Which Communication Methods Should You Use For Greater Member Retention?
March 5, 2020 •
Communication with members is critical. But knowing how and when to communicate is a challenge all facilities face. In discovering the best ways to do so, however, we can hope to improve retention rates significantly.
When it comes to communicating with your members, the options are plentiful. Since the explosion of the digital era and with technological advances ever-improving, the tools available to business owners to deliver practical, immediate comms to their customers has progressed in unimaginable ways.
Each of these avenues presents an opportunity, a new way to connect with a member, to resonate with them, to increase trust, satisfaction, and strengthen loyalty. Conversely, however, because there are so many different ways in which you can communicate with your members, and so many different aspects to consider on how to present and curate the comms you deliver, there are also increased risks. In fact, 89 percent of customers have switched brands thanks to bad customer experience. Communication done poorly could increase frustration, dissatisfaction, mistrust, and increase the likelihood of a person looking to discontinue their membership.
There is no denying that effective communication is integral to high member retention. Human beings crave interaction, and if they use a service that fails to communicate with them effectively, they could end up feeling dissatisfied with it purely for that reason. People cite the main reasons for leaving a gym to be that they didn’t receive any guidance, that they didn’t have a partner to keep them motivated, or that they felt out of place. By communicating with members, it is easy to identify when they are feeling this way and help to reassure them, remotivate them, and even help them find like-minded members to connect with.
If gyms can reach out to their members at the right time, with the kind of content they find valuable, motivating and entertaining then not only can they keep their existing members engaged and happy, but hope to change the mindset of those who are at-risk and turn them into loyal, committed members once more.
So how do gym operators and their teams find out which comms works best on members? Should they email them, call them, send them a text, use social media, engage with them via an app? The answer to this question is that there is no universal formula, and it is through data collection, experimentation, analysis, repetition, and gathering feedback that gyms can hope to create the most effective comms strategy to ensure that member retention remains high.
Some of this information will be offered up by members themselves. During the onboarding process, asking ‘how do you like to be contacted?’ is a simple way of gaining a better understanding of the preferred communication methods of individuals. If someone hates to be bothered by phone and finds it intrusive, it doesn’t matter how fantastic and tailored to them your offer is, they aren’t going to be receptive to it if you try to tell them about it by phone. Another person may find trolling through emails totally boring, and your carefully crafted content will immediately be dragged into the virtual waste paper basket. Give them a call, however, and they feel like you’ve made an effort to contact them personally, that they have the opportunity to ask questions and that they can act immediately with a real human at the other end of the line who is there to help them every step of the way.
It’s also important to consider the kind of information that you want to communicate to your members. Some require a more creative, unique approach, where others are much more responsive to information that is packaged in as factual and straightforward a way as possible. Think also about what you are trying to gain from your comms. Do you want people to sign up for a new class? Complete a survey? Refer a friend? Whatever your end goal is will have an impact on the way you create your content and the vehicles you use to deliver it.
Because people like to receive information differently, you might need to create different ways of communicating the same thing, so you have all your bases covered. It’s not always possible to tailor every piece of comms to the individual, so instead, you can think about separate ways of presenting the information. Some people respond much more enthusiastically to visual stimuli such as powerful imagery or video content; others prefer to have something physical that they can refer back to like a leaflet or flyer. Some people like simple, clear facts, others prefer more flowery language and like to be told a story to help them engage with what’s being conveyed. But of course, these are not the only factors which may affect how you communicate, the location, the time of day, even the changing of the seasons could influence your decision.
This is why to keep up with competitors, creating an omnichannel approach is best. A 2020 report from PWC stated that the number of companies investing in the omnichannel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80%.
Communication channels are tools used by businesses to create a relationship and deliver important messages to their audiences. They are the avenues by which customers experience the products, services, and overall brand, and the way you choose to do so with your customers can either enhance customer experience or detract from it and will have an impact on all aspects of the business from visibility to reputation to sales.
According to a recent survey, texting is still the most widely used form of communication. Of course, the wisest businesses communicate via multiple channels to give the best result. This is a smart move – providing you know which channel to use and when. Understanding the predisposition of technology to members is crucial. A fitness class for the over 80’s may not best be advertised solely on Twitter, for example. Or, if data reveals that the majority of professional women over 40 prefer to be communicated by phone, this should be the primary communication option when you want to target working mums for a new flexible workout programme.
The range of people that are members of a gym today is much broader than in previous decades. This calls for a more variable and more stimulated communication strategy. Fitness and wellbeing now extend to the very young as well as the older generation who are working for longer and remain more engaged in society in proactive and meaningful ways. Because of this, it is crucial to be open and efficient in communication both through innovative and more traditional avenues and to stay informed and on top of industry trends, competitor comms, and smart analytics.
Keepme is a gym member retention tool that has been created to ensure that your facility communicates with customers when they need it most. Not only can you set up automated messages to go out to members when specific criteria are met, but you can also track and analyse marketing campaigns. Keepme’s unique scoring system also allows operators to monitor each member’s Keepme score to ensure that members who are at-risk or on the verge of becoming so are carefully and considerately nurtured back to health.
