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Rethinking Retention After COVID-19


The club industry experienced a momentous challenge with the coronavirus pandemic. After months of being shut down, you may be eager to start digging into your retention rates, but Karen Raisch-Siegel, the executive director at LifeWorks of Southwest General in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, advises against it.

“Retention rate for us is not a metric we are looking at since opening two weeks ago. I would imagine other clubs are feeling the same at this point,” said Raisch-Siegel. “What we are doing is staying true to who we, being consistent with communication and recognizing the need to be very visible. We are visible with our cleaning, physical distancing and have more of a staff presence.” 

While LifeWorks isn’t currently tracking their retention rate, Raisch-Siegal said their retention rate was high before closing. She said it was due to their strong team and the systems they use at LifeWorks. Even before they shut down, LifeWorks provided constant and honest communication with their membership. 

“Now after reopening, the relationships we built are paying off,” said Raisch-Siegal. “Our members know we are here for them, whether it is now or later in the future. We have been very upfront with them. We believe there is a mutual respect, and this is a solid foundation to build and rebuild relationships and retention.”

While Raisch-Siegal doesn’t have the answers on how to minimize the effects COVID will have on club retention rates, she said clubs should focus on doing what’s best for their members rather than what is best for sales. “If a member needs to cancel their membership now, then we are cancelling it,” she explained. “We are taking this as it comes and doing the best we can with what we have. Our focus is to do the right things for the right reasons.”

Creating a comfortable and healthy atmosphere to welcome members back is essential and a lot of hard work, but your club should accept that you are not going to please everyone. Focus your energy on the core areas member use to provide space, ease of equipment use and a clean environment. 

According to Raisch-Siegal, the best thing your club can do to improve your retention rate after COVID is to be real, authentic, honest and communicate.

“It’s okay if we do not have all the answers,” said Raisch-Siegal. “Our members need to feel safe and know they can trust us. We are doing our best to be positive and provide the best LifeWorks we can.”

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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