Why is it SO difficult to measure Retention and Attrition accurately?

Uncategorized Mar 15, 2017

Despite much talk about its importance, we still have no accepted definition or standardised measure of retention

In 2000 the FIA commissioned a research programme and a series of reports (Winning the Retention Battle) designed to provide an industry definition of retention and an industry benchmark. Whilst the reports were warmly received, individual clubs and operators have, for a variety of reasons, been unable to compare their performance with others in the industry using the new model. Melvyn Hillsdon reports.


At present, most UK clubs use the following formula to calculate attrition: the number of membership cancellations per month divided by the number of sales per month. For example, if 20 members cancelled in a month and 100 joined, the attrition rate would be 20%. The 12-month attrition rate is calculated by averaging these rates over a year.

If two clubs report the same attrition rate it would seem reasonable to assume that they were performing equally. But,...

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Gym Inductions, are they worth the time and effort

Uncategorized Feb 17, 2017

A question I get frequently asked about by operators is, should we continue to provide gym inductions for our members? A number of operators have now decided that they've pretty much foregone the standard gym induction or the traditional gym induction and others are questioning the validity of that or the reason for doing that. Look, let me point out right from the start, gym inductions in the past were almost a necessity because there were so many people who'd never used a fitness club or a health club but they needed to be orientated to the equipment, they needed to be taught how to get the best out of our cardiovascular machines and our resistance machines. However, in a more maturing market, what we're seeing is lots of people have had health club memberships before, and so when they come in they may not need a standard or routine type gym induction to get them started

Is there a value in having a gym induction? Most definitely. We know that gym inductions can add up to about...

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The Rise and Rise of Boutique clubs.

It started  before Soul Cycle, an underground movement with small groups of exercise enthusiast turning up to workout together. They shared a common desire to train hard, suffer together rather than alone, motivate each other and recognise individual and group achievement. They shared a common goal. Maximize the workout and share the experience.


It began with small studios and enthusiastic instructors and then it gained momentum. The industry looked at it as a fad, something on the periphery, a small group of enthusiastic spinning participants, yoga devotees and Olympic lifters.

Then when Soul Cycle was revelaed, $112 million in anaual sales, people took notice. On the surface it looked easy to replicate. Take a small space, give it a funky appearance, coin a unique training approach and charge by the class not by the month.

Create a quality workout and user experience, make sure you can deliver it to those same high standards over and over again, price it above the norm...

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The other SaaS Model - Software as a Solution

The last five years has seen a proliferation of membership software systems, with cloud-based systems gaining ground. We’ve also seen an increase in software solutions such as personalised exercise data, nutritional coaching, virtual personal training platforms and staff-to-member engagement systems.

While this extra support can produce extraordinary results when implemented well, some lay dormant, costing money and producing nothing. It’s at this stage that the software is accused of not being effective, when it may well be a lack of operator focus that’s the issue.

For example, whilst CV equipment has become more sophisticated, most operators haven’t considered adapting the induction process to incorporate these advances. Apps, websites and wearables provide additional information to all parties, but also require explaining and teaching to maximise their effectiveness.  It appears that very little time is given to training staff or even update training...

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Enhancing Exercise Adherence

A key behaviour related to improved member retention is exercise adherence. While retention measures the time between joining and leaving, exercise adherence measures the number of session completed compared to the number of sessions a member plans to do.

If a member plans and succeeds in completing twelve training sessions per month we would report this as 100% adherence. If, however, they only completed six of the planned twelve sessions they have 50% adherence.

So we measure retention in months and adherence in sessions per month. 100% adherence is rare, unless the target frequency is so low that it’s easily achieved. 

Exercise intensity is directly related exercise adherence. As intensity goes up adherence goes down.  The tougher the workout the tougher we find it to maintain a regular routine. That may surprise experienced exercisers with the current fascination with HIIT.  However, the more difficult an exercise programme becomes, either by intensity or...

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