July 18, 2019 Beth Cadman

Keepme Founder Speaks at the Welltodo Summit on Customer Loyalty & Member Retention

Keepme Founder Speaks at the Welltodo Summit on Customer Loyalty & Member Retention

The Welltodo Summit in London took place on the 29th June 2019, and our Founder, Ian Mullane, was invited to share his thoughts on customer loyalty, data, and the growing role of Artificial Intelligence in gym member retention.

The Welltodo Global annual event takes place in the vibrant UK capital and brings together innovative, creative business people from many different sectors within the wellness industry to network, start conversations and learn how to succeed on a global scale. 

Ian’s panel discussion, Customer Loyalty: The Secret To Success For Wellness Brands, provided attendees with some fantastic insights into how nurturing and developing strong relationships with customers is key in securing their continued business. From a data perspective, Ian discussed the different methods that wellbeing businesses can employ to better understand their customers and to preempt their needs. He emphasised the importance of collecting data as new data-driven technologies emerge, and how spending time to strategise a smart and measurable customer engagement plan is imperative.

WTD - Keepme

Joining Ian on the panel discussion were two other industry leaders, namely, Tim Lee of Mindful Chef and Phil Coxon of MINDBODY Inc, both of whom provided additional fascinating insights into how customer loyalty can help boost retention rates.

Customer loyalty can not only help businesses to feel confident of secured revenue, but it also provides a stable platform from which a business can grow. Without loyal customers, turnovers remain high, member retention rates plummet, and new customers simply replace the old ones, meaning growth remains stagnant, unachievable and onboarding costs continue to skyrocket.

If you’d like to see your customer retention rates improve, why not take a look at our AI-powered retention tool – you can request a demo here

July 4, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Understanding CRM Systems to Improve Customer Retention

Understanding CRM Systems

What is a CRM system?

According to Bain & Company, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a process that companies use to understand their customer demographics and respond efficiently to changes in their customers’ preferences.

A CRM system, in turn, is a tool that enables a company’s’ CRM process. A CRM system compiles crucial customer data across different points of contact between the company and customers. Such data usually focuses on the unique features of the relationship that a customer has with a company. For example, how many times a customer has been contacted, how much business they’ve done with the company, and what sort of conversations have taken place between a customer and the company.

Why use a CRM system?

Customers are at the heart of every successful business. Increasingly, it has also been shown that careful attention to one’s customers is an important factor that determines whether or not a company makes it or breaks it. It is widely predicted that, by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator when making consumer choices. At the same time, customers are also growing increasingly discerning. More than ever before, customers are expecting higher standards from the customer service they receive, with many, as PwC found, even willing to pay more to ensure better service.

Thus, businesses must address the evolving demands of their consumers in order to supply effective customer service. As Harry Gordon Selfridge (the retail magnate behind department store chain Selfridges) once said: “People will sit up and take notice of you if you will sit up and take notice of what makes them sit up and take notice.”

And what do customers consider better service? PwC found that nearly 80% of consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience. Think With Google insights also indicate that consumers also expect more personalised service, and a “frictionless” transactional experience.

Customer Service

Thus, CRM systems can be a great asset in ensuring that these customer service features are provided to customers to improve both customer satisfaction and membership retention. In the next part of this article, we’ll explore how CRM systems do so.  

How does a CRM system improve customer service?

As briefly mentioned, CRM systems keep a log of the relationship between a customer and the business. It consolidates customer information and documents into a single database, so business users can more easily access and manage such user data. This increases the efficiency of customer service interactions (for both customer and staff), the effectiveness of your customer service strategy, and reduces avoidable human error.

  1. Efficient:

Accenture found that 89% of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives. Since CRM systems keep a detailed log of the relationship between a customer and the business, any changes in the staff members handling a customer’s case can be done with ease, since the representative can refer to the CRM system without the customer having to go through the pain of repeating themselves. In addition, since customer data is not ‘tied’ to any particular member of staff, staff can join and leave the business without customer data (and customer-business relationships!) being affected by such changes.

2. Effective:

While efficiency certainly plays into how effective customer service is, only having a quick response is not enough. Imagine having an urgent or important concern that you want resolved from a business that you patronise. Now imagine that concern not being resolved, not because you didn’t get a response quick enough, but because the customer service representative you are speaking to is not informed enough about the issue at hand. That’s got to be frustrating, right? Indeed, 84% of consumers are frustrated when the agent does not have information.

However, with a robust CRM system, members of staff can, at any time, easily access a clear picture of any customer’s interaction with the brand. When staff are able to get accurate information about the customer they are dealing with, they are better positioned to make the best customer service decision possible.

3. Error reducing:

Finally, having a CRM system reduces human error. Without a standardised CRM system, data about your customers is at the mercy of the way that your staff takes notes on their interactions with clients. Sure, some of your staff may be extremely organised, meticulously making digital copies of everything they note down accessible to the whole team. However, more realistically, you may find notes about your clients lost on post-it notes, scribbled down on napkins, or not taken down at all in the first place! A CRM system protects you from such ‘nightmare’ scenarios.   

How can a CRM system improve customer retention?

67% of consumers cite bad customer service experiences as reason for churn. In our other articles, we have also explored in greater depth how customer service and customer satisfaction impacts membership retention rates.

In addition, CRM systems are another way for you to get an accurate snapshot of your customer demographic and the segments that it’s comprised of. This is an important aspect of risk scoring and targeted marketing, another important part of improving membership retention.

In summary, a good CRM system can elevate the standard of customer service that you can offer your clients, increase customer satisfaction, and boost your customer retention rates. What’s not to love?  

Book a 30mins demo, to discover more about how you can take back control of member retention with our powerful retention tool.

June 27, 2019 Beth Cadman

Forms Of Communication Your Members Appreciate Most

Forms Of Communication Your Members Appreciate Most

How can gym owners communicate successfully with their members? This article explores the different methods and discusses how gym owners can ensure appropriate, relevant and effective communication is delivered every time they reach out to both current and potential clients.

When it comes to ensuring member retention, communication really is critical. In fact, those who are able to consistently and effectively communicate with their customer base enjoy stronger relationships and increased sales success. As notable psychiatrist Milton Erickson pointed out, “the effectiveness of communication is not defined by the communication, but by the response.”  

It is the way that gyms communicate with their members, not just initially, but over time, that nurtures and strengthens the business-customer relationship, promotes customer loyalty, creates a sense of emotional connection, and can help members feel valued, appreciated and motivated to continue to use their gym membership – and even encourage others to do the same.

Communicating with members can take place via many avenues and analysing how members are communicated with, as well as the types of content that are delivered to them should be part of any smart gym owner’s retention strategy.

It is essential to understand how members prefer to receive communication, as well as the types of messages that motivate them to act. The forms of content that help to develop brand loyalty or encourage members to react in a particular way and the timing that the communication is sent out to ensure the greatest effect are all hugely significant considerations that gym owners should be aware of and actively trying to improve.

However, developing an impactful and successful communication strategy is no mean feat. Controlled experimentation, research, and data analysis often concludes that there is still no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and instead, it is through the development of flexible, malleable and ever-changing communications that the most significant improvements will be seen.

Different types of content and messaging require different communication formats. A competition announcement will require a distinctive tone and message, for example, when compared to a new member discount. A business announcement or press release will need to be shared via different communication channels to general newsletters or social media messaging. Whatever makes it necessary or timely to communicate with customers, the one thing that is patent, as Technogym neatly summarises is the: “biggest mistake that can be made is to approach the communication strategy of the centre in a purist way.”

So what are the different types of communication that gym owners can use to reach out to their members, keep them motivated, create brand loyalty and reduce the likelihood of them becoming at-risk? What are the factors that they need to consider when devising a communication strategy? Let’s take a look.

Communication

Communication types to retain gym members

Face to face

Face to face communication takes place whenever a member attends the gym. This could be when they first enter and are welcomed into the gym, during their workout on the gym floor, and before they leave the gym too. Fitness instructors and other staff members who make an effort to be welcoming and friendly will be rewarded with loyal customers. As Lifetime training points out in their client’s workbook, “Instructors who work hard to build rapport and form good working relationships with their clients are likely to be rewarded with a good retention rate.”

SMS

SMS text messaging is a communication method that gyms use when they want to provide members with short, direct pieces of information that they can respond to quickly and easily or that don’t require a response at all. Smart text messaging is all about delivering a message that will capture interest and motivate customers to act without feeling pressured or hassled into it.

Email

Email is usually the preferred communication method when gym owners want to provide more detailed content, so business news, announcements, fitness, and motivational tips, as well as promotions and offers. Emails should be personalised and engaging both from a content perspective as well as visually.

Call Lists

Some members will also use call lists to collect the phone numbers of members, so when their membership is coming to an end, or if they suspect them to be at-risk staff members may choose to call them to see if they can persuade them to renew their membership or stay on.

