A Different Take on Retention

In our industry, we typically evaluate the success or failure of a membership month based on the number of sales and cancels. But, a different way of looking at it is translating those sales and cancels into dues equivalent.

For example, if you lose 10 members with an average dues rate of $90, you have lost $900 worth of dues, and that’s the number that needs to be replaced. So instead of looking at the net number of members, the real question to address at the end of the month is: Are you bringing in more dues after the net change in membership?

At Leisure Sports Inc., monthly dues growth, along with membership growth, has been something we have been tracking, goal setting and measuring for quite a few years. The average dues number is as important as the total membership count. Here are a few strategies to tip the cancel-to-sale exchange in your favor:

Reduce or eliminate selling discounted memberships. We discovered we were spending a disproportionate amount of time and effort selling lower-profit margin memberships, like corporates. What if that effort went into selling your highest dues rate memberships?

Feature family memberships. There is a clear and natural bell curve that happens every year with family memberships, with the peak occurring in August and the valley in January. We have been striving to make the peaks higher by adding more families during the summer with family-fun and value-oriented programming during those months. Also, we continuously look for ways to keep the kids on the membership a couple extra months, either in the spring or the fall, with specialty programming.

Track the average dues rate. Average dues rate is a key performance indicator for us. Each club budgets and sets goals against that number, and it is a constant point of focus and evaluation. Monitoring your average dues rate is a better predictor of your success than the gross member number.


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


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