee. This demonstrates the importance of building customer relationships, of getting to know your members, of showing that you have a genuine interest in their health and wellbeing and that you and your teams want to make their customer experience the very best it can be from start to finish. 

Your gym’s USP might be state of the art equipment or offering the cheapest and most flexible deals, but without providing an excellent level of customer service, this may not matter. 

By considering every aspect of the customer experience, particularly during the onboarding process, clubs can hope to provide a seamless journey that allows them to make the most of the gym and enjoy their visits time and time again. They will have certain expectations, and particular needs, and the more these are being met or surpassed effortlessly, the more likely a gym is to retain that member going forward.

Onboarding

Points to consider include:

Function – does the gym meet the customer’s needs? This encompasses everything from changing room and locker facilities to the provision of refreshments and training classes and equipment. 

Accessibility – how easy is it for members to do what they want to do at the club? Be that finding their way around, getting information, or having flexibility within their membership?

Emotional connection – do customers feel valued and respected? Do they think staff care about them as individuals?

If a gym can better understand a member’s expectations of the club, as well as their interests, the goals and so on, that they can provide an onboarding journey that meets and surpasses them. It is through research and listening to customers that gyms can discover what is important to their customers and identify opportunities to provide them with satisfactory solutions and improve their service to align with customer’s needs and desires.

Simple onboarding tips to improve retention

Talk to members about their fitness goals and help them to devise a plan that will help them achieve these goals. Create both short term and long term plans, so after they have finished their initiation, they still feel as though the gym is guiding and supporting them.

Train staff to greet each member personally, and take time to engage with them to develop strong connections and a social atmosphere. 

Encourage a high frequency of visits. Attendance and retention are linked, and the more frequently a member visits the gym, the more likely they are to perceive value from their membership investment. 

Manage expectations. The more information you can give members during the onboarding process, the better. If a member knows what to expect from the gym, they are less likely to feel disappointed when something they might have taken as a given is not a possibility. If a class always gets booked up in advance, for example, let them know this so they can decide whether that is important to them, rather than not letting them know and then risking disappointment or frustration after they have joined. 

Provide incentives. Providing members with time-bound incentives can encourage them to continue attending the gym and will create a sense of urgency to do so. Anything from free PT sessions to vouchers in the cafe can help provide instant value and create a good first impression. 

Track their engagement. Make sure that you have the tools in place to track member behaviour from the moment they join. Being able to use data collected and ascertain how engaged your members are will help you to identify when they are becoming at-risk and allow for intervention before the member is lost.

Follow up regularly. Don’t let a member feel as though they are no longer important to you. Make sure staff members follow up after the first 30, 60, and 90 days. Send induction emails and congratulatory emails when they have completed their first class, let them know of any discount, offers, or new classes – keep communicating and keep them engaged

Ask for feedback. Remember, as part of your onboarding process you can ask new members what they liked, and where there is room for improvement. Take feedback seriously and act on it to demonstrate to customers that they are at the heart of everything you do. 

As Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos succinctly puts it:

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

An onboarding process should be designed to educate, engage and entice new members so that they not only understand where to go and what to do at the gym but also start to build positive relationships with your team and fellow members, and provide them with excellent reasons to keep coming back time and time again.

To learn more about our powerful AI-driven retention tool, book a demo today.

August 15, 2019 Beth Cadman

Identify Your Loyal Customers To Increase Retention

Identify Your Loyal Customers To Increase Retention

Loyal customers can help to increase gym member retention. So gym owners should not only learn how to identify them but also discover what they can do to encourage more customers to become loyal to their brand. 

Loyal customers not only stick with your brand, but they can also help drive growth by recommending others and creating a positive buzz about your business. All business know that, providing an excellent service that meets the needs and exceeds the expectations of their customers will help create customer loyalty and thus increase retention rates. But are gym owners doing enough to ensure they recognise their loyal customers and work hard to keep them that way?

How can you identify a loyal customer?

They spend more

A loyal customer is invested in your brand and because they believe in what you are selling, they’re happy to part with their hard-earned cash to get more of it. In terms of gym members, this could be by paying extra for a more premium membership or an extra class or spending more in your cafe, indicating that they like to socialise at the gym and spend their leisure time there as well as working out. If you have merchandise or an onsite shop, a loyal customer might make several purchases here too. The more they buy from you, the bigger the indication of the strength of their loyalty, because they believe what you offer is the best quality and they trust you not to let them down. 

They’re frequent attendees

It may sound obvious but it’s important to mention that your loyal customers are likely to be the ones who show up more. Pay attention to how frequently and how long your members turn up and work out for to get a clearer picture of those members who are motivated and happy with the service, and are getting the most ‘bang for their buck’ – compared with those who may feel demotivated, that they are wasting their money and therefore be at risk of quitting the gym. 

