5 easy tips to improve your member retention in 2020 February 6, 2020 •
Some gym member retention strategies require a big investment in time and money, whether that’s forking out for new equipment or hiring personal trainers. So we thought we’d ease you gently into the New Year by giving you 5 easy ways you can improve gym retention in 2020.
Identify your most loyal members
When we talk about improving retention it often comes down to a question of how to transform at-risk members into long term members. Sometimes this can feel like a bit of an uphill struggle, to put it mildly.
Well this first tip is really easy because it doesn’t involve winning anybody over.
What we want you to do is to reach out to members who are already loyal and thank them for their loyalty. Offer them some kind of reward for recruiting new members to your gym. This could be discounts on classes or products, or a temporary increase in member privileges. Make it easy for them to reach out to potential gym members, whether that’s by email or text, and ensure that they feel valued by your acknowledgement of their loyalty to your gym.
Focus on feedback
Unless you find out what kind of experience people are having with your gym you’ll not be able to optimise the chances that members will stay.
Fortunately it’s never been easier to find out what people are thinking. By running your own Net Promoter Score surveys (you can run these through Keepme!) you can start to get into the mindset of your members. It’s much easier to solve people’s problems if you understand their point of view.
When asking for feedback don’t shy away from addressing negative responses. They are often your members telling you exactly how you can win their loyalty. If you get negative feedback you should respond to it. It’s often the case that empathic, non-formulaic responses to negative comments can actually turn the situation around. One study found that 33% of negative Yelp reviews can be turned into positive ones when business takes the time to respond appropriately.
Induction and mentoring
If you want to get something right you should aim to get it right from the beginning. Make sure that your induction processes give new members a positive and empowering introduction to your gym. This is known as member ‘onboarding’ and can be very effective because the first four weeks of a new membership are vital to developing members who will stick around.
To properly improve retention you need to make sure you are there right the way through a member’s journey with your gym. Think about ways you can provide mentorship for your members. This could be by providing personal trainers to work with members and keep motivated, or (and this is much simpler) by creating useful fitness content in the form of blogs, videos and emails that you can share with your members to bring them extra value.
Think about how much useful data you could get from your members, from details like age, gender and income, to things like exercise interests, communication preferences, and attendance rates.
Not enough gyms collect this kind of data in a useful way. Facilities often have so lots of data but they don’t really know what to do with it, or the data is fragmented and not properly organised.
When faced with all this complex data it’s all too easy for human agents to experience ‘analysis paralysis’ – too much info to be able to do anything useful with.
Fortunately, it’s now possible to use powerful AI technology to not just collect and track member data but to actually analyse it and understand what this data might tell you about retention levels in your gym. This is exactly what retention software like Keepme is designed to do.
Automation is a fantastic way to simplify your retention strategy. For example you can use automated AI retention software to automatically refer a member to your floor staff when they have started attending your gym less regularly. And you can use it to focus only on those members who would benefit from interventions by monitoring retention risk levels.
Automation means you can send out messages to members by their preferred communication medium, targeted specifically to their own experience with your gym. Member outreach can easily be triggered when certain events occur, whether that is 90 days after first signing up or when attendance levels drop below a certain level. This makes member communication much more streamlined and can free your staff up to build relationships with your members. To find out more you can book a free, personalised demo of our retention software today.
Can encouraging your members to use SMART wearables improve your gym retention? November 28, 2019 •
There’s been a massive boom in people using fitness tracking devices, from Google Fit to FitBit. Encouraging your gym members to use SMART wearables can actually increase gym retention. Let’s look at how this can be done.
One of the major reasons people quit the gym is that they’re not seeing progress. Part of the problem is not knowing how to tell if progress is being made.
To do this it helps to be able to make incremental measurements of progress and set realistic goals accordingly. This is where SMART wearables can really help you improve gym retention.
Tracking gym metrics with SMART wearables
There’s been a significant rise in the use of wearable technology to monitor fitness and activity levels.
“Wearable technology separates what a person thinks they did from what they actually did… Without technology, the numbers are like a vapor – hard to touch. Wearables make those numbers tangible and make the goal a person is trying to accomplish much more realistic.”
By being able to monitor metrics they would never have had access to before wearable tech, gym goers are able to experience a sense of achievement and progress on a very granular level.
This sense of progress and winning makes people much more emotionally invested in their gym membership as they can feel that they are hitting their goals. This increases the chances members will stick with your gym.
Wearables are also a great way to keep solo gym members motivated. Research shows that people who work out in groups or with gym buddies are more likely to stick with your gym.
How to encourage your members to use smart wearables?
The benefits of smart wearables are clear, so how do you encourage takeup of fitness tracking tech in your gym community?
For a start, you should make it easy for members to obtain smart wearables via your gym.
You could build a relationship with a provider of smart wearables and secure discounts which you can offer to your members. This in itself can be an incentive to join your gym.
Even if you don’t have an official relationship with a wearables vendor, you can still evangelise about this tech to your members in your marketing content. Write a decent email about the benefits of fitness trackers and send it to your members.
One of the big upsides of wearable tech is that it gamifies fitness, creating mini rewards for members. It’s even possible to create leaderboards to encourage friendly competition amongst gym members. Talk about all these benefits and perks to your members.
If you are offering personal training, the trainers can use the data collected from wearables to help support gym members achieve their goals. The possibilities are endless.
Encourage your gym floor staff to talk to members about whether using a fitness tracker is right for them. It’s important for your gym staff to build strong relationships with your members. This creates emotional and social reasons to keep returning to the gym and makes members feel valued and supported. These are important member retention factors.
