Onboarding New Members

Once you have members signing up at you gym, you must ensure that the next step, the Member Onboarding Process, goes smoothly!

Developing a frictionless onboarding strategy will maximize your member retention and improve your member experience.

The most important time period in the membership lifecycle is the first four weeks, and you should be making contact frequently within that period.  What you do immediately once your member has signed up to your gym is critical, and will play a key role in their decision to renew their membership with you down the road.

Your current member onboarding process: what does it look like?

There are some common patterns with the onboarding process: First, you set up a meeting to discuss your client’s goals, followed by an individual tour of your facility. You’ll enlighten your new member about your what services your gym has to offer and then answer any questions, doing your best to make sure they feel comfortable. You might even offer to set up a free Personal Training session to help familiarize them with the equipment. Lastly, they’ll be added to the gym email newsletter list, and you’ll exchange friendly smiles and chats throughout their membership and hope that they renew their membership when it ends.

What is wrong with that Member Onboarding Process? Nothing! However, if you really want to make a difference to your membership retention, there are a few things you can do while onboarding your new members to secure their loyalty in your gym.

1) Provide instant value to all new members

Arm your new members with education by teaching them something they didn’t know. Whether it’s showing them new stretches, a little nutritional advice, a complementary work out plan, or a thorough walk through on how to use some of the equipment they are not familiar with.

Education is a kind of value that lasts much longer than a free protein shake, and this simple, yyt effective, personalization will strengthen their decision to join your gym over the others.

2) Creative an environment of engagement with other gym goers

The number one reason that members do not renew their membership is lack of engagement. 

Humans are social creatures, where friendship and a sense of belonging play a significant role in everyday fulfillment. Ask your trainers to be proactive about introducing members to each other. At the end of a fitness class, get your members to introduce each other to whoever they’re next to. Play to people’s competitive nature – get them smiling.

It’s harder to convince themselves out of going to the gym for a workout, when your member looks forward to seeing a friendly face.

3) Show your members how to hold themselves accountable

Are you helping your members achieve their fitness goals? Help your members understand the roadblocks that they have experienced in the past that have stopped them from achieving their fitness goals. Then, make some suggestions as to how they can overcome these roadblocks.

Utilize the knowledge and education that your trainers have in motivating people to achieve their fitness goals. Take the time to have this conversation with your new members during the onboarding process and next time they try and convince themselves that they shouldn’t go to the gym, they will remember that they are accountable only to themselves.

4) Track member engagement

We all know that a lifestyle change is no small feat, and relapsing can be a common occurrence – a two week holiday can have you feeling like you’re back at square one with your fitness.

Take time to let your members know you care: a simple reminder from an external force can help nudge your members to get back on the wagon.

5) Measure your success

At the end of the four week period, your member should be well on their way to crafting out a healthy relationship with your gym. Use their visitation as a measurement of your success of your onboarding process. What works for one gym may not work for another, so test, test, test! 

The best approach to improving your membership retention is to add value from day one. MXM helps make easy work of tracking your members and staying in communication! 

Fitness Center Employee Retention - Set the Right Tone

When your employee retention rate is as high as possible, it keeps the work and the cost down and it will also reflect in your levels of membership retention too. Hiring gym staff can be like jumping on a treadmill that’s reeled up to eleven; it’s hard work that takes all your time and another expense to cut into your bottom line if you have to keep doing it.

The reason why you have employees is to have reliable and capable agents, so you can go home, relax, and sleep soundly at night, leaving them in charge. It is enough hard work and expense to find them that one initial first time.

What Not To Do

You may have heard that the rideshare company Uber has been having some employee problems. It seems that Uber allowed discrimination that caused female employees to feel blocked and undervalued and they tended not to stick around for long. It’s not like there are too many software developers fighting for a few jobs, trust us, hiring talented female programmers is more than just a cultural issue it helps fill critical positions.

Diversity also helps to create the right environment to attract and retain your customers as much as your workers, in retail operations like gyms. Listening to feedback from employees is a simple thing you can do to prevent high employee turnover. When you take action in response to concerning information it’s not just a good policy, it’s good business.

Leadership And Listening in the Fitness Business

Undoubtedly, gyms are much different from the tech industry, but we all need to be attentive in forming and implementing policies that are good for our businesses as well as employees and customers. After all, these three elements are more than a little connected, right?

