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In Print The Essentials

A Shift in Our Club’s Vocabulary


The most popular questions club owners and senior managers ask one another at a conference are, “How is your retention?” or “What is your retention rate?” Now let me ask: Is that really a key success factor for the forward-thinking club owner or operator as we work to better the future of the health and fitness industry?

Why is it that our industry views a club as successful if it has a retention rate of 80 percent? Is it really the best retention solution to call low users over the past 60 or 90 days to try to save them? Or contacting members that have terminated in an attempt to get them back for a few more months? Wouldn’t it be easier to have them not leave your club in the first place?

Perhaps, as an industry, we might consider moving away from the concept of attrition and retention and change the conversation to focus on the members’ outcomes and the number of engagements that have been achieved each month. This could be a more meaningful conversation.

The industry could launch two new success formulas, which have been vetted over time: “Member outcomes plus member engagements equals fewer members leaving your club,” and “Increased member outcomes equals long-term successful members and happy referring members.”

When club owners and management focus on the outcomes and engagement formulas in all areas of their member experience, great things will organically develop for all ages and levels of wellness and soon become part of the club’s culture.

Maybe it is time for the vocabulary to change from retaining members to engaging members with an outcomes-based approach to each area of our business. This shift from retaining to engaging will change your staff’s view of their role throughout all areas of your club. The focus is not on membership dues, but on how we can positively impact and change our members’ lives, which will provide financial rewards far beyond simply retaining a member for a few more months.


Kevin McHugh

Kevin McHugh is the chief operating officer of The Atlantic Club. He can be reached at kevinm@theatlanticclub.com.

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