Why is retention in the fitness industry a global problem?
March 12, 2020 •
More and more club owners have realised that creating secure human connections is imperative. This is supported by IHRSA with one report finding that members who have become at risk of cancelling but went on to receive a “successful commitment interaction” were 45% less likely to cancel in the following month than those members who did not experience such an interaction.
Recognising that this is the case is, however, somewhat different than understanding how to build and maintain secure relationships with members that keep them motivated, engaged, and loyal to the brand. And how is it possible to work out which members need your attention most?
The truth is there are plenty of things that a club can do to help foster member engagement. Is your club:
Investing in employee training?
A gym that invests in staff and trains them to interact with members in a way that makes them feel connected, welcome, and valued can make a massive impact. In fact, the IHRSA’s Guide to Health Club Retention, states that almost 90% of club members say they value communication from staff members.
Encouraging social interaction ?
Wearables, group exercise classes, competitions, and social areas can help nudge members to form friendships, to socialise to engage in some healthy competition. All of which can help them establish an emotional connection with the gym that will make them want to stay.
Fostering loyalty through excellent communication?
Spending time reaching out to your members and appreciating them can also add value at a deeper level that can ensure your members stay loyal to your club. Stay in touch with members, keep them updated on your promotions and any social events, and try to make your communications as personal as possible.
Investing in a powerful software program in place to capture and analyse data?
All clubs, no matter how big or small can benefit from a professional software system that will inform them about membership data, customer behaviour, and more. Keepme is a tool that has been designed by experts who understand the need for speThe issue of poor member retention is universal, but through solid data collection and the creation of smart, targeted retention strategies that this global problem can be solved.
It is clear, that the problem of retaining members is not sporadic or isolated, and gym operators worldwide share the same issue. IHRSA research suggests that overall, the average health club has an attrition rate of 28.6% – a huge number that has a significant and substantial impact on the successful running and profitability of the business.
What’s more, it’s not just the bigger clubs that are suffering. In fact, from the smallest studios to the largest chains, no matter the model of operator, be that multi-site, single site, health club, studio, or 24/7 gym, retention as a whole is a massive problem.
While this may sound all doom and gloom, there is hope. With technology improving year upon year, gym operators have so much more data at their disposal, which can help them to understand why it is so many people quit the gym.
But who has the time to sift through mountains of information and numbers? In fact, who has the time to put in place the tools necessary to capture all the different data sets in the first place?
Well, that’s where Keepme comes in. It is our passion, and our absolute mission to solve the problem of low member retention rates across the industry. With our AI-powered tool, we make it easy for owners to capture and analyse the data they need. We also find innovative, creative, and practical solutions that work to turn attrition rates around. In doing so, operators can expect to foster committed, loyal, enthusiastic gym members who feel their needs are being met, are emotionally engaged with the gym and will not only stay put but will also feel motivated to shout about how much they love your brand.
Reasons for low member retention are numerous and complex. Some operators can blame their poor figures on regional factors as well as broader industry trends. While that’s not incorrect, the truth is that in the majority of cases, a member parts ways with a gym because they no longer feel motivated to go. This, unfortunately, is human nature, and it is only through understanding the way the customer thinks, their habits and behaviour and devising strategies to intervene in the right way at the right time that operators can hope to see any meaningful changes. In short, engagement really counts.
However, this is easier said than done, and even the biggest gym chains struggle sometimes with getting it right. Some of the collective global problems that operators face include:
Access to the right mix of marketing tools
Identifying a range of marketing tools and having the ability to test them out and record the results is a mammoth job. Many gyms are no doubt overwhelmed and don’t know where to start; others may find they have the budget and even the workforce to access and operate different marketing tools. Still, the in-depth understanding that is necessary to get the optimum mix and balance is something far more nuanced and requires excellent attention to detail, patience, and trial and error to get right.
Lack of time and resources
On the other hand, many teams simply don’t have the time or the resources to dedicate to proper observation, data collection, and analysis. The effort required to gain insight into all the different opportunities to record member behaviour is mammoth, and for smaller operators, this isn’t a viable option.
