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People Quit Businesses, Not People


You’ve likely had a number of members come up to you and give the following reasons for quitting: Either they’re moving, or they have a medical issue and can no longer use the club.

According to Mark Miller, the vice president of Merritt Athletic Clubs, these reasons are likely a far cry from the truth.

“Take the example of moving,” said Miller. “One time we tracked it and about 42 percent of people were leaving because of moving, which isn’t anywhere near the world average of people who move every month. Two months later you’d be in the supermarket and see [that member].”

Miller explained members are more likely leaving for three different reasons: They’re not using the club, they don’t see the value in a membership or there is a fear factor involved.

They’re Not Using the Club

According to Miller, this often comes down to poor time management skills. If members have kids, going to the gym can take two to three hours, including travel. As a result, Merritt Athletic Clubs work with members to figure out how exercise can be made a priority.

They Don’t See a Value in the Membership

In this case, said Miller, the member likely isn’t seeing results, so isn’t sure a membership is worth paying for.

“They are not getting results or they’re not getting the results that they want, and so they just feel like, ‘If I’m spending X dollars on a membership, could I be spending it somewhere else? Could I have a better use of that money to hang out with my friends or whatever it may be?’ I think there’s a value proposition,” said Miller.

To remedy this, staff sit down with the member to figure out how they can get the results they want, by suggesting a workout or nutrition program.

Fear Factor

In addition, Miller suggested some members buy on emotion, purchasing a membership on an impulse with good intentions, and then end up afraid to use it. Giving in to the fear, they quit.

“They buy it and then they think they have to get in shape first before they can come in and use it, or there’s some type of intimidation,” said Miller. “So we’ve tried to come up with avenues and game plans and reasons that if someone comes in and is trying to cancel, we try to teach them, we try to put them back into a program, we try to show them time management skills. If there’s a fear we’ll take a class with them and different things like that.”

Finally, one of the main drivers of attrition can be due to a business’ culture, said Miller. “I think people quit businesses, they don’t quit people,” he said.

So, to ensure members don’t run out the door, pay attention to how your staff interact with members. Are they forging relationships?

“I think that’s why personal training becomes powerful, because at 5:00 a.m. if you know the personal trainer is waiting for you, you don’t want to cancel on the trainer,” said Miller. “You’re okay if you cancel on the business, because you don’t have the relationship with the business.”

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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