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Retention: Being a Do-Gooder Builds Retention


Are there clubs in your area that have facilities as nice, or better, than yours?


Are there nearby clubs that have equipment and programs as good, or better than, yours?


Are there clubs in your area that employ staff just as helpful, or more so, than your staff?


So, what sets your club apart? What do you offer that makes your members never want to leave?

If it’s having the latest equipment, I have a reality check for you: your competitors can — and will — buy new equipment. (They can also upgrade their facilities and hire more competent staff.)

What’s more, some of the most successful clubs have neither the best facilities nor the latest equipment, and yet their members are tremendously loyal.

So, what gives? What are these clubs doing? What do they know about member retention that you may not?

There’s more to a health club than fitness.

Successful clubs share one common trait: heavy community involvement. They employ staff who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of members, and they encourage their staff to harness the powers of their members to build a strong community.

These clubs are more than state-of-the-art buildings with high-tech equipment. They are places where people who want to make a difference in the world have the opportunity to do so. These clubs provide people the opportunity, and venue, to be part of something greater than themselves.

And these clubs, they don’t just write checks. They involve their members and the community in programs and activities. Also these clubs know that collaborating with members provides the potential to raise monies at levels corporate America does not have the capacity for.

For example, from 2006 to 2008, under the vision and support of owner and founder Patricia Laus, The Atlantic Club challenged its staff, members and community to raise $1 million to fund early-detection breast cancer screenings. With all hands on deck — staff, members and community partners — we reached our goal in just 36 months.

Even more recently, TEAMQUEST4ALS, a running group that raises money for a cure for ALS, has shown unbelievable results. We partnered with a club that normally would have written a check for $500, but with their members, raised $24,000. Another club was able to generate $75,000, while others raised $120,000 and $150,000. All of these clubs are single-location facilities with the best retention rates in the industry.

Here is a simple, yet powerful, formula to help understand why your attrition rates are what they are:

The level of giving back by your club/members/community = your club’s attrition rate.

It is an inverse formula: High level of giving back = low attrition rate, and low level of giving back = high attrition rate.

If you are not convinced about the validity of this formula, you will probably see that your retention levels mirror the industry. Is that where you want your club to be?

So, when finding your competitive edge, the better questions to ask are:

  • How does your community view your club?
  • How does club staff feel about your club?
  • What causes does your community care about?

And here’s a tip: don’t answer these questions with words like “equipment,” or “facilities.” Consider it a challenge!

Is something holding you back?

What would be the biggest risk in taking on the initiative of harnessing the power of your members to make a difference in the world for those in need with your staff and club?

Truthfully, there is no risk. In fact, there is only an upside. Your club will be regarded by members and the community as having a giving-back culture, and your club will likely be rewarded higher levels of retention in the following months.

If you would like to learn more about how you can help find a cure for ALS, please feel free to contact me at Kevinm@theAtlanticClub.com. We have a very exciting program currently being conducted that involves our TEAMQUEST4ALS and hundreds of other Clubs. Also, there are many other great causes to get involved in. The key is simply to get involved!


Kevin McHugh is the COO of The Atlantic Club. For more information email kevinm@theatlanticclub.com.

Kevin McHugh

Kevin McHugh is the chief operating officer of The Atlantic Club. He can be reached at kevinm@theatlanticclub.com.

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