Lack of clarity around how to predict at-risk members
There are many different theories about how an at-risk member can be identified and even more about what to do once they have. However, the lack of clarity or provision of a single, evidence-based route to help inform retention strategies means that the problem of retention can quickly become confusing and frustrating. When, despite their best efforts to follow advice, gym owners find that low retention rates fail to improve, this can understandably lead to a lack of motivation and disagreement about how to proceed.
Keepme was explicitly created to address these issues and to combat them successfully. By using Keepme, operators can finally hope to effortlessly gather and analyse member data and learn exactly how to address member issues, frustrations, pain points, and concerns. The tool can simultaneously preempt and predict member behaviour to ensure they remain engaged with the gym and, if they do become at-risk of leaving, are carefully, intelligently, and gently steered back on the right pathway.
cific , bespoke, detailed information that can make a real difference to their retention strategy.
Consistent engagement results in higher retention – But you need the data first!
The issue of high attrition rates in the fitness industry is a truly universal one. The fact of the matter is that no matter how state-of-the-art your facilities, no matter how slick your branding and marketing are and no matter how friendly and welcoming your team, at the heart of the problem is the need to capture and understand member data.
Keepme is a smart, powerful tool that can gather every piece of essential data that could change a member’s pathway, and this is where every operator must start if they genuinely hope to tackle and successfully solve the global retention problem.
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.
Engaging with inactive members – The Best Approach
November 7, 2019 •
When it comes to gym membership, the job of retaining members is often harder than the job of getting new ones. It’s inevitable that some members will become inactive. They’ve not cancelled yet, but the chances are, if their inactivity continues, they soon will, whether it’s next month or next year. To work out the best approach to interact with inactive members, let’s first take a look at why members become inactive in the first place.
One you understand why your members are becoming inactive, you can then create a strategy to communicating with them and winning them back.
There are various factors that indicate at-risk members, such as:
You can prevent a lot of these at-risk members from becoming inactive by overhauling your gym retention strategy.
Using retention management software like KeepMe is a great way to do this.
It’s a dilemma; you have paying gym members, but they’re inactive. Their money’s turning up each month, but they’re not. If you contact them they may be nudged into cancelling sooner than they would have done, losing
But according to the IHRSA, any form of communication with an at-risk member can reduce the likelihood they’ll quit by almost 10%.
Keepme enables you to split the non-attenders, into those that at risk of leaving and those that already have one foot out the door. This allows you to re-enagage members than you could potentially save, without waking up the ones that are nearly gone. Being able to separate your members into these categories enables your messaging is on point and you have confidence in your campaigns.
However good your gym retention strategy is, it’s still inevitable that some members will become inactive. But all is not lost, there’s still plenty you can do to win them back.
Research shows that if gym staff interact with gym members more than twice, then the chance they will churn decreases by 33%.
To communicate effectively with inactive members you need a comprehensive system in place.
You can use AI membership retention software like KeepMe to trigger a notification once a gym member becomes inactive. This can then trigger your re-engagement campaign, which could look something like this:
Create a segmented list of inactive members, picking out factors that may have lead to their inactivity. For example, if you have members that never signed up to a group fitness session, you could target them with a campaign encouraging them to join group workouts. This might motivate them to become active again.
Using segmented lists is very powerful, it can deliver 14% higher open rates than using lists that aren’t segmented.
It’s a good idea to have an email strategy set up from the start so that new members can opt-in to your email list. Make sure it’s tailored to give them info that relates to their fitness interests.
Regular, but not spammy, emails are a good way to reduce the likelihood of members churning. They also set up the expectation that your stays in touch with its members.
We suggest creating an automated email system with which you can reach out to people, say 2 weeks after their last visit.
You could send “we missed you” emails featuring offers that will entice inactive members back into action.
You could send an email that says something like:
“We’ve not seen you for a while. We know life gets busy, so we thought this might entice you back:
Alternatively you could send an email asking “are we getting it right?” so you can address any issues that may be a barrier to getting active.
If they’re complaining of a lack of air conditioning you could mention that you’ve recently had a system installed, and so on.
If your members have opted in to text alerts, these can be a great way to reactivate members. Send a text one month after a member’s last visit. You could send something like this:
“We’ve not seen you in a while. Is there anything we can do to improve? Fill out this short survey and we’ll offer you 15% off out range of fitness classes: [link to survey]”
Alternatively you could send them a special offer…
“It’s been a while. Can we tempt you back with a free extension to your membership contract? Call Karen on [number] to find out more.”