Via social media

Less personalised communication methods come in the form of social media where members can opt-in to follow and therefore receive news and updates. Social media advertising is another way gym owners can try to target particular groups of people with specific messages via advertising campaigns.

Factors to consider when devising your communication strategy

When it comes to creating a smart communication strategy that your members will appreciate it is only through experimentation and data analysis that you will be able to decipher which kinds of communication are most successful, being aware, of course, that this may change over time.

Considering the context, taking into account the predisposition to technology that members have, and researching the types of media and content marketing that competitors are employing are all critical. It is also essential to bear in mind additional parameters such as age, gender, location, hobbies, and interests. These parameters will all need careful consideration when deciding how to present different messaging and when choosing which communication formats to employ. Ensuring that the tools are in place (such as capturing engagement, using the NPS method for detailed insights and so on) to enable gym owners to then measure the success of each type compared with sets of measurable objectives will influence their communication strategy going forward and help to to reform and refine it based on the historical data.

As competition between gyms becomes more intense, it is now more critical than ever for gym owners to communicate with their prospective and current members in an appropriate way. If communications are well received, appreciated, and thought to be valuable (by being entertaining, informative, timely, beneficial, etc.) the higher the likelihood that the recipient will act as directed (to sign up, renew, share, recommend, etc.) and the communication will, therefore, be successful.

Just as timely, considered communication can encourage members to promote and feel an affinity towards the brand, to become loyal to the gym, to feel as though they are part of the community, and feel as though they receive value for money and excellent customer service, poor, ill-timed communication can do quite the opposite. If customers feel bombarded, pressured, confused, hassled or overwhelmed by the communication they receive this could make them react negatively towards the gym, and leave them disengaged, demotivated, isolated and at worst actively frustrated or angry, which could quickly lead to them becoming at-risk.

The bottom line is that there are numerous factors to consider when determining how to communicate with gym members and defining these can only be done through trial and error, and by asking members directly. Capturing this data is essential if gym owners hope to create a personalised communication plan that members will be receptive to dependent on their interests, desires, and problems at the time.

It is worth remembering that the landscape of the fitness industry has changed dramatically over the last few years, and will continue to do so. The types of people who use the gym have also become more variable. With these changes, there will no doubt be more opportunities to communicate with members in creative and innovative ways and to keep testing and pushing the boundaries to devise a communication strategy that members will appreciate. Doing so can not only help to boost member retention but could also lower the number of at-risk members by applying the right kind of communication at the right time to capture members attention and deliver the sort of comms they would value to make them reconsider staying a member of the gym.

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

June 20, 2019 Danni Poulton

Can Personal Trainers Help to Improve Member Retention?

Can Personal Trainers Help to Improve Member Retention?

1 in 5 people say that personal trainers (PTs) are the most important factor when it comes to sticking with their exercise routines.

Personal training studios have 80% average retention rates, compared to 71% for traditional health clubs.

A study from Stanford University showed that by receiving just one motivational phone call per week, gym members increased their activity levels by a sweat-inducing 78%.

The pros of personal trainers for your club

PTs help with motivation and incentives

Gym members often face a mental battle between the desire to work out and that little inner voice that tells them to binge box sets after a hard day’s work. But if they have a personal trainer they have another person to help keep them motivated and committed.

Often the mere fact that a person has made an appointment with someone else is enough to encourage them to keep their commitment to working out at the gym. And after the session, their trainer can ask them if they want to set up another appointment, ensuring that they attend regularly. This regular attendance makes it more likely that members will stick and not churn.

PTs get results faster

Often gym attendees can get demotivated because they’re putting in lots of effort but they’re not seeing the results they wanted. Having a personal trainer they can train with at your gym, will help them draw up realistic and attainable goals and will help ensure that their workouts are the most productive. This will give members a greater sense of personal achievement which will help them form positive associations to working out at your gym. This can be a very powerful factor when it comes to retaining your gym members for longer.

PTs increase members engagement

Research has shown that the more interactions gym goers have with staff the more likely they are to stay. It can be hard to coordinate this kind of engagement for individual members because it means tracking their attendance closely and allocating staff to interact with specific members (although you can use KeepMe to automate this process). So having personal trainers working at your gym means you will be giving members quality engagements with highly trained staff. This will have a positive impact on gym retention.

The cons of personal trainers for your gym

Cost

Let’s be honest, a lot of gym members are not willing to pay for additional personal training on top of their membership fees. Only the most dedicated gym members are going to fork out for personal training so you won’t necessarily be able to deliver retention on scale this way, although this is of course a great way to develop a small but loyal segment of customers.

Resources

There are lots of reasons why your gym might lack the resources to offer personal training. It might not be viable for your gym, and that’s ok. When it comes to increasing gym member retention there are lots of ways you can do this and using personal trainers is just one of them. Although if you can find the resources to offer this service it can really work wonders in terms of keeping members coming back for more.

Quality

A high quality personal trainer can be an incredible asset for your gym and is a great way to retain customers and generate positive word of mouth recommendations.

But it can be hard to properly assess the quality of trainers and it takes a lot of time and knowhow to pick the right candidate for the role. Some qualities to look for:

  • They are an officially certified trainer
  • They have great interpersonal skills
  • The are genuinely interested in helping their clients
  • They are confident and know exactly how to tailor fitness programs to suit your members
  • They are self dependent and reliable and won’t need to be heavily managed by your gym to ensure they deliver their services

This should give you an idea of the kind of qualities that are needed for your personal trainers to help improve gym retention. If you can’t ensure that you go through a thorough vetting process then using personal trainers in your gym may not be for you.

Do personal trainers help boost gym retention?

Despite the cons of personal trainers there is no doubt that if you work with the right professionals they can do absolute wonders for membership retention.

If you’re considering this approach, why not try out a few PTs on short term contracts and monitor how effective they are. If you do start using personal trainers, make sure you tell all your members about them and how working with PTs can transform the quality of their workouts and make them more motivated. It will do wonders for your fitness retention rates.

Want to see how improving gym retention can supercharge your revenue and improve your marketing ROI, book a Keepme demo today – it will be worth your while.

June 13, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Higher Engagement Can Lead To Lower ‘At Risk’ Members

Higher Engagement Can Lead To Lower 'At Risk' Members

Engagement is key to increasing member retention, and gym owners should focus their marketing efforts on nurturing relationships and communicating with members in the ‘right’ way to help lower membership cancellation rates.

Member retention continues to be an important focus for gyms and other fitness facilities and is one of the most significant considerations in terms of impact on revenue and ability to make reasoned projections for future earnings.

It’s reported that 67% of health club members in the U.S. and Canada retain their memberships for at least 12 months while that figure is even more troubling at 52% in the UK. This leaves considerable scope for improvement and gym owners are now investing both time and resources into exploring their options to help increase member retention rates.

There are, of course, many reasons why a gym member might decide to cancel their membership. Some are out of a gym’s control such as injury or moving to a different location; others are well within, such as motivation and provision of exceptional facilities.

Engagement is key to increasing gym member retention rates

One of the most important aspects to consider when analysing member retention rates is engagement. How engaged members feel can have a significant impact on whether they decide to continue attending sessions, how much they enjoy coming to the gym, how motivated (or demotivated) they become, their loyalty to the gym, and how they view the business and brand overall.

Engagement is all about communication, providing it’s the right kind. Bombarding customers with meaningless, impersonal information delivered in a way that they don’t like to receive it is akin to a pushy door salesman who keeps his foot over the threshold when you’ve politely told him you are not interested.

The importance of creating a strong, personal, emotional, positive connection with each member takes commitment. It takes research and resources and more often than not trial and error too. However it’s well worth doing, and the figures are there to prove it.

In one IHRSA report, the data suggests that members who received a “successful commitment interaction” were 45% less likely to cancel their membership in the subsequent month than those who had no such interaction.

Engage

So what does it take to nurture these kinds of relationships and build engagement with gym members?

Work the floor

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to engage gym members is by training employees to communicate with them during their workout sessions. Gym members who are on friendly terms with staff members, who feel as though staff have a vested interest in their health and fitness and who receive encouragement, tips, and enjoyable conversation when they go to the gym will feel more motivated to keep up their fitness regime and achieve their goals. IHRSA’s Guide to Health Club Retention found that almost 90% of club members say they value communication from staff members, so encouraging employees to be friendly and familiar faces can improve customer experience and lessen the chances of them cancelling their membership.

Offer group exercise programmes

Group exercise can be another beneficial way to encourage engagement and communication between staff and members as well as between members themselves. Group exercise has been proven to offer many benefits relating to retention as exercising in a group can encourage healthy competition, heighten accountability, and make exercising more fun.