Businesses should use the Recency, Frequency, Monetary (RFM) Value which suggests that loyal customers can be identified by how recently a customer makes a purchase, how often they do so, and how much they are willing to spend.

They get involved

If you set up a social event, host a competition or send out a discount or offer, your loyal customer is the one who is first to respond, apply, enter and share it. A loyal customer has a genuine connection with your business and so when they receive offers or hear from you they are happy to get involved and take part.

Training

They advocate for you

One of the most obvious ways gym owners can identify loyal customers is by what they are saying about the gym when their backs are turned! It might be that they mention the gym on social media. Even if they are mainly talking about their workout, this demonstrates that they are proud of what they are achieving, and seeing the results they hoped for. Referring a friend and giving recommendations is also a clear sign that your member is impressed with the service.  

They give testimonials and reviews

As well as word of mouth marketing, loyal customers are more than happy to give you positive testimonials and reviews. Remember, it is far more likely that a customer who has had a bad experience will speak up, where satisfied customers tend not to say anything. So, if you are receiving positive reviews from gym members, this suggests they are so impressed with your service that they are motivated to act and let others know.

They associate themselves with your brand

Loyal customers are proud of the brands that they have an affiliation with. They view them in such a positive light that they actively want others to know about their connection. In this way, the brand becomes tied to their identity. An example of this could be, wearing a branded t-shirt and taking a picture to post it on social media. The brand becomes part of their journey, their life story and therefore loyalty increases and intensifies as time goes on.

So what can gym owners do to improve customer loyalty and, therefore, retention rates?

Pay attention to your Net Promotor Score

The Net Promotor Score is a key indication of customer loyalty and demonstrates that by anticipating customer needs, taking proactive communication and personalising interactions across all touchpoints in a customers journey can help to encourage customers to become more committed to your brand. 

Know your touchpoints

Paying attention to touchpoints where a negative/positive attitude or emotion as a reaction to a particular experience could affect the customer’s thinking/relationship/ or behaviour towards the gym is imperative.

Gym owners will benefit from mapping out the customer journey from when they first decide they want to join a gym through to the onboarding process and then their continued usage. At each stage of the journey customers will have particular needs and expectations that are either met or not met and this will affect their attitude towards the brand and whether they will continue to be loyal to it, or go elsewhere. 

However, analysis has shown that some touchpoints have a greater effect on whether a customer will become loyal or dissatisfied. Consulting Partner for Keepme, Jon Nasta, breaks these down into three distinct categories:

Barriers – the minimum expectations of a customer, which if performed poorly, could lead to a customer walking away, but if performed well won’t have any particular effect on customer loyalty.

Examples include:

Clean bathrooms

Working equipment

Delighters – the ‘wow factors,’ the USPs, the things that surprise and delight a customer that they weren’t expecting but encourage positive connections and have a significant impact on customer loyalty.

Examples include: 

Freebies

Discounts

Friendliness and helpfulness of staff members

Key drivers – how well the gym delivers the core elements of the business. If key drivers are performed well they can positively impact customer loyalty and retention rates. If performed badly they will have the opposite effect. 

Examples include:

How easy it is to work machines

How exercise classes are run

It is necessary for gym owners to be aware of what their customer’s minimum expectations are to ensure that all new members aren’t immediately so disappointed that they walk away. Factors such as a gym having poor changing room facilities or not enough machines to workout or exercise classes being cancelled or starting late could be barriers that see retention rates plummet. 

Jon goes on to say, “knowing what your customers are telling others about their experience with your business as opposed to what you think you are delivering through your customer experience is the difference between a decent business and a good business. Understanding what your happiest customers are getting from your business is the key that will take you from a  good business to a booming business that has the potential to grow further than you ever thought possible.”

Rating

Spending time identifying what could make your gym stand out, and what wow factors you could provide, can also have an important influence on customer loyalty. A creche, free post-workout smoothies, a customer loyalty programme, tester personal training sessions and so on could help to see customers feel valued, surprised and delighted with the service you offer.

Of course, on the flip side, it is important to be aware that by neglecting your customers, not meeting their expectations and providing a substandard service you could not only be at risk of losing that customer, but also them damaging your brand by leaving negative reviews. So it is through a combination of taking the time not only to encourage more loyal customers but to ensure that no customer gains an unfavourable impression of your business that you will see retention rates increase. 

Encouraging customer loyalty is more than just focusing on customer satisfaction –  it’s more like solidifying customer commitment, and by focusing on building a retention strategy that turns everyday customers into committed, motivated, positive ones can help to increase the number of loyal customers thus improving retention rates and encouraging business growth simultaneously.

