Ideas to improve member retention at your gym

 In Operations

So you’ve mastered the recruiting side of memberships – awesome! Now what? Make sure your members know that you are not only engaged with them and their progress, but that your gym is rooting for them. Sharing in their success is one of the best ways to maintain members.

Here are 5 quick tips on how to retain the members you already have!

1.)   Before and After Picture

Let’s be real: the majority of the people who join your gym do so because they want to look better. Sure, they’ve heard all about the health benefits of exercise, including lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, protection against osteoporosis, heart disease, certain types of cancer…..and on and on. But for the most part, the reason people join a gym is to look better.

With that understood, Before and After pictures become a powerful member retention tool. While we all know that you don’t see results immediately from working out (even if you feel them), capturing a member’s progress through photos on a monthly basis (including some During or “in progress” photos helps too!) enables them to see how their body is changing. This process not only improves their confidence and resolve to exercise, but shows that you and your staff are dedicated to their improvement and are engaged in their journey.

Remember though, never force or push a member to take a before picture. Sometimes people are too embarrassed or intimidated. You want your gym to be a positive, safe place for them, so make sure to offer before and after pictures, but read the member and never push too hard.

2.)   Inches Lost Measurement

Recording inches lost, versus only weight lost is a great way to motivate your members and keep them engaged. The scale usually will not relay the results members want right away, but their body will (especially if members are using a circuit training routine). Measuring regularly will help your member to gauge their progress and will also keep them feeling connected to the facility. Three things to remember with inches lost that are often overlooked.

  1. Note the clothing that is worn (a sweatshirt vs. a tank top will yield very different results)
  2. Never insist someone be measured/ALWAYS measure in private
  3. Set realistic landmarks for members

If these three things are followed, members will be more excited to track their progress and work with your staff, rather than shy away and keep to themselves.

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3.)   Weight Lost Measurement

This is a very delicate means of tracking progress. The American public has a very unhealthy obsession with actual weight and the numbers on a scale. You must find a subtle balance between encouraging members to lose weight and staying motivated to do so, but also not to make it their only focus (building strength and tone can often be more important than losing pounds).

Two important things to remember are to use weigh ins as an opportunity to discuss the priorities of the member (losing fat vs. weight, gaining muscle, toning), and the chance to try and convince the member to only weigh in once a month. We know that seems pretty unlikely; many people weigh in at the gym and at home. By establishing priorities (do they want to lose weight or fat? Do they want to get lean or build muscle?) your team can provide education on how to track each priority/goal – weight will show on the scale, body fat will show in inches lost, etc.

If members are constantly weighing in without seeing the results that they expected, they may become discouraged. By only weighing in once a month with your team, they’ll see more “dramatic” changes and it will be a more consistent measurement. Educating your members about the process and staying on track is key to maintaining the relationship and them as a member. 

4.)   Get Creative!

Creative “gimmicks” make some managers and owners shutter, but they have some merit! Fun competitions for members that include small prizes or give-aways are a great way to keep them motivated and engaged in your club. Sponsoring a monthly “friend” day is another great way to maintain your membership and possibly recruit new members! Once a month, provide your members the opportunity to bring one friend for a work out or Group X class (or even as many friends as they want – the scope of this depends on the size of your club and budget). Maybe even offer prizes or added benefits for members that bring friends!

Remember, it is imperative to first have the type of staff and environment that makes people not only want to come and work out with you and your team, but share it with their friends, too. Introspective reflection on your facility will help you to create the best possible atmosphere and experience for your members!

5.)   Customer Service  

Customer service can be a “make or break” piece of the retention puzzle. In modern society, members are expecting more and more from their health clubs. They expect someone that is not only professional, but will honestly listen to their problem or concern and will do whatever they can to help. Many clubs often think they are already succeeding with excellent customer service, but members may think differently. Are your front desk attendants friendly and knowledgeable? Are your trainers approachable and reliable? Does your management take the time to be member-oriented? All of these details are small, but they matter! Ensure that your staff excels in customer service and member loyalty will increase. Remember, quality attracts quality.

So there you have it; 5 quick tips to help maintain the members you already have! Your sales and marketing team is kicking butt at recruiting new members, make sure your staff and management are dedicated to maintaining those members. The little things matter, especially during a high stress time like the holidays. Make those connections with members and you will see the positive influence it has on your numbers.