Should Retention Strategy be consistent 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.
October 24th, 2019
Should Retention Strategy be consistent across all Outlets?

Updated - August 10 2023

An effective retention strategy doesn't hinge on a single team, channel, or piece of technology. It's a multifaceted approach that encompasses the entire fitness operation. 

Retention is not just the domain of sales and marketing, although they will be directly involved. Equally, delivering exceptional member experience, however well intended and executed, is not enough.

Member expectations have changed dramatically over the years, as have competition and trading conditions. The unprecedented level of choice, coupled with aggressive introductory offers has eroded member loyalty.

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.

However, the interconnectivity of modern society and the channels available to operators presents an opportunity to engage with members on their terms. 

With the right approach and with a robust strategy, it's possible to put retention front and center as part of a company-wide approach. 

Member Experience and Member Retention 

Retention is linked to relevance. The more relevant a consumer perceives goods or a service the more likely they are to continue to buy. 

Before you can hope to create any kind of member retention strategy you need to understand firstly, what kind of member experience are they getting. This can be easier to determine than you think. While one approach is to monitor the gym floor, you're only going to get a snapshot of what transpires.

Membership data, however, can hold the key.

Your membership management platform or CRM will hold a treasure trove of first party data. Each member profile will hold records of the number of visits, frequency of visits, and frequency of visits over time. 

It will also tell which classes they signed up for and which classes they attended and, who their personal trainer is if they have one. It will state who carried out their induction when they joined and what drinks and other ancillaries they've purchased.

Each of these data points helps to create a picture of your member base. And, from there, whether or not there are any obvious patterns. Notably among the dormant members or those who have churned.

Trends can identify potential problems with personnel, either due to conduct or lack of training.

Similarly, it could flag a growing trend around service offerings and price. 

The more you understand the member experience - both good and bad - the easier it is to retain them. Not least because you can (a) actively address identified issues and (b) use that to open a dialogue. 

So a retention strategy isn't just a complex series of drip campaigns. Instead, it's a holistic approach to the healthy functioning of the gym community. If the member experience is positive, member retention is likely to increase.

Multi-Outlet Retention

For operators with more than one gym or fitness center, the temptation is to create a retention strategy for each location. There is some logic to this because different areas attract different demographics. They could have different equipment and different classes. Even a different ratio of annual memberships to pay-as-you-go.

However, there are two main arguments against this. Firstly, generally, members want a consistent experience. Inconsistencies can seem less like catering to an audience and more like bad execution. 

Secondly, you still have the benefit of the personal touch from your staff. Providing you’re leveraging member data to make any outreach personalized, your members will likely not notice (or care) that communications are coming from the CRM or marketing team. As opposed to the gym they attend.

All operators need to do is close the loop so all centers are aware of what communications are going out. They don’t necessarily need to know every single personalized offer that the membership engagement platform will create. Just that communications are going out and expect an uplift in inquiries or footfall. 

Whether operators have three centers or 300, the overall experience and level of service should be the same. That’s assuming the data is centralized and accessible in real time. 

This is crucial to any kind of effective retention strategy. Collecting membership data is essential to be able to engage with them and build trust. 

Consolidating that data into a single location so it can be leveraged for personalized communications is business-critical. Fortunately, most CRMs and membership management platforms allow for this.

The crucial element is whether or not you can access the data in real time. Any kind of ETL (extract, translate, and load) renders data almost useless as buying behavior can change rapidly. 

Managing Member Data 

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, problems can be dealt with consistently. Everyone will have the same answer, and it should solve the member’s problem. The member feels heard and satisfied their need for answers has been met.

Members who have made a complaint are just as likely to stay with their chosen gym if they feel it’s been addressed satisfactorily.  

One of the main reasons customers leave a business is because they feel ignored. 68% of customers stop doing business with a company due to the feeling that the company was indifferent toward them. 

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.

However, to do this you need to manage your member data effectively. It needs to be accessible and segmented to offer the insight needed to engage with members. 

The greater the granularity the more you can do with the data at your disposal. The good news all that data is sitting within the business, waiting to be leveraged.

Member behavior from classes booked and attended, what brand of fitness wear they buy and their favorite flavor of protein powder is all available.

More to the point, you have a complete record of that member’s interactions and overall experience with the gym. If attendance is dropping off - especially after a complaint, then action needs to be taken.

Using your membership data you can create automations to deliver highly-personalized communications. These can be anything from offers to upgrades.

AI can help you to analyze the data to determine the most likely outcomes for maximum retention. 

Closing the Loop

Member retention is dependent on your ability to consolidate and analyze data. And then your ability to leverage that data to create a relevant and engaging experience for your members.

Devising a singular retention strategy that can be rolled out to all studios means that there is greater fluidity and congruity. 

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 realize this vision. 

Using a single platform to gather all information, and store all data means the creation of a more unified and powerful retention strategy. 

By creating a streamlined, integrated plan that still retains the flexibility to be tailored to individual needs is possible. Keepme is a fully AI-integrated membership engagement platform designed to help you engage with and retain your members.

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