The Secret Member Retention Tool That The Big Gym Chains Don’t Want You To Know

Gym Members - Exakt Marketing - Fitness MarketingMember retention.  The ultimate challenge for club operators today. There is no doubt that retaining members is critical to your gym’s success. A deeper look into the economics paints the picture.

Recently I had to deliver the unfortunate news to one of our new gym clients that the first 30 members that they had signed up for the month didn’t even count. Translation – $10,000+ per year in lost dues caused by attrition!

Because they didn’t have a solid member retention strategy in place, they couldn’t even begin looking at gains in revenue until after the sales team signed up new member number 30!

The client I describe above is not unique.  Interestingly, we have found this to be a real problem for GMs who are so heavily focused on new member sales, that they forget that members have much bigger expectations from their clubs these days.

So giving them a reason to stay HAS TO BE A TOP PRIORITY!  When equal focus is given to member retention, more of those new member sign-ups move your gym toward growth mode, rather than just keeping you at the same level (talk about “spinning your wheels!).

If you happen to be one of those GMs that may not have been equally focusing on member retention, you may be wondering where the heck to even start. The answer might even seem to be a bit counterintuitive, but I’m going to walk you through it.

Member retention starts with the new member orientation.

Yes, that’s right!  Member retention starts long before the member has completed even one workout or one group fit class or one personal training session at your facility! Why?

It comes down to the top reasons why people stay at a gym (to name a few):

  • getting in shape
  • improving overall health
  • making progress towards fitness

As Nick Murtha, Account Executive of MBSC Thrive put it, ”If people are getting results, they are likely to remain members. So why not start new members off in the right direction from the beginning to ensure the highest possible likelihood that they will get results and meet their fitness goals.”

Seems like a no-brainer, right? But we can all agree that getting people to first, schedule an orientation and second, to actually show up, are quite a challenge!

What if I were to tell you if you make just one simple adjustment to your sales process – the secret member retention tool that the big chains use – that your new members will not only willingly schedule orientations … they’ll actually follow through and show up!

Here’s the secret: Build the value proposition for the new member orientation (aka fitness assessment) from the moment the sales rep comes in contact with the new member.  So technically, this means that the value proposition for the new member orientation has to be built before the prospect even becomes a member.

“Too often, I see membership sales reps go through the entire pre-tour, tour and post-tour process without even mentioning the orientation. Then as a last step of member sign-up, they say something like ‘ok, let’s get you scheduled for your orientation,’” commented Murtha.  “This rarely results in a successful outcome, especially in cases where the new member has belonged to a gym in the past and either believes that they do not need the orientation or that it is a loosely veiled attempt to sell personal training services,” he continued.

I’m going to share with you the exact steps we used to take the client that I mentioned earlier (that was losing $10,000+ in member dues) from losing 30+ members per month to less than 15: a 50% improvement!

Meet with your sales team right now and have them do this:

1.  When meeting prospects at the front desk, the membership sales rep should explain the process they will go through (“we’ll discuss your background and goals; I’ll give you a tour of the facility; we’ll review membership options; then I’ll get you signed up and scheduled for your orientation to make sure you start off with a plan in hand to accomplish your fitness goals”).

2.  During the pre-tour process, make sure your reps are identifying and understanding the prospect’s fitness goals and looks for opportunities to relate them back to the orientation.

3.  During the tour, your membership reps should stop by the training area and introduce the person or people who conduct the orientations, saying something like “This is John. He’ll be helping you with your orientation to make sure you start with a plan that will get you the results you’re looking for.”

4.  At the close, your membership rep should politely “assume the meeting” and say “we can schedule your orientation with John tomorrow at the same time. Does that work?”

The goal is to make the orientation so valuable all through the process that by the end, the new member not only gladly schedules it … but they eagerly show up!  If you are getting 75% of your new members to schedule an orientation and 50% or more of them to show … you are making a significant investment in member retention long before your new members hit that plateau or get busy with life and stop using their membership.

Need help implementing the above changes into your membership sales process or want to discuss other ideas?  Please drop me a note at joe [at] exaktmarketing.com or call 888-949-5487 x701 to get a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation.

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