November 14, 2019 Danni Poulton

Do gym membership categories influence retention?

Do gym membership categories influence retention

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

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

Membership categories and gym retention

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

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

Monthly plans

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

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

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

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

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

Annual plans

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

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

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

Other membership plans


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

https://www.puregym.com/error500/?aspxerrorpath=/membership-options/&sa=D&ust=1550853482524000&usg=AFQjCNFuS3lKsTF-j93CDFl1TMwvxg6JKQ

Package offers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loyalty plans

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

Is being a flexible gym bad for retention?

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

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

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

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

The main reason your gym membership plans have high retention rates

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

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

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

November 7, 2019 Beth Cadman

Engaging with inactive members – The Best Approach | KeepMe

Engaging With Inactive Members | KeepMe

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

What makes gym members become inactive?

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

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

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

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

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

Should I stay or should I go?

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

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

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

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

When to engage with inactive gym members

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

Frequency of staff interactions

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

How to communicate with inactive gym members

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

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

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

Segment your lists…

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

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

Email

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

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

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

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

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

You could send an email that says something like:

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

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

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

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

SMS

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

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

Alternatively you could send them a special offer…

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

Phone calls

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

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

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

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

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

October 31, 2019 Beth Cadman

Membership Retention – DO’S and DON’TS

Membership Retention - Do's and Don'ts

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

1. Employee behaviour

Friendly, approachable staff members 

Unfriendly, cold staff members 

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

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

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

2.     Gym culture and environment

Welcoming, inclusive gym environment 

Impersonal, hostile, gym environment 

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

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

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

Rewarding member loyalty 

‘Punishing’ member loyalty 

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

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

4.     Unique customers deserve unique communications

Targeted communications strategy 

Generic communications strategy 

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

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

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

October 24, 2019 Beth Cadman

Should your retention strategy be the same across all outlets?

Should your retention strategy be the same across all outlets?

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

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

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

Customer experience is key to improving member retention rates

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

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

One retention strategy to rule them all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 3, 2019 Beth Cadman

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

Contract vs Pay As You Go

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

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

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

So how does each membership type effect retention rates?

Let’s investigate.

The 12-month contract

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

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

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

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

Members Gym

Membership types – the figures

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

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

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

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

Better sales techniques = better retention rates

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

So should operators push for 12-month contracts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 26, 2019 Beth Cadman

Why Building Relationships With Members Matters

Why Building Relationships With Members Matters

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

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

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

Member retention – communication is key

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

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

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

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

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

Excellent customer relationships mean increased customer loyalty

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

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

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

September 20, 2019 Beth Cadman

How Social Media Impacts Your Member Retention

How Social Media Impacts Your Member Retention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Competitions

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

Photos

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

Events

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

People

Starting Conversations

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

Utilising groups

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

The benefits of using social media for member retention

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

Increased connection

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

Build relationships

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

Boosts motivation

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

Inspires healthy competition

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

Increases reach

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

Can be used for social listening

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

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

September 12, 2019 Beth Cadman

Why Brand Partners build Brand Loyalty

Why Brand Partners build Brand Loyalty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How brand partnerships can boost business equity

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

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

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

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

Brand partnerships and member retention

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

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

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

Data – the key to perfect partnerships 

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

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

Tackling member retention battle

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

September 5, 2019 Beth Cadman

What Are The Warning Signs of At-Risk Members?

What Are The Warning Signs of At-Risk Members?

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

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

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

1. A decline in attendance

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

2. Increased dissatisfaction

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

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

3. Their workout partner leaves the gym

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

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

4. An inability to hit pre-defined fitness goals

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

5. A change in routine

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

6. Missed or late payments

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

7. A change of address

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

Membership Focus

So how can gyms address these warning signs? 

1. Inspire attendance

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

2. Ask for and act upon feedback

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

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

3. Encourage member socialisation

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

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

4. Adjust their fitness plan

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

5. Assess facilities

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

6. Offer discounts

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

7. Incentivise and encourage brand loyalty

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

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

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

August 29, 2019 Danni Poulton

Focus on Member Retention, Not Just Acquisition

Focus on Member Retention, Not Just Acquisition

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

Motivating Members

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

Finding The Ideal Member Can Be Tricky

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

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

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

Understanding What Members Want

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

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

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

Gym

The True Cost of Member Acquisition

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

Beyond the Monetary Benefits of Retention

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

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

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

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

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

August 22, 2019 Beth Cadman

How A Smart Member Onboarding Experience Helps Better Retention

How a Smart Member Onboarding Experience Helps Better Retention

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

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

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

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

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

So why does good onboarding help with member retention?

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

How can gyms improve the onboarding experience for their customers? 

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

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

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

Onboarding

Points to consider include:

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

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

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

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

Simple onboarding tips to improve retention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos succinctly puts it:

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

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

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

August 15, 2019 Beth Cadman

Identify Your Loyal Customers To Increase Retention

Identify Your Loyal Customers To Increase Retention

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

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

How can you identify a loyal customer?

They spend more

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

They’re frequent attendees

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

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

They get involved

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

Training

They advocate for you

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

They give testimonials and reviews

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

They associate themselves with your brand

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

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

Pay attention to your Net Promotor Score

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

Know your touchpoints

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

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

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

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

Examples include:

Clean bathrooms

Working equipment

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

Examples include: 

Freebies

Discounts

Friendliness and helpfulness of staff members

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

Examples include:

How easy it is to work machines

How exercise classes are run

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

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

Rating

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

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

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

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

August 8, 2019 Beth Cadman

Can Personal Fitness Challenges Improve Retention?

Can Personal Fitness Challenges Improve Retention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Communication is key

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

Setting personal fitness challenges to keep engagement and retention high

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

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

Fitness challenges are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 1, 2019 Beth Cadman

The Importance Of Staying In Touch With Members

The Importance Of Staying In Touch With Members

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

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

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

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

Communication – a key driver in keeping member retention high

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

By communicating regularly with your customers, you are:

Keeping your brand in their minds

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

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

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

Members

Enhancing word of mouth marketing

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

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

Building a relationship

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

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

Anticipating customer needs

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

Winning back at-risk members through excellent communication

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

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

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

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

July 18, 2019 Beth Cadman

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

5 New Fitness Brands To Use Keepme

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