September 26, 2019 Beth Cadman

Why Building Relationships With Members Matters

Why Building Relationships With Members Matters

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

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

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

Member retention – communication is key

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

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

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

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

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

Excellent customer relationships mean increased customer loyalty

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

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

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

September 20, 2019 Beth Cadman

How Social Media Impacts Your Member Retention

How Social Media Impacts Your Member Retention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Competitions

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

Photos

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

Events

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

People

Starting Conversations

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

Utilising groups

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

The benefits of using social media for member retention

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

Increased connection

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

Build relationships

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

Boosts motivation

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

Inspires healthy competition

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

Increases reach

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

Can be used for social listening

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

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

September 12, 2019 Beth Cadman

Why Brand Partners build Brand Loyalty

Why Brand Partners build Brand Loyalty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How brand partnerships can boost business equity

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

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

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

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

Brand partnerships and member retention

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

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

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

Data – the key to perfect partnerships 

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

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

Tackling member retention battle

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

September 5, 2019 Beth Cadman

What Are The Warning Signs of At-Risk Members?

What Are The Warning Signs of At-Risk Members?

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

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

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

1. A decline in attendance

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

2. Increased dissatisfaction

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

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

3. Their workout partner leaves the gym

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

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

4. An inability to hit pre-defined fitness goals

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

5. A change in routine

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

6. Missed or late payments

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

7. A change of address

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

Membership Focus

So how can gyms address these warning signs? 

1. Inspire attendance

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

2. Ask for and act upon feedback

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

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

3. Encourage member socialisation

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

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

4. Adjust their fitness plan

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

5. Assess facilities

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

6. Offer discounts

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

7. Incentivise and encourage brand loyalty

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

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

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

August 29, 2019 Danni Poulton

Focus on Member Retention, Not Just Acquisition

Focus on Member Retention, Not Just Acquisition

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

Motivating Members

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

Finding The Ideal Member Can Be Tricky

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

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

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

Understanding What Members Want

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

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

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

Gym

The True Cost of Member Acquisition

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

Beyond the Monetary Benefits of Retention

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

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

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

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

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

August 15, 2019 Beth Cadman

Identify Your Loyal Customers To Increase Retention

Identify Your Loyal Customers To Increase Retention

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

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

How can you identify a loyal customer?

They spend more

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

They’re frequent attendees

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

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

They get involved

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

Training

They advocate for you

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

They give testimonials and reviews

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

They associate themselves with your brand

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

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

Pay attention to your Net Promotor Score

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

Know your touchpoints

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

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

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

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

Examples include:

Clean bathrooms

Working equipment

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

Examples include: 

Freebies

Discounts

Friendliness and helpfulness of staff members

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

Examples include:

How easy it is to work machines

How exercise classes are run

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

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

Rating

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

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

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

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

August 8, 2019 Beth Cadman

Can Personal Fitness Challenges Improve Retention?

Can Personal Fitness Challenges Improve Retention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feedback

Communication is key

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

Setting personal fitness challenges to keep engagement and retention high

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

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

Fitness challenges are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 1, 2019 Beth Cadman

The Importance Of Staying In Touch With Members

The Importance Of Staying In Touch With Members

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

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

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

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

Communication – a key driver in keeping member retention high

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

By communicating regularly with your customers, you are:

Keeping your brand in their minds

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

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

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

Members

Enhancing word of mouth marketing

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

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

Building a relationship

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

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

Anticipating customer needs

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

Winning back at-risk members through excellent communication

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

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

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

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

June 27, 2019 Beth Cadman

Forms Of Communication Your Members Appreciate Most

Forms Of Communication Your Members Appreciate Most

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.

Communication

Communication types to retain gym members

Face to face

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

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

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.

Call Lists

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.

Via social media

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.

Factors to consider when devising your communication strategy

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?

June 6, 2019 Danni Poulton

Member Retention: often discussed, so why is it so hard?

Member Retention: often discussed, so why is it so hard?

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…

Why is it so hard to retain members?

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.

Retention Struggle

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.

Why people focus too much on member acquisition

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.

Gym member retention can help your marketing as well as your revenue

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.

May 30, 2019 Beth Cadman

Do Referrals & Member Retention Go Hand In Hand?

Do Referrals & Member Retention go hand in hand?

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?

People

Socialisation and communication

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

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.’

A positive expectation

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.

Customer service and quality services remain key

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.

Referred customers remain loyal

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.