Fitness marketing that actually works!
February 13, 2020 •
When it comes to fitness marketing, the opportunities are endless. But what makes some marketing strategies more effective than others? In data collection, analytics and personalisation lie the answer.
When it comes to both acquiring new gym members and retaining current ones, gym operators must seek to understand the specific and unique needs of their members. A one size fits all approach is no longer acceptable. If fitness facilities want to stay ahead of the competition, their marketing and retention strategies must reflect a desire to personalise, to solve problems, to create genuine relationships, and to listen to what members want.
To do this, gym operators must have the systems and plans in place to understand the consumer, their current position in their member journey, and their sentiment towards the outlet before reaching out to them.
By sending out the right communication at the right time, you can make sure that your messages are as effective as possible. Likewise, sending the wrong communication out at the wrong time can have the opposite effect and leave members feeling pressured, confused, irritated, or all of the above!
So how can teams work to try to improve member retention rates, to best understand their members, and devise intelligent fitness marketing strategies that work?
The truth is that without the data, you’ll get nowhere. That’s why it has become increasingly crucial for gym operators to invest in intelligent systems in which they can input member data for analysis. AI-powered systems such as Keepme help operators understand member behaviour. This is a tool that can assess which members are at risk of leaving the gym and can break down information into different demographics – from larger cohorts of members such as by age or location to smaller and much more specific groups, right down to individual members themselves. Doing so provides significant opportunities to develop finely tuned, uniquely tailored strategies that make an impressive impact.
There are many different ways that a member might find your gym. It could be through social media, email marketing, word of mouth, and so on. However, the majority of people will do a good old fashioned search to find facilities in their local area (around 54% in fact). Because of this, one of the most powerful marketing tools any gym has is its website. Your website is your platform from which you can showcase what your facility has to offer. It needs to be clearly laid out, simple to navigate, visually appealing, and, perhaps most importantly, visible in search engines. In addition to this, whenever you have a particular campaign, you need to create a landing page on your website where people can find information with a compelling and clear CTA to make it obvious for those that land there what to do next.
To ensure you have an online presence and, therefore, that members can find you, it is important that you understand not just the basics of SEO but all its nuances, variations, and intricacies. The better you can understand how to optimise your site and other online platforms, the more visible your gym will become. 75% of people don’t bother scrolling past page one on search engines, so to be competitive, you need to pay attention and ensure that you remain visible in search engine results pages at all times.
Remember, 47% of consumers view 3-5 pieces of content created by a company before talking to a salesperson from that company, so whenever you create a piece of content, make sure that it counts. Quality content provides value to the customer, so you must take the time to research your target audience for every piece of marketing that you create. The better you do, and the more personal your approach, the more likely a customer will feel as though they are being engaged with, listened to, heard. By empathising, providing solutions, and backing up claims with evidence, you will connect, add value and generate trust, all of which will ensure potential customers and members pay attention to what you have to say.
From the moment a member comes into contact with your facility, their member journey begins, and from the provision of a seamless onboarding experience to every time they communicate with the gym – every instance counts. By taking the time to understand the different routes this journey can take, and by pre-empting all possible reactions, it is possible to identify when members would most benefit from communication. Personalizing messages can improve click-through-rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% on average.
This kind of focused, detail-orientated approach also means that operators can understand when a member is becoming dissatisfied with the service and step in before they decide to churn. This detailed mapping of a member’s journey and the continual monitoring it requires is a mammoth task. Still, in doing so, it creates opportunities to curate finely tuned and highly personalised, targeted campaigns that make a member feel cared for and truly valued. Everything from a warm welcome by staff to special offers delivered when they need motivation to celebrating a member’s successes can ensure they remain engaged, on-track, and loyal to your club.
All the tried and tested techniques for re-engaging lacklustre members and attracting new ones can still be effective -if delivered in the right way. Competitions, exclusive deals, discounts, new classes, referral programmes, and so on can be very impactful. Still, again, it is both a combination of what you do as well as when you do it and who you do it to that creates the most meaningful results. Understanding when people are more likely to respond to promotions, which members would be motivated by new classes and offers, and why some members will love a loyalty programme and others just won’t be interested is key to delivering the right incentives to the right people at the right time.
There is an enormous number of opportunities for fitness businesses to develop impactful marketing campaigns. Budget and workforce will naturally play a part in how often and how many each facility decides to try out. However, the universal truth is that it is by collecting and analysing member data with AI, measuring customer behaviour, researching target audiences, and measuring the success of campaigns that gyms can hope to deliver fitness marketing that actually works!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fitness trend predictions (and what this means for your retention)
January 30, 2020 •
As 2020 gets under way, it’s time to look forward to the year ahead and what it holds for the fitness industry. Let’s take a look at some fitness trends predicted to dominate 2020 and what this means for your retention strategy.
