Retaining the members you already have is easier-and possibly even more important-than recruiting new members. So here are some ways to show that keeping your current members happy is a priority with your club.
With the emphasis most clubs put on making new membership sales, it can be easy to forget one of the best things any club has going for it: The members who already call your club their workout home. And since the average club member typically sticks with one club for fewer than 5 years, it’s obvious that many clubs aren’t holding onto their existing members-a bad move, since those memberships represent not only money in the bank for your club in the form of monthly dues or initiation fees but also because member referrals remain one of the top ways clubs score new members. So keep your current members happy and feeling valued, and you’ll keep their memberships active-and maybe add some of their friends as members, too.
Here are some ways to make your existing members want to stick with your club.
1. Serve up stand-out service.
Good customer service should be one of the most important qualities you instill in every member of your staff, from the receptionist at the front desk to the VP of marketing. That’s because customer service is ultimately what people remember most about an experience. You may have the world’s coolest classes and cutting edge fitness equipment, but if your members feel like your receptionist was utterly unhelpful, the bad feelings they experience will carry over to their perception of your entire club.
One incredibly easy way to do this is to thank your members for supporting your club. Create a culture of gratitude among your staff that will make your members feel valued and appreciated. It can involve simple components, like saying “thank you” to members when they walk in and out the front door or at the end of your group classes. It can also go the extra mile-who wouldn’t like to get a personal follow-up note from her personal trainer, saying thanks for the session and offering a discounted session in the future? Or what member wouldn’t feel appreciated to receive a birthday card with a gift certificate for a free massage for her birthday or for her stellar monthly attendance or for her success in her weight loss goals? Even something as simple as hosting a monthly “fitness party” for your members to get together and enjoy smoothies and snacks can make your club feel more like a home and less like a prison. These little gestures create a supportive environment that’s tough for your members to leave.
2. Put your money where your mouth is.
The best way to make your staff passionate about creating quality customer service is to make it financially worth their while to make customer service a priority. Tie a portion of your staffer’s compensation package to customer service, and offer up bonuses for excellent customer service wherever you can.
This has two big benefits: First, it shows your team that going above and beyond basic customer service benefits their personal bottom line-not a bad incentive to go the extra mile. Second, it helps to weed out those employees who are less customer-service driven, improving the overall environment at your club.
Your staff needs to be as committed as you are to creating a stellar customer service experience, and it’s unreasonable to expect them to wholly embrace the extra work that entails if you aren’t willing to compensate them for their extra efforts.
3. Make it personal.
Customized technology is great, but only if it works for your club. All those personalization bells and whistles are only useful if you’ll use them, so be sure your technology providers can help you put together a program that meets your personalization needs. You may want to be able to track your members’ birthdays or their attendance or their personal training usage-or you might just want to be able to easily find your members’ start dates. Whatever you want to do, be sure you understand how to make your club software do it.
And don’t underestimate the value of old-fashioned personalization either. Train your staff to use your members’ names and get to know their habits, so that it comes naturally for them to say “Hi Mr. Glenn-your step class is going to be in the other group exercise room tonight-do you know the way?”
Personalizing the club experience can really boost your members’ experience.
4. Say you’re sorry.
No customer service plan is foolproof: Sometimes you’re going to make a member mad. And whether that member’s anger is reasonable or not (because sometimes it won’t be, as we al know), the best way to recover from a real or perceived error is to apologize sincerely and offer to make things right. When you do this, you’re rewarded with amazing member loyalty-and your reputation as a club that goes the extra mile for its members is one that you really want to get around. By putting your members first and focusing on enhancing your current members’ experience, you’re likely to keep current members and attract new ones.