As a fitness club owner, you are the one who has to handle toxic workplace matters. Now, you may or may not have serious problems. In any case, the only way to consistently hold on to your employees is to have a process that goes from beginning to end of the cycle for all stages of the relationship they have with your gym.

Better Employee Retention Equals Retaining Your Members 

Retaining your actual gym employees is not so different from keeping your customers longer. You can expect that there is some overlap of the factors that make gym staff happy that keeps customers contented. That is a valuable point because it means that how you retain one can improve retention for the other.

You may suffer some losses along the way, particularly in the early stages, but you can apply everything that you learn and use it to hold fast to your people in the long run. The changes you make due to feedback from leaving staff and the way you change your business could make a remarkable improvement in your employee retention. A refocused and motivated team will shift gears, increase its performance, and the change will rub off on your customers too.

Strong Onboarding From The Start

An orientation process and package for new members in a necessity, just as it is for new employees.  This needs to be more than reviewing paperwork and signing forms. The start of your working relationship is the best time to establish the tone and meaning of your relationship, explain your expectations, and define the boundaries. Take an interest in which they are and show that you care about their lives and who they are as people.

Before Trouble Starts, Build Up Morale

Providing a competitive benefits package for your employees can help as long as you stay within the ballpark levels of the local job market.  Usually, people don’t leave because of the money. The chance to be part of something is a great motivator for workers; they want the sense that they count and that the future will bring advancement. Engagement like this may be tough to deliver directly, as a small business owner, but you can turn the need for growth into fuel to drive the business ahead.

When Resignations Happen; Respond Proactively 

When one of your employees voices their desire to leave, find out why, if you can. The hope should be that you could sell them on staying once you understand their motivations. Don’t take all the heat yourself; if your company is growing or you have established two or more locations, maybe it’s time to hire a human resources manager who has the certifications and experience to take charge and develop your people.

Operating and owning a small fitness business is hard enough without dealing with endless recruiting for either members or employees. If you master the basics of employee retention, you can keep both time and expense, at a minimum. Having staff that sticks around longer will give you more time to work on making your business better, and hopefully, it will help you feel a little bit saner on a daily basis too.

Best Practices to Provide Great Customer Service in Your Health Club

Best Practices to Provide Great Customer Service in Your Health Club

As a health club owner, you want to do things that will set you apart from other fitness clubs in your area. We’ve compiled best practices for health clubs to provide great customer service.

Engage and Retain Your Gym Members With These Fitness Challenge Ideas!

Engage and Retain Your Gym Members With These Fitness Challenge Ideas!

The goal of all health clubs is to increase member engagement, because members that actually use your facility are more likely to continue to use the club. However, 44% of all gym members are showing up to health clubs less than four times a month, making them high cancellation risk members. It is difficult to entice those once-a-weekers to come into the club and feel part of the community, as most health club owners know.

3 Key Things Your Customer Engagement Platform Should Provide

3 Key Things Your Customer Engagement Platform Should Provide

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, a customer experience platform is one big way to stand out as a health club. It gives your customers a place to give feedback and be heard, and enhance their experience. But as a fitness club owner, what should you look for when finding the right customer experience platform? We’ve compiled three key things your health club management software should do.

CEM Products and Repeat Responders. Why Should I Listen to You Again?

I was talking to a customer the other day regarding his MXMetrics/Medallia CEM product and he said – “I think we should not be asking people to give us feedback so frequently.  I think it should be twice a year instead of four times because some people keep bringing up something we can’t do anything about.”   Now fortunately we are really good friends. I said “Seriously? Just because YOU don’t want to hear it?!”  “What is it that you can’t do anything about?”


We are strong believers that four times a year in fitness is the right cadence for a member to have the opportunity to provide feedback.  In fact members who provide feedback more frequently and are responded to will have faster increases in their customer experience scores than those responding less frequently.  In addition you will garner massive customer experience metrics. In February of this year, one client looked at 6059 members falling into 4 categories – 1, 2, 3 or 4 responses in the last year.  The increase in Likelihood to Recommend (NPS) scores was linear for repeat responders who provided feedback more frequently. Four interactions per year were more powerful than three.  Three interactions were more powerful than two and two more powerful than one. This client group also does a good job of closing the loop with their members, which has an immediate impact on member experience.  Did you catch that? If you have a solid discipline for humanizing your responses when you close the loop, then as a member I am getting a powerful touch point more frequently. 