A global study of fitness trends carried out by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) looked at how the world of exercise will look in 2020. They point out that there is a difference between a trend and a fad. A fitness fad is a momentary exercise fashion that is taken up enthusiastically, but only for a brief period. By contrast, a fitness trend is a general change in the way people engage with exercise.
It’s important to understand the difference between a fitness trend and a fad. This is because gym retention is a long term process that you need to invest in… sudden fads that come and go are likely to make for rocky retention metrics as fads come and go rapidly. Whereas if you understand the trends that are emerging in the world of exercise you can make informed decisions about what people want from their gym experience and steer your facility in the direction of positive retention and growth.
The top five fitness trends for 2020 detailed by the ACSM are wearable technology, HIIT, group training, free weight training, and personal training.
Whilst the list contains some old favourites like exercising for weight loss and yoga, it’s also worth noting the rise in interest in exercise for older adults. This is interesting when you consider that the age group most inclined to attend traditional gyms is the 35-54 range. A trend towards older people participating in exercise opens up new possibilities for member acquisition and presents its own challenges in terms of maintaining retention amongst older members.
Now let’s take a look at 3 crucial trends that we think are important when it comes to improving member retention.
It’s interesting that the top trend according to the ACSM study of thousands of fitness professionals is for wearable tech. In the US, wearables were the biggest growth factor in the fitness industry in 2019, accounting for a market volume of $14,528 out of a total volume of $16,837. That means wearables accounted for 86% of all fitness market value in the US in 2019.
When people go to the gym they have certain expectations of what it will be like. If those expectations are not met, they are likely to be disillusioned and become a retention risk. Forward thinking gyms are the ones that are embracing the trend for wearable tech that we will likely see grow in 2020.
Wearables help members track their exercise metrics, making it easier for them to reach the results they want whilst getting constant reinforcement from seeing those metrics move ever closer towards their goals. This can be great when combined with personal trainers because wearables are a great ‘hook’ to keep people motivated and can help them see the value of their exercise program. All this is likely to keep them coming back for more.
As the rigid world of the 9-5 slowly starts to melt away there has been an increased focus on flexibility in the working day. This has translated into a trend for flexible gym memberships as gym-goers seek to fit their exercise around a much more fluid world of work.
One way we can measure the trend for flexible membership is through the growth of ClassPass, an app that helps users access fitness classes for any studio on its extensive network of facilities. So far, Classpass has facilitated over 60 million fitness reservations, and has partnered with over 12,000 studios.
Increased flexibility such as that offered by Classpass can be a big challenge when it comes to improving gym member retention. It means you have to work harder to keep your members happy, or they’ll bounce. Fortunately, it’s becoming much easier to improve retention with automated retention software like KeepMe that helps focus on members who are likely to leave without appropriate care and attention.
Group training is listed at the top 3 exercise trend for 2020 according to the ACSM.
This is really good news for all gym owners who understand the importance of improving member retention. Research shows that people who work out as part of a group and who have lots of human contact are much more likely to stay with your gym longterm.
Gyms need to make sure their group fitness offerings are up to scratch, and offer enough variety to have broad appeal with their membership. It’s a good idea to stay in touch with your members and run surveys to find out what members like about your group exercise offerings… and what they don’t.
If you want to see how AI retention software can get your retention levels trending in a positive direction, book a free tour of KeepMe today.
With retention software like Keepme you can automate member communication so that you can target people who do group exercise so that a member enrolled in Zumba classes isn’t being asked about their experience with the water aerobics class and so on.
Getting a grip on your member metrics is very important. For example, some people are quite content to work out on their own, and can be left to get on with things by themselves. But for others working out alone they may be demoralised and likely to quit. Using our automated retention software you can find out if a member is a retention risk or not, and direct your communications and member outreach accordingly. You can use this approach to encourage people to take up group exercise who would most benefit from working out with other people.
How to keep new members engaged beyond the New Year
January 23, 2020 •
It’s January, which means a fresh influx of new members to your gym. Whilst this is a bumper time for most gyms, it’s important to minimise the churn that usually follows such a high volume of recruits (let’s call it ‘New Years Resolution Syndrome’). Let’s take a look at some ways you can keep your new members engaged with your gym in 2020.
When all is said and done, it’s the way you treat your members that will most influence the likelihood that they will stick with your gym. Many gyms take a long time to work out the best way to treat their members, and many don’t have the strategy and resources to do this. Fortunately, thanks to automated member retention software like KeepMe it’s never been easier to treat your members well. Here’s our no nonsense guide to treating your members right from the start…
It’s time to cut to the chase; the secret to improving member retention is mastering gym membership data.
You can’t improve gym retention by playing a guessing game, you have to be mining your member data for insights into building a retention strategy that works for your gym. Too many gyms focus on member data after the fact. Trying to make sense of a member’s journey when they’ve been with your gym for a while is going to cause you problems, as months and even weeks can make a difference as to whether you turn a member’s retention prospects around.