If you want to learn more about our smart AI-powered retention tool that could keep your retention rates high, why not book a demo today?

August 8, 2019 Beth Cadman

Can Personal Fitness Challenges Improve Retention?

Can Personal Fitness Challenges Improve Retention

Encouraging gym members to set personal fitness challenges can have a positive impact on member retention. Improving health and fitness is one of the most cited reasons people decide to join the gym. However, regardless of good intentions, according to the Fitness Industry Association, most people who sign up to the gym have quit or stopped going after 24 weeks. 

Encouraging gym members, therefore, to not only set goals and push themselves to achieve new levels of fitness but to stick to and surpass these goals, can be key to increasing member retention rates.

When a new member joins the gym, it is vital to capture their motivation for doing so. Make sure you identify each specific goal and encourage them to apply the SMART method of thinking to their fitness aims. That is, they should be:

Specific – ask your members to be detailed. ‘I want to lose a stone,’ for example, is better than ‘I want to lose weight.’

Measurable – fitness goals should be quantifiable. This could be in terms of weight loss, lowering BP, being able to run a certain distance within a certain time and so on.

Ambitious – encourage members to set ambitious goals, if they make them too easy they won’t get the satisfaction necessary to motivate them to remain gym members.

Realistic – at the same time carefully manage members expectations of themselves. If they aspire to unrealistic targets they are setting themselves up for failure and will find it difficult to succeed which could lead to feeling demotivated and disengaged.

Time-Bound – setting deadlines for goals creates a sense of urgency and will encourage members to return to the gym frequently.

By capturing a members personal fitness goals, your gym staff can devise a personalised plan to help them achieve them – simultaneously keeping them on the right track and sustaining a positive relationship with exercise but also showing individual members that you care about what they care about and are here to help, encourage and support them. 

By focusing retention efforts on the “net growth” of the exerciser through the delivery of personalised workouts and management of their workouts, and by encouraging their efforts and rewarding improvement in an exerciser’s relationship with exercise, the gym can improve exponentially.

Personalising fitness challenges for individual members allows you to gain better insight into their behaviour too. Collecting data in this way can help gyms identify at-risk members and ensure that they intervene if a member becomes dissatisfied with their progress or the service that the gym provides.

Feedback

Communication is key

While the majority of gyms as a minimum try to capture a member’s fitness goals and devise a plan for them during the onboarding process, what many fail to do is to take it upon themselves to monitor a member’s progress towards their goals, and to offer assistance if data reveals that they are not able to hit their targets. Not only that, but monitoring member behaviour in this way can also help gyms ascertain when goals have been achieved and intervene at this stage to help members design new personal fitness challenges to ensure their continued engagement and perceived value of the gym.

Setting personal fitness challenges to keep engagement and retention high

While fitness challenges can be set on a very individual and personal level, owners may also consider how to provide broader group fitness challenges that could appeal to a wide spectrum of members, and encourage them to develop a deeper connection with and loyalty to the gym.

Setting fitness challenges could take many different forms. For example, you could employ the use of wearables and set up competitions via an app. You could set leaderboards in the gym displaying members’ best times. You might consider setting up specific fitness challenges relating to a particular class or create group challenges to encourage member interaction. Equipment that stores information giving users a breakdown of their personal bests and encouraging them to do better could be the motivation required to keep members returning to the gym as well as feeling as though they are part of a wider community. 

Fitness challenges are:

Social – members who feel as though they are part of a community, and who regard coming to the gym as a fun and social experience are more likely to remain gym members. 

Rewarding – the ability to monitor one’s progress, to achieve predetermined goals and to set new ones provides satisfaction and motivation to continue.

Competitive – healthy, friendly competition can help inspire members to push themselves harder, thus increasing the likelihood of them achieving what they set out to achieve. Competition between members as well as competition with the self can both have a positive effect and therefore help to increase engagement and lower churn rate.

Aspirational – visualising what you hope to become, or seeing others push themselves or challenge themselves can be aspirational and help demotivated members to refocus and work harder to achieve the same level of health and fitness. 

There is no denying the psychology behind goal setting, with those who take the time to set goals for themselves more likely to obtain higher levels of achievement. If a gym member feels as though they are making progress and moving forward towards a fitter, healthier, better-looking version of themselves, they are more likely to consider the gym as an effective and valuable organisation that brings great benefits and positives to their life. 

Encouraging fitness challenges is an effective and strategic method which can be employed in a number of ways to help individual members feel connected to and engaged with the gym, and therefore increase member retention.

If you want to learn how to capture and use member data more effectively book a demo of our powerful retention tool here.

August 1, 2019 Beth Cadman

The Importance Of Staying In Touch With Members

The Importance Of Staying In Touch With Members

Staying in touch with gym members has a significant impact on retention, and excellent communication can strengthen customer relationships, compliment marketing efforts, and boost your brand.