Encourage peer to peer interaction

Members who feel that they are part of a community when they come to the gym are much more likely to continue to renew their membership year upon year. If members meet like-minded people and make new friends, they are more likely to look forward to their gym sessions and view them as an opportunity to socialise. Having social spaces in the gym and encouraging community hangouts and events either physically or virtually can help strengthen member to member connections and build lasting relationships between them, which, in turn, will improve their relationship with the gym and how they view the brand as an entity.

Show progress

One aspect that stands out when it comes to member retention is progress. A gym member who fails to see results can quickly become demotivated and disengaged. Therefore, gyms need to provide information to members to enable them to track their progress. Delivered alongside motivational messages, this could be a powerful retention tool. Workout tracking that allows members to set goals (and shows them getting closer to achieving said goals) will remind them why their workouts are so worthwhile.

Follow a consistent onboarding method

When a new member joins a gym the initial six weeks are crucial. According to the 2017 Club Industry Show Member Engagement and Retention report, without an effective onboarding process over half of your new members will terminate their membership within 12 months. Onboarding is a process whereby a member is gradually introduced to the fitness centre via a dedicated personal coach who works with them to ascertain their goals and develop personalised strategies for achieving them.

Keep employees happy

Happy employees can have a significant effect on the atmosphere in the gym, and a good atmosphere is contagious. If employees are invested in the gym and enjoy the role within it they are more likely to feel motivated to do a good job, therefore engaging with members more positively, and committing themselves to provide an excellent member experience.

Regularly reach out to members

Communicating via various platforms with gym members should also be an integral part of any engagement strategy. However, it is essential to get the balance right. Social media, email, TV advertising, mobile messaging, leaflets, surveys, case studies, and videos are just some of the content types you could use to promote the gym, your brand, increase trust and loyalty, and offer incentives to keep your members active and interested.

Use your data

Remember that having several software systems in place to capture and analyse data around member behaviour is vital. Programmes can provide a wealth of information to give valuable insights into how customers prefer to be communicated with, which marketing campaigns have been most successful and can help to identify at-risk members based on their behaviour too. These members can be flagged up and measures are put in place to encourage them to change their minds.

To implement the above gym owners need to fully commit to member engagement and be willing and able to filter instructions down to their employees as well as put resources behind them to ensure that they are consistently and properly carried out. Investing in member engagement and continuing to improve and explore engagement opportunities is imperative if gym owners want to see their member retention rates increase.

Do you want to take control of your gym’s retention? Request a demo of our AI-powered member retention tool to see how you can improve your retention rate the smart way.

June 6, 2019 Danni Poulton

Member Retention: often discussed, so why is it so hard?

Member Retention: often discussed, so why is it so hard?

A lot of hard work, research, and strategic thought goes into developing ways to improve gym retention.  But knowing the theory of how to retain members is one thing, and actually implementing that knowledge effectively is quite another. Let’s take a look at how to do that.

By looking at how hard gym retention can be, we can start to find more creative and actionable ways to improve gym retention. So let’s start at the beginning…

Why is it so hard to retain members?

We’ve probably all got experiences of the difficulties involved in going to the gym… many of us will be all too familiar with the struggle to stay motivated, or even find the time in our busy lives to hit the treadmill. And when budgets are tight, extra “luxury” spending like gym memberships are often the first to go.

Retention Struggle

Here are some of the main reasons people quit the gym:

Time constraints; finding that magic hour before work (fighting the snooze button) or after work can be tricky, especially for busy people

Cost; research has shown that income is the biggest predictor of weekly levels of physical activity, suggesting membership costs can be a major source of attrition.

Delayed results; we are surrounded by media telling us that we can sculpt rock solid abs in no time at all, and there are lots of unrealistic expectations of how quickly people can see results. It’s also possible to put in lots of effort in an untrained way and quickly get frustrated that nothing appears to be happening. This can easily put member off.

The commute; if people don’t have local gym memberships they can easily be demotivated  by having to commute to the gym, especially if this involves battling rush hour traffic.

The atmosphere; the gym atmosphere can be make or break for gym members. Overcrowding can cause a lot of people to quit, poor or dirty facilities or a competitive or unfriendly atmosphere can easily lead to people dropping out.

Isolation; lots of people go to the gym on their own or can’t find a regular gym buddy to go with. It has been shown that people are much more likely to quit the gym when they exercise on their own. In fact one study found that 95% people who joined weight loss programmes with friends completed the course.

Why people focus too much on member acquisition

Given the difficulties in retaining gym members it’s all too easy to fall back on customer acquisition as an alternative to solving your retention problems. People often join the gym powered by a rush of enthusiasm that “this time they’ll make it” and get that new more shapely body, or lose that weight, gain more energy and so on.

It’s much easier to generate initial enthusiasm for joining the gym than it is to keep that enthusiasm going week after week, month after month and (hopefully) year after year.

Take New Year for instance: people ride high on a rush of motivation fuelled by Christmas excess and a sudden collective interest in self improvement. But studies have shown that 70% of people who join the gym in January quit by May.

It can be tempting to think that most people quit the gym and so it’s a losing battle to focus on retention. However, it’s widely known in business that it’s actually 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an old one.

Despite this, more companies focus on customer acquisition than customer retention. Why is there such a big gulf between our knowledge of the benefits of retention and our actual business practices?

Let’s take a look at an analogy: let’s say you own a shop that sells widgets. So you pay for a sign that says “20% off all boots”. Sure enough, people start to come into your shop to check out your wares. They fall into three groups of people:

Group 1: customers who leave instantly without buying anything.

Group 2: customers who will buy one or two things and then you won’t see them again.

Group 3: customers who will come back time and again.

It’s no surprise that the members of group 1 and 2 outweigh the members of group 3. But that doesn’t mean there’s less value in nurturing group 3. For a start, group 1 may be the largest group but they’ll bring in no revenue at all. Group 2, might not even bring in enough to cover the cost of advertising to them over a sustained period of time. The cost of getting them through the door is much higher than for the loyal customers who already know and trust what you have to offer.

Gym member retention can help your marketing as well as your revenue

Retaining members, essentially means marketing to people who are already familiar with your fitness offerings and are more likely to buy what you’re selling than a random person off the street. Not only is it cheaper to retain existing gym members than recruit new ones, but improving fitness retention can actually bring in much more money for your gym.

Across most industries, boosting retention leads to a significant lift in profits. In financial services, a 5% increase in retention can increase profits by 25%. That’s because repeat customers tend to buy more products in their lifetime than one-off customers. That means that over time the operating costs of serving them decrease. And you also get a kickback when those customers refer you to their friends and family.

One study found that 60% of customers will recommend brands they are loyal to to friends and family. That’s a lot of unpaid marketing that you’ll get from focussing on improving retention and increasing your Net Promoter Scores. That’s why gyms are increasingly turning to customer retention tools to automate and streamline this lucrative process.

Repeat customers are also less likely to be tempted away by your competition because they have become familiar with your offerings and feel committed to your brand.

The benefits of gym member retention aren’t just financial, there are also significant marketing benefits as well.

A major aspect of effective advertising is knowing exactly what kind of audience you are serving. I.e, who is your ideal customer? But with member retention strategies, you already know who your customers are because they are already coming to your gym. This removes a lot of the guesswork from your marketing efforts. Research has shown that the success rate of marketing to existing customers is around 60-70% compared to just 5-20% success rates marketing to a new customer.

Some business are even focussing exclusively on retention. Here’s a quote from the founder of eCommerce seller Zappos:

“The number one driver of our growth at Zappos has been repeat customers and word of mouth. Our philosophy has been to take most of the money we would have spent on paid advertising and invest it into customer service and the customer experience instead, letting our customers do the marketing for us through word of mouth.”

If you want to see how improving gym retention can supercharge your revenue and improve your marketing ROI, book a Keepme demo today – it will be worth your while.

May 30, 2019 Beth Cadman

Do Referrals & Member Retention Go Hand In Hand?

Do Referrals & Member Retention go hand in hand?

Referrals are not only a great way to boost sales figures but can actually help keep member retention rates high too, and therefore should be part of every gym owner’s retention strategy.

Any smart gym owner knows that no matter how much time, effort and budget they put into their marketing and retention strategies, without loyal members who are so impressed with their service that they are willing to shout about it and encourage their nearest and dearest to join, their retention rates may remain unstable.

Every new gym member is another person who needs nurturing, encouragement and attention to ensure they remain with the gym. This takes work, time and money, and while a gym owners primary focus may well be on finding new members and retaining them once they join, it is also essential to understand how retention links to referrals and why boosting referrals should be an integral part of the retention strategy overall.

According to the Nielsen Global Trust In Advertising Survey, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends. This means gyms are missing a trick if they aren’t gently encouraging members to get their friends to sign up too.

