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. 

December 12, 2019 Beth Cadman

NPS: Why it matters, who you should send it to, and how do you read the results?

Understanding why NPS could be helpful to your business when to send it, and how to interpret results will help businesses create a powerful action plan and retention strategy to increase customer loyalty, revenue, and business growth.

A Net Promoter Score (NPS) is widely thought of as one of the optimum ways to measure how loyal a customer is to a particular business. The metric was introduced by Fred Reichheld in 1993 and is essentially a single metric that enables companies to ascertain how strong their relationship is with their customers. NPS also allows the operator to identify areas where an operator can improve, therefore bettering their relationship.

An NPS can come in different formats and can be modified to suit different businesses. However, the most important question is one that asks customers to give an overall rating from 1-10 on how likely they are to recommend the company to someone else. Businesses can also include several closed questions and a comment box where customers can write more freely or add specific details to explain their scores or describe their unique customer experience. 

The overall rating reflects how likely customers are to recommend that brand or product to someone else. The closed questions are set to find out more about specific details, some of which may or may not be relevant to that particular customer, but are of interest to the business. The free text box, therefore, is essential, so customers are given the freedom to tell the company what they think and why. 

Why is NPS so important?

Mike O’Connor, the Founder of Service Professionals Network, said of NPS “(It) nurtures growth because it collects detailed customer feedback on experiences. Nobody else is better qualified to tell a brand how they can improve! Using NPS helps any business develop their processes, people, products, pricing, and overall experiences for the long term.”

The NPS format us so useful because it gives businesses precise data on their overall performance in terms of customer loyalty, and by correlating scores given with the freely written responses, companies can get a much better understanding of why any single customer is particularly loyal or disloyal. By analysing the NPS in detail, they can then begin to create strategies that allow them to improve customer experience and boost customer loyalty

NPS does not focus on how happy customers are with a particular event, service, or product within the business. Instead, it focuses on whether that customer would be willing to recommend the company overall, so the resulting score is a robust indicator of sustainability as well as the potential for growth through word of mouth recommendations. 

In the 2003 Harvard Business Review, Reichheld wrote, “evangelistic customer loyalty is clearly one of the most important drivers of growth. While it doesn’t guarantee growth, in general, profitable growth can’t be achieved without it.”

How to analyse NPS Results

Those who give a score of 0 to 6 are known as detractors, and are dissatisfied with the company and may share their negative opinion with others. Those who provide a score of 7 to 8 are called passives and are unlikely to go out of their way to recommend the company to anyone else. Finally, those who score the business a 9 or 10 are likely to endorse them to others actively and are known as promoters. The NPS score is calculated using a specific formula that subtracts the percentage of people who are detractors from those who are promoters. Passive responders are dismissed. The final score can be anything from -100 to 100. 

Businesses can use this figure as a starting point to understand where they sit in terms of customer loyalty. If they have a positive NPS, this indicates that the number of people recommending the business outweighs the number who are saying negative things about it. A negative NPS score means the opposite. 

It is also helpful to connect responses to the amount of revenue a customer brings in. From this information, they can better understand how much of their income is generated by customers who have a positive and robust relationship with the brand compared to those at risk of moving away and finding the same to similar products and services elsewhere. Doing this provides precious insights that can then be used to develop strategies to create growth year upon year.

Of course, why the score as a standalone metric is valuable, businesses that focus on their NPS score, in combination with the comments provided in the free text box, can gain even more powerful insights into customer behaviour. From this data, they can predict future actions more keenly as well as understand the areas in which the business needs to improve.

NPS is so valuable because it helps companies better understand their customers, and how those customers feel about the company. By sending NPS to customers at the right time, owners and their teams can hope to analyse the resulting data and not only better predict customer behaviour on an individual level but also pinpoint common denominators that affect customer experience and change/ remove/ improve them to ensure the NPS score improves.

So who should you send the NPS to, and when?

If a company decides to engage in NPS, researching which customers to send it to and the best time to do so is crucial. A business will naturally want to ensure a significant response, and identifying at what point in a customer journey they would be most receptive can help with that. It is also essential to consider how frequently to survey members.

KeepMe software enables gym owners to send NPS to the right members, at the ideal time in their member journeys, meaning response rates will be high. It can also analyse the sentiment in easily digestible ways, breaking down information, so it’s easier to understand and turn into actionable and practical retention strategies. By using KeepMe as the vehicle to find out the NPS, gym owners are able to be proactive with customers. They are given an excellent insight into red flags that signify an at-risk member and can understand the bigger picture. An NPS can assess the overall ‘health’ of the relationship between members and the club while simultaneously identifying any specific issues that can be quickly addressed to ensure member satisfaction and loyalty once more. 

If you want help with your NPS, why not book a demo to see how KeepMe can help today? 

December 5, 2019 Danni Poulton

Which came first, retention or referral?