The protocol we use is to invite members to give feedback four times a year.  That doesn’t mean we only look at feedback four times a year – it means that if you received an invitation to provide feedback today, you won’t be asked again for 90 days.  You have the opportunity to give feedback four times every year and here is the key – if YOU feel like it. What is more important – whether the customer wants to provide feedback or whether you want to hear it? If the customer is choosing to give it, then let’s listen and respond candidly and warmly.  Your response when you close the loop has an immediate impact on the member experience and ultimately revenue.

Embrace that opportunity

Let’s get back to the issue that “you can’t do anything about.”  Suppose Tom is giving feedback for the 4th time. He rates you pretty high everywhere except or Locker Rooms and Showers. There he gives you 2 on a 0-10 scale and you already know what he doesn’t like because you have seen it before. You read his comment: “You guys need to fix these locker rooms. They’re too crowded and the lockers are too small.  The counters are ugly and you need another toilet.”

This is the 4th time Tom has mentioned this this year.  Would you have been better off not giving Tom the opportunity to give you feedback? In other words, would you have been better off reducing Tom’s opportunity to provide feedback to twice a year instead of four times?  At Club Works we do get asked to reduce the frequency that a member can provide feedback for this very reason and we think it is a bad idea. The first sign that it is a bad idea is the Tom CHOSE to provide feedback.  Meaning that the customer was given the option to provide feedback and took it.  Should you remove that opportunity?  Tom has also provided some very important Perception Metrics in his response that every department can use to manage the member experience.  Should we discount those because we already know that Tom doesn’t like the locker rooms?

Suppose the only feedback system you had was a suggestion box.  You get repeat complaints in that box.  Should you remove the box? Just because you don’t want to hear doesn’t mean the problem isn’t there.

Back to Tom – “Hi Tom, thank for your continued feed back.  We do need to have our reminders about the locker rooms and although I can’t promise when we will redo them, we will redo them. In the meantime we will do everything we can to make you experience here a great one!”

What if the issue is on parking and Tom has already given you feedback 3 other times stating – “You need to do something about the parking.”

“Hi Tom, the parking is the worst during the hours of 5-7 PM.  We shifted some classes further apart to allow for people to exit before others come in.  We are stuck with the parking we have and will do our best to manage it. We would love some suggestions!”

Or maybe – “Hi Tom, I know the parking is a big issue especially certain times of day and we are stuck with what we have. I promise we will work our butts off to make everything else such a great experience that the parking issue will seem small!”  

Remember, the more frequently you hear from that member the more opportunities you have to engage with them. It isn’t about your experience. It is about the member experience.  And guess what? The member experience directly impacts revenue.

Increase the Survey Response Rate at Your Health Club

There are two things to consider, survey response volume and survey response rate and before we go straight into how to increase your response rate, let’s consider whether you need to or not.


In a business to consumer (B2C) environment it is important to consider both response volume as well as response rates. In the fitness industry even the lowest response rates are materially higher than most other retail businesses. The difference is the nature of the relationship. In other retail environments one seeks feedback regarding the transaction. At your health club, the member experience stems from their interactions with our daily operations over repeated visits. This is the relationship we are trying to understand as opposed to a single transaction. This relationship tends to lend itself to higher response rates. The average response rate across all fitness is 21%.

You also need to consider the response volume. It is recommended that you “close the loop” with every member providing feedback within 24 hours. Providing really great responses can be challenging if response volume is high. Part of improving the member experience is to engage with them in a meaningful way. This is the purpose of the closed-loop-feedback process. Too many responses in a day will make this a harder thing to do.

A truly operational customer experience management system (OCEM) should be utilizing all best practices for improving response rates before you have to ask. This includes a concise subject line, being upfront about the amount of time it will take, personable invitation, elegant survey design, not too many open boxes, smart question design and a frequency that makes sense for fitness (every 90 days).

Let’s suppose your response volume is low or pretty manageable and you want to increase your survey response rates. How do we do that without influencing the data? We have learned some great tactics from our own customers.

  • Place well-designed poster boards on easels showing logos from highly recognized and loved brands that use customer feedback. Include your own logo. Have the heading read: “What do all the great companies have in common?” “We all depend on your candid feedback to get better every single day.” “Look for an email with the subject line ‘Member Survey – 3 minutes’ and please give us your feedback.”

  • If you do a member newsletter, include reminders asking for candid feedback.

  • When a membership is sold, be sure that new members are told about the email they will receive asking them to provide feedback. 

