Ben Ludwig, the COO of Traction Group LLC, an F45 Training company, shares four ways to make retention a relationship with your client instead of a strategy.
“You’re right Ben, I probably didn’t really give this go around my best shot. I could’ve been more accountable to myself, and now that I am looking back you guys did reach out a lot. Yeah, I will give it another try. 30 days and let’s see what I can get going.”
Doesn’t this sound like the perfect ending to saving a cancellation?
In a perfect world, every client would take personal responsibility for their goals, no one would fall onto low usage lists and no one would ever move away from your facility. But we live in the real world where most membership aren’t saved; a percentage of your client list will be on low usage lists and members that aren’t moving tell you they are, so you won’t attempt to save them.
In this real world where things do often go wrong, how do we cultivate responses like above?
The key is not your save protocol, your membership price or even your freeze policy, it all lies in the relationship you have with your member. Don’t get me wrong, having a process in place for retention is important but not nearly as important as your relationships you have with your members. So, let’s look at what I have found to be the top four ways to make retention a bond you have with your client instead of just a strategy.
1. Take Notes
When you consider how many clients you have — whether you’re a small CrossFit business with 75 members or a large chain with thousands of members — details can get lost in the mix. It becomes extremely hard to track people’s lives especially when you’re meeting new prospects, networking and have a life outside of your gym circle. For these reasons, taking detailed notes on members accounts will always allow you to refresh yourself on names, hobbies, kids, vacations and so much more. Your members will love that you know details about them. Even if you “aren’t good with names” like most of us, don’t let that be an excuse to not be organized. Anytime you get good information about your member, jot it down in your system.
2. Personalize Outreach
When you have great detail in your notes, this allows you to make hyper-personal outreach when your members do end up not coming for some time or aren’t meeting the recommended uses as your member. This is where your system can give you a massive advantage. By having triggers in place on what your business knows to be optimal usage, this client will then auto populate onto this list to let you know when to reach out to them. Now here is the best news, instead of, “Hey, John. It’s been seven days since we have seen you at the gym. Can I book you in for your next session?” which is bland, non-personal and will likely make your client feel bad for not coming as much as they should.
The best way to make your clients look forward to your calls, even when they have been slacking on the gym, is to use your notes to make the call all about them. For example, “Hey John, I know the kids were under the weather last week, how are they doing?” This opening statement lowers the defensive walls of your customer and then allows you to use that information to do what you need to do, get them back in the gym. “Great to hear they are getting better John. Well hey, I know with sick kids at home, it’s been tough for you to get in here, but let’s get you back on track this week. I know you usually come at 4:30 p.m. let’s get you into that class this week.” This is now much less threatening and allows the customer to really feel like you care, which you do.
3. When You Think, Do
This point may sound like an old Chinese proverb, but it rings true with friendship, spousal relationship and even for your client retention. It’s quite simple, when you think about a client, or know they have something coming up, send them a message. Old friendships can be rekindled, your spouse feels appreciated because you were thinking about them and to the topic at hand, your customers get something no one else they have ever done business with has done: a personal check-in.
So, when you know they have a big project coming up at work, send them a quick text that says: “Hey, good luck on your presentation today. Rooting for you.” Or when your members kids have a big soccer tournament coming up, “Tell Josie we said good luck from all her friends at mom’s gym.” Again, personalization, and the more you have notes on, the better it will be. This portion of the process is the only one that does not have a “cadence” of outreach. When you have a relationship with your members, you will think about them from time to time, why not let them know about it? Also, a random outreach every so often, could also get them thinking about getting back in the gym, or getting more serious about their results as well, which in turn, creates retention.
4. Be Real
The final tip for retaining your members is finding the balance of not being too nice, while not pushing members away either. You are your member’s coach, whether you like it or not, so you need to operate like a great coach. A great coach inspires people to want to do better but also provides great accountability. More good news, the better relationship you have with the member, the more you’ll be able to be direct with them.
If a member is considering canceling, talking with them about their no shows is much less uncomfortable when they trust you and know you want what’s best for them. When members begin to drop in usage, an accountability phone call can be much more honest about how you want to help them make the gym more of a priority if they have lame excuses as to why they haven’t been consistent. Your members will love and appreciate you so much more when you’re making them better and doing what needs to be done to help them feel how they want to feel and accomplish what they want.
Being the coach you wish you had when you first started can be hard to bring to life in your business. However, by following these four steps, your members will not only love you more for truly caring about them but they also become brand ambassadors for you. They bring you referrals, they wear your gym’s gear, they talk about you on social media and even help you develop partnerships. Retention is so much more than a strategy if you do it right. Now go and build your relationships.