September 26, 2019 Beth Cadman

Why Building Relationships With Members Matters

Why Building Relationships With Members Matters

Encouraging fitness staff to build positive customer relationships with gym members can have a significant impact on member retention.

All smart business owners agree that building relationships is crucial when it comes to attracting and retaining new customers. For gym owners, this has never been more pertinent, and with competition fiercer than ever, they cannot afford to lose customers to competitors because of poor customer experience.

If a member feels emotionally connected to the gym, if they feel as though they are part of a community, and going to the gym is a positive and social experience, they are much less likely to cancel their membership or be swayed by a competitor’s more attractive offer. 

Member retention – communication is key

Building robust and lasting relationships between members and fitness staff and demonstrates that nothing quite beats the human touch to increase emotional engagement and brand loyalty. 

It is up to the employees of the gym who interact with members on a daily basis to ensure that their experience is a positive one, that they are satisfied with the service they receive, that they are provided with opportunities to socialise and make friends and that they are hitting their fitness goals, and making new ones when they do.

While data can be captured when members join a gym or through routine surveys or even via social listening, the information that those members of staff who walk the floor and who are communicating with customers can provide is enormously valuable and shouldn’t be overlooked when trying to devise a smart member retention strategy. 

In fact, a TRP study found that the most effective salespeople are the fitness staff themselves, revealing that fitness-staff members can generate 600% more income per member than salespeople alone. The study also determined that frequent interaction between staff and gym members has a direct impact on how often members frequent the gym and how likely they are to renew their memberships when they come to an end. 

If fitness staff are briefed on how to approach members, what the right questions are to ask to generate meaningful and valuable feedback, and are able to engage in positive and motivational dialogue with members consistently, they will make them feel valued, heard and motivated. This positive messaging, delivered face to face can have a massive impact on how a member views their gym sessions, their overall experience of dealing with the company, and can even inspire them to share their positive experience thus strengthening trust and creating a better impression of the brand which will, in turn, increase brand loyalty and impress new potential members simultaneously. 

Excellent customer relationships mean increased customer loyalty

Developing a meaningful client base is imperative if gym owners hope to see retention rates improve. Recent studies have placed emphasis on the vital relationship between customer satisfaction and retention and how important retention is for a business’s continued success. It is the role of those who interact with members to seek to understand their concerns, to answer their questions and to build an emotional connection that fosters commitment and loyalty through the development of long term relationships. Cultivating these personal relationships takes time and effort, and it is by providing a unique, tailored experience for each member that meaningful relationships can flourish. It is an ongoing process too, for those that are taken for granted or ignored for too long will quickly deteriorate leaving the neglected member vulnerable and at risk of terminating their membership or being tempted by a hovering competitor

A Walker study revealed that customer experience would likely overtake price and product as the critical brand differentiator as early as next year. Experience can, of course, be related to the products and services offered, but it is also the experience of being at the gym, of how staff members make customers feel from the moment they arrive to the moment that they leave that could have the most significant impact. 

If your gym focuses on building these customer relationships, getting to know your members, and providing a level of customer service that goes beyond the expected, this acts as a point of differentiation between you and your competitors. Therefore, relationship building should be an integral part of any smart retention strategy, and by being dedicated to exceeding expectations and providing unique experiences through strengthening bonds between member, gym and brand, owners can hope to see a rise in loyal, satisfied, spending customers and a subsequent increase in retention rates.

September 20, 2019 Beth Cadman

How Social Media Impacts Your Member Retention

How Social Media Impacts Your Member Retention

The social media efforts of a gym can have a significant impact on customer loyalty, increasing the perception of trustworthiness, creating substantial opportunities for interaction and communication and fostering a sense of belonging and community – all of which have a positive impact on member retention rates.

In the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, there are some interesting statistics which emphasise how critical social media can be for any business. These include:

  • Facebook has 728 million active users daily;
  • 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations;
  • 90% of marketers regularly use Facebook ads;
  • 54% claim that Facebook is the most important network;
  • 46% of online users rely on social media when making a purchase decision;

However, it is essential for those devising retention and marketing strategies to understand how to use social media to ensure that it delivers the most significant impact, and to avoid common pitfalls that businesses can fall into when using social media that can end up doing more harm than good. 

In an interview with the fitness network, Dr. Paul Bedford of Retention Guru suggested we should:

“Embrace social media…there is a huge opportunity for someone to build a sense of community through social media. The fusion of these digital activities with a great culture offline will be a real game-changer for the gym that first gets it right.”

