Try as they might, no club has a 100% retention rate — for a variety of reasons, some beyond a club’s control, members will want to cancel their membership. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate your cancellation policy, and determine whether or not the process might leave a bad taste in a member’s mouth.
“There are about as many cancellation policies as there are clubs, and each one is slightly different,” said Paula Neubert, the president and general manager of Club Greenwood. “One of the most important things to remember is to allow the members to feel like they are in control.”
Making the process as painless as possible is the best place to start. “Try to remove barriers to cancellation,” explained Neubert. “As much as you don’t want them to cancel, the worst thing to do is also make the process so difficult and challenging that they are left with negative thoughts about your club. There is always a chance they may return, so make sure the process is painless for them.”
Club Greenwood’s policy gives members more freedom with the duration of their membership and subsequently, more control in the event of a cancellation.
“Because we don’t require contracts, this puts the member in complete control of their membership,” said Neubert. “They can choose to pay for a full year in advance, or go month to month. Anyone choosing to resign from their membership must provide us with written confirmation and we require a full calendar month notice.”
Neubert has learned, however, that all isn’t lost just because a member has cancelled their membership. Any such situation presents a chance for growth.
“We use membership cancellation as an opportunity to learn more about why they are cancelling,” said Neubert. “We contact every person and try to have a conversation with them. Is it financial, is the reason for cancellation within our control or is there something we could have done differently?”
In fact, this practice has sometimes caused a change of heart. “Because of this conversation, we will have at least one or more ‘saves’ — after talking with us, they have decided to continue their membership,” said Neubert.
But what’s most important is finding out how to avoid the same pitfalls that caused a cancellation. Even if they can’t get a member to change their mind, Club Greenwood uses each individual situation to improve their current members’ experiences.
“More often than not, the problem is a lack of use,” shared Neubert. “We need to give them a bit more direction, help them meet people, create relationships in the club, or find workout partners to keep them accountable.”