Getting new member referrals is the holy grail of marketing; you’re turning your members into one-person marketing operations. So should referrals come before retention? Or do you need to improve gym retention to generate referrals? We investigate.

Referral marketing is extremely powerful. People frequently talk about products and services that they get value from, and the gym is no exception. The vast majority of consumers trust recommendations from word of mouth. In fact, people are 4 times more likely to buy goods referred to them by a friend, according to Nielsen. And when it comes to social media, people are more likely to buy based on posts from friends and family than they are from brand accounts.

Mark Zukerberg is someone who knows a thing or too about the power of leveraging human relationships to create loyal consumers. Here’s his take on the importance of referral marketing:

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising.”

Which came first, membership referral or gym retention?

You’re not going to be able to get referrals out of people if they themselves don’t stick with your gym.

But on the other hand, it’s only through getting referrals from trusted sources and having a social reason to stick with a gym that you are going to get the most out of your customer retention strategies.

So in many ways member retention and referral go hand in hand

But it is worth understanding that there is a cyclical relationship between referral and gym retention.

To get more referrals you need to improve gym retention… and in the process of getting more referrals you will make it easier to retain your members.

So to get a referral you need to make sure your gym members are active and engaged and that their experience is a positive one. In a word, you have to increase the chances they’ll stick with your gym.

So how do you get referrals to your gym?

Well, first of all your members need to have an exceptional experience of your gym. You can give them this by…

  • Having a strong onboarding process so members hit the ground running when they join your gym and are predisposed to stick around.
  • Building relationships with your gym members to make them feel connected to your gym.
  • Using customer retention software to reach out to at risk members and identify potential gym “promoters”.

Using Net Promoter Scores to get more gym membership referrals

One of the major advantages of using AI membership retention software is that you can tap into the power of Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

NPS scores are a customer loyalty metric that is used across many different industries. The scores are worked out by asking people how likely they are to recommend a brand to a friend or colleague by giving a score out of 10.

Net Promoter Scores identify whether customers have a positive or negative sentiment towards your products and services, categorising customers as either ‘detractors’ (unhappy, will actively discourage people), ‘passives’ (relatively happy, but might leave for other brands), or ‘promoters’ (have a great experience, will recommend to friends and family).

Gym retention software helps you track people based on their NPS scores. This means you can reach out to ‘promoters’ to get them involved in your referral program. You can motivate them to get involved by offering them referral rewards. 

Retention is the secret to getting more membership referrals

Whilst there is a circular relationship between customer retention and referral, having an effective membership retention strategy is the necessary foundation on which to build a referral programme.

The first step to creating a solid member retention strategy is to make your gym an experience people will want to tell their friends about. This will mean going above and beyond the typical gym experience. 

What are the elements of an effective member retention strategy?

Let’s take a look at what makes people want to stay with your gym.

Once you have this foundation of member retention, it’s time to focus on the most engaged and loyal customers and encourage them to actively spread the word to friends and family.

This will result in glowing referrals far more powerful than anything dreamt up by your marketing team alone.

All customer retention strategies are greatly improved by the use of AI retention software like KeepMe, which is fully customisable to boost retention for your gym brand.

To find out how this software can solve your unique retention needs, you can book a free demo of our software today.

November 28, 2019 Danni Poulton

Can encouraging your members to use SMART wearables improve your gym retention?

There’s been a massive boom in people using fitness tracking devices, from Google Fit to FitBit. Encouraging your gym members to use SMART wearables can actually increase gym retention. Let’s look at how this can be done.

One of the major reasons people quit the gym is that they’re not seeing progress. Part of the problem is not knowing how to tell if progress is being made.

To do this it helps to be able to make incremental measurements of progress and set realistic goals accordingly. This is where SMART wearables can really help you improve gym retention.

Tracking gym metrics with SMART wearables

There’s been a significant rise in the use of wearable technology to monitor fitness and activity levels.

From people using apps like Google Fit to measure the amount of steps they take per day, to the success of the Fitbit smart watch, fitness tracking wearables are on the rise.

Forward thinking gyms are not missing the trick to integrate wearbles into their facilities. 

According to Chuck Morris of Team 85 in New Jersey, USA, the secret to gym retention is “accountability”:

“Wearable technology separates what a person thinks they did from what they actually did… Without technology, the numbers are like a vapor – hard to touch. Wearables make those numbers tangible and make the goal a person is trying to accomplish much more realistic.”

By being able to monitor metrics they would never have had access to before wearable tech, gym goers are able to experience a sense of achievement and progress on a very granular level.

This sense of progress and winning makes people much more emotionally invested in their gym membership as they can feel that they are hitting their goals. This increases the chances members will stick with your gym.

We’ve written about how setting personal fitness challenges is a great way to improve gym retention, and wearable tech make this even easier to achieve.

Wearables are also a great way to keep solo gym members motivated. Research shows that people who work out in groups or with gym buddies are more likely to stick with your gym. 

How to encourage your members to use smart wearables?

