‘Client retention strategy’ is an easier term to remember but a difficult one to implement. It is vital to know how to retain your clients for longer so that it increases the lifetime value of your gym or fitness center and bring more money in your pocket.
Here’s the deal: if you can retain your clients from 6 months to 9, you can easily double or triple your income.
Now let’s see the roadblocks with member-retaining plans and how to overcome them.
The first problem that most gym owners have is that they don’t have a systemized member retention strategy. The strategy to make your customers stay is no longer a should-have, it’s now a must-have. And it’s not just the owner, everyone needs to know this - your coaches, your admin staff, even your receptionist. This is important because only then they’ll be able to play an active role in client retention and make sure that when clients decides to be with your gym, they’re in for the long haul.
If you don’t have a retention plan, you’ll always be on the hunt. You won’t know where your next client is going to come from. Your income will not be steady and you’ll always be like, ‘Gee there’s more month at the end of my money,’ while your unpaid bills stare back at you (mockingly). This stress will be bad not just for you, but also for your business as your clients will be able to feel that energy, or lack thereof.
Secondly, most gym owners go for monthly packages or camps. Don’t do that. If you offer a 6-week program or a 3-month program, your members will leave you when they’ve done the time. Set goal after goal for your customers. Make sure that they achieve short-term goals but give them new, long-term goals so that they feel like they constantly need you to train and become the best versions of themselves.
Thirdly, you must learn the internet marketing game. Learn how to build a clientele and systemize your gym's retention strategies. Learn how to use marketing campaigns, emails and social media to cement your presence and reach out to potential customers.
Now that you know the main roadblocks, let’s discuss 5 solutions that will enable you to retain your members.
Get Your Clients to Aim for Greater Goals
When a new member joins your gym, he’ll have a rough goal in his mind.
‘I want to train for amateur boxing’.
‘I want to be able to deadlift 300lbs’
‘I want to lose 30lbs’
Whatever the goal is, push them to commit to it. Readjust their goals towards a greater target when they’re about to reach their older target.
‘Aaron I want you to know that after you deadlift 300, we’ll begin training for you to lift 350 because 300 is just the start!’
‘Ronnie after you lose 30lbs, you’ll have to train harder. 30 is just tip of the iceberg. The next phase is to make you lean and mean, you’ll forget what you looked like 30lbs heavier!’
Get into the emotional aspect. They may be customers for you, but they are people trying to achieve their fitness goals, motivate them to commit and they’ll stay with you.
Gifts and Rewards Always Work Out
There’s one thing that almost everyone loves: FREE Stuff!
People get excited and motivated when they’re rewarded for their time and hard work. Make sure you have a nice reward system in place. It doesn’t have to be anything lavish, maybe a $20 gift card for a gym-gear outlet or that healthy eatery down the road.
Suppose you partnered with a brand that sold protein-rich foods for fitness freaks. A gift card for a healthy eatery or even a nutritional product will have a three-way benefit. Your clients are happy, your partner business is happy, and you get a lifelong member.
Under-commit and Over-deliver
Let’s see if this sounds familiar:
‘I'll help you achieve your goal but you gotta subscribe for a year. It's our elite coaching program.’
This seems too obvious a sales pitch. The trainer or coach who says this, is bound to over-commit and under-deliver.
If you want high-end clientele, you need to have a high-end coach at your facility. And a high-end coach will need to over-deliver always.
Make sure you make a connection with your clients and build a community. When you enter your gym, make sure you high-five or fist-bump everyone there. When someone lifts a 200, 300, 400 lbs barbells for the first time, make sure to celebrate their win. Everyone loves that! People who put in the hard work, what do they need the most?
If you're not going to do that for your clients, someone else will. That gym holding a Strongman Competition down the block? They want your clients, they want your business, and they want to crush you. Don’t let them. Recognize your members’ milestones and celebrate their wins if you want to keep them.
Connect Your Clients Together
Build a network that your clients will grow to cherish and value. It's something they won't have in another gym. Rebuilding relationships and connecting with new gym partners is hard. Make it easy for your clients. Introduce people, especially those with similar fitness level so they can motivate each other.
Your gym should not just be a place where people just come and work out for 30-45 minutes, you need to turn it into a place where they not only break a sweat but have a buddy to back them up.
See if you can gather around people every Thursday, and play a throwback game. Start with introducing yourself and sharing an anecdote or an interesting bar story from last week. Then go around the room and have everyone repeat that.
You can also play pass-the-medicine-ball game. Make everyone form a circle around you and pass the medicine ball around the circle and the person who catches it shouts their name. Do this exercise till everyone has caught the ball and shouted their name once. This will introduce them all. They’ll no longer be strangers but become part of your gym community.
The idea of being a part of a community makes people stay.
The 'What's Next' Vision
If you want to retain your members you need to have what we call the 'What's Next Vision'. It's called foresight and setting future goals.
Say you begin a 6-week challenge for your gym members. Once it's over, what's next? If you don’t have the foresight to think and plan ahead, your clients are going to feel idle. Somewhere near the 4th week of your 6-week challenge you need to shift your members towards the 12-week challenge! Around the 10th or 11th week realign them to 24-week challenge! But remember, always over-deliver.
So whenever you start a challenge, make sure you impress upon your clients that this is just the beginning and there's a new goal waiting for them at the end of it, a new goal to achieve, another race to win.
Help your gym members set fresh goals by filling their mind with thoughts of the future. Make them understand that success is a process, a constantly turning wheel. You should make them realize that you know their future goals. You know where they are going with their fitness goals. You know what their roadmap is. You are as passionate and invested in them as they are in themselves.
Make sure you have this 'What's Next Vision' so none of your members ever need to ask you
'So… what's next?'
Social Media Game
This is the age of Digital. Everyone is connected or rather glued to their smart phones. I can bet most of your clients are on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram consuming and churning out information.
You need to get out there.
- Create Facebook events for your gym competitions
- Post regularly on your Facebook page
- Create a members-only exclusive Facebook group where you answer all questions and advice everyone who's there
- Use Facebook’s live video as well so people can see you, your coaches, your gym and your clients in action
- Post your weekly and monthly calendar on your Facebook page
You should also take to Instagram and
- Post pictures of your competitions and new equipment along with the location pin of your gym so people can find you
- Share transformations of your customers with Before and After images to celebrate them and motivate others to work out harder
- Share videos about new techniques and the right ways to do a workout like a video on the best and most effective exercises for getting a six-pack
Remember, don’t ask people to join your gym or get membership, just ask them to visit or come for a free consultation.
So, these are some basic pointers, but there are always more ideas one can add.
Imagine Sam walks into your gym on January 1st and stays for a few months. Now, each month he’s worth, let’s say $30 to your business. If he stays 6 months he’s worth $180, if he stays 9 months he’s worth $270 and so on. In 10 - 12 months’ time, you can see your revenue increasing when your clients stay.
While having new members is always good, keeping the old ones is great! Old members bring in more referrals, more money, and to be honest, the best part is that they eventually become a part of your gym family.