In this four-part series we take a look at the essential steps to building an effective retention strategy.
To measure retention you need to measure a time period, which usually starts with the day of joining and ends with their last payment or visit. You also need age and date of birth, gender and membership type. Collecting as many variables as you can allows better interrogation of the data to see what's impacting retention.
For example, we had almost a million member records for the Australian industry retention report. Fairly unique to Australia and New Zealand is weekly and bi-weekly membership payments, so we looked at whether the frequency of payment made a difference - it didn’t. But what we did find was that it made a difference to the sales figures. So Australian operators now know they can disregard the payment structure as a retention tool, but recognise it as a sales tool; without accurate data we wouldn’t have been able to see this trend.
Across the rest...
If we take the data from your membership management software, we can break the content down by many variables. The White Retention Report identified that older members, who pay more and were on a contract were more likely to retain their membership than those that were younger, paid the least and were on month-by-month agreements.
We could go further and look at their social demographic profile, use the Sport England, Scotland or Welsh profiles to try and understand who our members are. However these are now rather dated and Experian, who produced these classifications for the sports bodies, are about to update their data system MOSAIC for the third time since these were originally introduced, such has been the change in the economy and the buying habits of consumers in the past 10 years.
While these approaches enable you to label the types of members you have, where more of them are and what magazines they read etc, etc, what it doesn’t do is consider the behaviour of...
Talk To Retain
The data on member communication doesn’t make pretty reading for the industry, says Dr Paul Bedford – but some simple mindset changes can make all the difference.
There is no doubt about it, talking to members improves retention and reduces attrition. This delivers advantages to the operator: it increase revenue and is good for the member, as it improves the overall health club experience.
How can we say this with such certainty?
Research evidence generated over the past 12 years clearly demonstrates a relationship between staff, member interaction and retention.
This data identifies that health club members interviewed on the gym floor while working out want some level of interaction with staff. The statistics show that staff interactions are a strong predictor of membership maintenance.
Members who are spoken to every visit are 60% less likely to quit than those who are spoken to occasionally and 70% less likely than those who are...
Retention has been a key business issue in the fitness industry since the first retention report produced by Dr Melvyn Hillsdon in 2000. This was the first report on the topic to use scientific methods for reporting what was actually going on within clubs. Subsequent reports began to unravel the behaviours of members during the adoption and maintenance phases of membership. A key element identified early in the reports was that members who visited their club at least once per week in the first four weeks were more likely to stay members over the longer term.
As a result of this many operators rushed to develop gym induction systems forcing members to attend multiple appointments to ensure this four visit frequency. Little thought was given to the content of the inductions beyond extending the amount of equipment that was introduced. This lead to inductions processes that increased time with an instructor to 2-5 hours over multiple appointments. Little consideration was given to the...
Member loyalty is of extreme importance to any club, it is the base that member retention is built on. Many clubs find that their ‘loyal’ members often defect to the competition, because of price, location or that its just a new facility. Yet we find that there are clubs that have ‘members ’ who are loyal to the extent that they love them, will never leave them and will be willing to pay more money for the same product/service. Usually we find these types of ‘members ’ in sports, music, and charities.
For example, when have we heard of fans giving up support for the Boston Celtics or Manchester United, just because they didn’t win the trophy? Or when have you heard of people flocking to the music stores to buy a particular music album just because it’s on sale. People will only buy music they love, not because it offers more points, is cheaper, or just because it was conveniently available. ...
Historically our focus had always been on membership sales, and whilst we had data relating to visit frequency and how long our members stayed with us, we needed to put a strategy in place to improve upon these figures.
We signed up to Dr. Paul Bedford’s 6x6 retention project, which saw our team engage in six one-day business growth training sessions across a six month period, because we wanted to really understand our existing member journey and then create a new one with quality service, member retention and operational excellence at its forefront.
During the early sessions Paul focused us on ensuring the staff, no matter what their job, understood that members are the number one priority. We took time out to make certain everyone was on board with this, from support staff team members to the community outreach team, and that has stayed with us and made a huge difference.
At Active Stirling our main site is the £27.3 million Stirling Sports Village, which...
Suggestion– Intervening at the right time
The major difference between suggestion and tailoring is that suggestions have a time element. They are designed to build on peoples existing motivation, they are also compelling and timely. Amazon and McDonald’s have very clear examples of suggestions at the right time. Amazon have the section of their website that is ‘people who bought this also bought this’. In McDonald’s just before order completion,’ they ask ‘is that a meal or do you want to go large with that?’
Of course once you have ordered your 2050 Kcal burger you will want add-ons and fries. How kind of them to ask.
At various times throughout the year you can see the efforts made by many companies. New year challenges, summer offers, and Black Friday discounts are some of the most obvious marketing approaches. We also get suggestions from technology as well, when the oil light comes on in your car it's a suggestion that you need...
Retention has been a key business issue in the fitness industry since Dr Melvyn Hillsdon published his first report on the subject in 2000 – the first time scientific methods had been used to report what was actually happening in clubs regarding member retention.
Subsequent reports began to unravel the behaviours of members during the adoption and maintenance phases of membership, and one key element was identified: members who visited their club at least once a week in the first four weeks were more likely to remain members over the longer term.
As a result of this finding, many operators rushed to develop gym induction systems – often compulsory – that forced members to attend multiple appointments to ensure this four-visit frequency. However, although these inductions involved increasing amounts of clients’ time spent with an instructor – generally between two and five hours over multiple appointments– little thought was given to the needs and...
We are living in an age where technology is all pervasive. While we marvel at some of the technology and digital solutions released each year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, much more technology is never presented openly to the public.
Much of this technology is designed to ease our lives, reduce friction and make us more productive, but over the last decade technologists and designers have been creating services and products that are a lot more persuasive and addictive.
Now that doesn't mean they are EVIL. I see nothing wrong with technology that improves the quality of our lives, encourages us to engage in healthy activities and supports us in achieving what we set out to achieve in fitness. Yet so many operators that I speak to recognise the need to increase their technology capacity, but have yet to decide what to consider and what to include or exclude. That to me suggests that you/they need to answer a few questions before deciding on a course of action.
Best in class
As I travel around the world I see a variety of practices, which I sometimes look at with my head tilted to one side,questioning the decision theoperatorhas made. One of these, more common in North America than Europe, is buying equipment from a variety of manufacturers on the premise of giving members access to 'best in class’ kit.
Firstly I would challenge the methodology used to decide best in class. All too often it means the person choosing the equipment has a personal preference or is buying the equipment they want to use, rather than thinking about the experience of the customer. Some of this is based on what we are used to; the feel of a certain type of equipment or the way we want to train, but how can you decide what is best in class unless you’ve have tried every piece of equipment in that category?
Simplicity is key
As I look at equipment choice through the lens of retention and attrition my first consideration is the exercise experience....