So what are the kinds of things that gyms should be using social media for?

Competitions

Announcing competitions on social media is a great way to engage your members. Offer a valuable prize such as free personal training sessions or a piece of wearable fitness technology, and consider what would be most helpful to try and capture in return. Competition entries could be made in exchange for liking and sharing the post, for follows on social media accounts, or in exchange for contact information, newsletter signups, completing a survey, and so on.

Photos

Encouraging photo sharing on social media is like free marketing for your gym. It boosts the sense of community and connection between members, encourages members to take pride in their workouts and to reach out and support one another by liking each other’s photos.

Events

If you are holding a special event, advertising the introduction of new classes or gym equipment or hosting a fundraising event, social media can be the ideal place to shout about it. Doing so will show members that you care about them and the local community, thus making them feel valued and reminding them that you are the kind of brand whose way of thinking aligns with their own.

People

Starting Conversations

When it comes to fostering customer loyalty, communication is vital, and excellent communication delivers a more positive customer experience, and an enhanced customer experience translates to higher retention rates. Social media platforms can be an excellent place to start conversations. By asking the right questions, you’ll learn more about your customers, their needs and desires and be able to provide valuable answers or let them know that you are listening and intend to take action.

Utilising groups

Social media groups are also useful for starting conversations, for subtle marketing of your business and for finding out more about members attitudes towards working out in general. You can also use groups to ask pertinent questions and discover what would motivate members to continue to exercise, what kinds of things are important to them, and would make them feel loyalty towards a particular brand. 

The benefits of using social media for member retention

By using social media for the above, gym owners can hope to experience a number of significant benefits, all of which help to keep member retention rates high. Such benefits include:

Increased connection

By creating useful, exciting, engaging social media platforms gyms are encouraging members to become connected to the gym. Emotional connection is vital when trying to develop brand loyalty, and the better connected a member feels to the gym and the more positive their experience of the brand, the less likely they are to be tempted elsewhere. In fact IHRSA research stated that “reaching out to a member—whether by phone, email, text, or social media—more than doubles the likelihood that they will be a “promoter” rather than a “detractor.”

Build relationships

The importance of building customer relationships in any successful businesses cannot be underestimated. Using social media to reach out to customers on a personal level and foster these intimate relationships will again help members to feel valued and respected and strengthen their emotional ties to the gym.

Boosts motivation

By using social media platforms to motivate members, you can encourage them to make the most of their memberships. Data suggests that the more a member attends the gym, the more likely they are to keep doing so, so it is well worth investing some time and resources into inspiring members to continue to workout. 

Inspires healthy competition

By encouraging members to post pictures and videos of their workouts, you can also promote a healthy sense of competition. Post stats about the average length of workouts or frequency of visit, or encourage people to post when they have achieved their fitness goals, or to share them in the first place. This can help to catalyse a sense of competition amongst members, which can help to motivate them to continue using the gym. 

Increases reach

Using social media effectively also opens up a much broader opportunity to reach potential new members. All the most prominent social media platforms give you access to handy tools and statistics which means that gyms can create tailored, targeted marketing campaigns and deliver them to particular audiences to ensure that they make the most impact. In order to remain competitive, gyms must take advantage of these analytics to apply fact-based knowledge to leverage social media outreach for fitness brands.

Can be used for social listening

Social media is also helpful to understand what people are saying about your business. By monitoring comment sentiment and mentions of the brand, owners can get a clearer picture of pain points and positives and will have the ability to react more quickly and respond where necessary to limit any damage to the gym’s reputation. 

Using social media intelligently is an essential way for any gym to build up their fitness brand and by doing so and spending increasing amounts of time devising intelligent strategies to use these platforms to greatest effect, gyms can hope to not only reach new customers but strengthen their relationships with existing ones which should have a hugely positive impact on member retention rates.

September 12, 2019 Beth Cadman

Why Brand Partners build Brand Loyalty

Why Brand Partners build Brand Loyalty

Branding partnerships can be an intelligent move for those working on member retention strategies and can turn disengaged members into passionately loyal ones.

When it comes to driving new customers to your business, retaining loyal ones, and securing business growth and success, branding is everything.

With continuously increasing competition, gyms have had to fight harder than ever to attract new customers and hold onto their existing ones. When a customer feels connected to the gym, and believes that they are able to resonate with the brand or they feel that it aligns with their way of thinking, the more likely they are to stay loyal to that gym. The member will then continue to renew their membership and not be swayed by hovering competitors, however tempting an offer they dangle. 

