January 30, 2020 Danni Poulton

Fitness trend predictions (and what this means for your retention)

As 2020 gets under way, it’s time to look forward to the year ahead and what it holds for the fitness industry. Let’s take a look at some fitness trends predicted to dominate 2020 and what this means for your retention strategy.

Fitness trends (and fads) in 2020

A global study of fitness trends carried out by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) looked at how the world of exercise will look in 2020. They point out that there is a difference between a trend and a fad. A fitness fad is a momentary exercise fashion that is taken up enthusiastically, but only for a brief period. By contrast, a fitness trend is a general change in the way people engage with exercise.

It’s important to understand the difference between a fitness trend and a fad. This is because gym retention is a long term process that you need to invest in… sudden fads that come and go are likely to make for rocky retention metrics as fads come and go rapidly. Whereas if you understand the trends that are emerging in the world of exercise you can make informed decisions about what people want from their gym experience and steer your facility in the direction of positive retention and growth.

The top five fitness trends for 2020 detailed by the ACSM are wearable technology, HIIT, group training, free weight training, and personal training.

Whilst the list contains some old favourites like exercising for weight loss and yoga, it’s also worth noting the rise in interest in exercise for older adults. This is interesting when you consider that the age group most inclined to attend traditional gyms is the 35-54 range. A trend towards older people participating in exercise opens up new possibilities for member acquisition and presents its own challenges in terms of maintaining retention amongst older members. 

Now let’s take a look at 3 crucial trends that we think are important when it comes to improving member retention.

Fitness trend focus #1: wearable tech

It’s interesting that the top trend according to the ACSM study of thousands of fitness professionals is for wearable tech. In the US, wearables were the biggest growth factor in the fitness industry in 2019, accounting for a market volume of $14,528 out of a total volume of $16,837. That means wearables accounted for 86% of all fitness market value in the US in 2019.

When people go to the gym they have certain expectations of what it will be like. If those expectations are not met, they are likely to be disillusioned and become a retention risk. Forward thinking gyms are the ones that are embracing the trend for wearable tech that we will likely see grow in 2020. 

Wearables help members track their exercise metrics, making it easier for them to reach the results they want whilst getting constant reinforcement from seeing those metrics move ever closer towards their goals. This can be great when combined with personal trainers because  wearables are a great ‘hook’ to keep people motivated and can help them see the value of their exercise program. All this is likely to keep them coming back for more.

Fitness trend focus #2: flexible memberships

As the rigid world of the 9-5 slowly starts to melt away there has been an increased focus on flexibility in the working day. This has translated into a trend for flexible gym memberships as gym-goers seek to fit their exercise around a much more fluid world of work.

One way we can measure the trend for flexible membership is through the growth of ClassPass, an app that helps users access fitness classes for any studio on its extensive network of facilities. So far, Classpass has facilitated over 60 million fitness reservations, and has partnered with over 12,000 studios.

Increased flexibility such as that offered by Classpass can be a big challenge when it comes to improving gym member retention. It means you have to work harder to keep your members happy, or they’ll bounce. Fortunately, it’s becoming much easier to improve retention with automated retention software like KeepMe that helps focus on members who are likely to leave without appropriate care and attention. 

Fitness trend focus # 3: group training

 Group training is listed at the top 3 exercise trend for 2020 according to the ACSM.

This is really good news for all gym owners who understand the importance of improving member retention. Research shows that people who work out as part of a group and who have lots of human contact are much more likely to stay with your gym longterm. 

Gyms need to make sure their group fitness offerings are up to scratch, and offer enough variety to have broad appeal with their membership. It’s a good idea to stay in touch with your members and run surveys to find out what members like about your group exercise offerings… and what they don’t.

If you want to see how AI retention software can get your retention levels trending in a positive direction, book a free tour of KeepMe today.

With retention software like Keepme you can automate member communication so that you can target people who do group exercise so that a member enrolled in Zumba classes isn’t being asked about their experience with the water aerobics class and so on.

