ClubWise has teamed up with Guy Griffiths – leading fitness industry consultant – to bring you The Success Formula Masterclass; ERA. This free education series delivered proven strategies to help fitness clubs effectively Engage, Recover, and Attract more members, and be more successful and competitive.
If you missed the live sessions, you’re in luck, as Guy Griffiths has pulled together the session highlights for you in the form of blog posts! This first post provides the key strategies of session 2: RECOVER. Let’s dig in.
Recover – Getting members back and learning from leavers
Member recovery has been a big focus for many gyms and health clubs over the last couple of years as we have bounced from lockdown to reopening several times. Many lessons have been learned about member engagement and re-engagement. As discussed in the first article/masterclass about keeping members active, you need to work hard to retain certain members, not all of your members. Understanding who needs the extra motivational nudges and who doesn’t is a key factor in retention success.
Before we talk about recovering absent, dormant, or cancelling members, it’s important to discuss contact details. Getting good member data as they join is absolutely critical if you want to be able to contact them if/when they stop visiting.
Email is a good start, but a mobile number is much more useful, and a postal address can be beneficial too. Building in tests for your data is essential – up to 10% of new member emails bounce due to input or user error. If you don’t correct the new member’s email early, it will be too late when you’re trying to get them back or contact them about a missed payment.
Making a call and/or sending an SMS to new members in the first month has two purposes: it tests the number works but also opens the conversation thread. Don’t make the first message you send to a member say, “We miss you”, or “wish you were here”.
Absent member windows
When it comes to contacting absentees, most clubs agree that a member becomes absent if they’ve not visited for around 21-30 days. The start of your absentee ‘recovery’ window will be defined by the processes that follow, communication channels, and possibly the size of your club (and hence message costs). Many clubs stop contacting absentees after 45-60 days, after which we call them ‘dormant’. That said, we work with some clients who send messages up to last visit +75 days, and others who continue to send adapted news to dormant members monthly.
The best channel to contact an absent member is a phone call, but resources and volume often make this impractical. So, we recommend that you consider SMS text messages for first contact, since 99% of SMS messages are opened within 10 minutes. If the SMS fails, or you’re unable to text a member, the second option is usually email, followed by post if all else fails.
Post (letter or postcard) actually has the best return rate of the three channels, with 76% returning within 10 days, compared with 69% for SMS, and 66% for email. However, post is time-consuming, slow, and expensive.
Don’t give up
Some members will return after the first message, but it’s necessary to contact the ones who are still absent again and again. Mix up your communication channels and build a phone call into the process where you can. We see very few cancellations from absent member comms and phone calls. The majority of members are really thankful for the interaction, some are apologetic that they’ve not been in, and just need a gentle nudge to get back.
When absent members do return, try to recognise, and take care of them. You might offer a re-program, health check, or simply give them a pat on the back for getting back into the habit. It will go a long way, and help the process if they become absent again down the line. For members who have been absent for longer, a new welcome session, beginners’ class, or challenge (e.g. zero to hero) will help them to get back into it and reduce the risk of future drop-out.
Some clubs stick their heads in the sand when it comes to leavers. If you do this, you’ll miss valuable lessons that will help you to grow and improve your club, plus you are unlikely to save any members who can be rescued.
Leaver data is key
Gathering information about leavers should be the starting point. How did they try to leave; did they ask in club, or did they call or email, or like many, did they cancel at the bank? If you can find out a reason why they want to leave, this is significant, so you should always try a phone call, email (survey), or any other means available to get to the reason. And finally, what was their visit history, their contract status, and any other useful membership data.
All these facts and figures will help you to learn about this individual, and can also be collated to analyse all leavers this month, quarter, or year. What save options do you have for the member now – they say they want to leave, yet you want them to stay… what will help resolve the balance, some more commitment and guidance if they’re not getting results (programme, health check, PT), a membership freeze if they’re injured or unable to visit, or a discount if they’re under financial pressure.
Learn and adapt
If you have lots of members leaving for the same reason, what can you do to save more of them? A new membership category (see the Attract article or masterclass which follows), or a new process to identify and address members at risk of leaving?
Measure to improve
As with the active member strategies in part one, measuring your recovery and cancellation rates, actions and success is one of the vital parts of good member retention. It allows you to see the scale of the problem at your club, understand what’s working (and what’s not), and make improvements to help more of your members, and therefore your business.
To learn more about how ClubWise can help you with acquisition, engagement, and retention, book a free demo today!