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Balancing Money and Member Relationships

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The fitness industry has one primary currency for success: relationships. When clubs build strong, lasting relationships, profits soar. But when relationships are mismanaged, it can spark disaster for the business — damaging the club’s retention, reputation and potential
for growth. 

Money introduces an awkwardly complex element to building trust and serving club members. Financial goals and relationship goals often seem at odds, forcing club operators to sacrifice member loyalty for their financial future. 

So how should a club owner or manager achieve a balance between members and money?

Be fair.

Club owners should start by setting reasonable financial policies that protect the business without inconveniencing members. Policies should be easy to understand and remember. When possible, use round numbers, easy percentages and standard periods. Example: 100% fee for sessions cancelled less than 24 hours prior.

Be open. 

Setting expectations about payments, due dates and cancellations with new members lays the foundation for a good financial relationship. However, long-term success relies on continuous communication. Remind members of common policies through email newsletters, your online member portal and conversations with staff. Train staff to review policies when members purchase a service, book an appointment, renew a membership or update their account.

Be flexible. 

When necessary, be flexible. If a loyal member fails to pay one month or falls on hard times, giving that person wiggle room is better for long-term retention. By waiving fees, setting up a payment plan or making an exception, you may find a win-win solution for the club and member. 

Be mindful. 

Keep an eye on member financial data to prevent larger problems before they arise. One third of all cancellations begin with a failed payment. Typically, it’s difficult to predict cancellations because the underlying issues are invisible to fitness pros. However, a missed payment can prompt staff to probe for more information on the member’s frustrations and concerns. Treat every missed payment as an opportunity to resolve issues and strengthen the relationship. 

Money and members in harmony.

Your business success comes down to earning loyalty through compassion, honesty and fairness. Nurture your financial relationships to build lasting bonds that fuel the expansion of your club’s community and impact.

Miranda Pruitt is the brand manager at Member Solutions. She can be reached at mpruitt@membersolutions.com or by visiting membersolutions.com.

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