As a gym owner or marketer, one of the key metrics you’ll be measuring for your facility’s success is member retention. Not only is retaining current members the most cost-effective way to keep membership numbers up, but it can also make you money too – a study by Bain & Company showed that just a 5% increase in member retention rate can increase profits anywhere between 25% and 95% for a gym.
However, as any gym manager will tell you, it’s not that simple. There are many factors as to why people quit the gym, with 50% quitting on average within the first 6 months (IHRSA). So, what exactly should you do to retain clients? Here are 9 actionable strategies you can implement to improve membership retention levels for your gym and leisure facility.
Why Do People Quit the Gym?
First, let’s find the root cause of our problem – here are just a few of the reasons why your current members might be thinking about quitting. Knowing the reasoning behind falling membership levels can help you solve your customers’ problems, and, in the long term, keep them at your gym!
1. It’s a commitment
Getting into a gym routine is a life change – it involves changing habits and routines to fit a new lifestyle, which for some can feel complicated and unattainable. If people struggle to commit to a certain number of sessions per week, it can be hard to get into the routine in the first place and they’re more likely to go off track.
2. No immediate results
Getting fit doesn’t happen overnight. When we aren’t seeing the physical immediate results of our labour, it can make it hard to stay motivated and keep up with our fitness regime – despite the fact that turning up and exercising is still giving our bodies tremendous benefits!
3. It gets boring
Doing the same thing over and over again isn’t fun, and it’s the same when it comes to fitness. If a gym only ever offers the same kinds of classes, swim sessions and equipment, they might find their members getting bored.
Gym memberships can get pretty pricey, especially if you aren’t going as often as you like. If people review what they’re spending and decide that their once-a-week gym trips aren’t worth the £30 or so a month, they’ll cancel their membership.
How to Improve Gym Retention Levels
1. Create an onboarding program
Because the majority of membership cancellations happen within that first 6 months, having an effective onboarding program is essential. This is basically your plan for getting new gym members settled into the routine of coming to your gym. You can do this by offering free training sessions and class trials, or even by helping them to set achievable fitness goals and a plan on how to reach them to encourage repeat visits.
2. Monitor member attendance
Say one of your regulars who comes in three times a week hasn’t been in for a session in three weeks – something’s got to give, right? If you’re tracking how often your members come in, it’s easy to see when they might be falling off their routine. At this point, it’s a good idea to send them an email to check up on them and remind them of why they started their fitness journey.
3. Reward loyalty
It’s in the name – loyalty schemes are a fantastic way to keep gym members, well, loyal! Adding in rewards for reaching certain milestones, like a free swim after every 10 classes, gives members something to work towards. It can be a real motivator to get people coming back. For example, someone might feel like they’re getting fed up, but if they’re only two sessions away from getting some kind of incentive, they’re on that hook and will come in to work towards that reward. Keep costs low by using printed loyalty cards and signing or stamping them when members come in.
4. Create a referral scheme
Similar to loyalty schemes, referral schemes work because there’s some kind of incentive for the user – but there is an additional benefit from doing this that you don’t get from a standard loyalty scheme: exposure! When a member refers someone else to join your gym, they get the reward of a free month (or whatever incentive works best for your business), but you also gain another member – it’s a win-win situation.
5. Keep in touch
A 2018 study by the IHRSA found that two interactions a month between staff at a health club and their members can reduce membership cancellations by up to 33%. Whether that’s sending out an email with your monthly newsletter, engaging with members on social media or mailing out a flyer with your newest class timetable on it, keeping in touch with your gym members really pays off.
6. Ask for feedback
If you’re doing something that members don’t like or aren’t responding to, there’s not a lot you can do about it if you don’t know what it is. By getting regular feedback from your members, this not only shows that you’re willing to listen and actively involve your community in improving your service, but you’ll also be able to learn exactly what makes your customers tick – and how to fix it!
7. Create a private Facebook group
A study by Nielsen Group found that 36% of people who exercise prefer to do so in groups or classes. That’s because having a sense of community encourages members to keep going. To help kickstart your gym community, why not create a private Facebook group and invite your members to join? Once they’re in, you can boost retention by starting competitions and launching group training classes. Members can also share their tips and progress to motivate others.
8. Change Up Your Offering
We’ve already touched on boredom being one of the main obstacles to gym membership retention – and one of the most important ways to tackle this is to change up what you offer. Now, we’re not saying cancel that really popular Wednesday class that’s always a sell-out hit, but maybe it’s time to swap around some of your quieter classes every once and a while with something fresh and new!
9. Invest in Your Equipment
A lot of people sign up for the gym because they don’t have the space or money for the equipment needed for a home gym. In fact, 38% of members state that they stay because of the equipment (MSISE, 2018), making it a huge retention factor in the fitness industry. Make sure that the equipment you’re offering is a high standard, clean and there’s a lot of variety that wouldn’t be possible for a home setup.
Boosting retention levels for your gym or fitness centre will rely on first uncovering why your members are leaving in the first place. Once you’ve got that important nugget of information, picking which retention strategies will work best for you will come more easily. Whatever ideas you decide to implement, make sure to set SMART goals to measure your progress. Check out our full range of gym and fitness print for more inspiration!