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Improve Member Retention in 4 Basic Steps

Imagine a sweltering hot summer day. The humidity is high, the sun is blazing, there is no breeze. Your home is cooking. But you- you smart, intelligent creature- have invested quite a bit of money installing a kick butt air conditioning system. It's on full blast, and that house is filling with cool, refreshing air. Now imagine walking to the back of the house and seeing all of your windows wide open, and your big double French doors wide open letting all of that cool air outside- and you just walk right by and let that continue to happen. "NON-SENSE!" you say. "That's a complete waste of energy and money, I would never allow that to happen." Oh, but fitness business owners, I beg to differ. You're doing this everyday and you seem ok with it.

You have a pretty established fitness business, and have grown a large membership base. GREAT. Now you have to keep those members, and you need to keep them happy and you need to keep driving that additional revenue per member. Obviously we all know this as retention. It's a challenge that health clubs face all over the world. Basically, all of the time, energy and money you have spent developing a kick butt club and marketing it are going right out the back door like your A/C on that sweltering hot day. All these new members coming into the club while the rest are leaving...not a smart way to operate.

The information that follows is truly bringing us back to the basics, but the fundamentals are so critical to operating a profitable fitness business.

1. Have a Game-Plan

One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is when there is no actual gameplan in place for retention. This is a critical component to maximizing profits at any fitness business. Before you begin writing your retention plan, it's important to think about the goals you hope to achieve in both the short term and long term. Have both quantitative and qualitative goals. For example: Reducing cancellations by 10%, conducting at least 4 member surveys per year, implement loyalty program by 2016 and making sure that every cancelling member goes through an exit interview process of some kind. Using these goals will help you develop a stronger plan that addresses key gaps in the value proposition for your members. In addition, the feedback you receive will prove to be priceless information that you can constantly build upon.

Once the information is collected, it's important to set reasonable goals to achieve success. This is the beginning of an effective gameplan.

2. Identify Your Bottom 15%

BIG DATA. It has been the buzz word for a while now and we have all heard it- perhaps we are even getting sick of it? Well you shouldn't, because data can now help you identify with great detail who your most engaged members are and who your least engaged. Think about all of the ways you can track engagement via your current membership software, looking at social media statistics and so forth. This is a number that should be looked at because now we can direct our attention at those members which are most likely to cancel their membership. Seasoned operators know that the first 30 days for a new member are critical to the long term success (retention) of that member. Using this data and the knowledge we gain from cancellation interviews we are then able to focus attention on why those members are least engaged and implement strategies that help them become more active. For example- what is your new member 30 day plan? How do you plan to get them into the club at least 10-12 times in the first 30 days? How do you plan to hit all of their 'hot buttons' and keep them coming? You better know this stuff!

3. Address Customer Dissatisfaction

If there are any issues that are controllable that are negatively affecting your members experience and you have the ability to rectify that experience, do it! Always be proactive (not reactive) with turning lemons into lemonade for each and every member that has a cause for complaint. This will always end up generating good will for your organization. Ultimately, show that you care. The customer is not always right, but they do have a right to complain. Sometimes they just want to be heard, and being a good listener can go a long way to helping those retention numbers climb.

4. Improve Member Communication & Stimulation

Why do people join clubs? They want to lose weight and feel better, but they also want to meet people and have fun. I wrote about this a few weeks ago but getting back to the fun of it is all it really takes. According to an study conducted by IHRSA, nearly 9 out of 10 members value interaction with fitness staff, but only 43% report getting it. There is a huge gap there! Most importantly, a HUGE opportunity! Engaging your members with motivating and fun activities within your club keeps your members active within the community of your club. This is simple stuff but members love it and your business will too. They love to be a part of competitions which have prizes at the end. They love to participate in challenges, games and competitions. What are you doing to tap into the power of fun and people? Speaking of, when was the last time you actually said THANK YOU to your loyal members? Those two little words mean so much. Consider the amount of time we spend pumping them for referrals and to try a new program, whatever it may be to the amount of times we have actually said a heartfelt THANK YOU.

Again, this is just merely scratching the surface. Stay with our

articles to learn some more detailed ways to engage your members and keep them coming back for years to come.

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