May 9, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Levels of Retention

Levels of Retention

When it comes to creating a good business strategy those in charge need to look at the different ways their customers can relate to their business. An individual customer can have many unique kinds of relationship with a company, and each one must be nurtured in order to not only maximise revenue but to boost their reputation and reach, increase customer loyalty and improve customer retention.

With 53.5% of all new members terminating their memberships within 12 months, addressing the problem with customer retention has never been more vital. In the world of health and fitness, the levels of retention can be separated into various categories. In this article we explore each one in detail examining how gym owners can tap into them, communicate and resonate with their existing and potential customers, and help ensure that their relationship remains strong and positive, therefore lowering the number of members who may become at-risk.

Retention Level 1: The Brand

For any business, getting the branding right is essential. Good branding will ensure that your company’s unique voice is heard, that what your business stands for is clear and that your tone appeals to your target audience. It needs to make a memorable impression and for that impression to be impressive. It gives the company identity and creates a sense of trust within the marketplace.

Levels

When creating their branding, gym owners should think about who they are appealing to and what they are trying to say. In the Harvard Business Review’s ‘Elements of Value Pyramid,’ social impact comes top, that means that customers care, perhaps now more than ever, that a brand is socially responsible and holds similar values to their own.

Branding is uniquely powerful in that people can feel they relate to a brand without actually knowing much about it or having any direct contact or experience of that brand. However, in terms of health and fitness, a good branding strategy not only attracts new gym members but also benefits levels of retention and reduces the number of at-risk members by creating a sense of pride in being affiliated with the brand and increasing members sense of loyalty towards it. Gym owners should be alert for anything that might damage their branding and reputation as even a perfectly satisfied member could become at-risk if they no longer feel that their views align with what the business stands for or if a once favorite brand falls from grace and is viewed as unethical or uncool – think the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad.

How a member associates themselves with the gym as a brand is naturally linked to levels of retention, as while a member can be connected at a product level, i.e. connected to their gym membership, if they are not connected to the brand, the provider of that membership, they won’t feel that sense of loyalty to stick with that particular provider, and are therefore more likely to become at-risk.

Retention Level 2: The Industry

People can relate to an industry if it aligns with their interests and beliefs. A person can also be persuaded to take an interest in an industry that they had not previously cared about if their interests dramatically change. For example, a person previously unbothered about health and fitness may have a health scare and suddenly want to know everything about it.

Businesses, therefore, must pay attention to what is happening within the industries in which they operate. For example, new trends in the health and fitness industry, if incorporated into the gym, may impress current members thus increasing member retention rates, as well as attract new ones. Paying attention to the latest news in the industry and communicating this back to members also shows that the gym has a vested interest in their health and has positioned themselves as an expert on such matters, and with over 38,000 fitness centres in the US, it is important to stay ahead of the competition!

Becoming a thought leader and incorporating new trends into the business demonstrates a level of care that goes above and beyond just providing products and services and thus strengthens the relationship gym members have with their gyms. Having an emotional connection is imperative, and the more a member feels looked after on a personal level, the more motivated they are to become part of the community and less likely they are to leave the gym.

Retention Level 3: The Products and Services

The quality of products and services a business offers are naturally linked to how satisfied their customers become. Even if a company has excellent branding and has proven themselves to be experts in their industry none of this will matter if the products and services they offer are not adequate. Nothing is more damaging than negative reviews and the most frequent cause for complaint is if a customer feels short-changed by the quality of products or the level of service a business provides to them.

In terms of a gym membership, this means that owners must continuously review their pricing strategies, the range of services they offer, the quality of their customer service and the standard of gym equipment and facilities provided. Staying competitive in all categories is essential for it is important to note that while a customer can be extremely connected to the services the gym offers if they are not loyal to that particular organisation or it no longer provides them with what they need, they could become at-risk. Members who don’t have to queue for equipment, who are impressed with the standard of equipment and classes, as well as additional facilities such as changing rooms and social spaces, will feel as though they good value for money which is imperative in keeping levels of retention high.

The way a member relates to the gym is also deeply rooted in how connected they feel to it. If a gym dedicates time to nurturing positive relationships with individual members, for example, by motivating employees on the gym floor to talk to members and encourage them, or by organising social events or group exercise sessions, even offering free classes, competitions or discounts they can strengthen the sense of community in the gym. Doing so can increase positivity and encourage members to keep returning to exercise because they view the going to the gym as a positive and sociable experience. This Forbes article discusses why relationships matter as much as products and services in greater detail.