The benefits of smart wearables are clear, so how do you encourage takeup of fitness tracking tech in your gym community?

For a start, you should make it easy for members to obtain smart wearables via your gym.

You could build a relationship with a provider of smart wearables and secure discounts which you can offer to your members. This in itself can be an incentive to join your gym.

Even if you don’t have an official relationship with a wearables vendor, you can still evangelise about this tech to your members in your marketing content. Write a decent email about the benefits of fitness trackers and send it to your members.

One of the big upsides of wearable tech is that it gamifies fitness, creating mini rewards for members. It’s even possible to create leaderboards to encourage friendly competition amongst gym members. Talk about all these benefits and perks to your members. 

If you are offering personal training, the trainers can use the data collected from wearables to help support gym members achieve their goals. The possibilities are endless.

Encourage your gym floor staff to talk to members about whether using a fitness tracker is right for them. It’s important for your gym staff to build strong relationships with your members. This creates emotional and social reasons to keep returning to the gym and makes members feel valued and supported. These are important member retention factors.

Some gyms are even using the data collected from wearables in their group fitness programmes to monitor member performance over time. When combined with a supportive and inclusive approach to fitness coaching, and a focus on people setting personal goals that are right for them, this can be a really powerful way to keep gym members coming back time and time again.

Integrating wearable tech with gym retention data

We’re in an era where data is an invaluable resource, and with AI data processing software there’s so much that gyms can do with this data.

If you use gym retention software lie KeepMe you can monitor fitness data and use it to calculate the retention risks of your members. You can then automate member outreach to help different member segments stay active and engaged.

If you keep a record of which members use wearable tech you can monitor their retention scores and find out just how valuable smart wearables are for improving member retention.

If you want to see how KeepMe can keep your members coming back for more, book a free demo of our software today.

November 21, 2019 Danni Poulton

How do changing seasons affect your gym member attendance?

As the seasons change you have an opportunity to keep members active and engaged. To do this you need to understand how seasonal change affects attendance and how you can use these insights to improve gym retention.

People are creatures of habit. Whilst the world around them stays the same, they are likely to stay the same too. But as the seasons change, people are forced to think about their choices. This is a great time to reach out to your gym members to make sure that, whatever the changing season brings, they keep returning to your gym to keep them fit, motivated and engaged.

Autumn

As Autumn changes into winter we enter the final stretch of the year. It’s a wild dash to get as much work done as possible before things start to slow down for the Christmas period.

Some gym members will have already let their gym attendance slide by this time of the year, with holiday breaks often leading to a period of inactivity as routines like gym attendance fall by the wayside.

For these people, use your gym marketing to tempt them back into activity. Remind them of the health benefits of exercise, especially as seasons often take a turn for the worse.

For others, though, they will be aware that energy levels begin to drop as the colder weather sets in. This might motivate them to hit the gym to keep their energy up. This means your gym needs to look like the most attractive place for them to head to to get their exercise fix.

Winter

Winter can be a time to win over all those street-bothering joggers. Let people know about your climate controlled suite of the running machines and ellipticals, or advertise your cycling classes. Anything to tempt people to seek refuge from the winter weather in your gym.

Winter is also a time to start building interest in your gym, with the new year just over the horizon. Push out your referral schemes, getting the word out about your gym so you can make the most of January’s gym membership boom.

New Year

By New Year the period of slothfulness that often accompanies the festive season begins to wear off and people look ahead to how things are going to be different in the year to come.

Many people will be in a noticeably unfit state after the excesses of Christmas and Thanksgiving.

All this creates the perfect storm of motivation for people to join the gym if they haven’t already, or renew their attendance if they’ve been inactive. But you need to deliver marketing that reflects these seasonal changes. That’s where gym retention software like KeepMe comes in; allowing you to trigger automated marketing messages at specific points of the year.

A survey revealed that 13% of all New Year’s resolutions are to get more exercise. And a study by the IHRSA found that nearly 11% of all gym membership sales take place in January, more than in any other month.

January sees a big spike in gym attendance. But this often wears off after a month or so as people’s expectations of gym life clashes with their actual experiences (ie, they discover exercise is quite hard!).

So gym owners need to realise this is a great time for new people coming to their gym, but they’ve got a fight on their hands to keep these people.

A big way to retain as many new years joiners is to have an exceptional new member onboarding process. This shows new members the ropes so they feel comfortable in your gym, and helps them define fitness goals and find the right workout program for them. They’ll be more likely to stay with your gym if they’re having the needs met and their expectations managed.

Spring

By spring people are starting to get a bit more energy back as the days start to get longer and people look forward to better weather and the summer ahead. You can tap into this new season of enthusiasm by helping your members visualise how attending the gym can help them make the changes they want to see.

People often want to get in shape for summer… whether to fit into a wedding outfit or bathing suit. You can tap into this enthusiasm for self improvement with some well timed Spring marketing.