  • If you have paper-feedback (i.e. suggestion box) include some signage that reminds members of the email they will receive.

In each of these instances it is important to just create awareness for the survey itself, not the scoring of the survey. Coaching a customer on how to score is all it takes for the customer to feel a genuine interaction turn into nothing more than a transaction. Here is an example from my own experience.

One day in Palo Alto I needed to call on my AAA account to have my car towed to the shop. The tow truck arrived faster than promised and the friendly driver defined helpfulness. When we were all done he handed me a card and said “Will you please go online and score me all 5’s?” That sort of killed it for me. Had he said “If you feel like providing feedback, here is a website and we are only looking for your candid opinion.” I would have felt a lot better about the interaction and would have gone to the site and given feedback. In the former statement it was all about him. In the latter it was all about me.

Create awareness to increase response rates. But always be careful not to influence the response itself. Doing so lets the customer know you are more concerned with your score than their experience.


6 Things to Know About OCEM Software for Fitness Clubs

The race to deliver a great customer experience is on and you are in it – whether you like it or not. CEM software is the vehicle you will be driving if you are to compete in this race. Your vehicle must be quick out of the gate and ready to go for a long time.

Selecting software for something that is new to you can be confusing and all software has features that may look incredible if you have never seen them before. If the first car you ever saw was a 1958 Ford Edsel, you would still think it was incredible.In this article I hope to accelerate your learning so you may benefit from those that have gone before you. There are hundreds of world-class companies that have learned lessons on your behalf. We want you to take advantage of what we have learned in the last 11 years of being CEM practitioners!


1. Head Room
The fitness business is more complex than other transaction-focused retail environments. Understanding the fitness business is critical to designing a system that aligns with the member’s journey and will support your own growth and learning. What you understand about Operational Customer Experience Management (OCEM) when you begin will pale in comparison to what you will understand few months and years into your program. Outgrowing the software quickly will be frustrating and will have your team just trying to figure out how to get higher scores instead of how to improve the member experience. That is a bad place to end up.

2. Engaging
If it isn’t easy to use and doesn’t have “slap you in the face” analytics and reporting, it won’t be engaging. When you are trying to “operationalize” your member feedback system, the software better be helpful, effective, and grab the attention of the people that are running at 100 miles per hour every day. Having great mobile apps, crystal clear dashboards and fast workflows is critical.

3. “1st Degree” Accountability
We love Net Promoter Score. We love the alignment it creates in any size company. But in operations it is only provides “3rd Degree” accountability. If I am a front desk staff member and you tell me our NPS is trending downward (or upward for that matter), my feeling of responsibility to that outcome is 3 degrees of separation away. If you tell me our average Staff Friendliness score is trending down I will now be feeling a little more exposed. But tell me that the Front Desk Staff Friendliness score is trending down and NOW I get it. That is “1st Degree” Accountability. You need to capture the member journey in a set of METRICS that can measure the touch points that matter.

4. Dynamic Reporting
The industry tends to think of this as “real time” reporting. And it is. But Dynamic Reporting isn’t only real time; it is instantly informative. I could have real time reporting that shows up as a spreadsheet or a table and give everyone in the huddle or meeting brain damage trying to figure out what thevreport says. When we think of Live Reporting it is real time, instantly informative, useful for decision making at any level of the organization, and an accurate representation of the member experience.

5. Member Segmentation
Segmentation allows you to get a deep understanding of your members’ experience. Being able to segment by age, gender, different experience categories, members that bring guests, members that do not bring guests etc. can create clarity out of chaos. What happens when you can identify hundreds of members at a single location who love the equipment, love the staff, plan on staying a long time, and have had great fitness results? You can specifically target them in a referral campaign. Member segmentation is critical for understanding issues but it is
also an immediate driver of new business.

6. Root Cause Analysis
When you have the tools to get this right, you are able to annihilate an entire species of complaint. We so often see companies not digging deep enough. They keep solving a symptom of a problem over and over and over for individual members. Getting to the root cause of a problem allows you to solve a much bigger problem ONCE and have it affect all members. This is the big lever bar for improving member experience!

When selecting software you need to choose a system that is MORE than you need when you start. You and your team will quickly become more and more sophisticated in your CEM disciplines and that will require your software to accept that growth. Once you have selected your software it is time to develop your rollout strategy. Remember that customer experience management is a marathon not a sprint.

Do you have any comments? Please share with us.