Gym membership retention has always been a weighty issue.
(Pun intended. But, stick with me.)
According to a club industry report, it costs nine times as much to get new members as it does to retain current ones.
So, how do gym owners keep health and wellness subscriptions and reduce churn?
We’ve got your answers! Read on for the 11 sure-fire ways to reduce gym membership churn.
Just the Facts
It’s been found that gyms lose about 50% of their members every year. To increase the chances of running a profitable fitness center, priority needs to be given to reducing churn.
There are so many reasons why fitness franchises have churn difficulties.
For example, customers leave because they:
- Aren’t motivated to attend.
- Can’t afford the membership fees.
- Have gone to a competitor.
- Don’t have enough time.
- Aren’t making progress with their goals.
- Don’t get the right care or training while at the gym.
The good news is there are ways to increase gym member retention. In summary, these include:
- Consistency in programming that focuses on innovation by offering new and quality workout programs where members can see actual results.
- Community where gyms bring together members who have similar interests and goals.
- Constraints where the amount of people in a gym class is limited to avoid overcrowding.
However, have no fear. Here are 11 practical ways that both boutique and fitness franchisees can reduce membership churn.
1. Improve Communication
Communication is important for any business relationship.
Gyms are no different. As a gym owner, you need to talk to your members regularly to find out what they want.
Modern technology makes it easy to communicate with your gym members. Using content marketing is an easy way to keep your members updated with what’s happening at your gym. Use tools such as automated text messages, email and email newsletters to keep members in-the-know.
Communication should be personalized and segmented. Your members should be separated into different groups based on the activities they choose. If your members normally do yoga, send automated emails in relation to your yoga-related classes.
2. Onboard New Members Well
In terms of gym member retention, studies show that half of people who start an exercise program will leave in the first six months.
Another study found that, where gym members were onboarded properly, this reduced the likelihood of membership churn.
The study separated participants into two groups. One group was given one onboarding session and the other group was given four onboarding sessions.
The results found that, after six months, those who had four sessions of onboarding were 87% more likely to remain and be active while only 60% of members who got one onboarding session stayed.
Onboarding means that your staff has regular contact with new gym members when they first sign up. This means showing an interest in monitoring their fitness goals, so you can keep them on track.
Regular, personalized interaction from the very beginning is a way to reduce churn and increase gym member retention.
3. Make Use of Social Media
Take advantage of the fact that most people have smart phones and regularly engage in social media by making your fitness center active on its platforms.
You can choose from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (or use all three) to ensure that your members are kept up to date.
Some examples of how you can use social media include:
- Hold Facebook events for competitions.
- Use Facebook Live, so people can see their instructors and classes in action.
- Post weekly and monthly activities on your Facebook page.
- Share your members’ transformations (for example, before-and-after pictures).
- Share videos of new equipment and techniques your trainers are using.
- Share pictures of people taking part in competitions and winning prizes.
4. Connect Your Members to a Larger Community
Member interaction is a must when trying to reduce churn.
Boost your gym member retention by building a network that your members will love. Building relationships and connecting with new friends at the gym can be tough.
Do as much as possible to help your members make genuine connections at your gym and build a larger community.
Introduce your members who have similar fitness levels and goals. This can help build friendships while providing motivation.
Aim for making your gym a place where people come to smash their goals (and socialize in the bargain).
Encourage your members to get to know each other by having fitness-based games to boost fitness levels and have fun, too. It’s been found that gym members who have a friend at the gym are 40% less likely to cancel their gym membership than those who haven’t.
Become community-minded when it comes to increasing your health and wellness subscriptions. According to a study by the Nielsen Group, 36% of people who exercise said they prefer to do so in groups.
So, holding group challenges can increase your rates by:
- Acknowledging both individual and group successes.
- Taking advantage of people’s competitive nature to motivate your members to push themselves harder.
- Allow members to compete with their friends or peers.