Summer

As Spring hands the baton to Summer there’s a danger that people’s gym attendance drops.

It might be that it’s much easier for people to exercise outdoors, especially with so many outdoor exercise options these days, like marathons, 5k runs, and experiences like Tough Mudder. 

All this can mean less gym attendance. You can help improve gym retention by encouraging people to stick with their gym attendance over the summer… maybe you can get them hooked on a new fitness class, perhaps you can remind them of the positive psychological impacts of exercise… it increases happiness, makes people more positive, more confident and helps people enjoy all those summer BBQs whilst controlling their belt line. And of course summer discounts and offers are a great way to encourage continued gym attendance.

If you want to know more about how to increase member retention throughout the seasons, book a free tour of our KeepMe gym retention software today.

November 14, 2019 Danni Poulton

Do gym membership categories influence retention?

Do gym membership categories influence retention

There was a time when gym membership plans were all pretty much the same. But now there is a wide range of gyms on the market, with as many membership categories as there are calories in a protein shake.

So the big question you may be asking is, do membership categories affect your gym membership retention rates? Well, read on because we might just have the answer (spoiler: we do).

Membership categories and gym retention

Broadly speaking there are two standard approaches to gym membership pricing plans, pay as you go monthly plans or annual plans, although day passes are often available.

https://www.puregym.com/join/#/?step=PRIMARY_GYM_SELECTION

Monthly plans

Monthly plans are for members who are either watching their pennies or are unsure whether they want to take up going to the gym in the long term, so they’re testing the water. They may even only want to join for a few months to get slim enough to fit into that awesome dress they want to wear to a summer wedding, who knows? 

Most gyms offer monthly plans because it still equates to cash coming in and some of those members will stick around for the long term. But on the whole, monthly plans are poor when it comes to actually retain your members over the long term.

In 2009, a study by Dr Paul Beford found that over 50% of new members on monthly contracts quit within the first 8 months. Within two years, 80% of them will have quit.

Some big commercial gyms factor this kind of “churn” into their business model, but it’s worth pointing out that it is much more expensive to acquire new members than it is to retain existing ones.

We’re not suggesting that you don’t offer these monthly plans to prospective members. In fact, the rise of pay as you go membership is contributing to the ongoing boom in the fitness industry in the US (more on this later). But it’s worth putting a focus on up-selling monthly subscribers to annual plans and putting effort into preventing churn from these at-risk monthly plan members, especially if you’re competing with more flexible rivals.

Annual plans

Annual plans put you on a much surer footing when it comes to boosting fitness membership retention. 

70% of members will still be around by the 12-month mark, although this is probably because their contract is fixed and they don’t want to waste money by quitting early. So you’re certain to retain members longer with annual plans. But that doesn’t mean people will necessarily attend that much during their first year, and if they quit after a year you have to go through another round of member acquisition every year which is expensive and not very efficient.

Think of every annual plan you sell as a step in the right direction. But make sure you have a solid, customised retention strategy in place that works for all your members, whilst addressing their individual needs (more on this here).

Other membership plans


But there’s more to life than monthly and yearly membership plans. 

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Package offers

Gym memberships aren’t just defined by the length of the contract. That might mean something to your accounts team, but it means little to individual members. They want to know what your gym can do for them that will help them reach their fitness goals. And fitness goals vary from person to person. It’s common to offer package plans to members to help tailor their workouts to fit them, thus ensuring they stick around longer. Clever, hey?

A package plan could offer sessions with a personal trainer, VIP perks, product discounts, or reduced rates on long-term membership plans. 

By tailoring your plans to suit your members, you’re ensuring that they will have a gym experience that works for them. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how custom plans can help improve gym retention.

One of the biggest drivers of retention is how much interaction gym members have with other members and with staff. People who work out in groups are less likely to quit than people who work out on their own. So your membership plans should involve lots of opportunities for your members to be involved in the social life of the gym.

Puregym offers a “buddy access” bolt-on to their monthly or annual plans that allow a friend to join you at the gym up to 4 times a month. This is a great way to ensure members don’t work out alone and may lead to the buddy joining full time themselves.

https://www.puregym.com/membership-options/bolt-ons/buddy-access/

Loyalty plans

If we’re talking about boosting retention then loyalty schemes are a great way to encourage this. Loyalty schemes can include free friend passes, personal trainer sessions, product and class discounts, and so on. Improving member retention involves motivating and incentivising your members where possible.

Is being a flexible gym bad for retention?

All data points to the fact that long term plans are better for retention. But before you ditch your monthly or day pass options consider the following…

In the past decade small, budget gyms have been muscling into the market share of big box gyms. Millennials are attracted to flexible fitness offerings, and have been leading a cultural revolution that has seen more and more people hitting the gym on a weekend than hitting the club. And research has shown that 36% of millennials pay monthly gym membership fees, double the amount of older age groups. 

