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Profitability Starts With Retaining Members

retaining members

Three ways you can make profitability happen through retaining members in your fitness business.

As a business owner, you may be familiar with this popular adage: A CEO and COO are meeting and the CEO asks: “What if we invest in our employees and they end up leaving?” to which the COO responds “What if we don’t invest in them and they stay?”

We live in a world where give to get is the usual way to do business, and unfortunately, the fitness industry is getting caught up in it as well. The popular response from most places in the fitness space today is to get your members to buy more of your products, cross-sell, up-sell and sell their friends.

Although there is some truth to retention tying into more engaged members, the answer doesn’t stop there. What you do with those members is the true answer to not only retaining your members, but also creating the profitability you, as a business owner, are looking for.

Here are three ways you can make profitability happen through retaining members in your fitness business:

Don’t wait for members to engage you – you engage the members.

Why do members cancel their memberships? Because they are moving, they’re too busy, their dog died, they can’t find the TV remote, etc. The reasons are endless, but in reality, as owners and managers, we know over 90% of the people who cancel their membership haven’t been into your space for a while.

How long do you pay for something that you don’t get a return from? The main piece of retaining members is ensuring you have them from the start. Once a habit starts to fall off, it is our job as fitness professionals to get them back on track. 

If you do up-sell or cross-sell, give the product or service a purpose.

One of the most popular ways to engage base-level members is to start a challenge that gets them excited about a short-term goal. The worst thing you can do is see a challenge or product sale as “ancillary revenue” and think the member is more engaged simply because they purchased. The product or service sell must be tied into a plan or purpose which get them closer to their goals.

A heart rate monitor should be tied into calorie burn for the workouts to ensure members are at the correct deficit to reach a fat loss goal. A challenge should be tied into a plan of how many workouts they will do across the challenge and will be held accountable to. Even something as simple as a shirt for a referral should be tied into accountability of fitness programming. If a member doesn’t show up to class, they are getting a call from their coach and a friend – accountability partners. 

Know more than just the amount per month your members are paying.

The final and most important step of retention is to really have relationships with your members. When your gym or studio becomes peoples “third space” outside of home and work, the relationships they have not just with you, but with other members become staying power.

Know the names of your member’s children, what activities they enjoy outside of working out, what their hobbies are and what is meaningful to them. Not only does this allow you to be a community of people instead of just a gym, but it also allows you to create more relatable marketing, put on better events, and even shave costs on upcoming products, services or promotions due to the connections that your members can bring to you. 

Ben Ludwig

Ben Ludwig currently serves as the Growth pastor for CrosspointNow network of churches across Kansas, acts as the Subject Matter Expert in Sales for Fitness Revolution, sits on the Advisory Board for the International Strength Training Organization and is currently a stakeholder, shareholder and Senior team member with the fastest growing fitness franchise in the world: F45 Training Headquarters. He has held a major role in creating sales processes, marketing best practices, and operational systems within F45 across the globe including presenting at a global scale to franchisees in 60-plus countries. Ben also has a working hand in many start up businesses including owning multiple fitness businesses and founding fitness businesses featured on Good Day Kansas and KWCH Channel 12 News. He also contributes regularly to fitness business magazines, podcasts and presents regularly on Fitness Business Topics. Ben also volunteers his time on nonprofit Boards of Directors, presenting, preaching and public speaking and is open to contributing his time and expertise in causes he feels align with his values.

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