Every successful business is driven to grow, expand, and become more profitable, and gyms are no exception. However, retaining members is one of the biggest challenges they must face and an obstacle which can cause significant problems when trying to achieve such an aim.

One of the most important lessons any business can learn is: “Look after your existing customers, and the business will look after itself.” It doesn’t take a genius to work out that by keeping your current members happy, you have, and will continue to have a solid customer base from which to grow. In fact, just a 5% increase in retention can increase a businesses profit by 95%.

Because of this, when each new member comes on board, this should set in motion a long-term plan to ensure that their needs and expectations and observed and met to secure their continued custom. Many factors that affect customer satisfaction and can change a customer from satisfied and motivated to upset and at risk of ending their membership. Communication is one of the most important.

Communication – a key driver in keeping member retention high

Your customers are your business’s most valuable assets and should be treated accordingly. By staying in touch with your customers, you are making sure that they know it, and if a customer feels valued, they are more likely to remain loyal to the business

By communicating regularly with your customers, you are:

Keeping your brand in their minds

According to a Bain & Company study, 60-80% of customers who describe themselves as satisfied do not go back to do more business with the company that initially satisfied them. Why is that?

More often than not, it is down to poor communication. If you do not make an effort to connect with customers, it is easy for them to forget about you. For gyms, this plays out slightly differently, but the principle is the same. If a person joins the gym and over time begins to attend workout sessions and classes less and less, without communication from the gym, it is easy for them to continue to lose motivation, until they eventually forget about it altogether.

This can be true of both face to face and other types of communication. A member who receives a warm welcome from a receptionist who knows them by name is more likely to feel valued and as though their experience is personalised than one who does not. Similarly, a member who receives an email or social media notification with motivational content or discounts and offers for new classes may be inspired to start working out more regularly again.

Members

Enhancing word of mouth marketing

Staying in touch with customers can also help to encourage members who are impressed with the service you offer to like posts, to engage with you and form a connection and to share content and information that could lead to new referrals. Word of mouth marketing is extremely powerful, with a massive 90% of consumers believing brand recommendations from friends, and the better the engagement you have with members, the higher your retention rates will be

This means that operators could be missing a trick if they aren’t putting out regular forms of content via different communication platforms to not only strengthen their connection with existing customers but reach out to new ones too. 

Building a relationship

Building relationships with customers on an individual level is essential. If customers feel a connection to the brand, if they feel a sense of community, of belonging, as though they are treated like dear friends, they’ll turn into customers for life. Customers are bombarded with choices, and your gym members are likely to have their heads turned by other gyms marketing efforts. By staying in touch with your members and continuing to build a relationship with them, even if a rival offer is tempting, they’ll be more likely to remain loyal to you.

Advances in technology mean there is no excuse for gym owners not to have a strategy in place that identifies how each member likes to be communicated with, what kinds of things they want to hear about, and ensure that they are fed such communications regularly. 

Anticipating customer needs

The better you stay in touch and communicate with your customers, the more you will get to know them, and in doing so will be able to anticipate their needs, desires, challenges, and problems and address all of these accordingly. Regular communication gives you data to work with. If you aren’t sure how a customer feels about your service, ask them. You can measure whether emails are opened, whether responses are made, whether members subscribe to email lists, whether they like or share your social media posts, whether they take advantage of offers, refer friends, complete surveys, answer questions. All this data can feed your retention strategy and help to build a better customer experience on a uniquely personal level. 

Winning back at-risk members through excellent communication

Keeping in touch with members also helps you to identify those who are at-risk, and can even help you win back members who have set in motion cancelling their contract.

Through smart communication, you can find out why customers want to leave, identify warning signs that make customers at-risk of leaving and make relevant offers to help dissuade them from doing so. Offers such as putting their membership on hold if they go travelling or can’t afford it, or taking any complaints or points of dissatisfaction on board and explaining precisely when these issues will be resolved could help to turn an at-risk member into one who feels appreciated and satisfied and loyal to your brand. 

Gyms should not bargain on customer loyalty, instead, they need to focus on building and nurturing relationships through personalised, targeted communication. By creating a communication strategy that is triggered as soon as a member joins the gym, owners can not only begin to capture data about that customer from the outset but also start to forge a robust and lasting connection with them that will leave the customer feeling satisfied, valued and appreciated. Staying in touch with customers leads to a mutually beneficial relationship where gyms can benefit from a cohort of loyal members and a foundation of revenue that is predictable and secure from which they can continue to grow. 

Looking for a smart, AI-powered tool to help you better communicate with your customers and keep retention rates high? Keepme can help. Book a demo to see how today.