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Retaining the ‘Resolutioners’


Each new year is a fresh start for health clubs and prospective members alike — clubs can implement new strategies and goals for success, while consumers can hit the reset button on their health and fitness goals.

New goals for a new year put New Year’s “resolutioners” on a collision course with health clubs, but after their schedules get busy and they discover it takes longer than three days to reach a fitness goal — their renewed commitment to a healthy lifestyle usually doesn’t last longer than a few weeks.

This brings up the big question: How can clubs get the “resolutioners” more committed and keep them coming back?

According to Marvin Gresse, the assistant general manager of Stone Creek Club & Spa, the key is consistency and experiences. “Consistency with high standards and service help us produce our members’ ‘everyday getaway’ every time they visit Stone Creek,” he said.

Because of this constant commitment to high operational standards, Stone Creek doesn’t overhaul its daily operations to handle a potential onslaught of “resolutioners.” But that doesn’t mean they aren’t ready for the influx of new members.

“We do not have a different strategy for the New Year’s rush,” said Gresse. “But we will prepare our team members with reminders and refreshers so they are as ready as they can be for January, and coach new staff on what to expect with increased traffic into the club.”

Higher member volume will mean more questions about membership fees, backed up lines for machines, more crowded classes, and a host of other potential issues. Your staff has to be ready to tackle a much higher number of issues than during almost any other part of the year.

“We remind our team members how they can help enhance the member experience by reinforcing our ‘TAKE CARE Principle,’” said Gresse. “This means they leave ample parking for members, yield the right of way to members in line at the café, staff using the club in their off time give up a spin bike or Body Pump bar when needed, or leave open the popular cardio equipment.”

In addition to consistent standards for staff members, there are a few retention tips clubs can follow, which Gresse shared below, in his own words:

  • Be consistent. Members want a reliable, hospitable experience. Then they can create their routine and form the habit of visiting the club and achieving results.
  • Anticipate member needs and club demands. Find your “pinch points” — or trouble areas — during high traffic times in January and work to best manage or alleviate them.
  • Build interactions and relationships. New members who connect with other members, or are known by name by the locker room attendant or fitness floor team, feel a sense of belonging and feel at home in your club.

And while these tips aren’t the only ways to improve retention, practicing these specifically will certainly help. “Combining these initiatives along with your club’s programming and cutting-edge facilities will lead to a sustainable membership that will stick around long after the ‘resolution’ wears off,” said Gresse.

The key is achieving high usage and participation early in new memberships. The earlier members get familiar and comfortable with your club, the more likely they are to stick around.

“When the ‘resolutioner’ uses the club more, they get to know our team members and we can forge a relationship with them,” said Gresse. “When the member uses our services and gets entrenched in the club, we know they stay with us longer and have a more rewarding stay of membership.”

According to Gresse, the way to have more “entrenched members” in your facility is to focus on the experience — focusing less on special deals and more on delivering the great experience that will turn short-term prospects into long-term members.

“Clubs should focus their efforts to offer New Year’s ‘resolutioners’ a way to experience all the club has to offer, and get engaged with the programs, services and staff members,” said Gresse.

And tailoring that all-encompassing experience to brand-new members in January will lead to satisfied and engaged long-term members. “Engaged members who use the club and interact with staff members will see results, grow relationships, enjoy their club visits and not leave the club,” said Gresse.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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