One-to-one contact can be a great way to engage members where possible. So it makes sense to use phone calls to get members active again.
When doing this it’s important that you know exactly who you’re speaking to, so that when you call them you know if they favour hitting weights, pounding a treadmill, or using the pool. E.g, “I notice you were fond of using the pool. I thought you might like to know we’ve just introduced a new pool based gym class you might be interested in.”
You should also design a script for staff to use. They shouldn’t read it off word for word, that will sound clunky, but rather the script should guide your phone team through how to interact with inactive gym members.
We hope this post has shown you the best way to interact with inactive members. Ultimately, it’s all about finding why your members are going inactive and creating a reactivation strategy tailored to their needs.
If you want to take the best approach to improving gym retention, consider finding out more about how KeepMe uses the power of AI to deliver the most effective gym retention solutions possible.
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.
Why Building Relationships With Members Matters
September 26, 2019 •
Encouraging fitness staff to build positive customer relationships with gym members can have a significant impact on member retention.
All smart business owners agree that building relationships is crucial when it comes to attracting and retaining new customers. For gym owners, this has never been more pertinent, and with competition fiercer than ever, they cannot afford to lose customers to competitors because of poor customer experience.
If a member feels emotionally connected to the gym, if they feel as though they are part of a community, and going to the gym is a positive and social experience, they are much less likely to cancel their membership or be swayed by a competitor’s more attractive offer.
Building robust and lasting relationships between members and fitness staff and demonstrates that nothing quite beats the human touch to increase emotional engagement and brand loyalty.
It is up to the employees of the gym who interact with members on a daily basis to ensure that their experience is a positive one, that they are satisfied with the service they receive, that they are provided with opportunities to socialise and make friends and that they are hitting their fitness goals, and making new ones when they do.
While data can be captured when members join a gym or through routine surveys or even via social listening, the information that those members of staff who walk the floor and who are communicating with customers can provide is enormously valuable and shouldn’t be overlooked when trying to devise a smart member retention strategy.
In fact, a TRP study found that the most effective salespeople are the fitness staff themselves, revealing that fitness-staff members can generate 600% more income per member than salespeople alone. The study also determined that frequent interaction between staff and gym members has a direct impact on how often members frequent the gym and how likely they are to renew their memberships when they come to an end.
If fitness staff are briefed on how to approach members, what the right questions are to ask to generate meaningful and valuable feedback, and are able to engage in positive and motivational dialogue with members consistently, they will make them feel valued, heard and motivated. This positive messaging, delivered face to face can have a massive impact on how a member views their gym sessions, their overall experience of dealing with the company, and can even inspire them to share their positive experience thus strengthening trust and creating a better impression of the brand which will, in turn, increase brand loyalty and impress new potential members simultaneously.
Developing a meaningful client base is imperative if gym owners hope to see retention rates improve. Recent studies have placed emphasis on the vital relationship between customer satisfaction and retention and how important retention is for a business’s continued success. It is the role of those who interact with members to seek to understand their concerns, to answer their questions and to build an emotional connection that fosters commitment and loyalty through the development of long term relationships. Cultivating these personal relationships takes time and effort, and it is by providing a unique, tailored experience for each member that meaningful relationships can flourish. It is an ongoing process too, for those that are taken for granted or ignored for too long will quickly deteriorate leaving the neglected member vulnerable and at risk of terminating their membership or being tempted by a hovering competitor
A Walker study revealed that customer experience would likely overtake price and product as the critical brand differentiator as early as next year. Experience can, of course, be related to the products and services offered, but it is also the experience of being at the gym, of how staff members make customers feel from the moment they arrive to the moment that they leave that could have the most significant impact.
If your gym focuses on building these customer relationships, getting to know your members, and providing a level of customer service that goes beyond the expected, this acts as a point of differentiation between you and your competitors. Therefore, relationship building should be an integral part of any smart retention strategy, and by being dedicated to exceeding expectations and providing unique experiences through strengthening bonds between member, gym and brand, owners can hope to see a rise in loyal, satisfied, spending customers and a subsequent increase in retention rates.