Some gyms are even using the data collected from wearables in their group fitness programmes to monitor member performance over time. When combined with a supportive and inclusive approach to fitness coaching, and a focus on people setting personal goals that are right for them, this can be a really powerful way to keep gym members coming back time and time again.
Integrating wearable tech with gym retention data
We’re in an era where data is an invaluable resource, and with AI data processing software there’s so much that gyms can do with this data.
If you use gym retention software lie KeepMe you can monitor fitness data and use it to calculate the retention risks of your members. You can then automate member outreach to help different member segments stay active and engaged.
If you keep a record of which members use wearable tech you can monitor their retention scores and find out just how valuable smart wearables are for improving member retention.
If you want to see how KeepMe can keep your members coming back for more, book a free demo of our software today.
How Social Media Impacts Your Member Retention September 20, 2019 •
The social media efforts of a gym can have a significant impact on customer loyalty, increasing the perception of trustworthiness, creating substantial opportunities for interaction and communication and fostering a sense of belonging and community – all of which have a positive impact on member retention rates.
With 2.45 billion monthly active Facebook users to date, social media has become more influential then ever when it comes to consumer behaviour. With over 60 million active business Pages and 49% of users like a Facebook page to support a brand they like, you cant afford to not be present on social .
However, it is essential for those devising retention and marketing strategies to understand how to use social media to ensure that it delivers the most significant impact, and to avoid common pitfalls that businesses can fall into when using social media that can end up doing more harm than good.
So what are the kinds of things that gyms should be using social media for?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
A Retention Dilemma: Should I ‘Wake Up’ My Inactive Gym Members? September 16, 2019 •
A 2017 survey found that people in Britain were wasting an incredible amount on gym memberships that they aren’t using – up to £558m a year! In that same survey, more than one in 10 people say they hadn’t attended their gym for a whole year, despite, in many cases, having already paid for membership for that period. And this bad habit isn’t just confined to the English: a 2018 Australian survey found that $1.8 billion a year is being spent on unused gym memberships, and broader data from the Statistic Brain Research Institute found that about 67% of gym memberships go unused!
For a business who wants to improve their customer retention rates, these inactive gym members present a unique challenge. While you haven’t yet lost these members (they are, after all, still paying for your subscription), they are also clearly disengaged, and present a high risk of churn. This article explores the best way to approach inactive gym members, and puts forth an argument for ‘sounding the alarm’, rather than ‘letting them snooze’.
Firstly, charging somebody for a service that they clearly are not using is ethically dubious. Even if it is not feasible to ensure that each and every one of your members is making the most of their gym membership, someone who is paying for a gym membership they aren’t utilising at all should raise some red flags. There are many reasons as to why people might not be attending the gym, ranging from injury, to technical billing errors, to unfortunate life circumstances such as family emergencies or tragedies. Would you feel comfortable profiting off someone who is ‘wasting’ their gym membership because they’ve had a death in the family, suffered a serious sports injury, or feel too intimidated to attend the gym? If your answer to that question is ‘no’, then there’s already a strong reason for you to inquire after inactive members.
Secondly, even if you are still enjoying the revenue gained from inactive members, this revenue source is simply a ticking time bomb.
Customer engagement is essential for retention, and an inactive member is not an engaged member. Thus, if you ignore an inactive member, losing their business is virtually inevitable. After all, people will not pay for a service that they get no value from. So, whether or not an inactive member cancels their membership at the end of their fixed contract period or when they next review their recurring payments, the fact is that they will cancel, and you will lose their business… unless you do something to change that.
There are three main reasons why meaningfully waking up your inactive members can serve to improve your customer retention, and consequently, improve your business prospects.
Firstly, inactive members undermine the sense of community at your gym, which will in turn undermine retention. Dr. Paul Bedford (of ‘Retention Guru’ fame) found that many customers actually desire a sense of belonging and community when they join a gym. If you have too many inactive members, it’s extremely unlikely that you will be able to cultivate a strong sense of community within your gym. This will harm your retention efforts in the long-run.
Secondly, failing to wake up inactive members will result in strong customer dissatisfaction. Nobody likes to feel like they’re being ripped off, and even if you didn’t have any negative intentions in waking up your inactive members, such bad intentions might be read into your actions nonetheless. This is bad, since up to 67% of consumers list bad customer experience as one of their primary reasons for churning. Furthermore, even beyond losing these scorned members’ business, the worst case scenario is that they will turn into active detractors of your brand, and scare off potential new customers! In contrast, proactively touching base with your inactive members, and perhaps even giving refunds where appropriate, will leave a good impression of your brand. A good impression can go a long way — not only might it convince an inactive member to re-engage and continue to do business with you, but a good reputation will indisputably attract new members to your doors.
Finally, it is important to address the issue of inactive members because inactive members make it harder for you to make informed business decisions. For example, although inactive members are still technically a part of the gym, allocating gym resources (e.g. class slots/equipment) to them is an inefficient use of capital. The presence of inactive members will also make it more challenging for you to accurately ascertain your retention rate, member satisfaction, and member loyalty. Without getting a clear picture of your customer base, it is difficult for you to make good decisions about how to cater to them. You’d be better off with inactive members re-engaging, or even leaving the gym altogether.
Unlike the age-old idiom about how best to deal with ‘sleeping dogs’, inactive members cannot be left to their own devices. By re-engaging inactive members, you are not only making the most moral business decision, but are likely to also see your retention rate and customer satisfaction rates improve. What further reason do you need to get in touch with that member that’s ‘snoozing’ away?
Focus on Member Retention, Not Just Acquisition August 29, 2019 •
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…
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.
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.
Identify Your Loyal Customers To Increase Retention August 15, 2019 •
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?
Can Personal Fitness Challenges Improve Retention? August 8, 2019 •
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.