Developing a positive, smart company brand is, therefore, critical. Developing a loyal following of customers can ensure continued success, and boost sales of the associated products and services as well.

According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your current customer base. This means that while focusing efforts on enticing new customers it is crucial to turn the spotlight on those you already have, as continually nurturing that relationship, is going to have a significant impact on your business going forward.

Discovering relevant brand partnerships can help gym owners deliver unique customer experiences, enriching their offering, and surprising the customer in unexpected ways. A successful collaboration will not only help to bring a more satisfying and positive product offering but will also boost the brand by affiliation and give the gym access to a broader customer base who are already primed to become loyal customers due to their association with the partner brand. 

A loyal customer will not only continue to renew their gym membership year upon year; they are also likely to increase their spending if they feel positively towards the brand. In fact, 67% of millennials will spend more with brands they love compared with older shoppers, and with an increase in younger people joining the gym, this statistic is undoubtedly an important consideration to bear in mind. 

Building brand loyalty is an evolving process, and gym owners must be prepared to adapt their strategies according to member data, fitness trends, advances in technology, and impactful events that can change perspectives and attitudes. If a gym wants to build brand loyalty, they must expect to be malleable and flexible and to understand that in the digital age there is a higher demand for more significant benefits, and for those benefits to be immediately available. 

How brand partnerships can boost business equity

A successful brand partnership has numerous positives for the businesses involved, and if utilised effectively, they can:

Increase trust – partnering with a reputable brand gives an impression of being trustworthy. If the partner company is viewed positively and offers excellent customer experiences, this will reflect well on the other brand too.

Provide value: If a gym partners up with a brand that is relevant they will each bring something unique to the table that enhances their customer experience adding intrinsic value to the products and services that each of them provides.

Creates a buzz: If two big-name brands decide to partner together, this usually creates some buzz and excitement in the industry and beyond. This can help businesses reach new customers, promoting awareness, and also opening up PR opportunities that may not have otherwise been available to them.

Brand partnerships and member retention

A significant factor affecting member retention is brand loyalty. If a customer has a positive perception of your brand, they are more likely to develop a sense of dedication and emotional attachment to it. By partnering with another business, gyms should be able to offer an entirely unique customer experience which advances them ahead of their competitors and demonstrates that they are committed to continuing to evolve and improve and provide their customers positive, memorable experiences, thus rewarding them for their continued loyalty and motivating them to remain so. 

Building multiple partnerships is a common feature of big brands’ marketing strategies. The smartest of these think beyond the obvious and instead consider creative, surprising alliances that make them stand out amongst the competition.

British Airways, for example, partnered with The White Company to try to provide an enhanced experience for those who find it difficult to sleep in the sky. Manchester United and Uber also teamed up to create a dedicated ”Uber zone” at Old Trafford helping fans to get to and from matches with ease. Dunkin’ Donuts and Waze were an even more surprising partnership but their offering of giving driving commuters the option to place their Dunkin’ order ahead of time was a clever one, providing something unique and valuable in exchange for downloading the Waze app and becoming a rewards member of Dunkin’ Donuts, of course. 

Data – the key to perfect partnerships 

Using member data to understand the current reach of your brand and where that reach falls short can help gyms ensure that they pick a brand partner that can reach the gaps they want to fill. If those in charge of the marketing strategy understand how to expand the reach in a measured and targeted way, the partnership is likely to be much more successful as it will be relevant and more natural to integrate. Picking a brand with common goals and values and making sure that agendas align is, of course, crucial to ensure that the partnership is valid. 

Considering how members are engaged through CRM and assessing the popularity of the brand partner on social media and other platforms can also determine whether a collaboration will be beneficial. It may be that a potential partner has an influence on platforms where you do not, or that they have had success in areas and through marketing campaigns in the past that would address specific problems and challenges that gym members currently face. 

Tackling member retention battle

Gyms have been facing an increasingly severe retention battle for many years now. Genuine and considered brand partnerships can undoubtedly be an impactful way to increase engagement overall and turn members into fiercely loyal customers. By building meaningful connections and collaborating with impressive partners, gym owners can hope to excite and inspire their members, thus influencing them to remain faithful both now and in the future.

September 5, 2019 Beth Cadman

What Are The Warning Signs of At-Risk Members?

What Are The Warning Signs of At-Risk Members?