So, as with all things in life, you need to start as you mean to go on, collecting, analysing and acting on member data from the beginning.
One way you can do this is having a single member retention software with which you monitor retention data.
This needs to be connected up to your member outreach processes so you can directly act on the intelligence you get from your retention data.
Gyms need to understand and monitor the customer journey that your gym members go through. This starts from when people first sign up a new member.
It’s important that you have a solid member onboarding process to maximize the possibility for making your members feel at home in your gym, and be empowered to make the most out of their gym experience.
When onboarding new members keep track of demographic details such as age, gender, location and so on. The more detailed the data the greater the retention snapshot you’ll get of each member. You can then use this data to track retention levels and engage with at-risk members before they are beyond saving (KeepMe designates ‘high risk’ members as those who are likely to cancel if you interact with them, whereas ‘moderate risk’ members are open to positive interactions to turn their retention prospects around).
The first few months of a new gym membership are normally a kind of ‘honeymoon’ period in which your member is motivated to attend the gym. But after this grace period it’s possible that their attendance will start to slip and they could become a retention risk.
There are two essential components to treating new signups in the right way: understanding the importance of building customer relationships, and having a laser focus on improving member retention.
In fact, you need to do both if you want to do either!
Building effective member retention strategies is a complex matter, so it’s vital that you simplify things by using AI software to make sense of all this complexity.
For example, KeepMe has an ‘On-Site’ mobile app that means you can find out when an at-risk member is at one of your gyms. The app helps you direct your floor staff to interact with them. One-on-one staff-member interactions are a strong way to improve member retention, and they increase the chances that your members will come back for more.
Keepme can also be used to automate member communications. For example, you can schedule a NPS survey to be sent out every 90 days (frequent enough to track progress, but not too frequent to annoy people). This will help you track how positively (or negatively) your members view your gym. This gives you a chance to win back people who have issues with your gym, and enroll promoters into your referral schemes.
We hope January is a fantastic time for new gym sign-ups at your gym, and that some of the tips we’ve talked about in this post can be put to use to keep new members sticking with your gym for the long run. You can see KeepMe’s AI retention software in action by booking a free demo today to see how it can improve your gym’s retention levels.
Building Gym Member Retention from the New Year’s Rush
January 16, 2020 •
January can be the busiest time for gyms as new members flock to join. By preparing for this influx of new customers and adapting your retention strategy to care for both them and your existing members, you can hope to prosper in the new year!
The new year brings with it many things. It is a time for fresh starts, a time to reassess, and a time to set new goals. This is true not just for individuals but for businesses as well. The beginning of 2020 is the perfect time for gym operators to evaluate their performance over the past twelve months and consider how they can celebrate highs, learn from the lows, and move forward with a smart, effective retention strategy for the new year that will see their facility prosper.
As we’ve mentioned, the new year is all about fresh starts. It’s about taking stock and then creating a better, brighter, more brilliant version of yourself in the year to come. Getting fit and healthy and losing excess weight is a massive motivator, especially after the indulgences that tend to go hand in hand with the festive season.
In a survey conducted by NPR and The Marist Poll , 44 percent of the 1,075 American adults asked said they were likely to make a New Year’s resolution, and the most common resolutions are around getting healthier and losing weight. However, despite the high number of people making resolutions, about 80% will fail within the first 30 days – which is why people joining and then quickly leaving the gym around this time of year is so common.
In the UK, the weather during January is usually pretty abysmal. If we’re lucky, we might get a flurry of pretty winter snow, that has everyone giddy on mulled wine and building snowmen for 24 hours. Still, the reality is we can probably hope for nothing better than freezing temperatures and grey skies. This has both advantages and disadvantages for gym owners. Bad weather means that people are on the lookout for indoor activities, and working out is one of them. However, bad weather can also mean that people don’t much like leaving their houses at all, so your new gym members must feel motivated enough to head out in the dark and the cold before they lose motivation and have the potential to churn. On the other side of the world, of course, the opposite is true. Places such as Australia are scorching at this time of year, and the desire to get beach body ready could see members flocking to the gym. On the flip side, however, many may ditch their memberships in favour of outdoor pursuits. Changing the seasons can affect member retention and is something that operators need to factor into their marketing efforts.
Another important consideration is how the festive period could affect the perceived value of a gym membership at this time of year. For existing members, they may have resolutions to cut back, to save for a particular event, or to be more frugal with their money this year. If they are not fully engaged with the gym and do not perceive the value of their membership to be worth the spend, this could be one of the first things to make the cut.
Conversely, those who are feeling more abundant in the New Year because of financial gifts might decide to splurge on a gym membership. Then, later in the year, they could start to feel the tug of their purse strings once more and decide that they can no longer justify paying for their membership.
Understandably, gym operators and their teams may find most of their manpower is reserved for new gym members who rush to join the gym during January. However, it is essential to remember that this can have a knock-on effect when it comes to those existing members who may start to feel neglected at this time. If, for example, you roll out special offers and discounted rates to new members to entice them to join, loyal members could feel disgruntled, and this could motivate them to start searching for a better deal elsewhere.