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.
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.
5 New Fitness Brands To Use Keepme July 26, 2019 •
Keepme has been working hard to deliver our AI powered member retention software to health and fitness operators. We are thrilled to share the latest version of Keepme with our new partners to help improve and transform the way they manage member retention.
We’re extremely proud to introduce the following fitness brands, spanning across North America, Europe & APAC, who will be utilising Keepme for their very own member retention strategies.
Virgin Active Thailand
Virgin Active, established in 1999, has hundreds of clubs in 8 countries and spans four continents. They are marked out by their commitment to constant innovation, working with expert fitness instructors and maintaining top quality clubs. Despite having over 1.4 million members they see each member as unique and requiring “care, respect and attention”.
Fabryka Formy are one of the leading fitness club providers in Poland. Part of the Benefit Systems subsidiaries, currently a total of 139 clubs are active which include, Calypso, Zdrofit and Fabryka Formy. They boast a friendly environment, enthusiastic and experienced instructors, and a fun atmosphere that’s great for building members’ confidence.
Ontario Racquet Club
Ontario Racquet Club is Canada’s leading family-centred health, wellness and sports club. This family-friendly facility offers services second to none, with every member always “welcomed with a smile.”
Hockessin Athletic Club
The Delaware, US based athletic club is a “health conscious and fitness-focussed” community. Founded by Bob Carpenter in 2007, a big part of their success is attributed to their ability to focus on the needs of individual members whilst fostering a strong, positive sense of community.
Willows Health is Australia’s leading health and lifestyle centre, offering activities which inspire the members to achieve their health, fitness and wellness goals in a supportive environment.
Often the mere fact that a person has made an appointment with someone else is enough to encourage them to keep their commitment to working out at the gym. And after the session, their trainer can ask them if they want to set up another appointment, ensuring that they attend regularly. This regular attendance makes it more likely that members will stick and not churn.
PTs get results faster
Often gym attendees can get demotivated because they’re putting in lots of effort but they’re not seeing the results they wanted. Having a personal trainer they can train with at your gym, will help them draw up realistic and attainable goals and will help ensure that their workouts are the most productive. This will give members a greater sense of personal achievement which will help them form positive associations to working out at your gym. This can be a very powerful factor when it comes to retaining your gym members for longer.
PTs increase members engagement
Research has shown that the more interactions gym goers have with staff the more likely they are to stay. It can be hard to coordinate this kind of engagement for individual members because it means tracking their attendance closely and allocating staff to interact with specific members (although you can use KeepMe to automate this process). So having personal trainers working at your gym means you will be giving members quality engagements with highly trained staff. This will have a positive impact on gym retention.
The cons of personal trainers for your gym
Let’s be honest, a lot of gym members are not willing to pay for additional personal training on top of their membership fees. Only the most dedicated gym members are going to fork out for personal training so you won’t necessarily be able to deliver retention on scale this way, although this is of course a great way to develop a small but loyal segment of customers.
There are lots of reasons why your gym might lack the resources to offer personal training. It might not be viable for your gym, and that’s ok. When it comes to increasing gym member retention there are lots of ways you can do this and using personal trainers is just one of them. Although if you can find the resources to offer this service it can really work wonders in terms of keeping members coming back for more.
A high quality personal trainer can be an incredible asset for your gym and is a great way to retain customers and generate positive word of mouth recommendations.
But it can be hard to properly assess the quality of trainers and it takes a lot of time and knowhow to pick the right candidate for the role. Some qualities to look for:
They are an officially certified trainer
They have great interpersonal skills
The are genuinely interested in helping their clients
They are confident and know exactly how to tailor fitness programs to suit your members
They are self dependent and reliable and won’t need to be heavily managed by your gym to ensure they deliver their services
This should give you an idea of the kind of qualities that are needed for your personal trainers to help improve gym retention. If you can’t ensure that you go through a thorough vetting process then using personal trainers in your gym may not be for you.
Do personal trainers help boost gym retention?
Despite the cons of personal trainers there is no doubt that if you work with the right professionals they can do absolute wonders for membership retention.
If you’re considering this approach, why not try out a few PTs on short term contracts and monitor how effective they are. If you do start using personal trainers, make sure you tell all your members about them and how working with PTs can transform the quality of their workouts and make them more motivated. It will do wonders for your fitness retention rates.
Want to see how improving gym retention can supercharge your revenue and improve your marketing ROI, book a Keepme demo today – it will be worth your while.
Higher Engagement Can Lead To Lower ‘At Risk’ Members June 13, 2019 •
Engagement is key to increasing member retention, and gym owners should focus their marketing efforts on nurturing relationships and communicating with members in the ‘right’ way to help lower membership cancellation rates.
It’s reported that 67% of health club members in the U.S. and Canada retain their memberships for at least 12 months while that figure is even more troubling at 52% in the UK. This leaves considerable scope for improvement and gym owners are now investing both time and resources into exploring their options to help increase member retention rates.
There are, of course, many reasons why a gym member might decide to cancel their membership. Some are out of a gym’s control such as injury or moving to a different location; others are well within, such as motivation and provision of exceptional facilities.
Engagement is key to increasing gym member retention rates
One of the most important aspects to consider when analysing member retention rates is engagement. How engaged members feel can have a significant impact on whether they decide to continue attending sessions, how much they enjoy coming to the gym, how motivated (or demotivated) they become, their loyalty to the gym, and how they view the business and brand overall.
Engagement is all about communication, providing it’s the right kind. Bombarding customers with meaningless, impersonal information delivered in a way that they don’t like to receive it is akin to a pushy door salesman who keeps his foot over the threshold when you’ve politely told him you are not interested.