It’s important to be aware of this trend in the industry. Depending on the audience, your gym is catering to you may want to move towards more flexible pricing in order to capture this market of young professionals with money to spend, or else they’ll only go to someone who has offerings that suit their needs.

If this feels like an uphill struggle, you can use AI retention tools like Keepme to help improve gym retention. This will help you monitor individual members and assess their risk of attrition, as well as how favourably they view your club (their Net Promoter Score). This data can then be used to automatically trigger outreach campaigns to help improve the changes that members stay at your gym.

The main reason your gym membership plans have high retention rates

One of the main reasons people quit the gym is because their gym membership plan doesn’t work for them. You can do a lot to prevent churn by sending surveys to your members asking if they are happy with their plans, or if there is any room for improvement. By troubleshooting the member experience in this way, they will feel listened to, and will hopefully end up with a more suitable membership package. If that means tailoring a plan to suit individual members then so be it. The trick to gym retention is that you can’t take a one size fits all approach, you have to look at your members in terms of their demographic and their churn risk.

Keepme can automate this process, giving members a retention score from low to high-risk of quitting. You can then act on this data to improve your member retention. 

So when it comes to how membership categories affect retention, you should pay close attention to monitoring the link between your plans and attrition. But the bigger task is not to turn away from members who are at high risk of retention like monthly members are, the point is to actually get to the root problems that lead to retention and fix them.

November 7, 2019 Beth Cadman

Engaging with inactive members – The Best Approach | KeepMe

Engaging With Inactive Members | KeepMe

When it comes to gym membership, the job of retaining members is often harder than the job of getting new ones. It’s inevitable that some members will become inactive. They’ve not cancelled yet, but the chances are, if their inactivity continues, they soon will, whether it’s next month or next year. To work out the best approach to interact with inactive members, let’s first take a look at why members become inactive in the first place.

What makes gym members become inactive?

One you understand why your members are becoming inactive, you can then create a strategy to communicating with them and winning them back.

There are various factors that indicate at-risk members, such as:

  • Members who work out on their own rather than in groups
  • Members who haven’t attended in over a week, but have attended in the last 2 weeks
  • Members who haven’t interacted with staff members

You can prevent a lot of these at-risk members from becoming inactive by overhauling your gym retention strategy.

Using retention management software like KeepMe is a great way to do this.

Should I stay or should I go?

It’s a dilemma; you have paying gym members, but they’re inactive. Their money’s turning up each month, but they’re not. If you contact them they may be nudged into cancelling sooner than they would have done, losing you revenue.

On the other hand, it’s probably just a matter of time until they quit because they’ve been inactive for so long. To do nothing is to ignore a churn risk.

But according to the IHRSA, any form of communication with an at-risk member can reduce the likelihood they’ll quit by almost 10%. So this means that doing something is always better than doing nothing.

You’re also much better off encouraging them to come back to your gym because then you’ll get the benefits of hopefully several years of membership, plus the extra money they’ll spend on additional purchases from apparel to fitness classes and training. 

When to engage with inactive gym members

However good your gym retention strategy is, it’s still inevitable that some members will become inactive. But all is not lost, there’s still plenty you can do to win them back.

Frequency of staff interactions

Research shows that if gym staff interact with gym members more than twice, then the chance they will churn decreases by 33%.

How to communicate with inactive gym members

To communicate effectively with inactive members you need a comprehensive system in place.

You can use AI membership retention software like KeepMe to trigger a notification once a gym member becomes inactive. This can then trigger your re-engagement campaign, which could look something like this:

  • Day 1: Phone call. If no response leave a voice message and send a follow-up email.
  • Day 2: Send SMS message
  • Day 3: Email
  • Day 4: Final phone call and email

Segment your lists…

Create a segmented list of inactive members, picking out factors that may have lead to their inactivity. For example, if you have members that never signed up to a group fitness session, you could target them with a campaign encouraging them to join group workouts. This might motivate them to become active again. 

Using segmented lists is very powerful, it can deliver 14% higher open rates than using lists that aren’t segmented. 

Email

It’s a good idea to have an email strategy set up from the start so that new members can opt-in to your email list. Make sure it’s tailored to give them info that relates to their fitness interests.

https://blog.wishpond.com/post/115675437597/email-marketing-best-practices

Regular, but not spammy, emails are a good way to reduce the likelihood of members churning. They also set up the expectation that your stays in touch with its members.

We suggest creating an automated email system with which you can reach out to people, say 2 weeks after their last visit.

You could send “we missed you” emails featuring offers that will entice inactive members back into action.

You could send an email that says something like:

“We’ve not seen you for a while. We know life gets busy, so we thought this might entice you back:

  • 15% off our new Cross Fit class
  • 20% off protein shakes
  • 1 free session with a personal trainer”

Alternatively you could send an email asking “are we getting it right?” so you can address any issues that may be a barrier to getting active.

If they’re complaining of a lack of air conditioning you could mention that you’ve recently had a system installed, and so on.

