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Keep your customers using these three phases.

Uncategorized Mar 15, 2020

Considering the current situation globally I decided to make a short video for my clients to help them understand what they need to do to retain customers at this time. It ended up being a little long than I had planned (14 mins), but in it I describe the three phases of change that need to be managed. 

These are the phases you need to manage as a health club operator 

  1. Reduce Exercise Phase
  2. Isolation Phase 
  3. Returning Phase. 

As this week progresses I am sure I will have more ideas about what operators can do and will update within our lunchtime lesson posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you have any questions email me at [email protected] 

Please share the video 

If you are not comfortable sending people to this website to watch the video you can download the video from Vimeo and embed it somewhere you feel more comfortable. 


Paul Bedford PhD

Retention Guru Ltd

+44 (0) 7956 311 899 ...

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Staff who help retain members:

Uncategorized Mar 04, 2020

No staff who sit on treadmills while clients workout are NOT what I am looking for in staff. Our research has shown that staff to member interaction has been hugely effective at increasing member retention. One of the characteristics of clubs who retain their members for longest, is the staff they hire.

The most effective clubs hire employees with specific traits and characteristics that will enhance the business. Hiring the ideal member of staff is not just about who is the most knowledgeable because information, technique, and systems can be taught. Recognising the best qualities of an ideal candidate is important in order to determine who will work best with other members of staff, who is most apt, and who will also become a strong asset. Assuming that our fitness staff have an appropriate qualification to do their job the following 10 items become the essential criteria for recurring staff that can assist in the development of a member and increase retention.

Here are 10...

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Learning from the gamers - Why big box clubs will still be around for years to come.

Uncategorized Mar 03, 2020


In gaming infinite variability are games that no matter how long you play them for you never repeat the same experience. The highly successful and very addictive Fortnite is just such an example. Many games have finite variability where players can become very accustomed to the landscape and challenges placed in their way. Some of this is by design, so that game producers are able to release further additions of popular titles or new versions every year.

The more niche you are the more finite your variability. The challenges that may be faced by boutiques and single activity studios over the long term is the concept of finite variability, a posh way of saying nothing new. Which can only combated by larger population density and frequent turnover of inhabitants. 

Now no business can ensure that its customers will use its products or services forever, however the more limited the options or choices the quicker someone reaches the point where the experience just becomes...

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Digital Intervention for Retention not sales Pt 4.

Uncategorized Feb 28, 2020

In the final part of our series on customer retention, Digital intervention for retention not sales we explain how to use CRM systems as a digital intervention for retention…

Most CRM and marketing systems are all aiming to resell.  Think about your Facebook feed, if you click on an ad you’re then haunted for the next three months by the fact you searched for a new greenhouse for your Grandfather!  But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can use the same technology when someone has joined your club to send reassuring, supportive messages.

So, when a new person signs up from your joining page, send them a thank you note and use a retargeting pixel to interact with them via pop up messages during their first three months of membership, such as ‘How are you finding the club?’, ‘We're glad you're part of our community’, ‘Here's a testimonial from someone who's achieved similar things to you’.  You can simply...

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Visits and how they affect Retention Pt 3.

Uncategorized Feb 18, 2020

Ultimately, if you want to stay in business, people must use your facility, and, as I've mentioned previously, you want members to visit a minimum of once per week or four times per month and upwards.

My Retention VIP project focusses on just three areas: visits, interactions and programming.  In conversation, the staff’s responsibility is simply to drive visits, because if they don't attend, it doesn't matter how well-educated your staff are or how beautiful your club is, it's irrelevant.

So a lot the of work I do with staff is based around about asking customers when they are in next. When they are next training, and when they were in last - trying to get them into a routine. People who follow exercise on a routine behaviour, for instance, same day / same time, adhere to their exercise programme, what we prescribe for them, much more strongly. Plus they retain their memberships much, much longer.

Vice versa, people who train on an ad hoc basis drop in and out much more...

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How to build your Customer Journey to Improve your Retention Pt 2.

Uncategorized Jan 28, 2020

In this second of our four part series on customer retention, we explains the importance of the customer journey…

We use segmented data in our marketing to attract new customers by age, gender and sometimes by sociodemographic group. But once they've joined, we need to start segmenting them based on their behaviours. How frequently are they visiting? What activities are they doing? What are their preferences? What feedback are we getting in terms of their net promoter score?


Visit frequency is a key behaviour, because if visit frequency is low, there's a tendency for that person to drop out.People are much more likely to stay customers if they visit a minimum of four times per month in the first month.

My preference is to describe visit frequency per month, because so much fluctuates weekly. Sometimes people can't visit three times in one week, but they might make up a session the following week. So give your members a range rather than an absolute number, and...

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Creating a Retention Strategy Pt 1.

Uncategorized Jan 07, 2020

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...

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Who are your most valuable members?

Uncategorized Dec 18, 2019

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...

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We need to talk (more)

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2019

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...

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A 12 month Randomised Control Trial to aid Exercise Retention

Uncategorized Nov 07, 2019

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...

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