Any gym own­er knows, when it comes to busi­ness suc­cess, mem­ber reten­tion is the name of the game. This is not only because the cost of acquir­ing new mem­bers is much high­er than retain­ing old ones. In addi­tion, clients who are hap­py and moti­vat­ed are much more like­ly to rec­om­mend a gym to their fam­i­ly and friends and there­fore also help to gen­er­ate rev­enue. But as plau­si­ble as the idea of mem­ber reten­tion for busi­ness suc­cess is today, as intan­gi­ble solu­tions seem, because deter­min­ing “frag­ile” mem­bers and the caus­es of why they want to leave remains dif­fi­cult. Yet, there are a few mem­ber reten­tion strate­gies to keep in mind which can help you to keep clients in the long run.

1. Know your mar­ket

member-retention

The first step toward increas­ing mem­ber reten­tion is to iden­ti­fy your mar­ket. Who is using your gym? Veg­an yoga-queens? Body-builders on a paleo-diet? Mid­dle-aged bankers, who want to stay in shape or senior cit­i­zens, who want to do some­thing about their back pain? For each of them exer­cise, fit­ness and health have dif­fer­ent mean­ings.

In deter­min­ing age-, gen­der iden­ti­ty as well as their socioe­co­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion, you will be able to design your gym in a way that engages your spe­cif­ic audi­ence, accord­ing to their needs. For exam­ple, if you real­ize that many of your cus­tomers work from 9am to 5pm, a switch to longer and more flex­i­ble open­ing hours would make it eas­i­er form them to inte­grate gym-time into their dai­ly rou­tine. Or if you dis­cov­er that most of you clients are senior cit­i­zens, instead of a new HIT train­ing ses­sion, you might want to offer work­outs based on func­tion­al train­ing or yoga class­es, which are more appeal­ing to them.

There­fore, under­stand­ing your mar­ket can help you fine­tune and redesign your con­cept in a way that is mean­ing­ful to your clients.

2. Cre­ate a lifestyle brand

Brand­ing, with­out a doubt, it is one of the best ways to increase and at the same time retain your client base, because ever since the rise of bou­tique fit­ness we’ve wit­nessed that once peo­ple have com­mit­ted to a lifestyle, they stay loy­al, some­times even with­out con­tracts. And let’s be real, nowa­days fit­ness and healthy liv­ing are lifestyles.

Still, the idea of brand­ing might be intim­i­dat­ing at first. But in the dig­i­tal age many of the resources you need are more acces­si­ble than ever. You can for exam­ple cre­ate your own web­site and blog with a few clicks and share your ideas on var­i­ous social media chan­nels with the world, with­out pay­ing a cent.

Actu­al­ly, the hard­est part about cre­at­ing your brand is ask­ing some tough ques­tions like: What is our vision? How do you set your­self off from your com­peti­tors? What makes your gym unique? Who is your pri­ma­ry audi­ence and how can you engage them effec­tive­ly?

Once you have deter­mined that, get cre­ative! Design you own logo, write down your brand mes­sag­ing and find your voice that reflects your gym’s phi­los­o­phy. Keep in mind to be con­sis­tent with your mes­sag­ing and be true to your brand. This is also where knowl­edge about your cus­tomer base comes in handy (see point one) as you, for exam­ple, don’t want to over­whelm peo­ple in their mid-for­ties and fifties by using too many hash­tags and flashy graph­ics. Adjust­ing your tone accord­ing to your audi­ence is essen­tial as it also forges a more per­son­al con­nec­tion with your clients, which in the end is an essen­tial fac­tor that dri­ves mem­ber reten­tion.

member-retention

 

3. Shar­ing is car­ing: use social media to build a com­mu­ni­ty

As men­tioned before, social media is a great tool you can use for brand­ing your gym. But it can be used for more than just putting your logo out there. You can build your own com­mu­ni­ty using Face­book, Insta­gram, Twit­ter and Pin­ter­est and change the way you com­mu­ni­cate with your mem­bers.

There are a few things to keep in mind, when it comes to social media. The first is to under­stand that no mat­ter which ones of the many social net­works you’re using, it’s all about com­mu­ni­ca­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion isn’t a one-way street. This means that your chan­nel should not just bom­bard your fol­low­ers with ad after pro­mo­tion­al video, after new dis­count etc.

You actu­al­ly want to engage your audi­ence by post­ing about things that mat­ter to them, ask ques­tions and facil­i­tate exchange.

Maybe you want to curate pin­ter­est boards about new exer­cis­es, nutri­tion or sports wear, which your mem­bers can pin? Or maybe the right way for you is to set up an Insta­gram account and doc­u­ment #fit­nesslife in your gym? You can even cre­ate your own gym-spe­cif­ic hash­tag and encour­age your mem­bers to post about their work­out rou­tine. Or maybe you want to cre­ate groups on Face­book and orga­nize post-work­out-mee­tups for mem­bers to facil­i­tate com­mu­ni­ty build­ing? The pos­si­bil­i­ties on social media are end­less and with the right strat­e­gy, you will not only increase the loy­al­ty of your clients, but also attract new mem­bers.

4. Hon­or mile­stones

Every­one loves gifts. Mile­stones and anniver­saries are a per­fect rea­son to cel­e­brate and keep your clients moti­vat­ed. A mem­ber com­plet­ed three months of train­ing and didn’t miss a week? Maybe that’s the right time to bring their part­ner or best friend for a free work­out togeth­er. As an alter­na­tive you could hand out a free tow­el or water bot­tle. Anoth­er sim­ple way to hon­or your client’s com­mit­ment is to offer dis­counts on your online mer­chan­dise or mem­ber­ship fees for a month. No mat­ter what you do, it will com­mu­ni­cate that you val­ue your mem­bers and pay atten­tion. 

member-retention

 

5. Moti­va­tion through new tech­nolo­gies

As you’re run­ning a busi­ness in the fit­ness and health indus­try, one of your main goals is to help your clients live health­i­er and bet­ter lives, while also run­ning a suc­cess­ful busi­ness. Thus, keep­ing your mem­bers moti­vat­ed is at the heart of all suc­cess­ful mem­ber reten­tion strate­gies.

So why not ben­e­fit from some of the new insights and tech­nolo­gies of the dig­i­tal age?

In 2015 UC Berke­ley pub­lished a study that sug­gests the “gam­i­fi­ca­tion of fit­ness” will change the way peo­ple exer­cise through inte­grat­ing “col­lab­o­ra­tive and com­pet­i­tive games” into work­outs. The study points out that cre­at­ing “moti­vat­ing fit­ness games” could make long-term fit­ness engage­ment more attrac­tive for peo­ple who are not intrin­si­cal­ly moti­vat­ed.

Now, you’re prob­a­bly not an app devel­op­er, but you can nonethe­less ben­e­fit from some of these find­ings. You can, for exam­ple, invest in mod­ern motion-cap­ture tech­nol­o­gy and inter­ac­tive cir­cuit train­ing, which  lets your clients track their own suc­cess and com­pare and share it with oth­ers. That way you could have month­ly com­pe­ti­tions about who exer­cised the most, or who was the most con­sis­tent. In any case, stay­ing up to date and con­sid­er­ing new ways of keep­ing your clients engaged is essen­tial for boost­ing reten­tion.

Boutique Fitness