The importance of creating a strong, personal, emotional, positive connection with each member takes commitment. It takes research and resources and more often than not trial and error too. However it’s well worth doing, and the figures are there to prove it.
So what does it take to nurture these kinds of relationships and build engagement with gym members?
Work the floor
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to engage gym members is by training employees to communicate with them during their workout sessions. Gym members who are on friendly terms with staff members, who feel as though staff have a vested interest in their health and fitness and who receive encouragement, tips, and enjoyable conversation when they go to the gym will feel more motivated to keep up their fitness regime and achieve their goals. IHRSA’s Guide to Health Club Retention found that almost 90% of club members say they value communication from staff members, so encouraging employees to be friendly and familiar faces can improve customer experience and lessen the chances of them cancelling their membership.
Members who feel that they are part of a community when they come to the gym are much more likely to continue to renew their membership year upon year. If members meet like-minded people and make new friends, they are more likely to look forward to their gym sessions and view them as an opportunity to socialise. Having social spaces in the gym and encouraging community hangouts and events either physically or virtually can help strengthen member to member connections and build lasting relationships between them, which, in turn, will improve their relationship with the gym and how they view the brand as an entity.
One aspect that stands out when it comes to member retention is progress. A gym member who fails to see results can quickly become demotivated and disengaged. Therefore, gyms need to provide information to members to enable them to track their progress. Delivered alongside motivational messages, this could be a powerful retention tool. Workout tracking that allows members to set goals (and shows them getting closer to achieving said goals) will remind them why their workouts are so worthwhile.
Follow a consistent onboarding method
When a new member joins a gym the initial six weeks are crucial. According to the 2017 Club Industry Show Member Engagement and Retention report, without an effective onboarding process over half of your new members will terminate their membership within 12 months. Onboarding is a process whereby a member is gradually introduced to the fitness centre via a dedicated personal coach who works with them to ascertain their goals and develop personalised strategies for achieving them.
Keep employees happy
Happy employees can have a significant effect on the atmosphere in the gym, and a good atmosphere is contagious. If employees are invested in the gym and enjoy the role within it they are more likely to feel motivated to do a good job, therefore engaging with members more positively, and committing themselves to provide an excellent member experience.
Regularly reach out to members
Communicating via various platforms with gym members should also be an integral part of any engagement strategy. However, it is essential to get the balance right. Social media, email, TV advertising, mobile messaging, leaflets, surveys, case studies, and videos are just some of the content types you could use to promote the gym, your brand, increase trust and loyalty, and offer incentives to keep your members active and interested.
Use your data
Remember that having several software systems in place to capture and analyse data around member behaviour is vital. Programmes can provide a wealth of information to give valuable insights into how customers prefer to be communicated with, which marketing campaigns have been most successful and can help to identify at-risk members based on their behaviour too. These members can be flagged up and measures are put in place to encourage them to change their minds.
To implement the above gym owners need to fully commit to member engagement and be willing and able to filter instructions down to their employees as well as put resources behind them to ensure that they are consistently and properly carried out. Investing in member engagement and continuing to improve and explore engagement opportunities is imperative if gym owners want to see their member retention rates increase.
From The Experts Series: Dr. Helen Watts – Overcoming anxiety and increasing fitness membership retention May 23, 2019 •
We are pleased to introduce the team of experts who sit on the Keepme Advisory Board, ensuring all our systems are reinforced by cutting edge knowledge of the fitness retention industry. We will feature their insights as part of our “From the Experts” series. Kicking off the series is Dr Helen Watts, a Registered Psychologist, Senior Lecturer in Marketing (Worcester Business School) and holds a PhD in Customer Retention. Helen has provided research and consultancy services to various, high profile membership organisations to help understand the drivers and barriers of membership, and how to provide value to members.
In particular, Helen’s research has been focused on the roles of emotion, anxiety and perceptions of quality and how they affect likelihood of retaining or cancelling membership. Further to this, Helen has explored the differences between high and low contact membership organisations, and the role of interaction and rapport in different types of membership organisations (personal and professional services).
For many gym members, the aim of joining a gym is to increase health, well-being and positive mood, and gyms should provide a service which helps members achieve these things. But, do they? Gyms can, unfortunately, often be a hotbed of stress, discomfort and anxiety, affecting membership retention. Why? Because any physical activity setting presents the threat of public scrutiny and evaluation (Martin Ginis, Lindwall and Prapavessis, 2007). Gyms provide a ‘high interpersonal’ service; reliant on, and at the mercy of, people (staff and other members) to shape the experience of its members. Where there are people there is ‘evaluative threat’; the risk of being judged. In my own research, anxiety was found to be a significant predictor of attrition of fitness club members; the higher the anxiety, the lower the likelihood of member retention (Watts, 2012). In particular, two types of anxiety are often experienced by gym members and can lead members to question their gym membership retention; state anxiety and social physique anxiety.
State anxiety refers to a form of anxiety induced by a particular situation, or state. Some gym members are naturally more anxious than others due to their personality (trait anxiety), but state anxiety can be induced in all gym members if the interactions with staff, instructors, other members, or equipment are not managed effectively. A gym member could be perfectly relaxed most of the time, but situations in the gym environment which make them feel judged or incompetent can soon change a relaxed, happy, loyal member into a nervous, uncomfortable member questioning their gym retention. Which buttons do what? Am I sitting right? Am I doing it right? Am I lifting enough? All questions that may create anxiety for members.