Word of mouth marketing is hugely influential and cannot be underestimated. A person may be mistrustful of a salesperson who evidently has their own agenda, i.e. to close the deal and make the sale. A friend, however, or even a stranger who bothers to write a review or say something positive on social media is more likely to be doing so because they genuinely believe in the quality of the products and services offered. Therefore, people are more likely to trust the opinions they receive this way and be persuaded by what they say. In fact, word of mouth marketing is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. Having a robust strategy to utilise this, and ensure that your current members are not only spreading positive messages about the gym but actively working for you by encouraging new members to join, can have a significant and hugely positive impact on member retention rates.

So why are referred members more likely to remain members?

People

Socialisation and communication

One of the important factors to consider when devising a member retention strategy is how to keep gym members motivated. One key component that keeps people coming back to the gym is if they feel it is a welcoming space where they can interact with other members, socialise and have fun. According to a 2014 IHRSA Member Retention Report, almost 60 percent of members credit social motivation as one of the main reasons they continue to use the club.

People who refer their friends and relatives to the gym already have an established relationship; they’ll come together, workout together, spot one another, try new classes, and keep one another motivated, this makes them more likely to stay loyal members and, as a by-product, keep retention rates high.

Social influence

Social influence can also have a profound and exciting effect on member retention rates. Meaning that if members say positive things about the gym and convince others to join, the new member will also feel positive towards the gym, having had their opinion and beliefs already shaped by their social interactions with their friends. As this study on Social Influence and the Collective Dynamics of Opinion Formation states: ‘In many social and biological systems, individuals rely on the observation of others to adapt their behaviors, revise their judgments, or make decisions.’

A positive expectation

Customers who are referred come with an already embedded sense of positivity towards your business and brand. While this expectation must be met, the initial positive perception helps get more members onboard (therefore making your sales teams jobs a lot easier) but also carries with them as they begin to use the gym. If you can continue to meet their needs and expectations, they will likely remain and turn into a loyal customer themselves.

It is also important to note that encouraging referrals can have a positive impact on the referrer as well as the referred. By asking your members to refer you are strengthening your relationship, you are doing business together. You are also asking them and in turn reminding them to think of all the things they love about the services you offer. This can help members feel more invested in (and loyal to) a gym.

Referrals are likely to breed more referrals, particularly if you are incentivising your customers to do so. This ‘snowballing effect’ means that if your members have a positive experience they’ll tell others, and if they have a positive experience, they’ll do the same.

Customer service and quality services remain key

At the heart of it all; however, it is crucial for gym owners to remember that these newly referred customers still require the nurturing, the attention and excellent customer service that your current ones do. If you put all your energy into referrals and hugely incentivise your members to help you but do not then match expectations, retention rates will continue to fall and the time and money you put into creating a referral campaign could result in a poor ROI. Incentivising customers for referrals is fine, but encouraging them to do so organically and naturally is better, and you can do this by providing an excellent service. Then appeal to their ego, let them know that their opinion counts and acknowledge that they clearly have influence and are doing you a favour. Flattery will get you everywhere after all.

Referred customers remain loyal

A study in the Harvard Business Review showed that bank customers who opened an account from a customer referral were 18 percent more likely to stay with the bank than new customers who weren’t referred. This is because people who refer are kind of like matchmakers. They go out and find people who they think would be a good fit for your gym, who would like what you’re offering. They aren’t just grabbing anyone off the street, and they are finding motivated, interested, engaged people – people who are more likely to remain members and keep your retention rates high — because of this focusing on referrals can be crucial and should be included in every gym owner’s retention strategy.

Book a 30mins demo, to discover more about how you can take back control of member retention with our powerful retention tool.

May 23, 2019 Dr Helen Watts

From The Experts Series: Dr. Helen Watts – Overcoming anxiety and increasing fitness membership retention

In Dr Helen Watts’s first essay for our series, she discusses how gyms can create a stressful environment for members, triggering anxiety and affecting membership retention.

Overcoming anxiety and increasing fitness membership retention

We are pleased to introduce the team of experts who sit on the Keepme Advisory Board, ensuring all our systems are reinforced by cutting edge knowledge of the fitness retention industry. We will feature their insights as part of our “From the Experts” series. Kicking off the series is Dr Helen Watts, a Registered Psychologist, Senior Lecturer in Marketing (Worcester Business School) and holds a PhD in Customer Retention. Helen has provided research and consultancy services to various, high profile membership organisations to help understand the drivers and barriers of membership, and how to provide value to members.

In particular, Helen’s research has been focused on the roles of emotion, anxiety and perceptions of quality and how they affect likelihood of retaining or cancelling membership. Further to this, Helen has explored the differences between high and low contact membership organisations, and the role of interaction and rapport in different types of membership organisations (personal and professional services).

For many gym members, the aim of joining a gym is to increase health, well-being and positive mood, and gyms should provide a service which helps members achieve these things. But, do they? Gyms can, unfortunately, often be a hotbed of stress, discomfort and anxiety, affecting membership retention. Why? Because any physical activity setting presents the threat of public scrutiny and evaluation (Martin Ginis, Lindwall and Prapavessis, 2007). Gyms provide a ‘high interpersonal’ service; reliant on, and at the mercy of, people (staff and other members) to shape the experience of its members. Where there are people there is ‘evaluative threat’; the risk of being judged. In my own research, anxiety was found to be a significant predictor of attrition of fitness club members; the higher the anxiety, the lower the likelihood of member retention (Watts, 2012). In particular, two types of anxiety are often experienced by gym members and can lead members to question their gym membership retention; state anxiety and social physique anxiety.

State anxiety

State anxiety refers to a form of anxiety induced by a particular situation, or state. Some gym members are naturally more anxious than others due to their personality (trait anxiety), but state anxiety can be induced in all gym members if the interactions with staff, instructors, other members, or equipment are not managed effectively. A gym member could be perfectly relaxed most of the time, but situations in the gym environment which make them feel judged or incompetent can soon change a relaxed, happy, loyal member into a nervous, uncomfortable member questioning their gym retention. Which buttons do what? Am I sitting right? Am I doing it right? Am I lifting enough? All questions that may create anxiety for members.

State anxiety has been extensively researched in fitness settings, and has been found to lessen motivation to participate in exercise (Leary, 1992). In particular, group exercise settings can create anxiety in members, due to fear of embarrassment by both the class instructor and other class participants, relating to co-ordination, physique, and physical condition. Class participants can all be provided with the same experience; same instruction, same equipment, but their changes in self-efficacy (how capable and confident they feel) can be hugely different dependent of whether they feel ‘they passed the test’ (Lamarche, Gammage & Strong, 2007).

All that to say, there are ways of combating state anxiety. In group exercise classes, the class instructor can impact the anxiety levels experienced; providing encouragement, social interaction, and positive performance feedback can put participants at ease (Martin and Fox, 2001). How sociable and warm are your instructors?  Providing feedback of the member’s exercise performance relative to a ‘norm group’ (group of similar members) could help reduce the feeling of having done something wrong, or not having done enough (Marquez at al, 2002). Consumers are prone to ‘social comparison’, comparing themselves to others as a way of judging themselves, which can help gym members feel ‘normal’ or ‘better’ than others would be comforting and motivating. This is known as ‘positive framing’- presenting information in a positive way rather than a negative way, which can encourage consumers to perceive data in a more positive way, and feel more satisfied. What kind of feedback do your instructors, or machines, provide and how does this make participants feels? Making use of ‘green exercise’; connecting exercise with outdoor environments has also been found to lower state anxiety (Mackay and Neill, 2010) and represents a modern consumer trend to want to simple, connected, authentic, ‘mindful’ experiences. Consumer mindfulness is becoming increasingly associated with satisfaction and customer retention. Are you ‘keeping things real’ with your members?

Social physique anxiety

A specific type of state anxiety, in a fitness club setting, is social physique anxiety. Not only is there the risk of feeling judged, there is the added fear of being judged when partially dressed or in lycra! Whilst body image is a key motivator for joining, perceived body image can actually be worsened through negative gym membership experience. This pressure to ‘look good on the treadmill’ is demonstrated by the rising trend of ‘fitness beauty’; cosmetics being designed specifically to maximise physical appearance during a workout. Ironically, for some members, the gym is an environment that requires you to look good before you sign up, not as a result of joining.

Social physique anxiety (SPA) is, as the name suggests, anxiety related to the physique (Hart, Leary & Rejeski, 1989). SPA occurs when there is a fear that others perceive you physique in a negative way, and can result in low physical activity (Lantz et al, 1997), as well as excessive physical activity (Frederick & Morrison, 1996). Common features of fitness environments (i.e., mirrors and the presence of other exercisers) can increase the perceived risk of evaluative threat and psychological distress during exercise for those who suffer with SPA (Focht & Hausenblas 2004). Mirrors present a reminder of our actual self (where we are now), not our ideal self (where we want to be) …which we prefer to visualise!

