Develop Relationships with Members

Q: Our main focus is on customer service. Do you have any unique retention ideas to help us increase the value for our members? – Frank Emanuel, the general manager of Maximum Output Fitness, Fayetteville, Ga.

A: First of all, it is great to hear that your primary focus is on customer service. We forget many times that our existing members are far more important than spending a lot of time and effort to get more new leads through the door. Providing a high level of customer service for your members is the absolute best thing you can do to build loyalty among your members and retain them longer.

As for unique retention and loyalty building strategies, here are a few you can implement:

Testimonial Wall

Recognize your hardworking members and show off their success stories. Pick a wall in your facility that is in a highly visible area, and begin placing testimonials, success stories and before and after pictures of your members. They will love the recognition and you will benefit through increased loyalty from these members. In addition, this wall becomes a great selling tool for prospects to see how well you treat your members.

Member Appreciation Events

It sounds like you love your members and they love you back. This provides a great opportunity for you to host parties and events to get your members involved at your club. At the end of each month you should be having a closeout sale for memberships. Make sure you have a party and invite all of your members and make it a regular monthly event. It doesn’t cost a lot to cook out some hotdogs and provide chips and soda. When you do things like this, it pays off in the long run because your members will stay longer and pay longer. Holidays and anniversaries are great opportunities to host events for your members. Be sure to give away prizes — everyone loves free stuff!

Create Activity Clubs

Survey your members to discover their interests. If you find there are many members that are interested in running a marathon, create a running group. If you find there are many members that love to read, create a book club. If you find there are many members that are interested in healthy food choices, organize a grocery store trip and show them how to select the right foods. It is important to get involved in more areas of your members’ lives.

Get Involved Outside of the Club

Often, we forget that our members have lives outside of the club. When they see you involved in the community and can interact with you in a variety of settings, it develops a deeper sense of loyalty to you because they see you are more than just the owner of their gym. Coach a youth sport, go to local business networking functions, sponsor local events or give to charity. The opportunities for you to see and be seen outside of your facility are limitless.

Unexpected Gifts

On any given day you can walk the floor and hand out bottles of water to members. You can partner with a local grocer to get a box of fruit each day. Place the fruit in a bowl on your front counter with a small sign that says, “Fruit donated by XYZ Grocery Store.” When a member reaches their fitness goals, has a birthday, gets a promotion, is having a bad day, etc, nothing would cheer them up faster than an unexpected gift from an unexpected source. A hand-written greeting card offering congratulations, condolences or a get-well message will help solidify the loyalty of your members.

You already run a great facility and you adore your members. Now it’s time to take it to the next level and really develop a deeper sense of loyalty with them. No matter what strategies you implement, remember that a smile, a hello, and simply taking a moment to make them feel special will go a long way in providing the ultimate level of customer service and to turn your members into raving fans. -CS

Curtis Mock is the host of, the TV show for fitness entrepreneurs and is the executive director of Curtis can be reached via e-mail at

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