member retention

From Guest To Gym Fam: Understanding Member Retention Life Cycle

Want to convert more strangers into gym members? Understanding the stages of the member retention life cycle will help you fit the puzzle pieces together!

Monica Hilton
January 25, 2023
From Guest To Gym Fam: Understanding Member Retention Life Cycle
Want to convert more strangers into gym members? Understanding the stages of the member retention life cycle will help you fit the puzzle pieces together!

Have you ever considered what a crazy task it is to convert a complete stranger into a loyal gym-goer? From lead generation to member retention, the process can be lengthy and complex. But that’s what also makes it rewarding and fun.

Look at the entire process like a jigsaw puzzle. If you understand each of the pieces and where they fit into the puzzle, you can solve it faster.

That’s where the retention life cycle comes in. Each stage is like a piece in a chronological puzzle. When you understand each one, you’ll master the member experience and create loyal members for the long-term.

Provide a great gym experience to increase member retention

Five Stages Of The Gym Member Retention Cycle

1. Awareness.

In order for people to want to join your gym, they have to be aware that you even exist. So the awareness stage involves providing information about your gym and its benefits.

Take the time to develop a well-thought-out marketing strategy. And keep in mind most people will need to see your gym name and messaging multiple times before they take action.

When it comes to your messaging, it’s all about the benefits to your prospective member. This shouldn’t be proclamations about how fantastic your gym is. Instead, focus on what’s in it for them.

For example, skip the “best gym in your city” claims and the fact that you have 52 GHD machines. Try showing them that you understand their struggles and that you have a solution to help.

Once you’ve dialed in your messaging, it’s time to spread the word. From social media to online advertising, find the best options. The specific mix that works well for your gym will probably take some trial and error.

2. Recruitment.

Once your potential members know what your gym offers, you can move into the recruitment stage. Recruitment involves encouraging prospects to buy a membership. Yes, you can look at it as sales. But what if you reframe your thinking? You’re actually helping people with a solution they need.

Ultimately, strong member retention numbers will be dependent on laying a foundation of guidance from the start.

Recruitment can start with anything from a free class to a one-on-one intro session. No matter how the relationship starts, your goal is lay the groundwork for their success. Most of what prospective members need revolves around accountability. So sometimes that’s fitness, other times it’s nutrition. And most of the time, mindset is involved.

With that in mind, no matter what services your gym offers, you can be the help they need.

Offer gym intro sessions to find ways to help members

3. Engagement.

Now we get to the good stuff. Your former lead is now a member of your community and the real member experience begins.

This is a tremendous opportunity to create an unforgettable experience, and the key is engagement. We’ve found that offering some form of onboarding leads to improved gym member retention.

From there, they have to be motivated to keep showing up. And if they know you’re paying attention, they’re more likely to show up. Therefore, checking in along the way to celebrate milestones is a game-changer.

We recommend you automate the entire member experience with a gym CRM. That way, you’re providing consistent engagement on their journey. Whether you're asking how their first week was or sending helpful videos, they know you care. And since it’s automated, your time can be spent on other tasks.

Pro Tip: Want to learn more about automating the member experience? Book a demo with the PushPress Grow team today!

While automation is cool and helpful for member retention, the human connection is also imperative. Make sure you have a rock star team of coaches that care about the success of the people in their classes.

It’s also beneficial to organize some fun group events, connecting members to one another. This adds another layer of accountability and community.

Finally, if you want to keep members coming, show them proof that their fitness plan is working. Encourage them to track their progress so you can improve member retention with fitness performance data.

4. Renewal.

Your goal is to run a business that people want to be part of for a long time. By making the choice to renew, they’re showing you that they’ve found their gym home. And this isn’t a decision to take lightly.

You’ve put in the work to get them to this point. Statistically speaking, it’s much less expensive to keep a current member than it is to find a new one. But dollars aside, you’ve earned a member that believes in your brand.

For those that want to renew, be gracious and dig deeper. First, ask them what they like about your gym. If it’s appropriate, request a testimonial. Next, find out what their current goals look like so you can help. Finally, ask what you can do better.

If member retention is truly an important metric to you, it means you never stop caring about their journey.

Ask members questions about gym renewal decision

When you happen to get a member who isn’t interested in renewing, once again, dig deeper. Request an “exit interview” to find out why they’re leaving and what you could’ve done better. You may find out that you actually can help them continue their journey, you just didn’t know what they needed.

5. Reinstatement.

Ultimately, you’ll have members who choose to leave. For financial or scheduling reasons, or even for reasons you can’t explain. Initially, it’s normal to see this as a negative thing. But what if you reframe it?

Look at those who choose to leave your gym as a new prospect for future reinstatement. As long as they leave on good terms, add them to your list of former members and the whole cycle begins again.

Make sure they understand that you care. Remain kind through the process, and ensure them that there’s no judgement or hard feelings.

Ask enough questions to understand their decision. Give them nothing but positive things to say about their experience. And remind them that they’re always welcome back when they feel ready.

In Summary:

Member retention plays a significant role in any fitness business. By understanding the retention life cycle, you can help members through every stage. From acquisition to reinstatement, you’ll be able predict behavior and provide solutions. And by consistently satisfying your customers, you’ll enjoy a steady flow of revenue to continue growing your gym.

Monica Hilton

Monica is our Content Manager extraordinaire for PushPress. She also owns her gym in Indianapolis, Together We Rise CrossFit, which she opened in 2014 and previously worked in IndyCar racing.

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