Getting a grip on your member metrics is very important. For example, some people are quite content to work out on their own, and can be left to get on with things by themselves. But for others working out alone they may be demoralised and likely to quit. Using our automated retention software you can find out if a member is a retention risk or not, and direct your communications and member outreach accordingly. You can use this approach to encourage people to take up group exercise who would most benefit from working out with other people.

January 23, 2020 Danni Poulton

How to keep new members engaged beyond the New Year

It’s January, which means a fresh influx of new members to your gym. Whilst this is a bumper time for most gyms, it’s important to minimise the churn that usually follows such a high volume of recruits (let’s call it ‘New Years Resolution Syndrome’). Let’s take a look at some ways you can keep your new members engaged with your gym in 2020.

When all is said and done, it’s the way you treat your members that will most influence the likelihood that they will stick with your gym. Many gyms take a long time to work out the best way to treat their members, and many don’t have the strategy and resources to do this. Fortunately, thanks to automated member retention software like KeepMe it’s never been easier to treat your members well. Here’s our no nonsense guide to treating your members right from the start…

Start as you mean to go on

It’s time to cut to the chase; the secret to improving member retention is mastering gym membership data.

You can’t improve gym retention by playing a guessing game, you have to be mining your member data for insights into building a retention strategy that works for your gym. Too many gyms focus on member data after the fact. Trying to make sense of a member’s journey when they’ve been with your gym for a while is going to cause you problems, as months and even weeks can make a difference as to whether you turn a member’s retention prospects around.

So, as with all things in life, you need to start as you mean to go on, collecting, analysing and acting on member data from the beginning.

One way you can do this is having a single member retention software with which you monitor retention data.

This needs to be connected up to your member outreach processes so you can directly act on the intelligence you get from your retention data. 

The new signup journey

Gyms need to understand and monitor the customer journey that your gym members go through. This starts from when people first sign up a new member.

It’s important that you have a solid member onboarding process to maximize the possibility for making your members feel at home in your gym, and be empowered to make the most out of their gym experience.

When onboarding new members keep track of demographic details such as age, gender, location and so on. The more detailed the data the greater the retention snapshot you’ll get of each member. You can then use this data to track retention levels and engage with at-risk members before they are beyond saving (KeepMe designates ‘high risk’ members as those who are likely to cancel if you interact with them, whereas ‘moderate risk’ members are open to positive interactions to turn their retention prospects around).

The first few months of a new gym membership are normally a kind of ‘honeymoon’ period in which your member is motivated to attend the gym. But after this grace period it’s possible that their attendance will start to slip and they could become a retention risk.

Use member retention software to treat your members right

There are two essential components to treating new signups in the right way: understanding the importance of building customer relationships, and having a laser focus on improving member retention. 

In fact, you need to do both if you want to do either!

Building effective member retention strategies is a complex matter, so it’s vital that you simplify things by using AI software to make sense of all this complexity.

For example, KeepMe has an ‘On-Site’ mobile app that means you can find out when an at-risk member is at one of your gyms. The app helps you direct your floor staff to interact with them. One-on-one staff-member interactions are a strong way to improve member retention, and they increase the chances that your members will come back for more. 

Keepme can also be used to automate member communications. For example, you can schedule a NPS survey to be sent out every 90 days (frequent enough to track progress, but not too frequent to annoy people). This will help you track how positively (or negatively) your members view your gym. This gives you a chance to win back people who have issues with your gym, and enroll promoters into your referral schemes

We hope January is a fantastic time for new gym sign-ups at your gym, and that some of the tips we’ve talked about in this post can be put to use to keep new members sticking with your gym for the long run. You can see KeepMe’s AI retention software in action by booking a free demo today to see how it can improve your gym’s retention levels.

January 16, 2020 Beth Cadman

Building Gym Member Retention from the New Year’s Rush

January can be the busiest time for gyms as new members flock to join. By preparing for this influx of new customers and adapting your retention strategy to care for both them and your existing members, you can hope to prosper in the new year!