Recognising the warning signs that indicate a member is at risk can help gym owners step in before it is too late, thus improving their retention rates.

Turning new gym members into loyal customers is a huge challenge for any gym, and seeing those churn rates increase no matter what you do can feel frustrating and make the future of your business seem uncertain. In fact, a study of behavioral statistics in the US by The Good Body found that 50% of the people starting an exercise program will drop out in their first six months. The ability, therefore, to identify when a member is becoming or has become at risk can have a significant and positive impact on member retention rates, as doing so gives gyms time to implement an effective strategy to re-engage those members and prevent them from terminating their membership.

So what are the warning signs that might indicate a member is at-risk?

1. A decline in attendance

If a previously frequent attendee starts skipping their workouts and you can see they are no longer following their usual routine, this could indicate that they are becoming disengaged with the gym or have found an alternative fitness regime elsewhere.

2. Increased dissatisfaction

If a customer starts to complain either to a member of staff or via telephone or email, they may be contemplating leaving the gym. 

Training staff to be alert to complaints and to make a note of these can help gyms ascertain whether they are no longer meeting their customer’s needs. 

3. Their workout partner leaves the gym

If a member usually attends with a friend or joins the gym with a partner and that friend or partner leaves, this should automatically ring warning bells and flag up that member as at-risk too. 

Customers tend to listen to their friend’s opinions over any type of marketing, so if one goes, the other could be on their way out too.

4. An inability to hit pre-defined fitness goals

If a member feels as though their workouts aren’t working, they aren’t going to feel the benefit of coming to the gym. Making sure you capture each members fitness goals when they join and monitoring their progress will ensure you can flag up any members who are struggling. 

5. A change in routine

A change in routine could suggest a member is less dedicated to their workouts, is dissatisfied with the facilities or is having to wait to use certain equipment – all of which could point to them becoming at-risk.

6. Missed or late payments

If a member misses a payment or starts to pay late, they could be struggling to afford their gym membership. Most view their membership as a non-essential item, and therefore it could be the first to be cut if the purse strings are in need of pulling a little tighter.

7. A change of address

If a member changes their details and they have moved further away from the gym, this could be a warning sign as what was once a convenient location becomes less so. 

Membership Focus

So how can gyms address these warning signs? 

1. Inspire attendance

Remind members why they joined the gym in the first place. Send aspirational emails that encourage fitness and health. A member may feel disengaged, but by providing motivation and inspiration, they might feel encouraged to stick at it.

2. Ask for and act upon feedback

Businesses tend to hear only 4% from customers, the other 96% will just leave. That’s why it is essential to ask for feedback from gym members.

If a customer complains or expresses dissatisfaction it is important to take this seriously. By listening to customer feedback and acting to make improvements, you demonstrate that you care, and this can help customers to feel valued. 

3. Encourage member socialisation

The more engaged a member feels with the gym, the less likely they are to leave. Encourage inter-member socialisation and train staff to be warm, welcoming, and friendly to each member and treat them as an individual. Offering a group fitness class can also improve retention as members tend to visit their facility specifically to engage in group classes.

If at-risk members feel as though they are part of a community and associate the gym with having fun and being social, they will be less likely to leave.

4. Adjust their fitness plan

If a member feels as though they aren’t achieving their fitness goals they may wish to cancel their membership. Turn this around by offering a PT session and assessment to help them manage their expectations but also to reach their goals faster.

5. Assess facilities

If your gym has become more crowded or some facilities need fixing or replacing, make sure that you manage this and fix any broken machines or other equipment to ensure continued member satisfaction.

6. Offer discounts

If a customer no longer feels that the expense of the gym matches the value, they may be tempted to cancel their membership. It could be that they have had to reduce their spending and see the gym membership as an inessential spend. Offering discounts and free classes may help them to feel as though it is worth it once more.

7. Incentivise and encourage brand loyalty

While some membership terminations are unavoidable if gyms work hard to incentivise their members to continue to use their facilities over a competitor they can keep retention rates high. By offering excellent customer service and value, they may be able to retain those customers who are considering leaving the gym for reasons of convenience as it will be worth the extra effort to stick with the brand and service they love.

By recognising the signs that a member is no longer enjoying their membership, it is possible to intervene and change that customer’s perspective. If gyms make sure that they have the tools in place to capture customer data and monitor customer behaviour, they can ensure that they will be able to identify at-risk members and do something about it before it is too late. 

If you want to easily identify at-risk members, our AI-powered retention tool can help you capture data the smart way.