It’s not often you hear sales and retention used together in the same sentence when talking with a fitness club owner. Generally, my experience is that owners are happy to talk about the challenges of sales, but seem reluctant to talk about retention. That is because most people are aware that sales can be increased by sophisticated marketing and by good sales systems and processes — but few seem to understand the connection with retention.
But there is a connection. Because when you’re not able to retain members, there’s a reason, and that reason will likely bleed into your ability to sell new memberships.
I saw this recently in a club that had seen decreasing membership numbers over the past three years, even though it had doubled its marketing spend. The owners told me that they felt like they had run out of people in the area to attract to the club.
What was evident was it had no systems in place to support the customer beyond the sign up. We put some processes in place and delivered some staff training after re-mapping the customer journey. We monitored the situation and adapted things that needed improving, and saw some immediate results within a few months.
The owners were amazed as the membership number started to grow for the first time in three years. A month-on-month growth of members continued, which proved it wasn’t just a blip.
I knew retention efforts could stop the customers from leaving, but I was surprised to see the membership growing steadily, especially when the owners told me that they had cut most of their marketing spend. This was not discussed or advised when we initially looked at the issue.
I think that the growth in new sales had come from referrals by satisfied customers who had a better experience, greater customer care and a clearly defined customer journey. The employees were re-energized and focused on retention, and sales increased as a bi-product.
So, don’t think that retention and sales are divorced. Instead, view them as a marriage that when working in harmony, can reap great dividends.