Many health clubs are finding that rewards programs are a great way to build membership count and increase loyalty.
While there are different ways you can model your rewards program, it’s important to not over-complicate rules and point systems, which can result in pushing members away.
“Our signature engagement program called ‘Work Out and Win’ is very simple — it rewards members for making fitness a habit,” explained Kris Mulkey, the vice president of marketing at In-Shape Health Clubs.
One way to provide members with incentives through a rewards program is by looking into partners such as Perkville, a leading loyalty and rewards company in the health club industry. California Family Fitness partnered with Perkville to fuel the “Cal Fit Perks” program, and recently integrated with Solution One Partners for a more robust rewards offering.
“Perkville is more of an engine that runs our rewards program, processing the collection of points for our members,” explained Michelle McCauley, the director of marketing at California Family Fitness.
Supplying members with goals to reach via a rewards program can inspire them to come to the gym, especially on days when it might be tough to make it in. “This is a huge win for us because we believe we are in the motivating people business,” said Mulkey. “When members are reaching their goals, maintaining their fitness, or benefiting from the community at In-Shape, they’re happy, engaged and loyal.”
At In-Shape Health Clubs, as part of the Work Out and Win program, if members check in 12 times during a month, they earn a spot in the “Fit Club” and win a prize, including a Fit Club t-shirt.
This results in further promotion of the club. “Members proudly wear their Fit Club shirts in the club and around town,” said Mulkey. “It’s awesome to see members wearing their Fit Club shirts at the market, fueling up their cars or walking their dogs.”
While it’s important to keep the way in which you track points simple, it should also be simple for members to earn those points. “Our members can earn points for converting to ACH billing, referring friends, having a birthday, attending classes or even taking a marketing survey,” explained McCauley.
In addition, employees are able to add points to a member’s account to help resolve customer service issues or reward positive behaviors.
Other ways to earn points include checking into the gym, attending personal training sessions and making retail purchases. In addition, for every dollar a member spends, they receive a point.
These points, in turn, can be redeemed for a multitude of prizes or rewards — both in and out of the club. Rewards are managed by Solution One Partners, and include HydroMassage sessions, personal training sessions, shakes and limited-edition t-shirts, as well as discounts at hotels, local events, restaurants and retailers.
Ultimately, these points are helping members stay engaged, said McCauley. “We know the more they are engaged with the brand, and the more they are using the club, the less likely it is they will cancel,” she said. “That’s the No. 1 reason behind our rewards program. It’s that engagement and motivation to keep people coming, using and seeing a value for their membership beyond fitness.”
With any rewards program, there can be challenges, especially with coordinating and electing responsibilities for team members. You will need to consider prizes, promotions and the technology to keep track of it all.
“We have a dedicated member of our marketing team who sources and sends the prizes and constantly updates email lists; and our IT team and agency partners who help keep the technology side of it up and running,” said Mulkey. “We all work together to make the program a success.”
Equally important is the ability to get staff members on-board with a rewards program. At both California Family Fitness and In-Shape Health Clubs, staff members are encouraged to participate.
“We gave our employees a chance to test the program before it was launched to our members,” said McCauley. “They saw for themselves how fun and easy it was to earn and use points. This helped us work out any kinks in the program prior to launch. Once the employees were bought in, it was an easy conversation with members.”
Mulkey echoed this sentiment. “Our own team members can also participate,” she said. “Their enthusiasm spreads to our member base. Everyone loves it.”
When your staff is excited and talking about rewards programs, you’re going to receive more positive feedback. “The more you talk about it within the club, and the more you sell it as a value to the member — this ultimately increases engagement with the program,” said McCauley.
The overall goal of a rewards program is to keep members happy and repeatedly walking in the door.
McCauley’s recommendation for other clubs considering a rewards program? “As long as your club sets baseline measurements and stays engaged with the program, you should absolutely implement a rewards system, which in turn leads to increased engagement and revenue,” she advised.