Let’s talk about a word nobody likes to think about: Attrition. We fitness professionals know how important it is to bring in new members, but all too often we stop counting once they purchase a class package. In reality, how many members you retain is just as important a metric as how many new memberships you sell.
Here are some staggering numbers for you:
- 90% of fitness studios and clubs lose 30% – 50% of their members each year (other industries average 10% – 30%)
- Only 5% of fitness studios retain more than than 30% of their members
And to top it off, retaining current customers is 6-7 times cheaper than acquiring new ones. So clearly there’s a ton of opportunity for growth in this area.
It’s time to get serious about member retention. Here are the best ways we know to get members to stay longer and invest more.
1. Build a Relationship
We typically only talk about building relationships in terms of selling to your leads, but it really goes much deeper than that.
First impressions matter. If someone doesn’t have a great experience the first time they check out your fitness studio, that feeling sticks with them even if they buy a membership.
And BOOM! There goes your retention rate.
You never get a second chance at a first impression, so it’s crucial to go above and beyond to make that initial experience stellar:
- Greet them at the door with a water bottle, exercise towel, or any other equipment that fits your studio’s workout style
- Give them a tour of the facility and point out your studio’s awesome features like showers, restroom, child care centers, snack bar, etc.
- Pair them up with a veteran member who can help them out if they get lost during the workout
- Ask what they thought of the class afterward and get them scheduled for workout #2
- Call or text them the next day to follow up and see how they feel with soreness, etc.
Show them from Day 1, Minute 1 that you care about them and their fitness journey. This sets you apart from the vast majority of studios out there and makes them feel comfortable enough not just to join, but to keep coming back for months and months.
2. Hire Great Coaches
If you want to retain more members, it’s important to have the right team on board. When choosing a class/ studio, 95% of people say the teacher is a crucial element. The instructor can make or break the class experience. I talk more about the importance of a strong hiring/ recruiting process here in an interview.
Here are some things to look for when hiring:
- Great energy to keep your members motivated
- Knowledgeable in their area of expertise so your members always get the best help
- Self-starters so that you don’t have to constantly coach your coaches
There are a ton of other things to consider, too, but Scott Keppel goes into that in more detail here:
3. Automate Your Emails
It’s super important to follow up with someone after their first visit to your fitness studio. Once someone goes home and resumes their routine, the memory of how awesome your place is starts to fade.
So make sure when they open their email the next morning, your fitness studio is right at the top with a follow-up email. Ask how they’re feeling after the workout yesterday. Remind them to come back in to finish out the trial period. Give them some tips for post-workout recovery. And throw some humor in there, too — if you can get them to laugh, they’re more likely to buy.
But there’s another, more sobering reason to follow up with them ASAP.
According to a study by the Fitness Industry Association, how often someone shows up during their first month at your gym plays a huge role in how long they’ll stay.
The study found that while attendance drops off across all groups during the first 6 months at a gym, members who attend only once a week (or less) for the first month were the first people to stop coming.
And by the 6-month mark, nearly half of the members — 44% of them — showed up less than once a week or dropped out:
Pretty serious stuff, right?
That’s why you send follow-up emails to get them to come back. To really improve your emails and copywriting, check out this free Email Cheat Sheet from one of our GSD Show guests, Jennifer Hudye:
4. Give Them a Plus-One
For a huge segment of the gym-going population, workouts are a group activity. 44% of fitness studio members prefer to exercise with at least 1 friend … but their friend may not go to your fitness studio.
Encourage this by allowing people to bring a friend through a membership referral program. These types of programs typically offer an incentive for current members to bring in new business and cut the new members a break on memberships or gear as a thank you for signing on.
But there’s more than just new business in it for you, too. People are 4 times more likely to buy when they’re referred by a friend, and the lifetime value is 16% higher for a referral member than a non-referral.
Once someone is referred to your studio by a current member, use these tips to get them signed on:
5. Start a Facebook Group
For someone who’s just beginning their fitness journey, it’s so important to have a support system in place that will help them through the struggles of creating a fitness routine and sticking with it. All of the other members at your fitness studio can be a huge asset here in helping to keep each other motivated and engaged.
Liberty Harper, the U.S. Franchise Director for EnVie Fitness, found that Facebook groups are a great tool for doing this. She explains how in Episode 025 of The GSD Show:
As Liberty explains, the membership Facebook group becomes a place where your members can connect with each other, make friends, offer support and encouragement, hold each other accountable, and more.
The end result is that your gym’s members get so much more than just a workout … they get another family, too.
For more on how Liberty uses Facebook groups for her fitness business, tune in to the rest of her episode:
6. Leverage Live Video
Here at Loud Rumor, we’re huge proponents of using Facebook Live videos to keep conversations going outside of the gym. That’s because video posts have a 135% broader reach than posts with just photos or text. And when that video is live, people watch it for 3X longer.
Use Facebook Live to give viewers a peek into your studio’s classes (and make members realize what they’re missing by not being there). Add value by sharing recovery or nutritional tips that will help them see better results and get them pumped for their next workout. You can even feature outstanding members in a mini live interview.
If you aren’t sure what to talk about during your Facebook Live sessions, check out this free PDF for ideas:
7. Find Your Cause
Another way to boost your retention rate is to connect emotionally with your members through a shared cause. When choosing between 2 brands, 90% of U.S. shoppers are likely to switch to a cause-branded product. And when quality and price are equal between 2 brands, social purpose is the #1 deciding factor for shoppers globally.
Causely helps fitness studios support charities and build their Facebook presence simultaneously. Every time someone checks in to your fitness studio on social media, Causely donates funds to a hand-picked charity. So not only do you get the exposure that comes from your members checking in online, but you also play a part in making the world a better place.
** Get your first month with Causely FREE with promo code LOUD **
8. Be Accessible Anywhere
Our last tip for retaining your gym’s members is to work with them. People have busy lives, and sometimes, those lives get in the way of fitting in enough workouts. The average gym member only goes 2 times per week.
Why not help people get more out of their membership through an online training program? Not only does this give them access to your trainers’ coaching from anywhere and at any time, but it also gives you an awesome tool to help your gym stand out. And depending on how you structure the program, it can be a great opportunity to upsell people to a more inclusive membership.
If you think this might be the right step for you, here are our tips for starting an online training program:
These are the ways we’ve found work best to cut down your fitness studio’s attrition rates and retain a ton more members. And if there are more retention strategies that have been successful for you, send them my way!
Mike Arce is the CEO and founder of Loud Rumor, a lead generation company for fitness studios and independent gyms that supports their customers with sales training and techniques to grow and scale.
Mike has spoken for companies like Infusionsoft, the Better Business Bureau, ASBA, and Local First – all on the topic of Local Business Internet Marketing. He has a passion for local businesses and helping them grow. You can get fresh, updated tips from Mike here.