SMS

If your members have opted in to text alerts, these can be a great way to reactivate members. Send a text one month after a member’s last visit. You could send something like this:

“We’ve not seen you in a while. Is there anything we can do to improve? Fill out this short survey and we’ll offer you 15% off out range of fitness classes: [link to survey]”

Alternatively you could send them a special offer…

“It’s been a while. Can we tempt you back with a free extension to your membership contract? Call Karen on [number] to find out more.”

Phone calls

One-to-one contact can be a great way to engage members where possible. So it makes sense to use phone calls to get members active again.

When doing this it’s important that you know exactly who you’re speaking to, so that when you call them you know if they favour hitting weights, pounding a treadmill, or using the pool. E.g, “I notice you were fond of using the pool. I thought you might like to know we’ve just introduced a new pool based gym class you might be interested in.”

You should also design a script for staff to use. They shouldn’t read it off word for word, that will sound clunky, but rather the script should guide your phone team through how to interact with inactive gym members. 

We hope this post has shown you the best way to interact with inactive members. Ultimately, it’s all about finding why your members are going inactive and creating a reactivation strategy tailored to their needs.

If you want to take the best approach to improving gym retention, consider finding out more about how KeepMe uses the power of AI to deliver the most effective gym retention solutions possible.

October 31, 2019 Beth Cadman

Membership Retention – DO’S and DON’TS

Membership Retention - Do's and Don'ts

A healthy membership retention rate is absolutely vital for the success of any business venture in the fitness industry. Here at KeepMe, we’re committed to help you improve your customer retention rate. In this blog, we’re going to do a quick summary of the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of improving your gym’s retention rates

1. Employee behaviour

Friendly, approachable staff members 

Unfriendly, cold staff members 

As Sir Richard Branson said, “the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers”. Take one second to reflect on this, and ask yourself – how are you treating your employees?

As Sir Richard Branson said, “the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers”. Take one second to reflect on this, and ask yourself – how are you treating your employees?

We know that the attitude that your employees have, has a strong impact on how they interact with your customers, and this in turn, has a big role to play in sustaining healthy customer retention rates. After all, 82% of people say that they’ve stopped doing business with a company because they received poor customer service! By focusing on creating a positive work environment for your employees, you will be creating a trickle-down effect that will improve the experience for your customers as well – making them more likely to stick around for the long-run.

2.     Gym culture and environment

Welcoming, inclusive gym environment 

Impersonal, hostile, gym environment 

One of the biggest drivers of membership retention is customer engagement. Gallup Research shows that customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth over the average customer. One great way to keep members engaged is to create a sense of community.

Some easy steps to create a welcoming, inclusive gym environment are getting to know members by their name, and having meaningful conversations with them. Other ideas include celebrating members’ birthdays each month, running group classes, creating an online community, or even organising member-only parties like the London gym mogul, Gymbox! The possibilities, as they say, are endless.

3.     Show your long-term members they’re valued

Rewarding member loyalty 

‘Punishing’ member loyalty 

This may seem obvious, but how loyal your members are to your brand matters for membership retention. But if gyms want their members to remain loyal, they need to show that they value and appreciate members that do so. So, does your gym have a loyalty scheme? It should! 

Loyalty programs encourage customers to remain engaged by giving them rewards for their loyal patronship – think coffeeshop stamp cards. In the absence of a loyalty scheme, long-term members may feel undervalued — even punished — for being loyal, since most gyms often tout introductory or newcomer promotions

4.     Unique customers deserve unique communications

Targeted communications strategy 

Generic communications strategy 

Customers don’t want to feel like just another number on your profit line. As Think with Google discovered, customers are demanding a more personalised form of service, and businesses that meet that demand are being rewarded handsomely for it – 90% of organizations that invest in personalized consumer experiences say that it significantly contributes to increasing business profitability!

Therefore, one of the keys to maintaining a healthy gym membership retention rate is delivering the marketing and communications services that will best resonate with segments of your membership base. With the use of sophisticated Artificial Intelligence technology, it is now easy for businesses in the health & fitness industry to meaningfully target and engage their customer base. Has someone been skipping the gym a lot lately? Send them an encouragement email. Someone new to the gym? Drop them a line asking if you can help them with anything. How about a loyal customer? Send them an incentive to refer their friends and family. 

Although advice about member retention can sometimes feel vast and overwhelming, customer retention strategies ultimately boil down to these four categories. Isn’t that neat? Now, all you have to do is make sure you carry out all the do’s and none of the don’ts!

October 24, 2019 Beth Cadman

Should your retention strategy be the same across all outlets?

Should your retention strategy be the same across all outlets?

A single, unified retention strategy that can be rolled out across multiple outlets and teams could be the most powerful way to keep retention rates high.

Delivering an exceptional customer experience is a tried and tested idea that has been proven to work. However, in this digital age, where customers are inundated with choice and competition is fierce, they have more power than ever before. Harbouring customer loyalty and keeping retention rates high should be top of the agenda for any business, as dismissing a brand or switching from one to another has never been easier. 