State anxiety has been extensively researched in fitness settings, and has been found to lessen motivation to participate in exercise (Leary, 1992). In particular, group exercise settings can create anxiety in members, due to fear of embarrassment by both the class instructor and other class participants, relating to co-ordination, physique, and physical condition. Class participants can all be provided with the same experience; same instruction, same equipment, but their changes in self-efficacy (how capable and confident they feel) can be hugely different dependent of whether they feel ‘they passed the test’ (Lamarche, Gammage & Strong, 2007).
All that to say, there are ways of combating state anxiety. In group exercise classes, the class instructor can impact the anxiety levels experienced; providing encouragement, social interaction, and positive performance feedback can put participants at ease (Martin and Fox, 2001). How sociable and warm are your instructors? Providing feedback of the member’s exercise performance relative to a ‘norm group’ (group of similar members) could help reduce the feeling of having done something wrong, or not having done enough (Marquez at al, 2002). Consumers are prone to ‘social comparison’, comparing themselves to others as a way of judging themselves, which can help gym members feel ‘normal’ or ‘better’ than others would be comforting and motivating. This is known as ‘positive framing’- presenting information in a positive way rather than a negative way, which can encourage consumers to perceive data in a more positive way, and feel more satisfied. What kind of feedback do your instructors, or machines, provide and how does this make participants feels? Making use of ‘green exercise’; connecting exercise with outdoor environments has also been found to lower state anxiety (Mackay and Neill, 2010) and represents a modern consumer trend to want to simple, connected, authentic, ‘mindful’ experiences. Consumer mindfulness is becoming increasingly associated with satisfaction and customer retention. Are you ‘keeping things real’ with your members?
Social physique anxiety
A specific type of state anxiety, in a fitness club setting, is social physique anxiety. Not only is there the risk of feeling judged, there is the added fear of being judged when partially dressed or in lycra! Whilst body image is a key motivator for joining, perceived body image can actually be worsened through negative gym membership experience. This pressure to ‘look good on the treadmill’ is demonstrated by the rising trend of ‘fitness beauty’; cosmetics being designed specifically to maximise physical appearance during a workout. Ironically, for some members, the gym is an environment that requires you to look good before you sign up, not as a result of joining.
Social physique anxiety (SPA) is, as the name suggests, anxiety related to the physique (Hart, Leary & Rejeski, 1989). SPA occurs when there is a fear that others perceive you physique in a negative way, and can result in low physical activity (Lantz et al, 1997), as well as excessive physical activity (Frederick & Morrison, 1996). Common features of fitness environments (i.e., mirrors and the presence of other exercisers) can increase the perceived risk of evaluative threat and psychological distress during exercise for those who suffer with SPA (Focht & Hausenblas 2004). Mirrors present a reminder of our actual self (where we are now), not our ideal self (where we want to be) …which we prefer to visualise!
Members who suffer from SPA are less likely to be ‘intrinsically motivated’; less likely to be motivated to go to the gym because they ‘want to’, and instead being motivated by feelings of ‘need to’ or ‘should do’ (Brunet and Sabiston, 2009). Similarly, those suffering with SPA are often prone to worrying about not exercising properly rather than focusing on doing as well as they can (Hagger, Hein & Chatzisarantis 2011). SPA can create profoundly negative experiences for members in a group exercise setting who are more likely to stand far away from the instructor and choose to wear concealing clothing (Brewer, Diehl, Cornelius, Joshua, & Van Raaltel, 2004).
So how do we help members who suffer with SPA? How can we become more ‘body-positive’? Some research indicated that SPA can be decreased by including a group cohesion element at the end of the class e.g. a 15 minute discussion on healthy lifestyle and physical activity has been associated with reducing social physique anxiety (Lindwall & Lindgren, 2005). Do your members just exercise and leave? Or is there time built in for conversation and reflection? It is argued that SPA is often higher just at the thought of exercising in a group setting, but it can be reduced after a class has been completed (Lamarche & Gammage, 2010). Perhaps promoting friendly, happy, welcoming footage of a class might help alleviate anxiety and encourage members to come along and join in?
The word ‘provide’ has been used a lot in this article, but in order to acquire and retain gym members, we need to remember that membership is not something that is ‘provided’, it is experienced. This experience, the subtleties of how it feels to be around unfamiliar people, equipment, rules and instructions can impact member retention. What are your members experiencing?
If you want to see how improving gym retention can supercharge your revenue book a Keepme demo today – it will be worth your while.
Levels of Retention May 9, 2019 •
When it comes to creating a good business strategy those in charge need to look at the different ways their customers can relate to their business. An individual customer can have many unique kinds of relationship with a company, and each one must be nurtured in order to not only maximise revenue but to boost their reputation and reach, increase customer loyalty and improve customer retention.
With 53.5% of all new members terminating their memberships within 12 months, addressing the problem with customer retention has never been more vital. In the world of health and fitness, the levels of retention can be separated into various categories. In this article we explore each one in detail examining how gym owners can tap into them, communicate and resonate with their existing and potential customers, and help ensure that their relationship remains strong and positive, therefore lowering the number of members who may become at-risk.
Retention Level 1: The Brand
For any business, getting the branding right is essential. Good branding will ensure that your company’s unique voice is heard, that what your business stands for is clear and that your tone appeals to your target audience. It needs to make a memorable impression and for that impression to be impressive. It gives the company identity and creates a sense of trust within the marketplace.
When creating their branding, gym owners should think about who they are appealing to and what they are trying to say. In the Harvard Business Review’s ‘Elements of Value Pyramid,’ social impact comes top, that means that customers care, perhaps now more than ever, that a brand is socially responsible and holds similar values to their own.
