The Overlooked Aspect of Retention

webThe holy grail of club management is member retention. We discuss it, study it and work hard to improve it. But one aspect of retention that is often overlooked is member behavior.

Members can help us grow our clubs, but in some ways they can drive other members away. We all have those members who are extremely high users or have been members for many years, and they feel entitled beyond the new member. Here are five steps you can take to address the member environment and, by extension, improve your retention rates.

Clearly define the environment you want your members to experience. Spend some time thinking about how your club is going to “feel” to members. Knowing the atmosphere you want to have will help you and your prospects get off to a good start, beginning with the sales associate on the tour.

Train associates on how to approach and coach members who are violating policy. Having to correct members is not typically something staff like doing. Continual coaching and role-playing are important, but it’s as important, if not more so, for the staff to see upper management enforce policy in the right way. Defining for the staff what they should deal with themselves, versus what should be reported, is also key.

Control the environment. A surefire way for more timid members to get run over is to allow members to decide things like TV channels and music stations. These things should be set by management and only changed by management.

Have a clearly defined progressive discipline plan. A poorly behaving member can drive away a lot of good members. Don’t be afraid to show that member the door after you have worked through your discipline plan.

Develop a welcoming plan. Educate associates on how you want to welcome new members to your club and establish expected behaviors in each of the member touch point departments so that all members  feel comfortable and welcome.


Ralph Rajs is the senior vice president of operations and wellness for Leisure Sports, Inc. For questions on retention he can be reached at


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