Congratulations! You opened a new fitness studio. Through the ups and downs of the setup process, learning the ins and outs of the franchise model, and highs and lows of pre-sale, you watched your vision become a reality! Advertising dollars are being spent so the new members can roll in and enjoy this swanky new space you created. However, getting your members to stick around for the long haul will make or break the success of your facility. The following tips to member retention can help you start strong and create loyal long term members.
1. Treat People Right
If you have been staring at spreadsheets and business plans for too long, you may be at risk of losing sight of the individual and start to think of members as a commodity. “I need X amount this month to hit goal, and X amount by year-end to turn a profit.” This is a common trap to fall into thinking for some stressed-out health club owners. However, in a consumer-driven industry and a time where one bad Yelp review can turn people away, it is more important now than ever to remember to treat your customers how you would want to be treated.
Take the time to get to know people and create raving fans. If you yourself do not intend to be on site often, be sure to have a trustworthy manager with the same mindset, and checks and balances in place to monitor this. When you do visit, think of yourself as the mayor of your club — be prepared to talk to your people, shake hands, and kiss babies.
2. Create a Culture
One of the best ways to aid member retention and make people want to stay long term is to create a fun social dynamic. Not only will this help people get better fitness results since they are more likely to attend, it can create a buzz around town through more active members on social media. You can encourage this behavior through planning fun events that people want to attend, referral programs with great incentives, and creative ways to spark social media posting.
3. Host Fun Events
When it comes to fun events, do not be afraid to think outside the box! Some Pilates studios are hosting “Pilates and Prosecco” nights, for example. Also, anytime you have free food, people will come! Try to steer clear of foods that will work against your members achieving their goals, however, and opt for healthier catering choices. “Member Appreciation Nights” can be done monthly with food and giveaways. This is essential for member retention. Offering free guest access during these events can be a great way to get people to bring their friends and family in too.
4. Prioritize Referral Programs
Any business owner with customers will tell you that referrals are the lifeblood of the business. The process of acquiring referrals has evolved over the years. In a time where consumers are bombarded with advertising and network marketing, people are not as willing to refer their contacts unless they know without a doubt they are interested. People do often turn to their Facebook friends for recommendations when they are exploring something new, like a fitness program.
This circles back to having happy members who are eager to tell people about their studio and all it has done for them. Having an ongoing incentive in place and making sure your members know about it is key to a never-ending flow of referrals. Some common examples are to offer a free month of membership dues for every referral, or a tangible reward like a gift card. Be sure to follow through with whatever your program is, and thank your members for every referral. Of course you want to ensure your members are aware of your program through multiple facets, such as signage in the club and email reminders.
Your referral marketing mechanisms can be tied to personal data your members voluntarily provide for you. For Example, you may want to host an event for expectant families, where the significant other attends and observes the other partner perform a workout with a medicine ball saran-wrapped to their chest.
Another option might be to encourage people to bring friends from work, or to have business owners bring their staff in for a team-building activity.
5. Encourage Social Media Posting
When people tag your studio on their social media account, this is essentially free advertising. The member’s friends and followers get to see an unsponsored promotion of your facility. One creative way to prompt people indirectly to post at your club is through a selfie wall, which is anything that would make a great background for selfies. It could have inspirational quotes, or perhaps angel wings or a big flexed arm that people could pose in front of for a quick selfie.
Friendly competitions are another approach to take. For example, whichever member checks in the most times in a month receives a great prize like a fitness watch or high quality headphones. Finally, you could set up a program in which every time someone checks in on Facebook or Instagram, you donate to a charity of the month! This is a win-win since it boosts member retention and gives both your people and your business a chance to do something good for the world.
6. Get People True Results
The main way to get a buzz going about your studio is through true results. Hire quality personal trainers who track progress of clients, and have checks and balances are in place to ensure the best quality of your programs. When people are getting results, they are talking about them, and they are more likely to stick to the program long term. Consider integrating some form of 3D Body Scanning into your club. Taking an entry body scan can establish a baseline for future improvements and removes much of the subjectivity out of your new members’ perceptions of their progress.
7. Hire the Best, and Treat Them Right Too
Developing a team of the best of the best can be challenging and take time, but it is crucial to member retention and your long term success. It is certainly possible to find like-minded people who care about your business. However, some of the biggest mistakes that fitness studio owners make is not paying people enough, not being thorough enough during the hiring process, and not taking enough time for on-the-job training.
If you can avoid these pitfalls and invest time and money in your people, creating a phenomenal team with your best interest in mind is completely doable. Your team will then be able to treat your members and each other in the best possible way, leading to member loyalty in the long run. Conversely, high turnover or bad customer service can take your business down a slippery slope.
Putting it all Together
All in all, providing a top notch service, a means for your members to enjoy themselves, and treating people well will lead to long term member satisfaction and in turn member retention.