Members who suffer from SPA are less likely to be ‘intrinsically motivated’; less likely to be motivated to go to the gym because they ‘want to’, and instead being motivated by feelings of ‘need to’ or ‘should do’ (Brunet and Sabiston, 2009). Similarly, those suffering with SPA are often prone to worrying about not exercising properly rather than focusing on doing as well as they can (Hagger, Hein & Chatzisarantis 2011). SPA can create profoundly negative experiences for members in a group exercise setting who are more likely to stand far away from the instructor and choose to wear concealing clothing (Brewer, Diehl, Cornelius, Joshua, & Van Raaltel, 2004).

So how do we help members who suffer with SPA? How can we become more ‘body-positive’? Some research indicated that SPA can be decreased by including a group cohesion element at the end of the class e.g. a 15 minute discussion on healthy lifestyle and physical activity has been associated with reducing social physique anxiety (Lindwall & Lindgren, 2005). Do your members just exercise and leave? Or is there time built in for conversation and reflection? It is argued that SPA is often higher just at the thought of exercising in a group setting, but it can be reduced after a class has been completed (Lamarche & Gammage, 2010). Perhaps promoting friendly, happy, welcoming footage of a class might help alleviate anxiety and encourage members to come along and join in?

The word ‘provide’ has been used a lot in this article, but in order to acquire and retain gym members, we need to remember that membership is not something that is ‘provided’, it is experienced. This experience, the subtleties of how it feels to be around unfamiliar people, equipment, rules and instructions can impact member retention. What are your members experiencing?

If you want to see how improving gym retention can supercharge your revenue book a Keepme demo today – it will be worth your while.

May 9, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Levels of Retention

Levels of Retention

When it comes to creating a good business strategy those in charge need to look at the different ways their customers can relate to their business. An individual customer can have many unique kinds of relationship with a company, and each one must be nurtured in order to not only maximise revenue but to boost their reputation and reach, increase customer loyalty and improve customer retention.

With 53.5% of all new members terminating their memberships within 12 months, addressing the problem with customer retention has never been more vital. In the world of health and fitness, the levels of retention can be separated into various categories. In this article we explore each one in detail examining how gym owners can tap into them, communicate and resonate with their existing and potential customers, and help ensure that their relationship remains strong and positive, therefore lowering the number of members who may become at-risk.

Retention Level 1: The Brand

For any business, getting the branding right is essential. Good branding will ensure that your company’s unique voice is heard, that what your business stands for is clear and that your tone appeals to your target audience. It needs to make a memorable impression and for that impression to be impressive. It gives the company identity and creates a sense of trust within the marketplace.

Levels

When creating their branding, gym owners should think about who they are appealing to and what they are trying to say. In the Harvard Business Review’s ‘Elements of Value Pyramid,’ social impact comes top, that means that customers care, perhaps now more than ever, that a brand is socially responsible and holds similar values to their own.

Branding is uniquely powerful in that people can feel they relate to a brand without actually knowing much about it or having any direct contact or experience of that brand. However, in terms of health and fitness, a good branding strategy not only attracts new gym members but also benefits levels of retention and reduces the number of at-risk members by creating a sense of pride in being affiliated with the brand and increasing members sense of loyalty towards it. Gym owners should be alert for anything that might damage their branding and reputation as even a perfectly satisfied member could become at-risk if they no longer feel that their views align with what the business stands for or if a once favorite brand falls from grace and is viewed as unethical or uncool – think the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad.

How a member associates themselves with the gym as a brand is naturally linked to levels of retention, as while a member can be connected at a product level, i.e. connected to their gym membership, if they are not connected to the brand, the provider of that membership, they won’t feel that sense of loyalty to stick with that particular provider, and are therefore more likely to become at-risk.

Retention Level 2: The Industry

People can relate to an industry if it aligns with their interests and beliefs. A person can also be persuaded to take an interest in an industry that they had not previously cared about if their interests dramatically change. For example, a person previously unbothered about health and fitness may have a health scare and suddenly want to know everything about it.

Businesses, therefore, must pay attention to what is happening within the industries in which they operate. For example, new trends in the health and fitness industry, if incorporated into the gym, may impress current members thus increasing member retention rates, as well as attract new ones. Paying attention to the latest news in the industry and communicating this back to members also shows that the gym has a vested interest in their health and has positioned themselves as an expert on such matters, and with over 38,000 fitness centres in the US, it is important to stay ahead of the competition!

Becoming a thought leader and incorporating new trends into the business demonstrates a level of care that goes above and beyond just providing products and services and thus strengthens the relationship gym members have with their gyms. Having an emotional connection is imperative, and the more a member feels looked after on a personal level, the more motivated they are to become part of the community and less likely they are to leave the gym.

Retention Level 3: The Products and Services

The quality of products and services a business offers are naturally linked to how satisfied their customers become. Even if a company has excellent branding and has proven themselves to be experts in their industry none of this will matter if the products and services they offer are not adequate. Nothing is more damaging than negative reviews and the most frequent cause for complaint is if a customer feels short-changed by the quality of products or the level of service a business provides to them.

In terms of a gym membership, this means that owners must continuously review their pricing strategies, the range of services they offer, the quality of their customer service and the standard of gym equipment and facilities provided. Staying competitive in all categories is essential for it is important to note that while a customer can be extremely connected to the services the gym offers if they are not loyal to that particular organisation or it no longer provides them with what they need, they could become at-risk. Members who don’t have to queue for equipment, who are impressed with the standard of equipment and classes, as well as additional facilities such as changing rooms and social spaces, will feel as though they good value for money which is imperative in keeping levels of retention high.

The way a member relates to the gym is also deeply rooted in how connected they feel to it. If a gym dedicates time to nurturing positive relationships with individual members, for example, by motivating employees on the gym floor to talk to members and encourage them, or by organising social events or group exercise sessions, even offering free classes, competitions or discounts they can strengthen the sense of community in the gym. Doing so can increase positivity and encourage members to keep returning to exercise because they view the going to the gym as a positive and sociable experience. This Forbes article discusses why relationships matter as much as products and services in greater detail.

From the above, it is evident that there are different levels of retention and for gym owners to operate at the highest level, they need to devise smart marketing and retention strategies to nurture each one. It is a combination of engaging members across all levels that will lead to minimising the number of at-risk members and improving retention rates overall, as even failing to do so on one level, despite having continual positive engagement through the others, could mean a member decides to cancel their membership regardless.

May 2, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Coaching The Knowledge Era

Coaching In The Knowledge Era

How can gym owners, fitness coaches and fitness leaders ensure they don’t become redundant when so much information and technology is now available to gym members?

Fitness coaches and leaders are facing new challenges in the changing landscape of the fitness industry. With technology ever improving and the opportunities for members to learn and take charge of their individual fitness goals increasing, they have been forced to adapt their services to provide something fresh, engaging and more valuable to their clients.

The 2018 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed that the fitness industry continues to grow, and now at least 1 in 7 people in the UK are gym members. This growth means fitness coaches have even more potential customers to whom they can market their services. However, the expectation of what a fitness coach should offer has also shifted, and customers who choose to employ their services expect tailored fitness packages that can do something over and above what now can be delivered through an app, wearable technology or even the gym equipment itself.

So how do gym owners guide their fitness coaches and leaders to find their place in this new era?

Developing an experiential learning cycle

Previously a fitness coach may have discussed a client’s individual fitness goals, and then developed a workout programme that, if followed, should enable them to reach their targets. In recent times, a different approach is beginning to emerge whereby coaches instead encourage learning through experience. Their position now is rather to inspire members to take a vested interested in their fitness, to improve upon their knowledge, and, ultimately take charge of their workouts. This calls for a more fluid attitude to working out, with the individual modifying and developing their exercises as they become fitter, meet and surpass their original goals and set new ones.

Fitness leaders also have added pressure to increase their knowledge and understanding of fitness in addition to related subjects such as health, sports injuries, nutrition and so on for them to continue to remain valuable to clients. Without such expertise, members, who now have so much health and fitness information now available to them at the click of a button, may not see the benefit in hiring a fitness trainer in the first place.

More knowledgeable clientele further supports the idea that fitness coaches and leaders should use their (inevitably limited) knowledge to promote self-teaching. Doing so would enable them to become part of a cycle that continually encourages people to develop an interest in and understanding of their own fitness and health goals, passing on their wisdom, and then moving onto the next.

Knowledge

How does this affect gym member retention?

A gym member who feels in control of their workouts, who feels knowledgeable about their health and who has a desire to continue to learn and improve has a vested interest in their fitness and is, therefore more likely to remain a gym member in the long term.

Personalising a member’s experience is one of the most successful tried and tested remember retention strategies. At-risk gym members could also be targeted by fitness leaders and coaches who could offer their services to work with them to develop manageable but effective workouts that make them feel empowered, and that their fitness goals are within reach.

