4 ways to improve retention

“The bad news is that ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of their eyes. … The good news is that by simply looking at something that somebody has done, scanning it and saying ‘uh huh,’ [you] dramatically improve people’s motivations.” - Dan Ariely

Retention is one of the most important metrics you should measure in your gym (if you would like to know how to measure retention, then see our previous article which outlines how: Gym Retention). Any improvement you make in retention will have a substantial effect on your bottom line, and so it is worth focusing some of your time on it. This article covers four sure fire ways to improve retention.

1. Measure and reward attendance

Make sure a member’s consistent effort of coming to the does not go un-noticed. Rather than just focusing on those that are not coming regularly (e.g. follow up phone calls, emails, offers), focus attention on those members that are. When a member reaches a big milestone, reward them.

Two milestones we’d suggest are the total number of visits (e.g. 500, 1,000 etc) or based on their membership anniversary. The recognition itself it up to you. It may be as simple as recognising them face-to-face, in a class, or via a phone call. Or you may like to give them a gift that only members who achieve that milestone get. Perhaps a unique item of clothing or workout equipment that is not able to be purchased.

2. Talk to your members

Ok, we know - this one sounds simple. But remember: just because it is simple does not mean it does not have a big impact! Your time is limited, and so focusing on ‘high returns’ interventions are an efficient way to get great outcomes.

You can start implementing this by simply making sure each member is greeted and farewelled by a staff member each time they visit. Then you can increase efforts from there: Get to know your members personally. Know their name. Revisit their goals. Talk about the weather. Talk about what you’re planning - new classes, new equipment. Give them feedback on how they’ve done. Get their feedback on new things you’re trying. When they leave, ask them when you’re going to see them next. Find out about their challenges in coming to the gym. Ask them what they love about coming. Coach them. Suggest other things they may be interested in. Be genuine.

As research by Dan Ariely has identified, when it comes to performance, ignoring someone is comparable to shredding their effort in front of them!

3. Build a Community

Have you ever felt like going to the gym was a little like socialising with friends? If yes, then it’s likely you have been to a gym with a great community.

Building a community will mean that members are more likely to come to the gym, and continue coming over time. It will also mean your workplace becomes somewhere that is enjoyable for you, staff, and members.

So how can you do it? We have two suggestions:

  1. Live, talk, walk and breath the behaviours you would like everyone to exhibit and experience. If you want your business to be a welcoming and friendly place, then make sure you are friendly and welcoming - to everyone and always. You are more of a leader than you realise. Members and staff notice everything you do. Everything!

  2. Create opportunities for interaction between members and staff. Throw get-togethers. Have team warm-ups. Pair workouts. Pair stretches. Pair spotting. When appropriate, pair coaching. Encourage people to come early and stay late: have relaxing areas to hang out. Facilitate social networks open only to members (e.g. Facebook groups).

4. Publish and revisit retention often with your staff

Revisit retention statistics regularly with your team. Print out the monthly result and hang it up in staff rooms. Mention it at every staff meeting. During staff inductions, make sure staff understand how they can influence it. Set a goal, and if when you reach it, throw a party (or give staff a bonus/gift).

By having retention as a clear goal and revisiting it often, staff will be able to see how their role plays an important part in influencing this metric.