From the above, it is evident that there are different levels of retention and for gym owners to operate at the highest level, they need to devise smart marketing and retention strategies to nurture each one. It is a combination of engaging members across all levels that will lead to minimising the number of at-risk members and improving retention rates overall, as even failing to do so on one level, despite having continual positive engagement through the others, could mean a member decides to cancel their membership regardless.

May 2, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Coaching The Knowledge Era

Coaching In The Knowledge Era

How can gym owners, fitness coaches and fitness leaders ensure they don’t become redundant when so much information and technology is now available to gym members?

Fitness coaches and leaders are facing new challenges in the changing landscape of the fitness industry. With technology ever improving and the opportunities for members to learn and take charge of their individual fitness goals increasing, they have been forced to adapt their services to provide something fresh, engaging and more valuable to their clients.

The 2018 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed that the fitness industry continues to grow, and now at least 1 in 7 people in the UK are gym members. This growth means fitness coaches have even more potential customers to whom they can market their services. However, the expectation of what a fitness coach should offer has also shifted, and customers who choose to employ their services expect tailored fitness packages that can do something over and above what now can be delivered through an app, wearable technology or even the gym equipment itself.

So how do gym owners guide their fitness coaches and leaders to find their place in this new era?

Developing an experiential learning cycle

Previously a fitness coach may have discussed a client’s individual fitness goals, and then developed a workout programme that, if followed, should enable them to reach their targets. In recent times, a different approach is beginning to emerge whereby coaches instead encourage learning through experience. Their position now is rather to inspire members to take a vested interested in their fitness, to improve upon their knowledge, and, ultimately take charge of their workouts. This calls for a more fluid attitude to working out, with the individual modifying and developing their exercises as they become fitter, meet and surpass their original goals and set new ones.

Fitness leaders also have added pressure to increase their knowledge and understanding of fitness in addition to related subjects such as health, sports injuries, nutrition and so on for them to continue to remain valuable to clients. Without such expertise, members, who now have so much health and fitness information now available to them at the click of a button, may not see the benefit in hiring a fitness trainer in the first place.

More knowledgeable clientele further supports the idea that fitness coaches and leaders should use their (inevitably limited) knowledge to promote self-teaching. Doing so would enable them to become part of a cycle that continually encourages people to develop an interest in and understanding of their own fitness and health goals, passing on their wisdom, and then moving onto the next.

Knowledge

How does this affect gym member retention?

A gym member who feels in control of their workouts, who feels knowledgeable about their health and who has a desire to continue to learn and improve has a vested interest in their fitness and is, therefore more likely to remain a gym member in the long term.

Personalising a member’s experience is one of the most successful tried and tested remember retention strategies. At-risk gym members could also be targeted by fitness leaders and coaches who could offer their services to work with them to develop manageable but effective workouts that make them feel empowered, and that their fitness goals are within reach.

One of the main reasons gym members quit the gym is because they don’t feel part of a community. A member who feels welcome and who views going to the gym as a social activity is more likely to remain one.

Encouraging this sense of community has become another responsibility that gym leaders and coaches are taking upon themselves to perform. Where a few years ago, a fitness coach would focus on obtaining as many personal clients as possible. In recent times, gym owners have identified further opportunities for them to act in the capacity of teacher and guide, motivator and moral support – all of which encourage members who are demotivated or uninspired to reconnect with the gym and influence them to become active participants in their fitness, giving them the drive to continue towards their personal goals.

Digital fitness coaches to encourage gym member retention

The digital age has also significantly impacted on the way personalised fitness coaching is delivered to gym goers. It is no longer necessary for a fitness coach to be physically present, and employing the services of a coach remotely has meant this once exclusive service is now eminently more affordable and accessible to the masses, and this personalised attention encourages demotivated members to continue using the gym.

Over the last decade, the group training sessions that were once so popular are being forced to step aside as the demand for more tailored 1:1 training sessions increases. People no longer want to feel lost amongst a crowd of others and are beginning to favour the benefits that personalised training techniques from a certified fitness professional can bring.

However, with growing market competition, it is up to gym owners to encourage fitness coaches to offer something more than just a tailored workout programme. Building close relationships with clients, providing dedicated training options and using technology to incorporate fun and contemporary approaches into workouts, such as gamification will help to see gym member retention rates increase, and ensure members are not lost to those gyms which can offer something more.

