Your Health Club’s New Year’s Resolution

It’s not just our members making New Year’s resolutions and goals this time of year. As club owners, we also set benchmarks and goals for our clubs and management teams to focus on and achieve during the next 12 months. In our industry, retention has to be one of our top focuses for the New Year. Below are a few items to keep in mind as you create and adjust your retention plan this year:

Events: In your yearly calendar plan, special events drive usage. High users of the club stay longer. So what events will entice your members to the club? Is it special group fitness classes, specialty demos, or health and wellness days?

Divide events up by specialty populations, as well as areas of interest. Don’t do one event for all, but plan events that meet the needs and interest of each of your markets.

Kids Programming: If you have the space and marketing for kids programming, make that part of your retention plan as well. If children are having fun in a value-added program, parents will make the commitment to attend for their children. Keep it fun and social and foster internal friendships in the club. Member-to-member relationships are the strongest bonds we can create to keep members engaged.

Communicate: As you review your yearly plan, don’t be afraid to make contact with your members. Every positive touch point you create extends the life cycle of a membership. Have a system to contact low users that have not used your club in the past 14 or 30 days. Although time consuming to do and track, keep in mind that so is finding a new member to replace a member who cancels.

Who would you rather call, a member paying you monthly and at risk of leaving due to lack of engagement? Or a prospect that has a one in 10 chance of joining? Reality is we have to call both. Don’t forget about your current members and they won’t forget about you.

Andrew Barranco is the regional operations and aquatics manager for Merritt Athletic Clubs. For questions on retention he can be reached at

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