When I entered the fitness industry 23 years ago, the term ‘member retention’ was primarily associated with the last-ditch efforts of gym sales teams to salvage unhappy members who had requested membership cancellations. However, the landscape has evolved significantly since then. Today’s fitness enthusiasts are savvy consumers with numerous alternative gym options at their fingertips, prompting leading gym brands to adopt proactive member retention strategies to thrive.
Customer Experience sets winning gyms apart.
In highly competitive industries like cafes, hairdressers, real estate, and fitness, research consistently highlights that 55% of consumers prioritize products or services with exceptional customer experiences. In this blog, I’d like to share six favourite customer experience strategies that not only boost your profits but also make a positive impact on people’s lives.
1.Extend a Warm Welcome and Remember Names
When potential members step into your fitness studio for the first time, offering them exceptional service is crucial. A warm smile, a guided tour, and a genuine interest in their needs, along with remembering their name, are essential steps. If they decide to join, maintain that same level of attention during their workouts and follow up after class. Engage with them, inquire about their session, and make them feel like a star. These seemingly small gestures build a personal connection and make your members feel valued, ultimately increasing the likelihood of membership conversion.
2.Create a Birthday Calendar
While your members already enjoy a great experience at your gym, take it a step further by making their birthdays memorable. Some thoughtful ideas include:
- Present them with a birthday card signed by your staff with personalized wishes.
- Host a “Happy Birthday” celebration at the end of a class, involving everyone in the fun.
- Surprise them with a special treat like a birthday cupcake.
- Offer a free pass for a special class or an opportunity to bring a friend to their next workout. These gestures demonstrate your commitment to celebrating and appreciating your members.
3.Encourage Feedback and Learn from It
Embrace feedback from your members, whether it’s constructive criticism or glowing reviews. Negative feedback provides an opportunity for growth. Share such feedback with your team during meetings and brainstorm improvements. Also, openly celebrate positive reviews to boost team morale. Don’t neglect responding to negative online reviews. Addressing complaints demonstrates your responsiveness and willingness to consider members’ opinions seriously.
Implementing a rewards system is an effective way to show your members that you value their loyalty.
Here are two approaches we use in my Sydney gym:
- Create a referral program, rewarding members who refer others with incentives like free t-shirts, supplements, massages, or infrared sauna sessions.
- Establish partnerships with local businesses for a gym rewards program. Local businesses can offer discounts or benefits to your members, creating a win-win situation.
5.Keep Your Staff at Their Best
Your trainers and staff play a pivotal role in shaping your members’ gym experiences. If even one staff member falls short in friendliness, teaching quality classes, or providing good customer service, it can tarnish the reputation of your entire studio. Regular training on providing exceptional service is essential. Additionally, involve your staff in the strategies outlined here, including personalized member interactions and special celebrations.
6.Leverage Social Media and Technology
Using technology for marketing and engagement is a common practice for attracting new prospects, but it’s also a powerful tool for retaining existing members. With the average person checking their phone over 70 times a day, leveraging social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to keep members motivated is a wise move. Create a supportive online community that enhances members’ sense of belonging and security, making them less likely to leave.
Social media can also be used to promote new classes, seminars, challenges, and events, giving members something to look forward to. Analysing member online data enables you to provide the right content at the right time.
Wearable technology, such as smartwatches and fitness apps, can engage members and help them track their progress. Educate members on using these tools and use the data to customize exercise plans and strategies, ensuring they stay with your gym longer. Sending reminders, notifications, and training tips adds value and keeps the fitness journey interesting and engaging.