According to the IHRSA, 12% of all new gym memberships occur in January. This signifies the immense potential for gym operators to expand their businesses. However, without considering the reasons why a member might leave or join the gym during this time, this potential can quickly become an opportunity wasted.
December is the time to put effective strategies in place to ensure that you are fully prepared for the January rush. By implementing fresh retention efforts now you can go into the New year feeling confident that your existing members aren’t going anywhere, then refine your focus to ensure that the new members you achieve in January also turn into loyal, spending, brand-loving members who never become at-risk.
By investing in a smart retention tool, such as KeepMe, you have the immediate ability to identify members who are at risk of leaving your gym. After the dust has settled from the January stampede, you can isolate those members who aren’t committed to the gym, who look as though their motivation is waning before they even know it themselves. This gives you tremendous insight and the ability to communicate effectively by delivering personalised and meaningful engagement at precisely the right time.
Staff should be prepared to help members meet their goals, offering a welcoming space, excellent facilities, opportunities for feedback, and focus on making every member feel valued. When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. Focus your retention efforts on providing fantastic customer experience and building robust relationships, and members will be less likely to feel as though parting with their hard-earned cash to pay for a gym membership isn’t worth it.
The new year can be a prosperous time for gym owners. However, it is important not to get a false sense of security. For it is only if the large cohort of members who decide to sign up for the gym in the post-Christmas and New Year rush turn into loyal members, that your recruiting and retention efforts have really paid off.
It is through a combination of smart, effective marketing to your new members, while also continuing to nurture and value your existing ones that gym operators can hope to get this balance right. Teams must be able to send out successful communication that will engage members, motivate them, and ensure their continued membership. Tools like KeepMe are designed to support this work, and by keeping on top of your member data, being alerted to at-risk members, and having the ability to send out automated communications, this process can be streamlined, robust and genuinely useful.
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.
There’s been a significant rise in the use of wearable technology to monitor fitness and activity levels.
From people using apps like Google Fit to measure the amount of steps they take per day, to the success of the Fitbit smart watch, fitness tracking wearables are on the rise.
Forward thinking gyms are not missing the trick to integrate wearbles into their facilities.
According to Chuck Morris of Team 85 in New Jersey, USA, the secret to gym retention is “accountability”:
“Wearable technology separates what a person thinks they did from what they actually did… Without technology, the numbers are like a vapor – hard to touch. Wearables make those numbers tangible and make the goal a person is trying to accomplish much more realistic.”
By being able to monitor metrics they would never have had access to before wearable tech, gym goers are able to experience a sense of achievement and progress on a very granular level.
This sense of progress and winning makes people much more emotionally invested in their gym membership as they can feel that they are hitting their goals. This increases the chances members will stick with your gym.
We’ve written about how setting personal fitness challenges is a great way to improve gym retention, and wearable tech make this even easier to achieve.
Wearables are also a great way to keep solo gym members motivated. Research shows that people who work out in groups or with gym buddies are more likely to stick with your gym.
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.
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.
Membership Retention – DO’S and DON’TS
October 31, 2019 •
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.
|✔ 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?
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.
|✔ 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.
|✔ 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.
|✔ 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!
Should your retention strategy be the same across all outlets?
October 24, 2019 •
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.
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.
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.
How A Smart Member Onboarding Experience Helps Better Retention
August 22, 2019 •
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
The Importance Of Staying In Touch With Members
August 1, 2019 •
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Member Retention: often discussed, so why is it so hard?
June 6, 2019 •
A lot of hard work, research, and strategic thought goes into developing ways to improve gym retention. But knowing the theory of how to retain members is one thing, and actually implementing that knowledge effectively is quite another. Let’s take a look at how to do that.
By looking at how hard gym retention can be, we can start to find more creative and actionable ways to improve gym retention. So let’s start at the beginning…
We’ve probably all got experiences of the difficulties involved in going to the gym… many of us will be all too familiar with the struggle to stay motivated, or even find the time in our busy lives to hit the treadmill. And when budgets are tight, extra “luxury” spending like gym memberships are often the first to go.
Here are some of the main reasons people quit the gym:
Time constraints; finding that magic hour before work (fighting the snooze button) or after work can be tricky, especially for busy people
Cost; research has shown that income is the biggest predictor of weekly levels of physical activity, suggesting membership costs can be a major source of attrition.
Delayed results; we are surrounded by media telling us that we can sculpt rock solid abs in no time at all, and there are lots of unrealistic expectations of how quickly people can see results. It’s also possible to put in lots of effort in an untrained way and quickly get frustrated that nothing appears to be happening. This can easily put member off.
The commute; if people don’t have local gym memberships they can easily be demotivated by having to commute to the gym, especially if this involves battling rush hour traffic.
