Retention

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! 

Retention vs. Loyalty

You pride yourself on your club’s service and hospitality. You are much better today than you were yesterday but not nearly as good as you want to be tomorrow.  You work very hard to hire right, treat staff right, treat customers right, and to constantly improve. These efforts seem to be rewarded. The questions is can you still do better?

apple-logo-chest-fanboy.jpg

Let’s not kid ourselves about “retention.” You can initially retain members through specific tactics; lock people in to long term contracts and make cancellation painful. But these tactics won’t go unpunished. At some point your “customers” will break free and run like exploited hostages; once exploited, people rebel.  Sometimes it’s mild rebellion and other times it is loud and nasty.

Retention is the lagging indicator of customer loyalty; i.e. a result of the love your customers have for your business.

Stop seeking retention, and start seeking loyalty.

What if you measured attrition based on when customers’ hearts left you? Not bodies and wallets. What if you measured how many current and former members still love your business?  In other words, of the people still paying dues, how many do so but don’t really love your business? Of the people that cancelled, how many did so but still love your business?  If the answer to the former is “zero” and the answer to the latter is “all” you would have the highest loyalty possible.  Retention is thought of as people still paying their dues. When they stop, they move to the attrition side of the ledger.  But if you could measure the investment of their heart instead of money, how many members and former members would be on the “loves us” or the “doesn’t love us” sides of the ledger? Your customer retention/attrition metric and P&L are likely not reporting this.

Assume that long-term value was your only objective. Assume the only metric you were going to use to determine long-term value was customer loyalty. Where would you start? How would you determine the things that were causing violence to your loyalty objective?

Here is a simple filter to determine if your operation is creating even minor feelings of exploitation with your customers. Danny Meyer, in his book “Setting the Table,” makes the statement that “hospitality is what happens for you, not to you.” If your focus is on service and hospitality, look at every process and interaction through this lens. Ask yourself if it happens “to” or “for” your customer.  Start with how you answer the phone, transfer a call, check someone in, sell a membership, sell personal training, set appointments, sell a shirt, allow for a guest, cancel a membership, and handle complaints.  Dig into each of these and see if it is happening “to” or “for” your customers.  During the cancellation process have you turned the customer that loved your business into a former customer that now despises your business?

Let’s suppose you’ve looked at every process and are mortified to discover that almost all of these things, by design, are happening “to” the customer. How do you start to turn this ship around?

I can tell you this, not by commanding your staff to be hospitable!  Not by stating a new direction and mandating that everyone attend customer service training.

You start by looking at how you manage and lead your employees. Are their jobs happening “to” or “for” your staff?  Are you trying to be outwardly hospitable with an inwardly hostile culture?  Hospitality and service work when they are an embedded part of your culture. You can’t ask people that do not feel like they are treated well to treat others well.

If long-term value is the wish of the investor/owner, you have one path to follow: Only the right culture can create happy and loyal employees.  Only happy and loyal employees can create happy and loyal customers.  Only customer loyalty can create long-term value. Only long-term value will create a happy owner/investor.

A little forensic work will reveal that bad culture is generally due to authoritarian leadership. The pursuit of the wrong metrics is a wasting your time, your employee’s time, and your resources.

Do you have any comments or thoughts you would like to share? We would love to hear from you!