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.
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:
By creating useful, exciting, engaging social media platforms gyms are encouraging members to become connected to the gym. Emotional connection is vital when trying to develop brand loyalty, and the better connected a member feels to the gym and the more positive their experience of the brand, the less likely they are to be tempted elsewhere. In fact IHRSA research stated that “reaching out to a member—whether by phone, email, text, or social media—more than doubles the likelihood that they will be a “promoter” rather than a “detractor.”
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.
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.
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.
Why Brand Partners build Brand Loyalty
September 12, 2019 •
Branding partnerships can be an intelligent move for those working on member retention strategies and can turn disengaged members into passionately loyal ones.
When it comes to driving new customers to your business, retaining loyal ones, and securing business growth and success, branding is everything.
With continuously increasing competition, gyms have had to fight harder than ever to attract new customers and hold onto their existing ones. When a customer feels connected to the gym, and believes that they are able to resonate with the brand or they feel that it aligns with their way of thinking, the more likely they are to stay loyal to that gym. The member will then continue to renew their membership and not be swayed by hovering competitors, however tempting an offer they dangle.
Developing a positive, smart company brand is, therefore, critical. Developing a loyal following of customers can ensure continued success, and boost sales of the associated products and services as well.
According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your current customer base. This means that while focusing efforts on enticing new customers it is crucial to turn the spotlight on those you already have, as continually nurturing that relationship, is going to have a significant impact on your business going forward.
Discovering relevant brand partnerships can help gym owners deliver unique customer experiences, enriching their offering, and surprising the customer in unexpected ways. A successful collaboration will not only help to bring a more satisfying and positive product offering but will also boost the brand by affiliation and give the gym access to a broader customer base who are already primed to become loyal customers due to their association with the partner brand.
A loyal customer will not only continue to renew their gym membership year upon year; they are also likely to increase their spending if they feel positively towards the brand. In fact, 67% of millennials will spend more with brands they love compared with older shoppers, and with an increase in younger people joining the gym, this statistic is undoubtedly an important consideration to bear in mind.
Building brand loyalty is an evolving process, and gym owners must be prepared to adapt their strategies according to member data, fitness trends, advances in technology, and impactful events that can change perspectives and attitudes. If a gym wants to build brand loyalty, they must expect to be malleable and flexible and to understand that in the digital age there is a higher demand for more significant benefits, and for those benefits to be immediately available.
A successful brand partnership has numerous positives for the businesses involved, and if utilised effectively, they can:
Increase trust – partnering with a reputable brand gives an impression of being trustworthy. If the partner company is viewed positively and offers excellent customer experiences, this will reflect well on the other brand too.
Provide value: If a gym partners up with a brand that is relevant they will each bring something unique to the table that enhances their customer experience adding intrinsic value to the products and services that each of them provides.
Creates a buzz: If two big-name brands decide to partner together, this usually creates some buzz and excitement in the industry and beyond. This can help businesses reach new customers, promoting awareness, and also opening up PR opportunities that may not have otherwise been available to them.
A significant factor affecting member retention is brand loyalty. If a customer has a positive perception of your brand, they are more likely to develop a sense of dedication and emotional attachment to it. By partnering with another business, gyms should be able to offer an entirely unique customer experience which advances them ahead of their competitors and demonstrates that they are committed to continuing to evolve and improve and provide their customers positive, memorable experiences, thus rewarding them for their continued loyalty and motivating them to remain so.
Building multiple partnerships is a common feature of big brands’ marketing strategies. The smartest of these think beyond the obvious and instead consider creative, surprising alliances that make them stand out amongst the competition.
British Airways, for example, partnered with The White Company to try to provide an enhanced experience for those who find it difficult to sleep in the sky. Manchester United and Uber also teamed up to create a dedicated ”Uber zone” at Old Trafford helping fans to get to and from matches with ease. Dunkin’ Donuts and Waze were an even more surprising partnership but their offering of giving driving commuters the option to place their Dunkin’ order ahead of time was a clever one, providing something unique and valuable in exchange for downloading the Waze app and becoming a rewards member of Dunkin’ Donuts, of course.
