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. ...
I have spent much of the last fifteen years standing in gyms talking to members about their expectations and realities of the health club experience. In the week leading up to Easter I was once again on the gym floor. Three days of interviewing in three sites across the country. While the interviewing had a specific focus much of the insight gained from members whilst they exercised had remained the same. To few interaction if any with the staff, little support on the development of exercise programmes and beginnings of a trend to get support from the internet rather than from a member of the fitness team.
On day one while interviewing one member I asked one of the standard questions I ask. When was the last time an instructor spoke to you? The response was somewhat alarming. You were. You were the last person to speak to me, the last time you were in the gym doing this stuff. They were right I had been in this particular gym four years ago and i had spent time interviewing members...
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....
The economic downturn that began in 2008 and has continued ever since has created a market where consumers are looking for value for money whenever possible. In this environment we have seen the growth of low cost living, pound and 99p stores thrive. Airlines such as Ryan Air and Easyjet who pioneered low cost flying, are reporting increased passenger numbers. But with every discussion about the benefits of low cost flying come discussions about poor service and rude staff.
The leisure and fitness industry has also been effected with the emergence and rapid growth of the low cost or budget gym market. Operators that for many years were at the low cost end of the market are now ten to twenty pounds more expensive each month than their low cost competitors. Firmly placed within the middle market based on price and working hard to justify what the difference is between what they offer that is worth the extra money and failing.
As facilities become more and more alike and the difference...
With so much new technology that claims to aid retention are we ignoring what’s right under our noses? We explore what’s out there, the challenges operators face in implementing new innovations and how we can overcome them.
The Walled Garden
The infrastructure of our industry's membership management technology is inhibiting our ability to move forward and more often than not it doesn't interact with other technology, behaving like a walled garden, as software companies try to do it all themselves.”
I believes it’s a question of build or buy. Large operators with their own software engineers are in a far better position to develop their own retention technology, such as US-brand Equinox, which has built an AI-led digital coach, that learns customers’ habits to keep them engaged, into its mobile app. Smaller operators can commission projects, but it’s fraught with challenges and there’s massive cost associated with keeping software up to...
This article first appeared in the Fitness Network
One of the best ways to positively impact retention is to exceed your members’ expectations. However, with potentially thousands of members, understanding their needs in the first place can be challenging. Many operators use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) because it’s quick to administer, and the results are easy to analyse. However, they often miss a trick by diving straight into the findings, without fully understanding how their membership base is made up.
1. You firstly need to understand as much as you can about your current members; how long they’ve been a member, their age and gender for example. Building this picture is the first part of identifying how best to respond to your members’ needs and really impact retention.
2. You then need to ensure that the responses you’ve got are representative of your membership base. For example, if...