A study by Harvard Business School reported that increasing customer retention by even 5% could increase profits by 25–95%. However, a recent  CMO survey found that nearly half of CMOs don’t expect to improve their retention rates in 2019.

Customer experience is key to improving member retention rates

To give your customers exceptional experiences, you must first know your members experience, and then you must curate a retention strategy that is malleable and flexible. The better a gym can do this, the more tailored, unique, and personal their approach will be, and therefore, the customer will feel respected, listened to, and valued, thus increasing their likelihood of committing to their membership and the brand as a whole. 

While some operators think that because of this, creating different strategies for different studios is the best approach. However, it is arguable that this could lead to inconsistency and confusion and actually result in the delivery of lousy customer service which could affect the reputation of the brand. Even a single poor customer experience at a studio has the potential adverse affect for the overall brand, even if their customer satisfaction rate is high. If a person has a negative experience in a particular location and chooses to write about it online, the whole brand could take a hit because the internet doesn’t have physical boundaries, and operators need to be ever mindful of that. 

One retention strategy to rule them all!

Therefore, creating an overarching retention strategy could be the most beneficial. Doing so means that gym members can expect the same level of customer care wherever they go. This means that if a member were to move away, they would be more likely to stay loyal to your gym and continue their membership in their new location. Similarly, for those members whose membership allows them to work out in any number of your outlets across the country, they will be presented with what is familiar and given the same service and attention that they have come to enjoy when they visit their regular gym, thus boosting their loyalty to the brand overall.

Of course, different studios do require separate incentives, and these will be determined by researching the customer base and adjusting offers and programs established by the results of such investigation. A discount for high-intensity workout classes, for example, may not work as well in a studio where the majority of members are aged 60+ as in one where they are in their twenties. However, the overarching strategy for rewarding loyalty through incentives should be the same.

However, aligning all teams and outlets under one strategy does make sense if a business hopes to keep delivering the same level of exceptional customer experience and care. Devising a singular retention strategy that can be rolled out to all studios means that there is greater fluidity and congruity, and all employees across all departments are working towards clear goals and a single vision and they have the tools and strategies to enable them to achieve these goals and realise this vision. 

A study from Accenture revealed that 89% of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives. If gym operators have a retention strategy that is the same across all outlets, it is far more likely that there will be a protocol in place for how to deal with particular problems and complaints and therefore customers won’t have to continue to seek different advice and answers from various team members. Everyone will have the same answer, and it should be one that solves the customer’s problem, satisfies their need for answers and leaves them feeling as though they have had a genuinely positive customer experience. 

One of the main reasons customers leave a business is because they feel ignored. Some 68% of customers stop doing business with a company due to the feeling that the company was indifferent toward them. By making sure that a solid retention strategy is in place across all outlets can ensure that customers feel as though they are being heard, wherever they are.

Another significant benefit from creating one retention strategy is that all the research and findings can be analysed together, and all resources can go into creating one compelling and effective strategy rather than some clubs doing a bit in one area, and others doing something different. Using a single platform such as Keepme to gather all information, and store all data means that the creation of a more unified and powerful retention strategy will be so much easier. 

A solid retention strategy to retain and cultivate customers across the board is imperative. By creating a streamlined, integrated plan that still retains the flexibility to be moulded and tailored to individual needs and desires gyms will be at their most effective, and keep customers committed to their membership and loyal to your brand.

October 3, 2019 Beth Cadman

Contract vs. Pay As You Go: Members Who Commit To Staying

Contract vs Pay As You Go

Should gym operators focus on persuading members to sign up for longer contract lengths, or is pay as you go better for retention? A careful combination might be the best way.

Understanding what effect membership plans have on gym membership retention rates can provide a useful insight to enable operators to market one or the other more strongly, and should be considered when devising a smart retention strategy

There are, of course, benefits to both members and the club to offer different membership types. Most gyms can charge more if they offer a ‘drop-in’ or pay as you go service. However, convincing members to sign up for a 12-month contract means that the business has greater financial security and can forecast and make budgeting and growth plans more easily. 

So how does each membership type effect retention rates?

Let’s investigate.

The 12-month contract

Those who commit to a 12-month contract, be that by paying a monthly fee or paying the entire sum upfront, naturally have a higher retention rate than those who only pay from month to month or simply pay each time they visit. This, of course, is understandable as if a person feels tied into a service that they have committed to pay for for a particular length of time, they are more likely to use it to get their monies worth.

Persuading members to sign up for a 12-month contract can give operators more stability and financial security, and because this is the standard for many gyms, there is less likely to be much resistance if dealing with an engaged and motivated member.