The new year brings with it many things. It is a time for fresh starts, a time to reassess, and a time to set new goals. This is true not just for individuals but for businesses as well. The beginning of 2020 is the perfect time for gym operators to evaluate their performance over the past twelve months and consider how they can celebrate highs, learn from the lows, and move forward with a smart, effective retention strategy for the new year that will see their facility prosper.

Why do so many gym members join in January?

As we’ve mentioned, the new year is all about fresh starts. It’s about taking stock and then creating a better, brighter, more brilliant version of yourself in the year to come. Getting fit and healthy and losing excess weight is a massive motivator, especially after the indulgences that tend to go hand in hand with the festive season. 

In a survey conducted by NPR and The Marist Poll , 44 percent of the 1,075 American adults asked said they were likely to make a New Year’s resolution, and the most common resolutions are around getting healthier and losing weight. However, despite the high number of people making resolutions, about 80% will fail within the first 30 days – which is why people joining and then quickly leaving the gym around this time of year is so common.

What factors influence member retention rates in the New Year (for better or worse?)

The weather 

In the UK, the weather during January is usually pretty abysmal. If we’re lucky, we might get a flurry of pretty winter snow, that has everyone giddy on mulled wine and building snowmen for 24 hours. Still, the reality is we can probably hope for nothing better than freezing temperatures and grey skies. This has both advantages and disadvantages for gym owners. Bad weather means that people are on the lookout for indoor activities, and working out is one of them. However, bad weather can also mean that people don’t much like leaving their houses at all, so your new gym members must feel motivated enough to head out in the dark and the cold before they lose motivation and have the potential to churn. On the other side of the world, of course, the opposite is true. Places such as Australia are scorching at this time of year, and the desire to get beach body ready could see members flocking to the gym. On the flip side, however, many may ditch their memberships in favour of outdoor pursuits. Changing the seasons can affect member retention and is something that operators need to factor into their marketing efforts. 

Bank balances

Another important consideration is how the festive period could affect the perceived value of a gym membership at this time of year. For existing members, they may have resolutions to cut back, to save for a particular event, or to be more frugal with their money this year. If they are not fully engaged with the gym and do not perceive the value of their membership to be worth the spend, this could be one of the first things to make the cut. 

Conversely, those who are feeling more abundant in the New Year because of financial gifts might decide to splurge on a gym membership. Then, later in the year, they could start to feel the tug of their purse strings once more and decide that they can no longer justify paying for their membership.

Neglect

Understandably, gym operators and their teams may find most of their manpower is reserved for new gym members who rush to join the gym during January. However, it is essential to remember that this can have a knock-on effect when it comes to those existing members who may start to feel neglected at this time. If, for example, you roll out special offers and discounted rates to new members to entice them to join, loyal members could feel disgruntled, and this could motivate them to start searching for a better deal elsewhere.

According to the IHRSA, 12% of all new gym memberships occur in January. This signifies the immense potential for gym operators to expand their businesses. However, without considering the reasons why a member might leave or join the gym during this time, this potential can quickly become an opportunity wasted. 

How can gym operators prepare for the January rush?

December is the time to put effective strategies in place to ensure that you are fully prepared for the January rush. By implementing fresh retention efforts now you can go into the New year feeling confident that your existing members aren’t going anywhere, then refine your focus to ensure that the new members you achieve in January also turn into loyal, spending, brand-loving members who never become at-risk.

Smart retention strategies to keep your January gym members for good!

By investing in a smart retention tool, such as KeepMe, you have the immediate ability to identify members who are at risk of leaving your gym. After the dust has settled from the January stampede, you can isolate those members who aren’t committed to the gym, who look as though their motivation is waning before they even know it themselves. This gives you tremendous insight and the ability to communicate effectively by delivering personalised and meaningful engagement at precisely the right time. 

Staff should be prepared to help members meet their goals, offering a welcoming space, excellent facilities, opportunities for feedback, and focus on making every member feel valued. When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. Focus your retention efforts on providing fantastic customer experience and building robust relationships, and members will be less likely to feel as though parting with their hard-earned cash to pay for a gym membership isn’t worth it. 