Using member data to understand the current reach of your brand and where that reach falls short can help gyms ensure that they pick a brand partner that can reach the gaps they want to fill. If those in charge of the marketing strategy understand how to expand the reach in a measured and targeted way, the partnership is likely to be much more successful as it will be relevant and more natural to integrate. Picking a brand with common goals and values and making sure that agendas align is, of course, crucial to ensure that the partnership is valid.
Considering how members are engaged through CRM and assessing the popularity of the brand partner on social media and other platforms can also determine whether a collaboration will be beneficial. It may be that a potential partner has an influence on platforms where you do not, or that they have had success in areas and through marketing campaigns in the past that would address specific problems and challenges that gym members currently face.
Gyms have been facing an increasingly severe retention battle for many years now. Genuine and considered brand partnerships can undoubtedly be an impactful way to increase engagement overall and turn members into fiercely loyal customers. By building meaningful connections and collaborating with impressive partners, gym owners can hope to excite and inspire their members, thus influencing them to remain faithful both now and in the future.
What Are The Warning Signs of At-Risk Members?
September 5, 2019 •
Recognising the warning signs that indicate a member is at risk can help gym owners step in before it is too late, thus improving their retention rates.
Turning new gym members into loyal customers is a huge challenge for any gym, and seeing those churn rates increase no matter what you do can feel frustrating and make the future of your business seem uncertain. In fact, a study of behavioral statistics in the US by The Good Body found that 50% of the people starting an exercise program will drop out in their first six months. The ability, therefore, to identify when a member is becoming or has become at risk can have a significant and positive impact on member retention rates, as doing so gives gyms time to implement an effective strategy to re-engage those members and prevent them from terminating their membership.
1. A decline in attendance
If a previously frequent attendee starts skipping their workouts and you can see they are no longer following their usual routine, this could indicate that they are becoming disengaged with the gym or have found an alternative fitness regime elsewhere.
2. Increased dissatisfaction
If a customer starts to complain either to a member of staff or via telephone or email, they may be contemplating leaving the gym.
Training staff to be alert to complaints and to make a note of these can help gyms ascertain whether they are no longer meeting their customer’s needs.
3. Their workout partner leaves the gym
Customers tend to listen to their friend’s opinions over any type of marketing, so if one goes, the other could be on their way out too.
4. An inability to hit pre-defined fitness goals
If a member feels as though their workouts aren’t working, they aren’t going to feel the benefit of coming to the gym. Making sure you capture each members fitness goals when they join and monitoring their progress will ensure you can flag up any members who are struggling.
5. A change in routine
A change in routine could suggest a member is less dedicated to their workouts, is dissatisfied with the facilities or is having to wait to use certain equipment – all of which could point to them becoming at-risk.
6. Missed or late payments
If a member misses a payment or starts to pay late, they could be struggling to afford their gym membership. Most view their membership as a non-essential item, and therefore it could be the first to be cut if the purse strings are in need of pulling a little tighter.
7. A change of address
If a member changes their details and they have moved further away from the gym, this could be a warning sign as what was once a convenient location becomes less so.
1. Inspire attendance
Remind members why they joined the gym in the first place. Send aspirational emails that encourage fitness and health. A member may feel disengaged, but by providing motivation and inspiration, they might feel encouraged to stick at it.
2. Ask for and act upon feedback
Businesses tend to hear only 4% from customers, the other 96% will just leave. That’s why it is essential to ask for feedback from gym members.
If a customer complains or expresses dissatisfaction it is important to take this seriously. By listening to customer feedback and acting to make improvements, you demonstrate that you care, and this can help customers to feel valued.
3. Encourage member socialisation
The more engaged a member feels with the gym, the less likely they are to leave. Encourage inter-member socialisation and train staff to be warm, welcoming, and friendly to each member and treat them as an individual. Offering a group fitness class can also improve retention as members tend to visit their facility specifically to engage in group classes.
If at-risk members feel as though they are part of a community and associate the gym with having fun and being social, they will be less likely to leave.
4. Adjust their fitness plan
If a member feels as though they aren’t achieving their fitness goals they may wish to cancel their membership. Turn this around by offering a PT session and assessment to help them manage their expectations but also to reach their goals faster.