Offering specialist training in a particular field such as yoga, boxing or even sports nutrition could also give some gyms the edge over their competitors when it comes to attracting new members and increasing member retention. Similarly creating a USP around coaching where specialists in a particular area of health can offer their expertise to clients could also help gyms to gain an advantage.

Communication is still key in member retention strategies

It is important to remember, however, that there is nothing more impactful in business than good communication. Employing excellent communication strategies is where any successful fitness coach or leader will take advantage of advances in technology and learn how to use different platforms efficiently to entice new members as well as motivate existing ones. Personalisation is also vital and can increase click through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10% on average.

However, the power of face to face communication and the ‘human’ touch should never be undervalued, and it is through a combination of embracing technology, developing new services and offering a personalised experience that fitness coaches, leaders, and the gyms that employ them can hope to see continued growth and increased member retention rates in the new ‘knowledge’ era.

April 25, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Improve Retention By Getting To Know Your Members

Improve Retention By Getting To Know Your Members

One of the best ways to improve your membership retention is to make your members feel valued and important. “But how?”, you might ask. Well, as we’ve discussed a few times already on this blog, customers are increasingly demanding personalised service from brands.

According to the 2018 Accenture Interactive Personalization Pulse Report, an extensive 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who “recognise, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations”. An important part of what it means to recognise and remember your members is understanding the key ways that they may be similar or different to each other. This article takes a deeper look into the ways that you can personalise your communications with your members by highlighting five dimensions along which customers can be segmented.

From risk of churn to purchase history, these key categories are those in which your customer base might differentiate from each other, and provide helpful avenues for you to consider targeted member communication:   

Risk of churn

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 ago, but has only attended the gym a handful of times since then. In addition, she is coming close to the end of her fixed membership period. Jane is a member with a high risk of churn. The strategy that you use to talk to Jane has to be different from a member who may be at a far lower risk of leaving. So, for example, members of staff could reach out personally to Jane to engage her to find out why she isn’t using the gym, and see if they can do anything to help her. In contrast, a member at a very low risk of leaving may benefit from less engagement (for fear of annoying them).

Duration of membership

Do you know how long each of your members has been with your gym? There are two reasons why you should. Firstly, there is strong evidence that rewarding loyal members directly results in a better retention rate – 82.4% of respondents said they would be “more likely” or “much more likely” to shop at stores that offered loyalty programmes. However, you can’t reward your most loyal members if you don’t know who they are in the first place!

Secondly, the sort of correspondence you want to have with a long-term member is going to look very different from a new member. With a new member, your main goal should be ensuring that they are settling in as well as they can. In contrast, a long-term member ought to be acknowledged for their loyalty. They should also be asked for recommendations as to how the gym could improve; long-term members’ experience at the gym over time can yield valuable insights, since they will be able to compare existing gym strategies with old ones.

Purpose of membership

Even though everyone who buys a gym membership is fundamentally after the same product (gym access), their purpose for wanting that product is likely to differ widely. For example, while some members may be complete beginners to fitness just starting out their health journey, other members may be seasoned athletes looking to develop themselves further in their area of expertise. By differentiating why various members use the gym, you can make your communications strategy more effective.

For example, it would be pointless advertising a coaching certificate course or a high-level personal trainer to someone who’s just started exercising. It would also not be effective to promote a beginner’s kickboxing class to a seasoned MMA fighter. In contrast, imagine targeted communications that acknowledge a member’s purpose at the gym (e.g. lose weight), and make a meaningful suggestion that can help them achieve that goal (e.g. an introductory class to good nutrition). Not only will members feel more supported in their fitness journey, but you may also be more effective at selling add-on purchases — a win-win situation!

Members

Purchase history

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.

Financial situation

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.

Conclusion

By personalising your communications with your members by segmenting them according to one or more of these categories, you can show members that you respect and  recognise the unique differences between them. This will improve the effectiveness of your membership communication strategy, improve the level of customer service you offer, and overall, boost retention!


April 18, 2019 Faith Christine Lai

Being A Millennial Gym Member

Being A Millennial Gym Member

Millennials, they do things differently.

Whilst many throw their hands up in despair at a generation criticised for being coddled and having no staying power, the reality is very different.

The truth is, there are certainly challenges when it comes to understanding how to market your gym to millennials and how to retain these tricky customers. But there are also huge rewards for those who get it right.

The Millennial Moment

Just like the Baby Boomer generation came to define an era and became a massive source of revenue for canny marketers, the Millennial generation are in the process of transforming how the gym industry targets its offerings. How well they do this will determine how successful they are.

