When members are onboarded properly, clubs receive the benefits of lifetime loyalty, retention, increased spending and member referrals. But according to Kate Golden, the director of people and fitness operations for Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), member onboarding is about much more than that. “It is about living out our mission to ‘make lives better’ and fulfilling the promise we give members when they join our club,” she said.
How does NAC onboard members in a way that encourages member success? It starts on the sales tour.
“We first build a relationship with the prospective member through a needs analysis,” explained Denise Watkins, the sales director for NAC. “This determines how we can provide an experiential tour based on their goals and interests. We need to know their goals from day one so that we can focus on how we will help them succeed even before they join. For example, if a member is timid about exercising and has never belonged to a gym before, you could spend time showing them how easy it is to use the selectorized equipment, have them test out a piece and show them each one comes with instructions right on the machine.”
This guidance is provided throughout a member’s tenure at NAC — something that’s promoted during the member onboarding process, so customers know if they ever have a question, they can always ask a NAC employee for help, free of charge. “Throughout the tour we introduce the prospect to both employees and members to begin building relationships and demonstrate the welcoming ‘club’ feel,” said Watkins.
Once a member joins, the sales team then sets them up for a “Member Experience Session” to ensure they maximize their membership perks, services and amenities.
During this session, members are asked to participate in NAC’S “Me vs Myself MYZONE Challenge.” If the member accepts, they are provided with a free MYZONE belt and challenged to come to the club 10 days per month for the first three months of their membership, and attend two free personal training sessions.
According to Golden, members who accept and complete the challenge have proven to increase attendance and stay members longer compared to members who do not. If the member doesn’t successfully complete the challenge, they are re-challenged or pay for the cost of the belt.
Another important aspect to member onboarding at NAC is ensuring a new member’s goals and interests are communicated to the fitness team, a task which is handled by the club’s member experience manager. “This ensures a beneficial fitness assessment and workout with a trainer or a successful meeting with a professional from another area of the club such as group fitness, aquatics or youth programs,” explained Golden.
In addition, NAC’s fitness director or manager calls new members at the 14-day mark to welcome them and ask about their experience. “If the member has not yet attended their complimentary session we try to schedule it or offer them another service,” said Golden. “If the member purchased personal training, we call and welcome them to our ‘Live Fit’ program and ask them if they have any questions. We also send them a monthly newsletter with tips, tricks and client success stories, as well as invite them to our private Facebook group.”
At NAC, it’s even a goal to make sure the club’s youngest members feel welcome. According to Golden, children seven or older are invited to take a week of free classes at the Parisi speed school, led by Sean Hall, where they can bring a friend — member or non-member — to help make them feel more comfortable.
“Our youth program director, Heather Dear, also calls new parents the month before our youth programs start to welcome them and check-in to see if they have any questions about how to enroll in classes or if they need more explanation,” continued Golden. “She also invites new members to our NAC Kids Facebook group to stay up-to-date on classes, specials, events, kid’s nights out.”
At NAC, member onboarding is a team effort.
“For us, member integration is a team effort from sales to member experience to fitness to our youth program team — we all play an integral role to make sure the member is successful,” said Golden.