The following article written by Terry Patryluk appear in the September 2014 issue of Fit News, A Feature Newsletter from Fitness Industry Council of Canada. You can download the full issue here.
Serving our Way to Greater Memberships
Many clubs are either so busy hunting for new members to make ends meet or enrolling and up-selling new members as a result of great sales and marketing strategies that they have taken their eyes off what it takes to keep existing members happy. This often results in as many or more members leaving as being enrolled.
When most of an entire club’s energy gets spent in hunting mode, it takes away from servicing members and creating the culture of care that will help to keep your members satisfied – or to keep them as members period!
What may have started out as a desire to run a profitable service based operation gets morphed into a model of desperation selling just to keep the doors open.
Having created many successful strategies to generate club revenues, I fully understand that selling new and existing members to either build your business, or counter balance normal attrition rates, will always be a necessary part of our industry.
I also understand that with many clubs today more or less providing similar facilities and services, competition is greater than it’s ever been, and the one place you can still gain a competitive edge is in making your members feel really special!
One way to do that is to implement your club’s own personal Retention Plan. Many profitable businesses have such a strategy to retain existing members, so they are not so dependent on a continual flow of new business.
Tips to incorporate into your club’s Retention Plan, so that your members will stay – not stray!
1. Hire front desk staff and other service staff not just based on how good they are at administrative work, but how great they are in dealing with people. In a book based on my 25 years in the fitness industry, I coined an expression regarding dealing with customers or members in the consumer market place; “Being neutral is being negative.” This simply means that many employees dealing with customers are OK at it, but OK falls vastly short in making a customer feel valued. Most employees do little to make a member feel unwanted; however, this is different than making them feel wanted. Write a list of ways your employees can do this.
2. Have a regular period when you call your active members strictly to see how they are doing, not to sell them anything. There are plenty of opportunities to contact members to offer other services. When you end a so called courtesy call with an offer, members are smart enough to know that this was the real reason for the call in the first place.
3. Give new members (who need it) a basic written workout program so they feel confident in using the equipment. Don’t be fooled into believing you will sell less personal training for doing so. The alternative for many members is to wander around for a couple of months, then just stop going. You can forget about their renewal next year.
4. When dealing with members who have a problem, or concern that was caused by the club, don’t just fix the problem, use this as an opportunity to make them even happier than they were before the problem occurred. They expect the problem to be resolved, but they will appreciate it when you do something extra to make up for it.
These tips and other ideas will help change the way your members think about you. Members don’t stay with your club because they remember how well you sold them, but because of how well you deliver on promises and how you make them feel!