Branding is uniquely powerful in that people can feel they relate to a brand without actually knowing much about it or having any direct contact or experience of that brand. However, in terms of health and fitness, a good branding strategy not only attracts new gym members but also benefits levels of retention and reduces the number of at-risk members by creating a sense of pride in being affiliated with the brand and increasing members sense of loyalty towards it. Gym owners should be alert for anything that might damage their branding and reputation as even a perfectly satisfied member could become at-risk if they no longer feel that their views align with what the business stands for or if a once favorite brand falls from grace and is viewed as unethical or uncool – think the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad.
How a member associates themselves with the gym as a brand is naturally linked to levels of retention, as while a member can be connected at a product level, i.e. connected to their gym membership, if they are not connected to the brand, the provider of that membership, they won’t feel that sense of loyalty to stick with that particular provider, and are therefore more likely to become at-risk.
Retention Level 2: The Industry
People can relate to an industry if it aligns with their interests and beliefs. A person can also be persuaded to take an interest in an industry that they had not previously cared about if their interests dramatically change. For example, a person previously unbothered about health and fitness may have a health scare and suddenly want to know everything about it.
Businesses, therefore, must pay attention to what is happening within the industries in which they operate. For example, new trends in the health and fitness industry, if incorporated into the gym, may impress current members thus increasing member retention rates, as well as attract new ones. Paying attention to the latest news in the industry and communicating this back to members also shows that the gym has a vested interest in their health and has positioned themselves as an expert on such matters, and with over 38,000 fitness centres in the US, it is important to stay ahead of the competition!
Becoming a thought leader and incorporating new trends into the business demonstrates a level of care that goes above and beyond just providing products and services and thus strengthens the relationship gym members have with their gyms. Having an emotional connection is imperative, and the more a member feels looked after on a personal level, the more motivated they are to become part of the community and less likely they are to leave the gym.
Retention Level 3: The Products and Services
The quality of products and services a business offers are naturally linked to how satisfied their customers become. Even if a company has excellent branding and has proven themselves to be experts in their industry none of this will matter if the products and services they offer are not adequate. Nothing is more damaging than negative reviews and the most frequent cause for complaint is if a customer feels short-changed by the quality of products or the level of service a business provides to them.
In terms of a gym membership, this means that owners must continuously review their pricing strategies, the range of services they offer, the quality of their customer service and the standard of gym equipment and facilities provided. Staying competitive in all categories is essential for it is important to note that while a customer can be extremely connected to the services the gym offers if they are not loyal to that particular organisation or it no longer provides them with what they need, they could become at-risk. Members who don’t have to queue for equipment, who are impressed with the standard of equipment and classes, as well as additional facilities such as changing rooms and social spaces, will feel as though they good value for money which is imperative in keeping levels of retention high.
The way a member relates to the gym is also deeply rooted in how connected they feel to it. If a gym dedicates time to nurturing positive relationships with individual members, for example, by motivating employees on the gym floor to talk to members and encourage them, or by organising social events or group exercise sessions, even offering free classes, competitions or discounts they can strengthen the sense of community in the gym. Doing so can increase positivity and encourage members to keep returning to exercise because they view the going to the gym as a positive and sociable experience. This Forbes article discusses why relationships matter as much as products and services in greater detail.
From the above, it is evident that there are different levels of retention and for gym owners to operate at the highest level, they need to devise smart marketing and retention strategies to nurture each one. It is a combination of engaging members across all levels that will lead to minimising the number of at-risk members and improving retention rates overall, as even failing to do so on one level, despite having continual positive engagement through the others, could mean a member decides to cancel their membership regardless.
Coaching The Knowledge Era May 2, 2019 •
How can gym owners, fitness coaches and fitness leaders ensure they don’t become redundant when so much information and technology is now available to gym members?
Fitness coaches and leaders are facing new challenges in the changing landscape of the fitness industry. With technology ever improving and the opportunities for members to learn and take charge of their individual fitness goals increasing, they have been forced to adapt their services to provide something fresh, engaging and more valuable to their clients.
The 2018 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed that the fitness industry continues to grow, and now at least 1 in 7 people in the UK are gym members. This growth means fitness coaches have even more potential customers to whom they can market their services. However, the expectation of what a fitness coach should offer has also shifted, and customers who choose to employ their services expect tailored fitness packages that can do something over and above what now can be delivered through an app, wearable technology or even the gym equipment itself.
So how do gym owners guide their fitness coaches and leaders to find their place in this new era?
Developing an experiential learning cycle
Previously a fitness coach may have discussed a client’s individual fitness goals, and then developed a workout programme that, if followed, should enable them to reach their targets. In recent times, a different approach is beginning to emerge whereby coaches instead encourage learning through experience. Their position now is rather to inspire members to take a vested interested in their fitness, to improve upon their knowledge, and, ultimately take charge of their workouts. This calls for a more fluid attitude to working out, with the individual modifying and developing their exercises as they become fitter, meet and surpass their original goals and set new ones.
Fitness leaders also have added pressure to increase their knowledge and understanding of fitness in addition to related subjects such as health, sports injuries, nutrition and so on for them to continue to remain valuable to clients. Without such expertise, members, who now have so much health and fitness information now available to them at the click of a button, may not see the benefit in hiring a fitness trainer in the first place.
More knowledgeable clientele further supports the idea that fitness coaches and leaders should use their (inevitably limited) knowledge to promote self-teaching. Doing so would enable them to become part of a cycle that continually encourages people to develop an interest in and understanding of their own fitness and health goals, passing on their wisdom, and then moving onto the next.
How does this affect gym member retention?
A gym member who feels in control of their workouts, who feels knowledgeable about their health and who has a desire to continue to learn and improve has a vested interest in their fitness and is, therefore more likely to remain a gym member in the long term.
One of the main reasons gym members quit the gym is because they don’t feel part of a community. A member who feels welcome and who views going to the gym as a social activity is more likely to remain one.
