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Don’t Let Your Members Fall Through the Cracks


I am generally not one who believes coincidences are anything more than a random set of events. Recently, that belief has been challenged. I had three events in one day that are making me think some things are too coincidental to be a coincidence.

At a dinner in the morning, on the radio during my commute, and at a Board of Education meeting that evening, I heard the same phrase regarding very different issues: “Don’t let people fall through the cracks.”

Some believe that coincidence means you are on the right path. So what was my path? And how does my road equate to our industry? It is well known that four times as many members quit clubs because of a service-based issue as opposed to a price-related issue. With the number one reason for leaving being the feeling that the club and its staff didn’t care about them, this means they fell though the dreaded “crack.”

Today, most joins are new to health clubs and they need to feel confident and comfortable. Their initial impression will drive their lasting comfortability. It is incumbent on the club to communicate all their rules, etiquette and information. Sending an initial email, making a “welcome to the club” phone call or offering a new member orientation is as much about creating a “happy bubble” around your new member as it is about up-selling them.

Having a consistent sales plan for all new members helps integrate them into your facility as well as set the expectations for your staff on how all new joins should be treated. Whether you have a sales staff or not, you need to put policies and procedures in place to create a welcoming atmosphere. 

Communication is the home run, but noticing the little things are the singles that score just as many runs. Have your staff constantly look around and observe the members. Look out for the following: 

• When a member makes eye contact it often means they need help but are too afraid to ask.

• When a member seems to be wandering, it sometimes signals they are not sure what exercise or machine to use.

• When a member gets on and off equipment quickly, it could suggest they don’t understand how to work it and they don’t want to look silly.

• Lastly, when you notice a member staring at a class or a piece of equipment, it should tell your staff the member wants to try it but needs encouragement or advice.

Don’t let new members — or any member, in fact — “fall through the cracks.” Have a sales plan in place, it’s easy to set up and your club management software should help you to manage the process. Have your staff create a welcoming and observant atmosphere. Your success is tied to their awareness. Fill in the cracks by spending your efforts on assimilation and not cancellation.  


Eric Claman owned two clubs in Torrington, Connecticut: Pinewoods Health and Racquet Club for 23 years and Energy Fitness for four years, before selling both and accepting a consulting job at Twin Oaks Software Development in 2011. He can be reached at 866.278.6750, eclaman@tosd.com or visit healthclubsoftware.com.

Eric Claman

Eric Claman owned two clubs in Torrington, Connecticut, before selling both and accepting a consulting job at Twin Oaks Software Development in 2011. He can be reached at 866.278.6750 or at eclaman@tosd.com, or visit healthclubsoftware.com.

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