5. Assess facilities
If your gym has become more crowded or some facilities need fixing or replacing, make sure that you manage this and fix any broken machines or other equipment to ensure continued member satisfaction.
6. Offer discounts
If a customer no longer feels that the expense of the gym matches the value, they may be tempted to cancel their membership. It could be that they have had to reduce their spending and see the gym membership as an inessential spend. Offering discounts and free classes may help them to feel as though it is worth it once more.
7. Incentivise and encourage brand loyalty
While some membership terminations are unavoidable if gyms work hard to incentivise their members to continue to use their facilities over a competitor they can keep retention rates high. By offering excellent customer service and value, they may be able to retain those customers who are considering leaving the gym for reasons of convenience as it will be worth the extra effort to stick with the brand and service they love.
By recognising the signs that a member is no longer enjoying their membership, it is possible to intervene and change that customer’s perspective. If gyms make sure that they have the tools in place to capture customer data and monitor customer behaviour, they can ensure that they will be able to identify at-risk members and do something about it before it is too late.
If you want to easily identify at-risk members, our AI-powered retention tool can help you capture data the smart way.
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.
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.
Many gyms also try and tap into the latest fitness crazes, be it Zumba classes or wearable tech, without doing so in a strategic way. For example, you need to know what demand there is for your gym offerings in your area as well as understand what it is your current members enjoy/would like from you.
If your gym is located in a working class area, having lots of high-end offerings with frills like physiotherapy, saunas and personal trainers may not be affordable for your members. Similarly, flogging low cost, short term gym memberships in a middle class area is likely to give you all the problems that come with low-cost gym retention and none of the benefits that come from tapping into the budget gym market.
As it is difficult to grasp all the factors that affect member retention, there’s a tendency for gyms to focus on acquisition – it’s straight-forward. When it comes to member retention strategies, there is no one rule for all and therefore working out a solution does require time, which some operators may not have.
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.
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:
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?
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.
They give testimonials and reviews
As well as word of mouth marketing, loyal customers are more than happy to give you positive testimonials and reviews. Remember, it is far more likely that a customer who has had a bad experience will speak up, where satisfied customers tend not to say anything. So, if you are receiving positive reviews from gym members, this suggests they are so impressed with your service that they are motivated to act and let others know.
They associate themselves with your brand
Loyal customers are proud of the brands that they have an affiliation with. They view them in such a positive light that they actively want others to know about their connection. In this way, the brand becomes tied to their identity. An example of this could be, wearing a branded t-shirt and taking a picture to post it on social media. The brand becomes part of their journey, their life story and therefore loyalty increases and intensifies as time goes on.
The Net Promotor Score is a key indication of customer loyalty and demonstrates that by anticipating customer needs, taking proactive communication and personalising interactions across all touchpoints in a customers journey can help to encourage customers to become more committed to your brand.
Know your touchpoints
Paying attention to touchpoints where a negative/positive attitude or emotion as a reaction to a particular experience could affect the customer’s thinking/relationship/ or behaviour towards the gym is imperative.
Gym owners will benefit from mapping out the customer journey from when they first decide they want to join a gym through to the onboarding process and then their continued usage. At each stage of the journey customers will have particular needs and expectations that are either met or not met and this will affect their attitude towards the brand and whether they will continue to be loyal to it, or go elsewhere.
However, analysis has shown that some touchpoints have a greater effect on whether a customer will become loyal or dissatisfied. Consulting Partner for Keepme, Jon Nasta, breaks these down into three distinct categories:
Barriers – the minimum expectations of a customer, which if performed poorly, could lead to a customer walking away, but if performed well won’t have any particular effect on customer loyalty.
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 to set personal fitness challenges can have a positive impact on member retention. Improving health and fitness is one of the most cited reasons people decide to join the gym. However, regardless of good intentions, according to the Fitness Industry Association, most people who sign up to the gym have quit or stopped going after 24 weeks.
Encouraging gym members, therefore, to not only set goals and push themselves to achieve new levels of fitness but to stick to and surpass these goals, can be key to increasing member retention rates.