The atmosphere; the gym atmosphere can be make or break for gym members. Overcrowding can cause a lot of people to quit, poor or dirty facilities or a competitive or unfriendly atmosphere can easily lead to people dropping out.
Isolation; lots of people go to the gym on their own or can’t find a regular gym buddy to go with. It has been shown that people are much more likely to quit the gym when they exercise on their own. In fact one study found that 95% people who joined weight loss programmes with friends completed the course.
Given the difficulties in retaining gym members it’s all too easy to fall back on customer acquisition as an alternative to solving your retention problems. People often join the gym powered by a rush of enthusiasm that “this time they’ll make it” and get that new more shapely body, or lose that weight, gain more energy and so on.
It’s much easier to generate initial enthusiasm for joining the gym than it is to keep that enthusiasm going week after week, month after month and (hopefully) year after year.
Take New Year for instance: people ride high on a rush of motivation fuelled by Christmas excess and a sudden collective interest in self improvement. But studies have shown that 70% of people who join the gym in January quit by May.
It can be tempting to think that most people quit the gym and so it’s a losing battle to focus on retention. However, it’s widely known in business that it’s actually 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an old one.
Despite this, more companies focus on customer acquisition than customer retention. Why is there such a big gulf between our knowledge of the benefits of retention and our actual business practices?
Let’s take a look at an analogy: let’s say you own a shop that sells widgets. So you pay for a sign that says “20% off all boots”. Sure enough, people start to come into your shop to check out your wares. They fall into three groups of people:
Group 1: customers who leave instantly without buying anything.
Group 2: customers who will buy one or two things and then you won’t see them again.
Group 3: customers who will come back time and again.
It’s no surprise that the members of group 1 and 2 outweigh the members of group 3. But that doesn’t mean there’s less value in nurturing group 3. For a start, group 1 may be the largest group but they’ll bring in no revenue at all. Group 2, might not even bring in enough to cover the cost of advertising to them over a sustained period of time. The cost of getting them through the door is much higher than for the loyal customers who already know and trust what you have to offer.
Retaining members, essentially means marketing to people who are already familiar with your fitness offerings and are more likely to buy what you’re selling than a random person off the street. Not only is it cheaper to retain existing gym members than recruit new ones, but improving fitness retention can actually bring in much more money for your gym.
Across most industries, boosting retention leads to a significant lift in profits. In financial services, a 5% increase in retention can increase profits by 25%. That’s because repeat customers tend to buy more products in their lifetime than one-off customers. That means that over time the operating costs of serving them decrease. And you also get a kickback when those customers refer you to their friends and family.
One study found that 60% of customers will recommend brands they are loyal to to friends and family. That’s a lot of unpaid marketing that you’ll get from focussing on improving retention and increasing your Net Promoter Scores. That’s why gyms are increasingly turning to customer retention tools to automate and streamline this lucrative process.
Repeat customers are also less likely to be tempted away by your competition because they have become familiar with your offerings and feel committed to your brand.
The benefits of gym member retention aren’t just financial, there are also significant marketing benefits as well.
A major aspect of effective advertising is knowing exactly what kind of audience you are serving. I.e, who is your ideal customer? But with member retention strategies, you already know who your customers are because they are already coming to your gym. This removes a lot of the guesswork from your marketing efforts. Research has shown that the success rate of marketing to existing customers is around 60-70% compared to just 5-20% success rates marketing to a new customer.
Some business are even focussing exclusively on retention. Here’s a quote from the founder of eCommerce seller Zappos:
“The number one driver of our growth at Zappos has been repeat customers and word of mouth. Our philosophy has been to take most of the money we would have spent on paid advertising and invest it into customer service and the customer experience instead, letting our customers do the marketing for us through word of mouth.”
If you want to see how improving gym retention can supercharge your revenue and improve your marketing ROI, book a Keepme demo today – it will be worth your while.
Do Referrals & Member Retention Go Hand In Hand?
May 30, 2019 •
Referrals are not only a great way to boost sales figures but can actually help keep member retention rates high too, and therefore should be part of every gym owner’s retention strategy.
Any smart gym owner knows that no matter how much time, effort and budget they put into their marketing and retention strategies, without loyal members who are so impressed with their service that they are willing to shout about it and encourage their nearest and dearest to join, their retention rates may remain unstable.
Every new gym member is another person who needs nurturing, encouragement and attention to ensure they remain with the gym. This takes work, time and money, and while a gym owners primary focus may well be on finding new members and retaining them once they join, it is also essential to understand how retention links to referrals and why boosting referrals should be an integral part of the retention strategy overall.
According to the Nielsen Global Trust In Advertising Survey, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends. This means gyms are missing a trick if they aren’t gently encouraging members to get their friends to sign up too.
