Why is Retention in the Fitness Industry a Global Problem?

A IHRSA report found that members who have become at risk of cancelling but went on to receive a “successful commitment interaction” were 45% less likely to cancel in the following month than those members who did not experience such an interaction.
March 12th, 2020
Why is Retention in the Fitness Industry a Global Problem?

More and more club owners have realized that creating secure human connections is imperative. This is supported by IHRSA with one report finding that members who have become at risk of canceling but went on to receive a “successful commitment interaction” were 45% less likely to cancel in the following month than those members who did not experience such an interaction.

Recognizing that this is the case is, however, somewhat different from understanding how to build and maintain secure relationships with members that keep them motivated, engaged, and loyal to the brand. And how is it possible to work out which members need your attention most?

Member Engagement – A Checklist

The truth is there are plenty of things that a club can do to help foster member engagement. Is your club:

Invest in Employee Training

A gym that invests in staff and trains them to interact with members in a way that makes them feel connected, welcome, and valued can make a massive impact. The IHRSA’s Guide to Health Club Retention, states that almost 90% of club members say they value communication from staff members.

Encourage Social Interaction

Wearables, group exercise classes, competitions, and social areas can help nudge members to form friendships and socialize to engage in healthy competition. All of which can help them establish an emotional connection with the gym that will make them want to stay. 

Foster Loyalty through Excellent Communication

Spending time reaching out to your members and appreciating them can also add value at a deeper level that can ensure your members stay loyal to your club. Stay in touch with members, keep them updated on your promotions and any social events, and try to make your communications as personal as possible. 

Invest in Software to Capture and Analyze Data

All clubs, no matter how big or small can benefit from a professional software system that will inform them about membership data, customer behavior, and more. The issue of poor member retention is universal, but through solid data collection and the creation of smart, targeted retention strategies this global problem can be solved.

It is clear, that the problem of retaining members is not sporadic or isolated, and gym operators worldwide share the same issue. IHRSA research suggests that overall, the average health club has an attrition rate of 28.6% – a huge number that has a significant impact on the successful running and profitability of the business.

What’s more, it’s not just the bigger clubs that are suffering. In fact, from the smallest studios to the largest chains, no matter the model of the operator, be that multi-site, single site, health club, studio, or 24/7 gym, retention as a whole is a massive problem.

While this may sound all doom and gloom, there is hope. With technology improving year upon year, gym operators have so much more data at their disposal, which can help them to understand why it is so many people quit the gym.

But who has the time to sift through mountains of information and numbers? Who has the time to put in place the tools necessary to capture all the different data sets in the first place? 

Well, that’s where Keepme comes in. It is our passion, and our absolute mission to solve the problem of low member retention rates across the industry. With our AI-powered tool, we make it easy for owners to capture and analyze the data they need. We also find innovative, creative, and practical solutions that work to turn attrition rates around. In doing so, operators can expect to foster committed, loyal, enthusiastic gym members who feel their needs are being met, are emotionally engaged with the gym and will not only stay put but will also feel motivated to shout about how much they love your brand.

The Challenges of Member retention

Reasons for low member retention are numerous and complex. Some operators can blame their poor figures on regional factors as well as broader industry trends. While that’s not incorrect, the truth is that in the majority of cases, a member part ways with a gym because they no longer feel motivated to go. This, unfortunately, is human nature, and it is only through understanding the way the customer thinks, their habits and behavior and devising strategies to intervene in the right way at the right time that operators can hope to see any meaningful changes. In short, engagement counts

However, this is easier said than done, and even the biggest gym chains struggle sometimes with getting it right. Some of the collective global problems that operators face include:

Access to the right mix of marketing tools

Identifying a range of marketing tools and having the ability to test them out and record the results is a mammoth job. Many gyms are no doubt overwhelmed and don’t know where to start; others may find they have the budget and even the workforce to access and operate different marketing tools. Still, the in-depth understanding that is necessary to get the optimum mix and balance is something far more nuanced and requires excellent attention to detail, patience, and trial and error to get right.

Lack of time and resources

On the other hand, many teams simply don’t have the time or the resources to dedicate to proper observation, data collection, and analysis. The effort required to gain insight into all the different opportunities to record member behavior is mammoth, and for smaller operators, this isn’t a viable option.

Lack of clarity around how to predict at-risk members

There are many different theories about how an at-risk member can be identified, and even more about what to do once they have. However, the lack of clarity or provision of a single, evidence-based route to help inform retention strategies means that the problem of retention can quickly become confusing and frustrating. When, despite their best efforts to follow advice, gym owners find that low retention rates fail to improve, this can understandably lead to a lack of motivation and disagreement about how to proceed. 

Keepme was explicitly created to address these issues and combat them successfully. By using Keepme, operators can finally hope to effortlessly gather and analyze member data and learn exactly how to address member issues, frustrations, pain points, and concerns. The tool can simultaneously preempt and predict member behavior to ensure they remain engaged with the gym and, if they do become at risk of leaving, are carefully, intelligently, and gently steered back on the right pathway. 

Consistent engagement results in higher retention – But you need the data first!

The issue of high attrition rates in the fitness industry is a truly universal one. The fact of the matter is that no matter how state-of-the-art your facilities, no matter how slick your branding and marketing are and no matter how friendly and welcoming your team, at the heart of the problem is the need to capture and understand member data. 

Keepme is a smart, powerful tool that can gather every piece of essential data that could change a member’s pathway, and this is where every operator must start if they genuinely hope to tackle and successfully solve the global retention problem. 

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