Encouraging this sense of community has become another responsibility that gym leaders and coaches are taking upon themselves to perform. Where a few years ago, a fitness coach would focus on obtaining as many personal clients as possible. In recent times, gym owners have identified further opportunities for them to act in the capacity of teacher and guide, motivator and moral support – all of which encourage members who are demotivated or uninspired to reconnect with the gym and influence them to become active participants in their fitness, giving them the drive to continue towards their personal goals.
Digital fitness coaches to encourage gym member retention
The digital age has also significantly impacted on the way personalised fitness coaching is delivered to gym goers. It is no longer necessary for a fitness coach to be physically present, and employing the services of a coach remotely has meant this once exclusive service is now eminently more affordable and accessible to the masses, and this personalised attention encourages demotivated members to continue using the gym.
Over the last decade, the group training sessions that were once so popular are being forced to step aside as the demand for more tailored 1:1 training sessions increases. People no longer want to feel lost amongst a crowd of others and are beginning to favour the benefits that personalised training techniques from a certified fitness professional can bring.
However, with growing market competition, it is up to gym owners to encourage fitness coaches to offer something more than just a tailored workout programme. Building close relationships with clients, providing dedicated training options and using technology to incorporate fun and contemporary approaches into workouts, such as gamification will help to see gym member retention rates increase, and ensure members are not lost to those gyms which can offer something more.
Offering specialist training in a particular field such as yoga, boxing or even sports nutrition could also give some gyms the edge over their competitors when it comes to attracting new members and increasing member retention. Similarly creating a USP around coaching where specialists in a particular area of health can offer their expertise to clients could also help gyms to gain an advantage.
Communication is still key in member retention strategies
It is important to remember, however, that there is nothing more impactful in business than good communication. Employing excellent communication strategies is where any successful fitness coach or leader will take advantage of advances in technology and learn how to use different platforms efficiently to entice new members as well as motivate existing ones. Personalisation is also vital and can increase click through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% on average.
However, the power of face to face communication and the ‘human’ touch should never be undervalued, and it is through a combination of embracing technology, developing new services and offering a personalised experience that fitness coaches, leaders, and the gyms that employ them can hope to see continued growth and increased member retention rates in the new ‘knowledge’ era.
Improve Retention By Getting To Know Your Members April 25, 2019 •
One of the best ways to improve your membership retention is to make your members feel valued and important. “But how?”, you might ask. Well, as we’ve discussed a few times already on this blog, customers are increasingly demanding personalised service from brands.
According to the 2018 Accenture Interactive Personalization Pulse Report, an extensive 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who “recognise, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations”. An important part of what it means to recognise and remember your members is understanding the key ways that they may be similar or different to each other. This article takes a deeper look into the ways that you can personalise your communications with your members by highlighting five dimensions along which customers can be segmented.
From risk of churn to purchase history, these key categories are those in which your customer base might differentiate from each other, and provide helpful avenues for you to consider targeted member communication:
For example, consider a hypothetical member, Jane. Jane signed up for the gym a few months ago, but has only attended the gym a handful of times since then. In addition, she is coming close to the end of her fixed membership period. Jane is a member with a high risk of churn. The strategy that you use to talk to Jane has to be different from a member who may be at a far lower risk of leaving. So, for example, members of staff could reach out personally to Jane to engage her to find out why she isn’t using the gym, and see if they can do anything to help her. In contrast, a member at a very low risk of leaving may benefit from less engagement (for fear of annoying them).
Duration of membership
Do you know how long each of your members has been with your gym? There are two reasons why you should. Firstly, there is strong evidence that rewarding loyal members directly results in a better retention rate – 82.4% of respondents said they would be “more likely” or “much more likely” to shop at stores that offered loyalty programmes. However, you can’t reward your most loyal members if you don’t know who they are in the first place!
Secondly, the sort of correspondence you want to have with a long-term member is going to look very different from a new member. With a new member, your main goal should be ensuring that they are settling in as well as they can. In contrast, a long-term member ought to be acknowledged for their loyalty. They should also be asked for recommendations as to how the gym could improve; long-term members’ experience at the gym over time can yield valuable insights, since they will be able to compare existing gym strategies with old ones.
Purpose of membership
Even though everyone who buys a gym membership is fundamentally after the same product (gym access), their purpose for wanting that product is likely to differ widely. For example, while some members may be complete beginners to fitness just starting out their health journey, other members may be seasoned athletes looking to develop themselves further in their area of expertise. By differentiating why various members use the gym, you can make your communications strategy more effective.
For example, it would be pointless advertising a coaching certificate course or a high-level personal trainer to someone who’s just started exercising. It would also not be effective to promote a beginner’s kickboxing class to a seasoned MMA fighter. In contrast, imagine targeted communications that acknowledge a member’s purpose at the gym (e.g. lose weight), and make a meaningful suggestion that can help them achieve that goal (e.g. an introductory class to good nutrition). Not only will members feel more supported in their fitness journey, but you may also be more effective at selling add-on purchases — a win-win situation!
Think With Google found that 63% of people expect brands to use their purchase history to provide them with personalized experiences. There’s good reason for this. The services that members have used in the past are a good way to separate one type of customer from another. In the gym context, this could mean distinguishing members that only use the free weights section of the gym from those that only attend group classes. You could even dive deeper into the data, and examine what sorts of classes people are attending.
Understanding what services your customer base is using is an important first-step to serving them better. Once you have that knowledge, you can assign more resources to more popular services, improving the quality of the service that you provide. In addition, you can make targeted promotions and incentives, encouraging people to try facilities or services they haven’t used before, but that complement their existing purchases. The more reasons that people have to use your gym, the more value you provide to their life, and the less likely they are to churn.
