If you are like me, you sometimes wonder where your members went. You get to a point in the year where all of a sudden, regular faces seem to disappear in the club. Members reduce their workouts or go stretches without coming in, leaving us to question why. Why are they not consistent? Are they bored? Not interested? Or too busy?
The fall season seems to bring inconsistency to some members’ routines. Whether it is getting back into the swing of things with family school schedules or fall sports, members seem to have a hard time with the season adjustment.
With that being said, we have experimented with several fall events to encourage members’ participation in this inconsistent period, including a themed month event to drive participation and retention.
One of our more successful fall events is annual pink parties to benefit a charity that helps battle cancer. We typically start with a kickoff party, followed by various donation opportunities for members to participate in a purpose greater than themselves. This month’s long-themed event includes specialty donation classes, demos and educational talks led by staff.
In addition, silent auctions are arranged to raise money for charity. Fun staff competitions, such as the chance to pie your trainer in the face to the highest bidder, or swimming a lap of breaststroke for breast cancer, have become popular activities for members to participate in.
There are several retention benefits of a month-long themed event. It provides an ongoing engagement topic for our staff to discuss with members — a meaningful conversation that could extend the customer’s membership length another 30 days. It shows community involvement and the human side of our organization as we partner with our members to fight cancer, which has impacted so many people directly or indirectly.
This also serves as a conversation starter for staff to engage members and adds opportunities for guests to participate in the specialty activities with members. Giving members a reason to come to the gym to help with a cause beyond their own personal fitness creates a sense of fulfillment. It gives participants a purpose beyond their workout — a reason to come.
Andrew Barranco is the regional operations and aquatics manager for Merritt Clubs.