A paramount word throughout this industry is retention. We are constantly looking for ways to create better retention and maintain a larger audience.
Lately, there’s been a lot of good research done on the lifespan of members and outcomes based on touch points.
Some of the strongest evidence is in regards to “onboarding” new members. Studies suggest that the more engaged members become, specifically in the first 150 days of membership, the more likely they are to not only maintain a higher usage, but remain members. In short, we need to be more proactive and less reactive. Create protocol with your staff, facilitate touch points, get feedback and more.
The first step is sitting down and taking a good hard look at your business. Figure out what your mission is, what type of services you provide and what type of culture you are trying to create. Align your processes and strengths with the answers to these questions. Then use them as a guideline to follow during the onboarding process.
Once you have identified your mission and the tools you have at your disposal, you will need to create a plan for how it will all be carried out. This is too large and long of a process for one person to be responsible for. It will require a team to make this process work.
Every department and staff member plays a part and contributes different strengths. Create a plan with specific tasks for each department. They do not have to be extremely intercut tasks, but ones that the department can effectively perform. For instance, when a member joins and does an initial appointment with a member of the training staff, they probably do some measurements and walk through a workout that will help with the member’s goals.
After that appointment, the trainer needs to create a reminder to follow up with that member the following week to see if everything is going smoothly with the plan they discussed. It is even a good idea to create a reminder eight weeks from the appointment to recheck the member’s measurements.
These are simple tasks that don’t require a lot of time. But they will show a new member that someone at the gym cares about them. It removes the tension from the whole setting when they know that staff members are there to genuinely help them.
The same ideas can be applied to every part of this process. From the person that signed them up to child care, every staff member can take part.
Once you have an idea of what you want your process to look like and what each department will be responsible for, make sure you can facilitate it. It’s wonderful to shoot for the moon and roll out the A list treatment for every member, but does it make sense? You need to be able to make an impact at low cost to time and budget.
We all know what type of facility we want to create and work in. In an ideal world we would go about doing what we like and people would fall into place and follow suit. In the real world you need to bring people into your culture and gain their trust before they are willing to let their guard down and follow.
It may not always be the easiest process, but the more seamless you can make your onboarding, the better results you can get, and the more rewarding it will feel. Sit down with your team, figure out how everyone can contribute and work together to make your facility the type of place you would want to join.
Matt Busacca is a fitness director at Meridian Fitness and Wellness.