For members who may be in more precarious financial situations, such as students or contract workers, one engagement strategy would be to offer these customers a flexible payments scheme or to give them the flexibility to ‘downgrade’ their membership to a discounted rate (with perhaps some reduced membership perks) when necessary. After all, many businesses already offer student discounts, so why not take price discrimination one step further? You stand to gain more from retaining a customer at a discounted rate over the long run, rather than losing them altogether. Additionally, by showing that you are able to work flexibly around your customer’s financial circumstances, your customers will feel cared about.
On the flip side, customers who are working professionals or who are otherwise financially comfortable shouldn’t be offered discounts, or monetary incentives (for referral programmes etc.), since they are likely to be more price insensitive. Other engagement methods should be used with them for greater effectiveness.
By personalising your communications with your members by segmenting them according to one or more of these categories, you can show members that you respect and recognise the unique differences between them. This will improve the effectiveness of your membership communication strategy, improve the level of customer service you offer, and overall, boost retention!
Being A Millennial Gym Member April 18, 2019 •
Millennials, they do things differently.
Whilst many throw their hands up in despair at a generation criticised for being coddled and having no staying power, the reality is very different.
The truth is, there are certainly challenges when it comes to understanding how to market your gym to millennials and how to retain these tricky customers. But there are also huge rewards for those who get it right.
The Millennial Moment
Just like the Baby Boomer generation came to define an era and became a massive source of revenue for canny marketers, the Millennial generation are in the process of transforming how the gym industry targets its offerings. How well they do this will determine how successful they are.
The challenges in retaining millennials in your gym
One of the big challenges gyms have to face when it comes to attracting millennials is price. One study found that over 70% of millennials think gym memberships are too expensive. Instead they’ve been drawn to the experiential appeal of outdoor endurance events like Tough Mudder, or the community vibe of cycling studio programs like SoulCycle.
The thing is, it’s not that millennials are reluctant to spend money, it’s that they understand that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, and they expect high value in exchange for their money.
Millennials are super into fitness. In fact, millennials do more exercise than any other generation. A 2018 study by the Physical Activity Council found that nearly half of millennials participated in high-calorie burning exercise and only 25% were sedentary.
Not only that but fitness is more important to millennials than to any other generation. According to therapist Rachel Kazez:
“It seems like [fitness is] a more active part of their lives, something they do intentionally and as a priority rather than an afterthought. It also seems like they try to make it more enjoyable and colorful, many being willing to spend money on memberships and specialty fitness activities.”
This insight gives us an idea of how you can attract and retain millennials in your gym.
Psychotherapist Nathalie Theodore believes that, “While Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are still mostly working out to burn calories, millennials are turning to fitness as a means of making friends, meeting potential love interests and networking.”
She argues that technology and social media has lead to increased loneliness in millennials, who are now turning to exercise to connect with people and gain a sense of community.
The gyms that will succeed in retaining millennial members will be the ones that are able to make their facilities socially and culturally appealing to members in search of a sense of community and belonging.
Millennials are also more aware of the relationship between exercise and mental and physical wellbeing than any other generation. That’s why spa services like the Stone Creek health club have seen 12% annual growth in revenues, offering services like massage therapy and full body exfoliation treatments. A growing number of its members are millennials (adults aged under 35).
As gyms begin to adapt to the more sophisticated needs and interests of millennials and younger adults, they’ll reap major rewards. This is the largest cohort on the planet, worth $2.4 trillion globally. And a survey by the International Spa Association found that 60% of respondents are invested in their own personal wellbeing and 56% already attend spas.
We’re not suggesting you turn your gym into a spa, but introducing spa-like services like massage therapies, body treatments and so on may help attract more millennials to your fitness club.
How to retain millennials by nailing your fitness programming
Make it an experience
The majority of millenials would rather spend their money on experiences than material things, so fitness clubs need to offer services that offer unique and memorable experiences. Fitness outlets like The Holmes Group have found that investing in a wide variety of equipment and exercise options whilst fostering engaging member relationships through high-quality interactions and consistent communication online and offline really pays dividends.
This is because millennials can be exceptionally loyal gym members if they believe they are getting a superb value proposition for their money.
Capitalise on community
Smart gyms are realising that it is possible to provide a space where a sense of community can be established, where people feel supported and nurtured in the club environment. According to Derek Brettell of The Club Gym:
“When we were building the club one of the most important things we wanted was for it to be a place where people enjoyed going. A place where people knew they would see familiar faces, be comfortable and feel supported. We wanted people to know that we cared and that they were more than simply a number to us.”
If you want to engage and retain millennials then gone are the days of one size fits all exercise options. You have to start customising your fitness offerings to suit a wide range of members, and be willing to put the time into personalising exercise programs to individuals.
This means you can’t always operate on mass, sometimes it really pays off to focus on building smaller communities of gym members, because if you get it right your gym’s reputation will increase and that will do wonders for your Net Promoter Scores.
Focus on retention metrics
This brings us to how to handle fitness retention. You have to understand the diversity of millennials; this means operating at a niche level as well as looking at the bigger picture. Because of this you need a sophisticated and granular way to manage retention.
This helps you easily monitor and target different segments of your gym membership, pay close attention to their attendance and exercise patterns, and automate your outreach in a granular way. You can use retention software to monitor the Net Promoter Scores or your members. This means you can target promoters for referrals and upselling and you can focus on detractors by solving the pain points they are encountering with your gym.
At the end of the day, millennials are not strange creatures from another planet, they are young people looking for value, purpose, community and personal growth. The more you understand the world from their perspective the better you will be at offering them services that will keep them coming back for more.