Word of mouth marketing is hugely influential and cannot be underestimated. A person may be mistrustful of a salesperson who evidently has their own agenda, i.e. to close the deal and make the sale. A friend, however, or even a stranger who bothers to write a review or say something positive on social media is more likely to be doing so because they genuinely believe in the quality of the products and services offered. Therefore, people are more likely to trust the opinions they receive this way and be persuaded by what they say. In fact, word of mouth marketing is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. Having a robust strategy to utilise this, and ensure that your current members are not only spreading positive messages about the gym but actively working for you by encouraging new members to join, can have a significant and hugely positive impact on member retention rates.
So why are referred members more likely to remain members?
One of the important factors to consider when devising a member retention strategy is how to keep gym members motivated. One key component that keeps people coming back to the gym is if they feel it is a welcoming space where they can interact with other members, socialise and have fun. According to a 2014 IHRSA Member Retention Report, almost 60 percent of members credit social motivation as one of the main reasons they continue to use the club.
People who refer their friends and relatives to the gym already have an established relationship; they’ll come together, workout together, spot one another, try new classes, and keep one another motivated, this makes them more likely to stay loyal members and, as a by-product, keep retention rates high.
Social influence can also have a profound and exciting effect on member retention rates. Meaning that if members say positive things about the gym and convince others to join, the new member will also feel positive towards the gym, having had their opinion and beliefs already shaped by their social interactions with their friends. As this study on Social Influence and the Collective Dynamics of Opinion Formation states: ‘In many social and biological systems, individuals rely on the observation of others to adapt their behaviors, revise their judgments, or make decisions.’
Customers who are referred come with an already embedded sense of positivity towards your business and brand. While this expectation must be met, the initial positive perception helps get more members onboard (therefore making your sales teams jobs a lot easier) but also carries with them as they begin to use the gym. If you can continue to meet their needs and expectations, they will likely remain and turn into a loyal customer themselves.
It is also important to note that encouraging referrals can have a positive impact on the referrer as well as the referred. By asking your members to refer you are strengthening your relationship, you are doing business together. You are also asking them and in turn reminding them to think of all the things they love about the services you offer. This can help members feel more invested in (and loyal to) a gym.
Referrals are likely to breed more referrals, particularly if you are incentivising your customers to do so. This ‘snowballing effect’ means that if your members have a positive experience they’ll tell others, and if they have a positive experience, they’ll do the same.
At the heart of it all; however, it is crucial for gym owners to remember that these newly referred customers still require the nurturing, the attention and excellent customer service that your current ones do. If you put all your energy into referrals and hugely incentivise your members to help you but do not then match expectations, retention rates will continue to fall and the time and money you put into creating a referral campaign could result in a poor ROI. Incentivising customers for referrals is fine, but encouraging them to do so organically and naturally is better, and you can do this by providing an excellent service. Then appeal to their ego, let them know that their opinion counts and acknowledge that they clearly have influence and are doing you a favour. Flattery will get you everywhere after all.
A study in the Harvard Business Review showed that bank customers who opened an account from a customer referral were 18 percent more likely to stay with the bank than new customers who weren’t referred. This is because people who refer are kind of like matchmakers. They go out and find people who they think would be a good fit for your gym, who would like what you’re offering. They aren’t just grabbing anyone off the street, and they are finding motivated, interested, engaged people – people who are more likely to remain members and keep your retention rates high — because of this focusing on referrals can be crucial and should be included in every gym owner’s retention strategy.
Book a 30mins demo, to discover more about how you can take back control of member retention with our powerful retention tool.
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
In our article on risk scoring, we’ve talked about the fact that certain types of customers may be at a greater risk of leaving than others. Once you’ve accurately identified which members are ‘at-risk’, the necessary steps to prevent these ‘at-risk’ customers from leaving can then be taken.
For example, consider a hypothetical member, Jane. Jane signed up for the gym a few months
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.
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.
Finally, categorising your members in terms of their financial situation is an integral part of any personalised communications strategy. One big reasons for customer churn is a lack of sufficient funds.
For members who may be in more precarious financial situations, such as students or contract workers, one engagement strategy would be to offer these customers a flexible payments scheme or to give them the flexibility to ‘downgrade’ their membership to a discounted rate (with perhaps some reduced membership perks) when necessary. After all, many businesses already offer student discounts, so why not take price discrimination one step further? You stand to gain more from retaining a customer at a discounted rate over the long run, rather than losing them altogether. Additionally, by showing that you are able to work flexibly around your customer’s financial circumstances, your customers will feel cared about.
On the flip side, customers who are working professionals or who are otherwise financially comfortable shouldn’t be offered discounts, or monetary incentives (for referral programmes etc.), since they are likely to be more price insensitive. Other engagement methods should be used with them for greater effectiveness.
Knowing Your Member’s Experience
April 11, 2019 •
Understanding the factors which affect a gym member’s experience can help owners refine their retention strategies to ensure customers feel satisfied with the service as well as loyal to the brand.
There are many reasons that a person might feel motivated to join the gym. Most commonly these reasons are related to health and fitness, losing weight, toning up, and getting in shape. Though there are others such as gaining strength after an injury or training for a specific event. These initial desires are what inspires a person to sign up for a gym membership in the first place.