When a new member joins the gym, it is vital to capture their motivation for doing so. Make sure you identify each specific goal and encourage them to apply the SMART method of thinking to their fitness aims. That is, they should be:
Specific – ask your members to be detailed. ‘I want to lose a stone,’ for example, is better than ‘I want to lose weight.’
Measurable – fitness goals should be quantifiable. This could be in terms of weight loss, lowering BP, being able to run a certain distance within a certain time and so on.
Ambitious – encourage members to set ambitious goals, if they make them too easy they won’t get the satisfaction necessary to motivate them to remain gym members.
Realistic – at the same time carefully manage members expectations of themselves. If they aspire to unrealistic targets they are setting themselves up for failure and will find it difficult to succeed which could lead to feeling demotivated and disengaged.
Time-Bound – setting deadlines for goals creates a sense of urgency and will encourage members to return to the gym frequently.
By capturing a members personal fitness goals, your gym staff can devise a personalised plan to help them achieve them – simultaneously keeping them on the right track and sustaining a positive relationship with exercise but also showing individual members that you care about what they care about and are here to help, encourage and support them.
By focusing retention efforts on the “net growth” of the exerciser through the delivery of personalised workouts and management of their workouts, and by encouraging their efforts and rewarding improvement in an exerciser’s relationship with exercise, the gym can improve exponentially.
Personalising fitness challenges for individual members allows you to gain better insight into their behaviour too. Collecting data in this way can help gyms identify at-risk members and ensure that they intervene if a member becomes dissatisfied with their progress or the service that the gym provides.
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.
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.
Social – members who feel as though they are part of a community, and who regard coming to the gym as a fun and social experience are more likely to remain gym members.
Rewarding – the ability to monitor one’s progress, to achieve predetermined goals and to set new ones provides satisfaction and motivation to continue.
Competitive – healthy, friendly competition can help inspire members to push themselves harder, thus increasing the likelihood of them achieving what they set out to achieve. Competition between members as well as competition with the self can both have a positive effect and therefore help to increase engagement and lower churn rate.
Aspirational – visualising what you hope to become, or seeing others push themselves or challenge themselves can be aspirational and help demotivated members to refocus and work harder to achieve the same level of health and fitness.
There is no denying the psychology behind goal setting, with those who take the time to set goals for themselves more likely to obtain higher levels of achievement. If a gym member feels as though they are making progress and moving forward towards a fitter, healthier, better-looking version of themselves, they are more likely to consider the gym as an effective and valuable organisation that brings great benefits and positives to their life.
Encouraging fitness challenges is an effective and strategic method which can be employed in a number of ways to help individual members feel connected to and engaged with the gym, and therefore increase member retention.
If you want to learn how to capture and use member data more effectively book a demo of our powerful retention tool here.
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.
Forms Of Communication Your Members Appreciate Most
June 27, 2019 •
How can gym owners communicate successfully with their members? This article explores the different methods and discusses how gym owners can ensure appropriate, relevant and effective communication is delivered every time they reach out to both current and potential clients.
When it comes to ensuring member retention, communication really is critical. In fact, those who are able to consistently and effectively communicate with their customer base enjoy stronger relationships and increased sales success. As notable psychiatrist Milton Erickson pointed out, “the effectiveness of communication is not defined by the communication, but by the response.”
It is the way that gyms communicate with their members, not just initially, but over time, that nurtures and strengthens the business-customer relationship, promotes customer loyalty, creates a sense of emotional connection, and can help members feel valued, appreciated and motivated to continue to use their gym membership – and even encourage others to do the same.
Communicating with members can take place via many avenues and analysing how members are communicated with, as well as the types of content that are delivered to them should be part of any smart gym owner’s retention strategy.
It is essential to understand how members prefer to receive communication, as well as the types of messages that motivate them to act. The forms of content that help to develop brand loyalty or encourage members to react in a particular way and the timing that the communication is sent out to ensure the greatest effect are all hugely significant considerations that gym owners should be aware of and actively trying to improve.
However, developing an impactful and successful communication strategy is no mean feat. Controlled experimentation, research, and data analysis often concludes that there is still no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and instead, it is through the development of flexible, malleable and ever-changing communications that the most significant improvements will be seen.
