Posted by Insa Duvos on 17 January, 2017
In part three of the fitness business podcast series ‘Get your Fitness Business Ready for 2017’, we spoke with Tom Gannon of Fitpro Business Solutions to discuss the customer experience and how it impacts member retention.
The customer experience is critical to the success of every gym or studio. It doesn’t matter how great a coach you are, if you don’t understand the importance of providing a valuable service to your clients, you’ll find it difficult to grow your member base in the long run. Is it time you crafted a strategy that conveys your number one priority? i.e. your members.
Start today and avoid the frustration further down the line.
Just as we did with part one and two of the series, we’re starting off with a simple question to put things into perspective:
qUESTION 1: WHERE ARE YOU AT?
Before you implement a strategy to improve member retention, you need to know where you stand. How many clients do you have? How many clients are you losing? It’s important to get a percentage, so that you’ll see the number in the context of your gym or studio’s size.
To calculate your member retention rate for the previous year, follow these steps:
Step 1: Calculate how many clients/members you had at the end of the year e.g. 100
Step 2: Calculate the number of clients/members you acquired in the year e.g. 20
Step 3: Calculate the number of clients/members you lost over the year e.g. 12
Step 4: Subtract the number of clients lost from the number of clients gained 20-12=8
Step 5: Subtract the number of net new clients (8) from the number of clients at the end of the year e.g. 100-8= 92
Step 6: Apply the formula:
((No. of clients at end of year - No. of new clients acquired)/Solution step 5) x 100
E.g. ((100 - 20)/92) x 100 = 87% member retention rate, 13% loss rate
When you calculate the percentage of clients you’re losing for different time periods, you may discover interesting patterns. For example, you may find that you lose the most clients at the start of summer. By becoming aware of your current situation, you’ll be able to tailor your member retention strategy to your exact business needs. When you know where you stand, you can move on to the next question.
QUESTION 2: WHAT IS THE MEMBER EXPERIENCE LIKE AT MY GYM/STUDIO?
The member experience is a crucial strategy element. Ask yourself, how do your members feel when they walk in the door? Small changes can make a huge difference to your member’s experience:
Tip 1: Prequalify Your Members
In such a competitive industry, you can’t be picky with your clients, right? Wrong. Bringing the wrong type of clients on board in an attempt to increase your member base quicker is a recipe for disaster. Not only are you wasting time and energy on clients who will never really be happy with the service you provide, but essentially, you’ll be kicking your cancellation rate sky high.
We can’t stress the importance of implementing a prequalification process. This process could include a simple call or a meeting with potential members to talk about their goals and requirements before they sign up. This will help you to determine if they’re in the right mindset and also, if you’ll be able to meet their needs.
If, for example, you want to target members who really want to improve their fitness in the long run (as opposed to those looking for a quick fix), you may choose to solely offer a minimum of 12 week memberships. By introducing this concept in your first meeting or call, you’ll have the opportunity to glean the potential member’s commitment.
Tip 2: Make Contact
What do you do when a new member doesn’t make it to their first class? Nothing? Not anymore! It’s completely normal for first timers to get cold feet when they’re starting a new fitness routine. All your clients may need is a motivational call or message to keep them going. Remember - time is the essence here so the sooner you call, the better.
Making contact with your clients shouldn’t stop here. When members upgrade their training to the next level, keep the motivational messages coming. A call or a short message acknowledging their new found passion and dedication can do wonders.
Calling your members might be out of your comfort zone, but it’s totally worth it. You’ll be surprised, how much they appreciate it. As this appreciation and respect grows, you’ll be one step closer to building an army of loyal customer advocates!
Tip 3: Plan Events
Planning events throughout the year in your studio or gym is a great way of improving your member experience and a fantastic opportunity to interact with your clients. By initiating events, you give them a fun possibility to meet each other and create a valuable experience just along the way. It’s time to get creative!
Members are more likely to stick to their fitness regime if they can build real relationships whilst doing so. There are a great variety of events that you could initiate, to encourage your members to be each other's motivation. When choosing an event, be creative and keep your member’s priorities and interests in mind. From guest workshops to social get-togethers, everything is possible if it fits to your gym or studio’s culture.
Tip 4: Don’t Be Afraid of Goodbyes
There comes a time where you have to say goodbye to a client, in your own interest. You shouldn’t be afraid of doing this! Be honest and tell your client what you’ve already done for them, and that you just cannot meet their expectations. Most of the time; they will understand and respect your honesty.
You might lose some members on the way, but you will keep the ones that truly fit into your gym or studio. People who are not committed and don’t fit to your business, will eat up a lot of resources and will most likely leave for a ‘better’ offer. Also: it’s important to note that every member of your facility will have a huge influence on culture and subsequently, the customer experience on offer.
The fact is that customer experience is vital to member retention. To retain your members, you may need to step out of your comfort zone, appreciate them and show that you really do care about their progress and goals. Even with a careful selection of members, there’ll always be clients who don’t fit your gym or studio at all. Don’t be afraid to let them go - the long term success of your business will be dependent on your ability to make these decisions.
Listen to the full Podcast here:
Topics: Business Management