The new year can be a prosperous time for gym owners. However, it is important not to get a false sense of security. For it is only if the large cohort of members who decide to sign up for the gym in the post-Christmas and New Year rush turn into loyal members, that your recruiting and retention efforts have really paid off.

It is through a combination of smart, effective marketing to your new members, while also continuing to nurture and value your existing ones that gym operators can hope to get this balance right. Teams must be able to send out successful communication that will engage members, motivate them, and ensure their continued membership. Tools like KeepMe are designed to support this work, and by keeping on top of your member data, being alerted to at-risk members, and having the ability to send out automated communications, this process can be streamlined, robust and genuinely useful. 

January 9, 2020 Danni Poulton

What actually is AI?

Ten years ago, if you wanted to measure the retention risks of each of your gym members you would have to employ an entire team of data scientists and analysts. Well you can now do it with one piece of AI membership retention software like KeepMe. 

So, what is AI?

You probably already know that AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. But what is that exactly, and how does it work?

Let’s start with the second part first… “intelligence”. This basically refers to the ability to assess information and make informed decisions based on that assessment. It’s what we humans refer to as “thinking”.

For the longest times mathematicians and scientists have thought hard about the idea that computers can make the kind of smart decisions people make… that’s the “artificial” part of the equation.

Artificial Intelligence was a big topic in the 1950s, but it’s only with relatively recent developments in computing, helped along by the development of the internet and cloud based technology, that big strides have been made in developing AI and making it accessible to all. So much so that AI has become a bit of a catch-all buzzword that’s used so much it loses all meaning. 

So let’s break down the key components of AI, and how it can help with gym retention.

AI is data based

There’s no AI without data. Lots of data. Technological advancements in data collection and handling, alongside a growing expectations from consumers for personalised customer service has put a ton of data at our fingertips. That’s one of the reasons it’s so puzzling when companies don’t make the most of the data by using AI software that’s even better at rapidly analyzing data than humans. And much cheaper too. 

AI is goal focused

Humans are pretty good at generalised thinking, but AI needs to be set predefined goals for it to work. It’s when you tell it to look for patterns in data and take action based on that AI is in its element. AI finds patterns in data and applies a bunch of criteria to solve problems set by the software designer.

AI never sleeps

AI is always working behind the scenes which makes it easy to gain an overview of your retention levels without missing key insights because of inconsistencies in data processing that can arise when you employ humans to crunch your data for you.

How does KeepMe use AI?

KeepMe takes individual gym member data and applies an algorithm to determine their retention level, generating a number called a “KeepMe score”. This shows if a member is likely to leave, could go either way, or is especially loyal and viable to join a member referral scheme.

AI provides crucial insights into which members might leave in a timeframe for you to take effective steps to win those members back. This requires complex data crunching that AI is especially well placed to solve. Then it’s up to your team to put those insights to work.

That said, working out who is at risk of leaving is only one part of what the KeepMe AI does.

You can also plug in a set of conditions that can trigger member outreach tasks such as sending emails, triggering a callback from a member of staff or a number of other actions.

How does the KeepMe AI process member data?

There are various different types of AI, but KeepMe uses a subset of AI called “machine learning”, a term that is becoming increasingly popularised these days. 

Put simply, machine learning is a computer program that can improve itself over time. This means the kind of predictions the KeepMe AI software become smarter as the system has exposure to member data over a period of time.

How are these AI insights presented?

KeepMe takes your member data, applies Machine Learning models to it, and assigns a retention score to each member, as well as an overall member retention score for each gym location.

You can then drill down into this data to get much more specific insights. For example, you can break down your member retention levels by factors such as age, gender, location, pricing plans and more. 

This means you can then take actions that are appropriate for each member or group of members.

For example, if you discover that women have lower retention scores you can reach out to them about group activities that are women-friendly. If you are struggling to retain millennial gym members you can make sure you talk up the experiential aspects of your gym offering and encourage them to get involved with your gym community.

You can find out more about how KeepMe uses AI to help improve gym retention levels by booking a free tour of the software today. It will be tailored to your own fitness facility so you can see exactly how it can help you build member retention strategies that will reduce acquisition costs and transform the retention health of your gym.