If you’re struggling to retain members at your gym, you’re not alone. In fact, half of new health club members leave within six months, industry research suggests, and recruiting new ones can be a difficult (and expensive) undertaking.
But it's well worth it. Membership retention is a key measure of success for any gym, and investing in your members is also an investment in your community.
If you're not sure where to start, these tips from Wix Fit will help you do more than just keep your members around. They'll also make them your most enthusiastic brand ambassadors yet.
How to increase gym member retention
01. Centralize everything on your website
Members will get frustrated if they need to go to your social media to see the workout of the day, your website to find the schedule and the front desk to make a payment. The workout should be the hard part.
Learn how to create a fitness website that centralizes your bookings, online programs and pricing plans to ensure a streamlined experience for your clients. FYI: These apps come with many of our sports and fitness templates.
02. Take goal-setting to the next level
The bigger your gym is, the more likely it is members will feel anonymous and adrift. But goals give people a reason to show up consistently and commit to specific offerings in your facility.
So, when new members sign up, ask them to declare a concrete goal with a timeline (say, a pull-up by the end of the month) and periodically remind them of that goal (with automatic emails or a custom message each time they check in) to emphasize your interest in their success. If you notice that many members have similar goals, create a fitness challenge that helps them achieve their mission together.
Also consider specialized gym events that people can work toward. If you own a boxing gym, host a fight night. Have a lot of treadmill runners? Map out an unofficial 5K in your neighborhood. Live in the mountains? Create a strength-training plan that helps people climb the highest peak. People like having a why. Help them find one.
03. Keep the communication strong
A member will visit your facility an extra time each month for every two interactions they have with a professional at your facility, according to research from the Global Health and Fitness Association (IHRSA). What's more, each one of these visits reduces the risk of a membership cancellation by 33 percent, the same research shows.
Of course, how you communicate matters. The same Global Health and Fitness Association research shows that email is more effective than phone calls. Wix Fit can help you automatically send reminders to members who haven't stopped by in a while. You can also send confirmation and cancelation emails. No matter the type of email, tell people how they can best reach you, so they can easily share any feedback or questions.
04. Help struggling members
Cost is one of the top reasons people cancel their gym memberships, so don’t be shy about advertising discounts and financial assistance when the economy is rough. Even a little help will demonstrate your commitment to your members, and special discounts or coupons can help motivate current or prospective clients. Before you terminate someone’s membership, have an honest conversation about what they’re willing to pay and when they might be able to return to a full membership. Keep in mind, recruiting a new member to replace a cancelation could cost you more than offering a discount. For more on this, check out should you change your membership model in times of uncertainty?
05. Create a buddy program
Members are more likely to see themselves as club "promoters" when they've made new friends at the facility, IHRSA research shows, and your gym’s best sales team is the members themselves. But as any adult will tell you, making new friends isn't always easy. Create a buddy program to pair people up based on their goals, and ask members to introduce themselves at the start of a Zoom class. (Read more: 8 ways to up your Zoom exercise game now that virtual workouts are here to stay)
06. Train your coaches
If members feel like they have no idea what they’re doing, they probably won’t stick around for long. Recruit “floaters” in your gym to identify athletes who look a bit lost and suggest exercises based on their goals. Warning: If people feel like they’re being upsold, they probably won’t listen, so resist the urge to push personal training sessions and keep the conversation focused on the client's needs in the moment.
07. Charge a membership fee
Yes, really. Research in Ireland suggests that people are less likely to cancel a membership when they've already paid a sign-up fee. The theory why: People feel more committed and don't want to waste money they've already spent. In fact, industry experts say member retention is the real benefit of this type of fee, not the one-time payment itself.
08. Diversify your staff
Different coaches can speak to different members. Make sure new members know everyone on staff, not just the trainers they see walking around when they’re at the gym. On that note, clearly include staff bios and their interests on your site. Have a new mom, marathon runner or boxer on your team? Say so.