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Retention: How to Turn New Members into Long-term Customers


At this time of year all fitness clubs will get a surge of new members, and most of these people will have stopped exercising by February. Gyms are generally busting at the seams and rarely have time to spend on retention, so here are some quick tips on keeping them longer:

  1. Follow up – This sounds basic, but with such a surge in new members and existing members coming back after the holidays, it usually means that fitness clubs are pretty busy and don’t have time to follow up. To increase a new customer’s usage you need some engagement and this can be easily automated and personalised. Try to get the customer into a personal challenge such as visiting a set number of times in their first month to win a prize. It could be a prize of a free guest pass or a free personal training session or something similar. Get them to report to reception when they have completed the challenge to claim their prize. This is a sort of self monitoring and is easy to check and not that time consuming for employees.
  2. Send them an offer – This is to congratulate them on completing their first month of membership regardless of their usage. It should inspire them to keep up the good work or entice them back in. The offer could be a reduced treatment or item from the shop and needs to be a one-off offer to really get them to come in. Texts, emails and phone calls are the best way of getting a response depending on how much time you have available.
  3. Check their usage – This can be a time-consuming task, especially with so many new members, but there are a few quick ways of getting the information. First, get all employees to do a quick check on any new faces they see in the gym. Most membership systems should be able to show you how many visits or dates of visits a customer has made. If they have made a lot of visits, then a quick chat may suffice. If their usage is low, then a chat with the aim of booking them in for a program/ consultation should be the aim. If you do get an opportunity to run low usage reports on all of your new customers, then a skilled employee should be tasked with getting them back in.
  4. Socialize them – This requires introducing them to other members. You can do this by inviting them to a social event, a seminar or trying to get them to try a class. Your aim is to get them to make friends and anything that achieves this goal should be tried. Classes are an easy way to introduce them to new people and create a social aspect to their workout. Try to introduce them to other customers and if possible, ask another member to look after them in the class.

It is always difficult to focus on retention at busy times and especially when you are trying to get new sales. Implementing some basic retention strategies will hopefully keep these customers longer.


Paul Conway is the owner of Crown Fitness and is also a consultant with Retentionetix, which is a consultancy that assists gyms in improving the retention of customers. He can be contacted at paul@retentionetix.co.uk.


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