Different types of content and messaging require different communication formats. A competition announcement will require a distinctive tone and message, for example, when compared to a new member discount. A business announcement or press release will need to be shared via different communication channels to general newsletters or social media messaging. Whatever makes it necessary or timely to communicate with customers, the one thing that is patent, as Technogym neatly summarises is the: “biggest mistake that can be made is to approach the communication strategy of the centre in a purist way.”
So what are the different types of communication that gym owners can use to reach out to their members, keep them motivated, create brand loyalty and reduce the likelihood of them becoming at-risk? What are the factors that they need to consider when devising a communication strategy? Let’s take a look.
Face to face communication takes place whenever a member attends the gym. This could be when they first enter and are welcomed into the gym, during their workout on the gym floor, and before they leave the gym too. Fitness instructors and other staff members who make an effort to be welcoming and friendly will be rewarded with loyal customers. As Lifetime training points out in their client’s workbook, “Instructors who work hard to build rapport and form good working relationships with their clients are likely to be rewarded with a good retention rate.”
SMS text messaging is a communication method that gyms use when they want to provide members with short, direct pieces of information that they can respond to quickly and easily or that don’t require a response at all. Smart text messaging is all about delivering a message that will capture interest and motivate customers to act without feeling pressured or hassled into it.
Email is usually the preferred communication method when gym owners want to provide more detailed content, so business news, announcements, fitness, and motivational tips, as well as promotions and offers. Emails should be personalised and engaging both from a content perspective as well as visually.
Some members will also use call lists to collect the phone numbers of members, so when their membership is coming to an end, or if they suspect them to be at-risk staff members may choose to call them to see if they can persuade them to renew their membership or stay on.
Less personalised communication methods come in the form of social media where members can opt-in to follow and therefore receive news and updates. Social media advertising is another way gym owners can try to target particular groups of people with specific messages via advertising campaigns.
When it comes to creating a smart communication strategy that your members will appreciate it is only through experimentation and data analysis that you will be able to decipher which kinds of communication are most successful, being aware, of course, that this may change over time.
Considering the context, taking into account the predisposition to technology that members have, and researching the types of media and content marketing that competitors are employing are all critical. It is also essential to bear in mind additional parameters such as age, gender, location, hobbies, and interests. These parameters will all need careful consideration when deciding how to present different messaging and when choosing which communication formats to employ. Ensuring that the tools are in place (such as capturing engagement, using the NPS method for detailed insights and so on) to enable gym owners to then measure the success of each type compared with sets of measurable objectives will influence their communication strategy going forward and help to to reform and refine it based on the historical data.
As competition between gyms becomes more intense, it is now more critical than ever for gym owners to communicate with their prospective and current members in an appropriate way. If communications are well received, appreciated, and thought to be valuable (by being entertaining, informative, timely, beneficial, etc.) the higher the likelihood that the recipient will act as directed (to sign up, renew, share, recommend, etc.) and the communication will, therefore, be successful.
Just as timely, considered communication can encourage members to promote and feel an affinity towards the brand, to become loyal to the gym, to feel as though they are part of the community, and feel as though they receive value for money and excellent customer service, poor, ill-timed communication can do quite the opposite. If customers feel bombarded, pressured, confused, hassled or overwhelmed by the communication they receive this could make them react negatively towards the gym, and leave them disengaged, demotivated, isolated and at worst actively frustrated or angry, which could quickly lead to them becoming at-risk.
The bottom line is that there are numerous factors to consider when determining how to communicate with gym members and defining these can only be done through trial and error, and by asking members directly. Capturing this data is essential if gym owners hope to create a personalised communication plan that members will be receptive to dependent on their interests, desires, and problems at the time.
It is worth remembering that the landscape of the fitness industry has changed dramatically over the last few years, and will continue to do so. The types of people who use the gym have also become more variable. With these changes, there will no doubt be more opportunities to communicate with members in creative and innovative ways and to keep testing and pushing the boundaries to devise a communication strategy that members will appreciate. Doing so can not only help to boost member retention but could also lower the number of at-risk members by applying the right kind of communication at the right time to capture members attention and deliver the sort of comms they would value to make them reconsider staying a member of the gym.
If you want to learn more about our smart AI-powered retention tool that could keep your retention rates high, why not request a demo today?
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.