However, it is through a continued positive experience when attending the gym and by developing a relationship with the brand that ensures a customer’s loyalty and prevents them from becoming at-risk.
It is a customer’s satisfaction overall that will safeguard their continued membership and make it easier and more predictable for gym owners to identify those who are unhappy with the service. Focusing on customer experience and identifying any issues means that owners can drive their resources and energy towards improvement and problem solving to address customer need and boost gym member retention rates.
Understanding the customer experience is, however, just as much about focusing on what makes people remain gym members as it is about knowing why people leave, as virtugym succinctly puts it: “People can leave for a manner of reasons but usually, it’s because of something that can be controlled by you.”
From the moment a person begins to consider joining the gym, they start to move down a particular pathway. They will perhaps start to research different gyms and consider factors such as the cost of membership, the convenience of location, and provision of facilities. They may search for gyms that offer trial days; they may book a session to look around the gym and talk with staff members, they may try to find offers or discounts or certain flexibilities that make the membership more appealing.
Gym owners, therefore, have a significant opportunity to provide a positive experience, one that makes their facilities stand out from their competitors even at this early stage. The ease of use of their website, the helpfulness and availability of staff to meet with them or talk to them, and the first impression of the facilities all play a part. These factors can all influence not only a customers decision to join that gym in the first place but also provide a lasting impression that could stick with them as they continue to use it.
When it comes to member satisfaction, there are a number of factors that gym owners and their teams can control to ensure a member has a positive experience from the moment they arrive, to leaving the gym and even beyond.
As soon as a person arrives at the gym, their experience can be affected. Can they park easily? Are they welcomed warmly on arrival? Is it easy and straightforward to get into the gym? Ensuring that as soon as a customer steps foot on the premises, they feel as though they are being given personalised attention and that it is a seamless and hassle-free experience to begin their workout, is essential.
Provision of facilities also plays a significant part in member experience. Clean, contemporary and practical facilities are a must, and the higher the quality, the more likely a customer will be impressed. Standard gym facilities such as changing rooms and showers are essential but to stand out, gym owners should consider what other facilities could make their customers feel more appreciated. Social areas, drinks machines, a shop and cafe all add value. However, it is also important to remember the smaller details such as providing hand soap and towels, and making sure the toilets have toilet roll (!) that will make sure the member’s experience is even better.
Fitness technology improves member retention and so provision of the latest equipment is important. It is also crucial that gyms provide a sufficient number of each machine, as well as making sure that gym members understand how to use the apparatus to ensure that their workout sessions are constructive and useful.
Self-efficacy is powerful as this study found, so providing instructions and training on how to use gym equipment is a must. Doing so will again reflect well in a customer’s overall experience and feeling of satisfaction, being respected and looked after.
If members have to queue for machines, or if they become frustrated because they can’t work out how to use them they will start to doubt that they are valued as a customer. If the machines are broken or out of order, or if they feel as though the variety or standard of equipment is not adequate these could all be factors which create a poor impression, make members feel less invested in or cared for, and therefore increase the likelihood of them becoming at-risk.
Gym members who feel connected to the gym are more likely to feel loyalty towards it. If they don’t feel welcome, become self-conscious or uncomfortable or find coming to the gym to be an isolating or challenging experience they will be less likely to want to return. Staff members out on the floor communicating with members, motivating them, helping and advising them and giving them personalised attention can help gym members feel as though they are part of a community, creating a sense of connection and lowering the chances of them becoming at-risk.
The above points all tie into the fact that gyms must continually pay attention to the products and facilities they provide, their communication and customer service and how they can make customers feel valued and motivated. 81% of consumers are more likely to give a company repeated business after good service, and companies that prioritise the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors, so it is certainly well worth including these factors in your retention strategy.
Understanding the specific struggles that gym members face is crucial and gives owners better insight into how to solve their problems. For example, if a member cannot find a parking space, can’t get on a machine they want to use, or can’t book a class because it’s full, combined with more general issues such as feeling demotivated or not enjoying their workout they may struggle to feel positively towards the gym. In fact, it is proven enjoyment of exercise plays a significant role with studies like this one reporting that those who enjoyed exercise at baseline were more likely to stick with it.
These factors should be recognised and addressed to help provide a better service and boost member retention simultaneously.
Of course, while it is not always possible to ensure that a gym member leaves the gym in a positive mindset, there are plenty of things that gym owners can do and strategies that can be put in place to help make coming to and working out at the gym more of a pleasure than a chore.
Attending the gym should be a fantastic experience from start to finish, one where customers feel as though they are being cared for, looked after, and invested in. It’s not just about the obvious things; it’s the details that count and trying to help customers leave the gym in a positive frame of mind and reflect that the experience was a good one will encourage them to return time and time again. Being able to analyse and identify patterns that could lead members to have either a positive or negative experience is an essential way to help gym owners and their teams recognise when a member may become at-risk and improve that experience before it is too late.