Ben Ludwig shares four considerations for health club operators when reaching former members.
It’s no secret most gym owners and operators would love to have more members. We see creative ways to spend dollars on new ads, referral campaigns, free giveaways, onboarding strategies, and more. All different kinds of efforts get made in the fitness industry to drive new members through our doors. Yet, with all the dollars spent, hours logged and strategies executed to have highly-qualified, market demographic-matched and trust-built leads, we depend on an automated email every quarter.
Additionally, most gym operators consider former members a lost cause, or even worse, don’t think about them at all. So, what’s the answer for how to maximize these opportunities?
Here are four things to consider when reaching former members.
Automation is Not Enough
The first strategy to consider with former members is the fact you had a relationship with them. Would you want your only contact with a friend to be automated emails? Of course not. So when reaching former members, remember they are people too. A simple text message checking in on them every three months can go a long way. The same as a phone call inviting them to a social event you’re hosting that’s open to the public.
These are great ways to keep it fresh when reaching out, as well as keeping them on your mailing list. Most former members will unsubscribe if all they get from you are “we want you back” emails with “special offers” that are “just” for them. You aren’t fooling anyone but yourself.
The Offer May Need to Change
The second strategy to consider is what you are offering. Oftentimes, members have canceled due to getting busy, not coming enough or not seeing the value out of the cost. When former members are still local to your gym, it would benefit you to have either a short-term offering or something low barrier to entry. This can include a limited membership that gives them a chance to come less often while also paying less.
Straight discounts on your core offering are the go-to for most of these drip campaigns within gyms. But they’re not the best option considering a member who has now seen a lower price point on your core offering will likely not want to pay more than the bottom dollar offer. Now remember inflation never goes backwards, meaning the price of your membership should only increase over the years. Fitness members typically like familiarity and will rejoin a gym they are familiar with over a brand new one they have to learn all over again. Keeping your price per member optimal is hard when previous members have seen discount over discount.
Make Campaigns About Goals
Over the years, fitness has evolved to become a holistic approach to wellness. There are more fitness center members looking for mental health, stress relief, flexibility, functionality and even socialization as opposed to the previous goals of building muscle and losing fat. Now that we have such a broad scope of what goals are for our customers, why would our outreach be any different? When setting up your contact points, never make the contact all about the offer, the price, the discount, or even just a touch point of asking them to come back. Always create questions that warrant an answer.
A few good examples would be asking a former member if they have done anything for their mental health lately, or if stress relief is on the top of their priority list. These questions are much better drip campaign topics and will likely keep these members from jumping off your mailing list quickly. Always having a call to action that allows them to jump back in with you in these campaigns is a must. Remember to have some fun with these calls to action. If you are emphasizing having more energy for everyday life, your button at the bottom of the email might say “Give me a BOOST!”
Make it Easy to Come and Go
This may be an unpopular opinion. Most places have five steps of cancellation and hoops to jump through just to get ahold of the appropriate person to even begin the conversation of cancellation. And this is before being told about fees and notice needed to cancel.
The thing is, first and last impressions are what people remember. You could have given someone the best fitness experience they ever had, but if they have a hard time canceling, this may be the only thing they remember about you. We usually need to ask our members for five star reviews, but someone who wants to leave a one star review is all over google before they leave the parking lot, right?
This is not an excuse for leaving cancellation forms on the front desk for anyone to grab. You should have one final touchpoint with members before they leave. A face-to-face quick conversation if possible is always best. Then follow with a phone call just to thank them for their membership and ensure they had a great experience with you.
This is also a chance to make sure they’re not canceling due to not using the facility or not getting results. In that case, you have one more chance to save them by getting them back on track. If the member is set on canceling, use this conversation to ensure the member knows what to expect about leaving the facility and tell them they are welcome back any time. This is also a great time to let them know you will be checking in on them periodically.
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