One of the main reasons gym members quit the gym is because they don’t feel part of a community. A member who feels welcome and who views going to the gym as a social activity is more likely to remain one.

Encouraging this sense of community has become another responsibility that gym leaders and coaches are taking upon themselves to perform. Where a few years ago, a fitness coach would focus on obtaining as many personal clients as possible. In recent times, gym owners have identified further opportunities for them to act in the capacity of teacher and guide, motivator and moral support – all of which encourage members who are demotivated or uninspired to reconnect with the gym and influence them to become active participants in their fitness, giving them the drive to continue towards their personal goals.

Digital fitness coaches to encourage gym member retention

The digital age has also significantly impacted on the way personalised fitness coaching is delivered to gym goers. It is no longer necessary for a fitness coach to be physically present, and employing the services of a coach remotely has meant this once exclusive service is now eminently more affordable and accessible to the masses, and this personalised attention encourages demotivated members to continue using the gym.

Over the last decade, the group training sessions that were once so popular are being forced to step aside as the demand for more tailored 1:1 training sessions increases. People no longer want to feel lost amongst a crowd of others and are beginning to favour the benefits that personalised training techniques from a certified fitness professional can bring.

However, with growing market competition, it is up to gym owners to encourage fitness coaches to offer something more than just a tailored workout programme. Building close relationships with clients, providing dedicated training options and using technology to incorporate fun and contemporary approaches into workouts, such as gamification will help to see gym member retention rates increase, and ensure members are not lost to those gyms which can offer something more.

Offering specialist training in a particular field such as yoga, boxing or even sports nutrition could also give some gyms the edge over their competitors when it comes to attracting new members and increasing member retention. Similarly creating a USP around coaching where specialists in a particular area of health can offer their expertise to clients could also help gyms to gain an advantage.

Communication is still key in member retention strategies

It is important to remember, however, that there is nothing more impactful in business than good communication. Employing excellent communication strategies is where any successful fitness coach or leader will take advantage of advances in technology and learn how to use different platforms efficiently to entice new members as well as motivate existing ones. Personalisation is also vital and can increase click through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% on average.

However, the power of face to face communication and the ‘human’ touch should never be undervalued, and it is through a combination of embracing technology, developing new services and offering a personalised experience that fitness coaches, leaders, and the gyms that employ them can hope to see continued growth and increased member retention rates in the new ‘knowledge’ era.

April 25, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Improve Retention By Getting To Know Your Members

Improve Retention By Getting To Know Your Members

One of the best ways to improve your membership retention is to make your members feel valued and important. “But how?”, you might ask. Well, as we’ve discussed a few times already on this blog, customers are increasingly demanding personalised service from brands.

According to the 2018 Accenture Interactive Personalization Pulse Report, an extensive 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who “recognise, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations”. An important part of what it means to recognise and remember your members is understanding the key ways that they may be similar or different to each other. This article takes a deeper look into the ways that you can personalise your communications with your members by highlighting five dimensions along which customers can be segmented.

From risk of churn to purchase history, these key categories are those in which your customer base might differentiate from each other, and provide helpful avenues for you to consider targeted member communication:   

Risk of churn

In our article on risk scoring, we’ve talked about the fact that certain types of customers may be at a greater risk of leaving than others. Once you’ve accurately identified which members are ‘at-risk’, the necessary steps to prevent these ‘at-risk’ customers from leaving can then be taken.

For example, consider a hypothetical member, Jane. Jane signed up for the gym a few months ago, but has only attended the gym a handful of times since then. In addition, she is coming close to the end of her fixed membership period. Jane is a member with a high risk of churn. The strategy that you use to talk to Jane has to be different from a member who may be at a far lower risk of leaving. So, for example, members of staff could reach out personally to Jane to engage her to find out why she isn’t using the gym, and see if they can do anything to help her. In contrast, a member at a very low risk of leaving may benefit from less engagement (for fear of annoying them).

Duration of membership

Do you know how long each of your members has been with your gym? There are two reasons why you should. Firstly, there is strong evidence that rewarding loyal members directly results in a better retention rate – 82.4% of respondents said they would be “more likely” or “much more likely” to shop at stores that offered loyalty programmes. However, you can’t reward your most loyal members if you don’t know who they are in the first place!

Secondly, the sort of correspondence you want to have with a long-term member is going to look very different from a new member. With a new member, your main goal should be ensuring that they are settling in as well as they can. In contrast, a long-term member ought to be acknowledged for their loyalty. They should also be asked for recommendations as to how the gym could improve; long-term members’ experience at the gym over time can yield valuable insights, since they will be able to compare existing gym strategies with old ones.

Purpose of membership

Even though everyone who buys a gym membership is fundamentally after the same product (gym access), their purpose for wanting that product is likely to differ widely. For example, while some members may be complete beginners to fitness just starting out their health journey, other members may be seasoned athletes looking to develop themselves further in their area of expertise. By differentiating why various members use the gym, you can make your communications strategy more effective.

For example, it would be pointless advertising a coaching certificate course or a high-level personal trainer to someone who’s just started exercising. It would also not be effective to promote a beginner’s kickboxing class to a seasoned MMA fighter. In contrast, imagine targeted communications that acknowledge a member’s purpose at the gym (e.g. lose weight), and make a meaningful suggestion that can help them achieve that goal (e.g. an introductory class to good nutrition). Not only will members feel more supported in their fitness journey, but you may also be more effective at selling add-on purchases — a win-win situation!

Members

Purchase history

Think With Google found that 63% of people expect brands to use their purchase history to provide them with personalized experiences. There’s good reason for this. The services that members have used in the past are a good way to separate one type of customer from another. In the gym context, this could mean distinguishing members that only use the free weights section of the gym from those that only attend group classes. You could even dive deeper into the data, and examine what sorts of classes people are attending.

Understanding what services your customer base is using is an important first-step to serving them better. Once you have that knowledge, you can assign more resources to more popular services, improving the quality of the service that you provide. In addition, you can make targeted promotions and incentives, encouraging people to try facilities or services they haven’t used before, but that complement their existing purchases. The more reasons that people have to use your gym, the more value you provide to their life, and the less likely they are to churn.

Financial situation

Finally, categorising your members in terms of their financial situation is an integral part of any personalised communications strategy. One big reasons for customer churn is a lack of sufficient funds.

For members who may be in more precarious financial situations, such as students or contract workers, one engagement strategy would be to offer these customers a flexible payments scheme or to give them the flexibility to ‘downgrade’ their membership to a discounted rate (with perhaps some reduced membership perks) when necessary. After all, many businesses already offer student discounts, so why not take price discrimination one step further? You stand to gain more from retaining a customer at a discounted rate over the long run, rather than losing them altogether. Additionally, by showing that you are able to work flexibly around your customer’s financial circumstances, your customers will feel cared about.

On the flip side, customers who are working professionals or who are otherwise financially comfortable shouldn’t be offered discounts, or monetary incentives (for referral programmes etc.), since they are likely to be more price insensitive. Other engagement methods should be used with them for greater effectiveness.

Conclusion

By personalising your communications with your members by segmenting them according to one or more of these categories, you can show members that you respect and  recognise the unique differences between them. This will improve the effectiveness of your membership communication strategy, improve the level of customer service you offer, and overall, boost retention!


April 18, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Being A Millennial Gym Member

Being A Millennial Gym Member

Millennials, they do things differently.

Whilst many throw their hands up in despair at a generation criticised for being coddled and having no staying power, the reality is very different.

The truth is, there are certainly challenges when it comes to understanding how to market your gym to millennials and how to retain these tricky customers. But there are also huge rewards for those who get it right.

The Millennial Moment

Just like the Baby Boomer generation came to define an era and became a massive source of revenue for canny marketers, the Millennial generation are in the process of transforming how the gym industry targets its offerings. How well they do this will determine how successful they are.

The challenges in retaining millennials in your gym

One of the big challenges gyms have to face when it comes to attracting millennials is price. One study found that over 70% of millennials think gym memberships are too expensive. Instead they’ve been drawn to the experiential appeal of outdoor endurance events like Tough Mudder, or the community vibe of cycling studio programs like SoulCycle.

The thing is, it’s not that millennials are reluctant to spend money, it’s that they understand that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, and they expect high value in exchange for their money.

Millennials are super into fitness. In fact, millennials do more exercise than any other generation. A 2018 study by the Physical Activity Council found that nearly half of millennials participated in high-calorie burning exercise and only 25% were sedentary.

Not only that but fitness is more important to millennials than to any other generation. According to therapist Rachel Kazez:

“It seems like [fitness is] a more active part of their lives, something they do intentionally and as a priority rather than an afterthought. It also seems like they try to make it more enjoyable and colorful, many being willing to spend money on memberships and specialty fitness activities.”

This insight gives us an idea of how you can attract and retain millennials in your gym.