To encourage this community feeling, you can design challenges, which can either be daily, weekly or monthly around different activities or milestones. Your aim is to build challenges and create activities to help members build rapport with each other.
Members are more likely to attend your gym if they know they will meet with friends.
5. Be Goal-Oriented
To reduce churn, you should get your clients motivated to achieve bigger goals.
When your clients first join your fitness center or gym, ask them what their motivation is for joining. For example, it may be to lose 40 pounds or to increase their bench press to 200 pounds.
The next step is to record these goals, and then schedule regular check-ins to make sure they’re on track.
When your members are near their goals, get together with them to readjust their goals, so they keep pushing themselves. Congratulate them on getting close to their goals and remind them that they can achieve much more.
6. Keep Adding New Perks
When trying to boost your gym member retention rate, remember that you’re competing with different types of fitness centers in the industry.
Things have changed since the days when most gyms were fitness franchises. There are now more unique and boutique fitness centers all over the country.
To reduce fitness franchise churn, you need to have a look at what the boutique gyms are doing and think about applying some of their tactics.
For instance, you can host special events and hold competitions. Also, include additional services such as massages and chiropractic sessions to add a more holistic element to your gym.
Whenever you have a new service, ensure you communicate to your members so they know what’s on offer.
7. Decide On Rolling Versus Monthly Contract
A study found that gym members with 12-month membership had a higher rate of retention than members who joined on a month-to-month basis with no commitment.
It can be tempting to provide just month-to-month gym contracts to keep up with the competition. However, this can prove difficult in the long run as it may only serve to increase your membership churn.
When offering two types of contracts, make the 12-month contract difficult to turn down. The month-to-month option should be more expensive, so the 12 month option will be more desirable.
8. Give Rewards and Gifts
To reduce churn in your gym, cater to what most people love – freebies!
When people have a fitness goal, they’re motivated by getting rewarded for their effort. Be their biggest cheerleader by creating a reward system that makes your members feel better about what they’ve achieved.
You could partner up with local businesses that offer healthy meals and snacks. Offer your members a gift card to spend in one of those outlets. Other types of partnerships could be a discount on protein and health-related foods.
9. Plan Ahead
Always give your members a vision.
Keep their future goals front and center of their minds if you want to reduce churn. You could enroll them in a six-week challenge.
If a good amount of members sign up, don’t get complacent. Think ahead to what will happen after the six weeks are complete. Keep members engaged, so they have something to look forward to after the six-week challenge.
Around the fourth week of the challenge, introduce a new type of challenge, for example, 12 weeks. Then follow the same pattern during the 12-week challenge.
The challenges should be bigger and better at every stage. Tell your members the challenges will be ongoing so they don’t get caught by surprise.
During the challenge, impress on your members that consistency over a long period is what will get them their real (and lasting) results.
10. Analyze Your Equipment Use
Part of the reason why gym members churn is because of issues with equipment.
Gyms get very overcrowded, especially at peak hours. Sometimes, members need to wait a long time to use particular equipment. This will only cause frustration. If this happens too many times, your gym member retention will reduce.
People don’t pay to wait. They understandably want to get on the machine they want to, when they want to. So, to reduce these issues and reduce churn, analyze the equipment your members use most.
Put in a plan to buy or lease more of the most popular equipment and maybe phase-out the equipment that’s not as popular.
11. Plan for Failed Payments
In spite of putting in all the recommendations above, some of your gym member payments will fail.
However, payment failure doesn’t automatically have to result in membership churn. Payment failure leading to membership churn unless automation emails are used is the old (and ineffective) way of doing things.
To greatly decrease the likelihood that a failed payment will lead to membership churn, think about partnering with a leader in the customer retention space.
Gravy has developed a proven system, which uses a full-time team of retention specialist to help clients recover an average of 70% of failed revenue. This is all done while protecting your brand value and integrity.
Book your free coaching session today to find out how Gravy can reduce churn and increase your gym member retention.