The challenges in retaining millennials in your gym

One of the big challenges gyms have to face when it comes to attracting millennials is price. One study found that over 70% of millennials think gym memberships are too expensive. Instead they’ve been drawn to the experiential appeal of outdoor endurance events like Tough Mudder, or the community vibe of cycling studio programs like SoulCycle.

The thing is, it’s not that millennials are reluctant to spend money, it’s that they understand that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, and they expect high value in exchange for their money.

Millennials are super into fitness. In fact, millennials do more exercise than any other generation. A 2018 study by the Physical Activity Council found that nearly half of millennials participated in high-calorie burning exercise and only 25% were sedentary.

Not only that but fitness is more important to millennials than to any other generation. According to therapist Rachel Kazez:

“It seems like [fitness is] a more active part of their lives, something they do intentionally and as a priority rather than an afterthought. It also seems like they try to make it more enjoyable and colorful, many being willing to spend money on memberships and specialty fitness activities.”

This insight gives us an idea of how you can attract and retain millennials in your gym.

Psychotherapist Nathalie Theodore believes that, “While Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are still mostly working out to burn calories, millennials are turning to fitness as a means of making friends, meeting potential love interests and networking.”

She argues that technology and social media has lead to increased loneliness in millennials, who are now turning to exercise to connect with people and gain a sense of community.

The gyms that will succeed in retaining millennial members will be the ones that are able to make their facilities socially and culturally appealing to members in search of a sense of community and belonging.

Millennials are also more aware of the relationship between exercise and mental and physical wellbeing than any other generation. That’s why spa services like the Stone Creek health club have seen 12% annual growth in revenues, offering services like massage therapy and full body exfoliation treatments. A growing number of its members are millennials (adults aged under 35).

As gyms begin to adapt to the more sophisticated needs and interests of millennials and younger adults, they’ll reap major rewards. This is the largest cohort on the planet, worth $2.4 trillion globally. And a survey by the International Spa Association found that 60% of respondents are invested in their own personal wellbeing and 56% already attend spas.

We’re not suggesting you turn your gym into a spa, but introducing spa-like services like massage therapies, body treatments and so on may help attract more millennials to your fitness club.

Retain Millennials

How to retain millennials by nailing your fitness programming

Make it an experience

The majority of millenials would rather spend their money on experiences than material things, so fitness clubs need to offer services that offer unique and memorable experiences. Fitness outlets like The Holmes Group have found that investing in a wide variety of equipment and exercise options whilst fostering engaging member relationships through high-quality interactions and consistent communication online and offline really pays dividends.

This is because millennials can be exceptionally loyal gym members if they believe they are getting a superb value proposition for their money.

Capitalise on community

Smart gyms are realising that it is possible to provide a space where a sense of community can be established, where people feel supported and nurtured in the club environment. According to Derek Brettell of The Club Gym:

“When we were building the club one of the most important things we wanted was for it to be a place where people enjoyed going. A place where people knew they would see familiar faces, be comfortable and feel supported. We wanted people to know that we cared and that they were more than simply a number to us.”

This sense of community can play a big role in gym retention.

You can foster community in your gym by doing the following:

  • Encourage your staff and trainers to greet members by name
  • Encourage staff to offer help and advice when appropriate
  • Use gym retention software like Keepme to track and pinpoint members at risk of attrition

Personalise gym membership

If you want to engage and retain millennials then gone are the days of one size fits all exercise options. You have to start customising your fitness offerings to suit a wide range of members, and be willing to put the time into personalising exercise programs to individuals.

This means you can’t always operate on mass, sometimes it really pays off to focus on building smaller communities of gym members, because if you get it right your gym’s reputation will increase and that will do wonders for your Net Promoter Scores.

Focus on retention metrics

This brings us to how to handle fitness retention. You have to understand the diversity of millennials; this means operating at a niche level as well as looking at the bigger picture. Because of this you need a sophisticated and granular way to manage retention.

This helps you easily monitor and target different segments of your gym membership, pay close attention to their attendance and exercise patterns, and automate your outreach in a granular way. You can use retention software to monitor the Net Promoter Scores or your members. This means you can target promoters for referrals and upselling and you can focus on detractors by solving the pain points they are encountering with your gym.

At the end of the day, millennials are not strange creatures from another planet, they are young people looking for value, purpose, community and personal growth. The more you understand the world from their perspective the better you will be at offering them services that will keep them coming back for more.