The Ins and Outs of Member Exit Interviews

When a member leaves your gym, it’s crucial to know why. Here, Bill McBride, the president of Active Sports Clubs, discusses the ins and outs of exit interviews.

CS: Why is it important to do an exit interview with members, even if it’s as simple as a form with questions?

BM: While members may not always be truthful in why they leave, it is a good business practice to always ask so that you can learn how to improve. In many cases you can also infer what went wrong. When members come in live to cancel, it is a good practice to have them cancel with someone that can attempt to “save” them, such as a manager on duty or assistant general manager.

CS: Why must you ask, “what is your reason for leaving?”

BM: Knowing why people leave allows you to get an idea of “controllable” attrition versus “uncontrollable.” For example, relocation (if truthfully reported) is uncontrollable versus non-use, which is completely controllable.

CS: What else can you share about exit interviews, or members leaving?

BM: As many members cancel and then later rejoin, it is imperative you have a relatively “barrier free” process in allowing members to cancel. With that said, you should attempt to save by offering a “tool kit” of options for your staff. For example, “membership holds” for a small fee or complimentary re-engagement programs, such as personal training.

In my experience, as many as 10 percent of cancelled members rejoin when things change in their lives or if the grass was not greener where they went. So learning why they leave and leaving the door open for re-enrollment is critical. I also believe in offering former members re-join offers every quarter and keeping them on your member newsletter lists so they stay somewhat connected. But if you are going to continue sending them your e-newsletter, let them know up front so they don’t just think you forgot to take them off.

CS: Any final thoughts?

BM: Remember, treat people like you want to be treated — even when they leave. Measuring usage and the member experience along the way through quarterly surveys also allows you to intervene before they get to the point of cancellation.

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