Psychotherapist Nathalie Theodore believes that, “While Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are still mostly working out to burn calories, millennials are turning to fitness as a means of making friends, meeting potential love interests and networking.”

She argues that technology and social media has lead to increased loneliness in millennials, who are now turning to exercise to connect with people and gain a sense of community.

The gyms that will succeed in retaining millennial members will be the ones that are able to make their facilities socially and culturally appealing to members in search of a sense of community and belonging.

Millennials are also more aware of the relationship between exercise and mental and physical wellbeing than any other generation. That’s why spa services like the Stone Creek health club have seen 12% annual growth in revenues, offering services like massage therapy and full body exfoliation treatments. A growing number of its members are millennials (adults aged under 35).

As gyms begin to adapt to the more sophisticated needs and interests of millennials and younger adults, they’ll reap major rewards. This is the largest cohort on the planet, worth $2.4 trillion globally. And a survey by the International Spa Association found that 60% of respondents are invested in their own personal wellbeing and 56% already attend spas.

We’re not suggesting you turn your gym into a spa, but introducing spa-like services like massage therapies, body treatments and so on may help attract more millennials to your fitness club.

Retain Millennials

How to retain millennials by nailing your fitness programming

Make it an experience

The majority of millenials would rather spend their money on experiences than material things, so fitness clubs need to offer services that offer unique and memorable experiences. Fitness outlets like The Holmes Group have found that investing in a wide variety of equipment and exercise options whilst fostering engaging member relationships through high-quality interactions and consistent communication online and offline really pays dividends.

This is because millennials can be exceptionally loyal gym members if they believe they are getting a superb value proposition for their money.

Capitalise on community

Smart gyms are realising that it is possible to provide a space where a sense of community can be established, where people feel supported and nurtured in the club environment. According to Derek Brettell of The Club Gym:

“When we were building the club one of the most important things we wanted was for it to be a place where people enjoyed going. A place where people knew they would see familiar faces, be comfortable and feel supported. We wanted people to know that we cared and that they were more than simply a number to us.”

This sense of community can play a big role in gym retention.

You can foster community in your gym by doing the following:

  • Encourage your staff and trainers to greet members by name
  • Encourage staff to offer help and advice when appropriate
  • Use gym retention software like Keepme to track and pinpoint members at risk of attrition

Personalise gym membership

If you want to engage and retain millennials then gone are the days of one size fits all exercise options. You have to start customising your fitness offerings to suit a wide range of members, and be willing to put the time into personalising exercise programs to individuals.

This means you can’t always operate on mass, sometimes it really pays off to focus on building smaller communities of gym members, because if you get it right your gym’s reputation will increase and that will do wonders for your Net Promoter Scores.

Focus on retention metrics

This brings us to how to handle fitness retention. You have to understand the diversity of millennials; this means operating at a niche level as well as looking at the bigger picture. Because of this you need a sophisticated and granular way to manage retention.

This helps you easily monitor and target different segments of your gym membership, pay close attention to their attendance and exercise patterns, and automate your outreach in a granular way. You can use retention software to monitor the Net Promoter Scores or your members. This means you can target promoters for referrals and upselling and you can focus on detractors by solving the pain points they are encountering with your gym.

At the end of the day, millennials are not strange creatures from another planet, they are young people looking for value, purpose, community and personal growth. The more you understand the world from their perspective the better you will be at offering them services that will keep them coming back for more.


April 11, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Knowing Your Member’s Experience

Knowing Your Member’s Experience

Understanding the factors which affect a gym member’s experience can help owners refine their retention strategies to ensure customers feel satisfied with the service as well as loyal to the brand.

There are many reasons that a person might feel motivated to join the gym. Most commonly these reasons are related to health and fitness, losing weight, toning up, and getting in shape. Though there are others such as gaining strength after an injury or training for a specific event. These initial desires are what inspires a person to sign up for a gym membership in the first place.

However, it is through a continued positive experience when attending the gym and by developing a relationship with the brand that ensures a customer’s loyalty and prevents them from becoming at-risk.

It is a customer’s satisfaction overall that will safeguard their continued membership and make it easier and more predictable for gym owners to identify those who are unhappy with the service. Focusing on customer experience and identifying any issues means that owners can drive their resources and energy towards improvement and problem solving to address customer need and boost gym member retention rates.

Understanding the customer experience is, however, just as much about focusing on what makes people remain gym members as it is about knowing why people leave, as virtugym succinctly puts it: “People can leave for a manner of reasons but usually, it’s because of something that can be controlled by you.”

Member retention – It’s all about the journey

From the moment a person begins to consider joining the gym, they start to move down a particular pathway. They will perhaps start to research different gyms and consider factors such as the cost of membership, the convenience of location, and provision of facilities. They may search for gyms that offer trial days; they may book a session to look around the gym and talk with staff members, they may try to find offers or discounts or certain flexibilities that make the membership more appealing.

Gym owners, therefore, have a significant opportunity to provide a positive experience, one that makes their facilities stand out from their competitors even at this early stage. The ease of use of their website, the helpfulness and availability of staff to meet with them or talk to them, and the first impression of the facilities all play a part. These factors can all influence not only a customers decision to join that gym in the first place but also provide a lasting impression that could stick with them as they continue to use it.

When it comes to member satisfaction, there are a number of factors that gym owners and their teams can control to ensure a member has a positive experience from the moment they arrive, to leaving the gym and even beyond.

Membership Journey

Arrival and welcome

As soon as a person arrives at the gym, their experience can be affected. Can they park easily? Are they welcomed warmly on arrival? Is it easy and straightforward to get into the gym? Ensuring that as soon as a customer steps foot on the premises, they feel as though they are being given personalised attention and that it is a seamless and hassle-free experience to begin their workout, is essential.

Facilities

Provision of facilities also plays a significant part in member experience. Clean, contemporary and practical facilities are a must, and the higher the quality, the more likely a customer will be impressed. Standard gym facilities such as changing rooms and showers are essential but to stand out, gym owners should consider what other facilities could make their customers feel more appreciated. Social areas, drinks machines, a shop and cafe all add value. However, it is also important to remember the smaller details such as providing hand soap and towels, and making sure the toilets have toilet roll (!) that will make sure the member’s experience is even better.

Equipment

Fitness technology improves member retention and so provision of the latest equipment is important. It is also crucial that gyms provide a sufficient number of each machine, as well as making sure that gym members understand how to use the apparatus to ensure that their workout sessions are constructive and useful.

Self-efficacy is powerful as this study found, so providing instructions and training on how to use gym equipment is a must. Doing so will again reflect well in a customer’s overall experience and feeling of satisfaction, being respected and looked after.

If members have to queue for machines, or if they become frustrated because they can’t work out how to use them they will start to doubt that they are valued as a customer. If the machines are broken or out of order, or if they feel as though the variety or standard of equipment is not adequate these could all be factors which create a poor impression, make members feel less invested in or cared for, and therefore increase the likelihood of them becoming at-risk.

Member communication and motivation

Gym members who feel connected to the gym are more likely to feel loyalty towards it. If they don’t feel welcome, become self-conscious or uncomfortable or find coming to the gym to be an isolating or challenging experience they will be less likely to want to return. Staff members out on the floor communicating with members, motivating them, helping and advising them and giving them personalised attention can help gym members feel as though they are part of a community, creating a sense of connection and lowering the chances of them becoming at-risk.

Member retention – it’s all about the experience

The above points all tie into the fact that gyms must continually pay attention to the products and facilities they provide, their communication and customer service and how they can make customers feel valued and motivated. 81% of consumers are more likely to give a company repeated business after good service, and companies that prioritise the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors, so it is certainly well worth including these factors in your retention strategy.

Understanding the specific struggles that gym members face is crucial and gives owners better insight into how to solve their problems. For example, if a member cannot find a parking space, can’t get on a machine they want to use, or can’t book a class because it’s full, combined with more general issues such as feeling demotivated or not enjoying their workout they may struggle to feel positively towards the gym. In fact, it is proven enjoyment of exercise plays a significant role with studies like this one reporting that those who enjoyed exercise at baseline were more likely to stick with it.

These factors should be recognised and addressed to help provide a better service and boost member retention simultaneously.

Of course, while it is not always possible to ensure that a gym member leaves the gym in a positive mindset, there are plenty of things that gym owners can do and strategies that can be put in place to help make coming to and working out at the gym more of a pleasure than a chore.

Attending the gym should be a fantastic experience from start to finish, one where customers feel as though they are being cared for, looked after, and invested in. It’s not just about the obvious things; it’s the details that count and trying to help customers leave the gym in a positive frame of mind and reflect that the experience was a good one will encourage them to return time and time again. Being able to analyse and identify patterns that could lead members to have either a positive or negative experience is an essential way to help gym owners and their teams recognise when a member may become at-risk and improve that experience before it is too late.