However, it is important to acknowledge that offering flexibility and freedom in a members contract can also work well. Members who don’t feel ‘trapped’ and who see going to the gym as a choice that they are fully in control of, rather than an activity that they have been coerced into are perhaps more likely to remain motivated and inspired to continue. Exercise quickly becomes unenjoyable if a person feels as though they are being forced into it against their will. 

Similarly, if a person can no longer afford to pay the monthly fee, and has the flexibility to pause their membership for a while, they may be more likely to return to the gym when their income increases again. Those who have committed to a 12-month contract they can’t get out of, who then fall upon hard times, may end up feeling extremely resentful towards the gym when they have to continue to pay even though they are struggling to afford it. This could lead to a negative association, and even if they then become more affluent and can afford to rejoin, may refuse to do so because of the negative experience they underwent the first time. 

Members Gym

Membership types – the figures

According to a study, numbers indicate that members who commit to 12-month membership agreements have a higher rate of retention than members who join month-to-month without any commitment. The research shows that those who pay month-to-month decrease significantly beginning at three months.

What is interesting to point out, however, is that the same study also revealed that of the 1.47 million memberships sold, 80% of these are month-to-month plans, and only 20% are 12-month agreements. This indicates that month to month contracts remains a more popular choice for people and that they do crave options, get-out clauses, and flexibility in their memberships. However, being given that choice, then makes it much easier to leave – and they are reminded of that possibility every month when given the option to renew. 

The maths makes this even more plain to see. In short, those who have a month by month contract have 12 chances to leave every year, while those who sign up for a 12-month contract only have one chance. As a gym operator, it’s easy to see which odds are more attractive when trying to boost member retention rates. 

In terms of revenue, however, it might not make a great deal of difference. Since the more attractive option to entice new members appears to be the month by month payment option, selling a greater number of these membership types could offset losses made when members do quit. What it does mean, however, it that gyms have to fight each month to find new members, where those who are signed up to a 12-month contract remain secure, for the time being. 

Better sales techniques = better retention rates

The truth of the matter is that the more you can sell to a member, the better the chances are of them remaining committed to the gym. Joining fees, longer contract lengths, added extras, higher price points – these are all challenging to sell. However, if a salesperson is able to get a potential member to make that commitment, once they have signed on the dotted line, they will be more motivated to ensure that they obtain value from that commitment. 

So should operators push for 12-month contracts?

It is important, as always, for gym operators to gather data, research member behaviour, and offer tailored marketing plans, personalised memberships, and flexible options if they wish to optimise retention rates. For example, focusing on customer service, on excellent orientation and onboarding procedures can help to ensure a member remains more committed. Encouraging members to attend the gym more frequently and create a routine can also help to boost retention. In fact, doing so means a member is likely to stay an additional six months longer than one who visits the gym on a more ad hoc basis.  

Certainly, operators have begun to change their business models, and brands such as The Gym Group and PayasUGym use these flexible contract types as one of their main benefits to entice members away from bigger gyms who want to tie them into a longer contract length.

Research from energy firm JD Power in the utility sector revealed that billing and payment factors could account for 20 percent or more of total customer satisfaction scores. Making sure that the payment process is smooth and error-free is, therefore, imperative. By paying attention to how much time the team spends correcting payment errors, gym owners can get a clearer idea of whether payment experience is positive or poor. 

It also might be worth considering and revising systems for chasing those customers who fail to pay. Debt collection should be handled sensitively and if not done so could trigger a backlash from upset members, which could then damage the reputation of the gym. 

Providing flexibility is also crucial. While collecting monies via direct debit is the preferred option, it could be well worth gyms offering different payment offers to suit various cohorts of customers, such as allowing members to pay on any day in a given month. Being sensitive to different members budgets can also help operators come up with a range of membership plans to cater to everyone. Offering different types of payment plans and lower-cost memberships can encourage members to commit for longer, and can also foster customer loyalty from a broader range of members. The rise in popularity of fitness passports which offers those who sign up access to a wide variety of gyms and other health and fitness facilities in their local area is also a consideration that gym owners should consider buying into.

Pushing for a 12-month contract can have a positive psychological effect too. If a member signs up for this length of time, they start their gym-going feeling committed to attending longer term. Statistics show that if a gym-goers attend more sessions when they first join, they are more likely to continue to use the gym going forwards.

There are pros and cons for both contract, pay monthly and pay as you go options, and it is important for a gym to be able to calculate how to achieve the best balance for optimum revenue and retention. While the evidence seems to suggest that longer, fixed-term contracts tend to improve rendition rates, month to month contracts to appear easier to sell.  Gyms must be careful not to push too hard for one at the expense of the other, and as always it is by engaging with members, listening to their needs and investing time and resources into understanding their behaviour that gyms will provide unique, satisfying fitness experiences and retention rates will remain high.

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.

With 2.45 billion monthly active Facebook users to date, social media has become more influential then ever when it comes to consumer behaviour. With over 60 million active business Pages and 49% of users like a Facebook page to support a brand they like, you cant afford to not be present on social .

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. 

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.