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Membership Retention is More Important Than Ever

Membership Retention

Benjamin Whitham, the co-founder of Petra Hygienic Systems and PetrA-1, shares why membership retention is more important than ever.

Membership retention is much more than a buzz word in the health and fitness industry. It is the foundation of a healthy and prosperous membership marketing strategy.

Just as you a plan to attract new members to your club, you should have a defined strategy to retain your existing membership. After all, there is no point trying to fill the hopper from the top if there is a hole in the bottom.

Getting new members is a necessary but time consuming and expensive exercise with results that have historically proven to be a more miss than hit. Although the effort can be refined, it is simply a numbers game.

Making the effort to retain members who have already made the decision to join your club is a much easier target market to identify and satisfy. You also have the ability to directly influence their experience and decision-making process on a daily basis.

Reasons for membership loss can include:

  • Injury.
  • A disruption that breaks the regular routine.
  • A physical move of their work or residence.
  • Various inconveniences or phantom excuses.
  • Loss of interest or replaced with another activity.
  • Joined a competing club.
  • Financial.

Each of these can be addressed through proactive and reactive incentives. Some involve identifying any change in a member’s usage pattern and reaching out to them quickly for the reasons and offer them solutions and alternatives. Others involve a more proactive approach by making sure you are keeping-up with new equipment, offering amenities that make your facility convenient  and enjoyable to use and changing things-up so their fitness routine doesn’t get stagnant and exposes them to new and exciting fitness trends.

Injuries may temporarily change the usage pattern of the member but that can be quickly changed by reaching out and letting them know there is a personal training program that can be incorporated into their regular fitness plan or their existing plan can be modified to suit their current situation.

A disruption or loss of interest can be addressed by reaching out and inviting them back with something new or incentives, such as a free training session, promotional items, discounts or free guest passes.

If relatively local, a move can be addressed by looking at their weekly schedule and maybe suggesting a new club usage pattern. Or, if you are fortunate to have multiple facilities, moving them to a different location would be ideal.

Inconveniences or excuses can be both justified and unjustified. Forgetting a towel or shampoo and soap are common excuses that can easily be avoided. Amenities are low cost items that are directly related to the usage of your club. “Not having time” is also common. This can be handled the same as a disruption of their routine.

 Losing them to another club may be a more difficult and longer-term project but don’t give up. They are in a transition period and many things could happen. Treat it like a disruption situation.

Financial reasons are real but so is the importance of one’s health. Make a deal, offer a short term discount or some free passes. Get them back so they see what they are missing.

All of the above requires some effort, money and creativity. The advantage is you know your audience and you can control how and where to use your resources. Whether it is offering towels to eliminate excuses while giving your memberships a better and complete club experience or reaching out in a reactive manner to get them back after an injury. The results can be immediate, and you avoid the costly exercise of replacing them through your sales effort.

Fill that hopper with confidence.

Benjamin Whitham

Benjamin Whitham has been in the health and fitness industry though Petra Hygienic Systems and PetrA-1, which he co-founded over 30 years ago. He can be reached at benjamin@petrasoap.com or visiting WWW.PETRA-1.COM

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