April 5, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

How To Create A Gym Member Retention Strategy That Works

How To Create A Gym Member Retention Strategy That Works

There are tons of tips out there on how to boost your gym membership retention. But it’s hard to find a guide on how to create a killer gym retention strategy. In this blog, we try and redress the balance by telling you how gyms came to design membership retention strategies that work for them.

Firstly, let’s break down the crucial elements that go into any gym retention strategy, and look at how you can optimise them for maximum retention. There are some core elements involved in building a solid member retention strategy:

  • Crunching the numbers on members who are at risk of attrition, or “churn”
  • Creating member outreach campaigns to boost member retention
  • Overhauling your fitness offerings to catch at-risk members
  • Regularly monitoring and assessing member sentiment

Design a retention strategy for your gym

Now, there is no one-size-fits-all gym membership retention strategy you can magically apply to your site. Each gym is different and your retention strategy will have to factor this in.

If you run multiple gym sites, the first thing to do is to get a solid understanding of the membership retention needs of each facility. Each gym will have a different set of customers, different priorities, and perhaps even different budgets and resources. What works for one facility might not work for another.

The first thing you want to do is take a look at your retention across all your venues.

Pull up your membership details and analyse which demographics are at risk of churning.

Here are some at-risk groups to consider:

  • Under 35’s
  • People who work out on their own
  • People who haven’t attended in the last week
  • People who haven’t been active in 30 days
  • People who have a falling attendance rate
  • People with low NPS scores (more on this later)

You need to start categorising your member lists for a more targeted approach – it will help!

Are your membership plans up to scratch?

You should also monitor how effective your current membership plans are.

Segment your members by plan type and compare and contrast attendance rates. Send out surveys to see how members find their current plans. Action any feedback you can to make your plans work right for your members. Having an inappropriate membership plan is likely to end up with members leaving for one of your rivals. And you don’t want that, especially if you could have avoided this outcome by adjusting your membership offerings.

Sound like a lot of hard work? Well, the good news is that there are tools made exactly for this job, like Keepme which can automate this part of the process for you.

Spruce up your fitness offerings

It’s important that you have the right range of workout classes and fitness programmes to suit your members’ requirements. It’s a good idea to send surveys finding out what your members want from your gym, and making any relevant changes so that working out in your gym is an attractive proposition for your members.

Offers

Outreach campaigns

By now you should have an understanding of retention and attrition data across your gym location, and you’ve made all the infrastructural changes you can (if people are complaining about filthy changing rooms/ faulty air conditioning, etc., you should sort that out pronto).

The next step is to separate all this retention data into different risk groups. Although you should have an outreach plan that reaches every member, you should create content that specifically targets at-risk groups.

Running engagement campaigns is an ongoing process. Over time you should monitor whether your members’ retention scores improve or get worse, and change your campaigns accordingly. Often the problem will be that you’re not being targeted enough and your messages may be too generic.

Put your Net Promoter Scores to work

You are probably familiar with the concept of Net Promoter Scores (NPS), the measure of whether your members are “promoters” or “detractors” of your gym.

You should send out NPS surveys to your members and then segment you members by NPS score.

Detractors could then be sent to your outreach team for some TLC, whilst promoters can be used as contacts for testimonials, or to be part of a referral scheme, and so on.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are lots of factors that go into planning fitness membership retention strategies. At the end of the day, each gym’s strategy will look different. The tips in this article should help put you on the right track, as long as you look at your data in a segmented way and keep monitoring retention risks and NPS scores you will be able to come up with a strategy that gives your gym a head start on the competition.


March 28, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Group Exercise vs Gym Only: The Effect on Member Retention

Group Exercise vs Gym Only: The Effect on Member Retention

Has the introduction of group exercise classes improved gym member retention rates, and if so should gym owners and employees be encouraging members to join them?

In the past, joining the gym was a fairly solitary experience.

A person could sign up, and then they were free to use the equipment as and when they wished. However, there was little interaction between gym goers and staff (unless hiring a personal trainer), and the communication between members themselves rarely extended to more than a sweaty grimace as they queued for the water cooler.

Individuals were responsible for their workouts, set their personal goals and if they didn’t achieve them it was nobody business apart from their own.

Nowadays, however, the landscape of the fitness industry has changed dramatically, and gym members now face many choices. While there is still the option to workout solo, with the introduction of classes and group exercise sessions, it seems like almost every week there is a new trend for an exercise class that promises to give attendees their dream bodies in no time at all. But do these classes live up to the hype, and are they helping or hindering gym member retention?

Is group exercise good for member retention rates?

Is it possible that the introduction of group exercise has helped to improve member retention rates? Or does choosing to participate increase possibility of failure, create confusion and a loss of ownership of one’s own workouts? Let’s examine the pros and cons of each:

Group exercise pros

Healthy competition

Group exercises encourage members to do their best. Those who work out with peers around them are more likely to push themselves further, so their workout is more productive. People don’t want to be the first person to drop out or refuse to participate appropriately, and research demonstrates that the healthy actions of others do influence us. A study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that participants gravitate towards the exercise behaviors of those around them.

Social aspects

Group exercises can be helpful to those new to exercise as they can try different kinds of classes out and see which ones suit them best. Group exercise gives people the opportunity to socialise while working out and gives newbies more confidence and knowledge without having to hire a personal trainer. A 2016 study published in the journal Obesity reported that overweight people lose increased amounts of weight if they spend time with their fit friends, and weight loss continues to grow the more time they spend together. People who workout in group sessions also feel more accountable to others and are therefore less likely to skip workouts and will keep coming back for more.

Motivation

A group exercise class can help those lacking in motivation feel encouraged and energised. The ‘we’re in this together’ mentality of a group exercise class means that participants are more likely to encourage one another, engage with one another and spur one another on to make it through to the end. The sense of satisfaction and achievement is also a shared experience which can help motivate members to commit to the class and continue to return to the gym to participate.

Group Exercise

Fun

Researchers from the University of Southern California found that people who worked out with friends (or a spouse or co-worker) reported that they took more enjoyment in their exercise than those who worked out solo. The variety provided by the range of classes also mixes things up, keeping workouts fresh and exciting and helping members improve their health, fitness, body shape and strength in different ways.  

Group exercise cons

Pressure

Group exercise can have an adverse effect if people start to view the class as a punishment and a chore rather than a fun and social activity. If members begin to feel pressurised and guilty, this could be a recipe for disaster, and they may start to avoid the classes to negate these feelings.

Shaming

Group exercise classes could also negatively affect retention rates if a member starts to feel as though they can’t keep up, or begins to compare themselves to others in the class. A study reported that exercising in mirrored environments could make some women feel more self-conscious.

Lack of individual attention

In group exercise classes instructors rarely have the time to give participants individual attention, and therefore there is the increased chance of injury if an individual does not perform an exercise correctly or pushes themselves beyond their limitations. The lack of personalised attention could also result in some participants not having their needs or goals met. Classes are usually created around the based common needs of everyone who takes part, and therefore there is less scope for members who wish to push boundaries beyond this.

Gym only pros

Increased focus/ reduced distractions

Those who choose to work out in the gym alone may find that they have more focus than participants in a group setting. They can work on personal goals and don’t have the distractions of others around them so can zone in on their workouts and prioritise their unique fitness goals.

More variety

Classes can sometimes focus on just one area of fitness, those who choose to work out in the gym alone can take advantage of all the different machines to add variety to their workouts. If there is a particular area they want to focus on, they can choose the equipment and exercises to allow them to do so, rather than being dictated to by the class instructor.

Variety

Can workout at own pace and set personal goals

Group exercise classes cater to the needs of the masses where those gym members who have specific, individualised goals can create their own workouts to maximise effectiveness and achieve them at their own pace with no external pressure.

Gym only cons

Solitary

The solitary nature of just working out in the gym alone can have an adverse effect on members motivation. Without the social aspects and feeling part of a community, if gym goers don’t see their desired results they could quickly become at risk for cancelling their membership. They may feel less connected and loyal to the gym and therefore may find it less affecting to stop coming to the gym than members who feel as though they are part of a community and enjoy the social aspects of their workouts too.

No accountability

By not getting involved in group exercises a gym member has no one to be accountable for their workouts other than themselves. There is no one to encourage them, nor anyone to make them feel guilty if they choose not to attend. This can result in those gym only members to slowly decrease their attendance until they stop coming altogether.

Conclusion

It shows that by encouraging gym members to attend group exercise classes, retention rates should improve. Therefore gym owners may wish to consider investing more time and resources into providing and marketing group exercise classes to their members and motivating employees to sell these classes to gym goers.

It is important to note, however, that there are downsides to group classes that could also result in a negative impact on retention, for example, if a member pushed themselves too hard and got injured or felt as though they couldn’t keep up and became demotivated. Therefore gym owners should take care when pushing group exercise classes onto members and should really target the right cohort when encouraging either group or solo excercise sessions.